B2B Marketing Blog

The biggest obstacle to generating ROI from Events: Lazy Exhibiting [Video]

“Lazy exhibiting” is a term I first encountered when speaking with a senior event professional – and it really resonated due to experiences I had personally, and those I had heard about from peers and clients.

Admittedly this is a RANT, I never do this so this will be the first time.

This is a video I recorded at a show I attended earlier this year. I was so annoyed that I felt compelled to use it as constructive feedback to many exhibitors and to share the frustration many event organisers have at situations like this.


What do you think is the feedback the event organiser is going to receive from the company that bought that stand?

"Hmmmm, the event was okay, not great. We did not generate enough leads"

One of the biggest challenges event organisers face is Adding Extra Value to Exhibitors and how can an event director add value to its exhibitors when some (not all) of their exhibitors send team members like the one on the video to man the stand? It is totally crazy.

You know the drill, you take time out of your working day to attend an expo and when you arrive you’re surprised to find the exhibiting sales teams talking on their phones, standing with their backs to the audience, and generally showing very little interest in making a connection with you.

I’m sure many of you reading this are nodding your heads in agreement – but unfortunately this feedback is usually only received post-event, and exhibitors are left thinking they could have generated more leads, and tapped into lucrative ROI from events.

So how do you solve this problem?

For exhibitors – Exhibitor education programs from the event organiser

Event organisers are now taking a more proactive approach, and providing exhibitors with education around best practices before key exhibitions take place. These educational programs are really useful for learning how to make the most of your time at an expo, and truly see the ROI from events of this kind. If you have the chance, I urge you to take the opportunity to prepare before attending an expo, or sending your sales guys to one.

It’s easy to think you know it all if you’ve attended a few, or that exhibiting at an event is just the same as holding a business meeting, but in a different arena. Whether it’s just a refresher, or a whole new entity, an educational program will stand you in good stead come next expo. If your event organiser does not have one in place, I am sure if you ask them, they will happily go out of their way to help you.

For event organisers – A bit of a tough talk

Going one step further, event organisers are now getting much tougher on exhibitors, and strongly encourage them to take advantage of the educational programs they provide. This is all for the right reasons, as you want exhibitors to come away from the experience feeling satisfied with the leads they’ve generated, and as though they have more than recouped any outlays associated with exhibiting at the event. Give a strong nudge to all your exhibitors to get involved in educational preparation, I am sure they won’t take it the wrong way – Some sensible budget holder would understand that you simply want both parties to achieve their objectives with the upcoming expo, and know you’re more likely to do so with the knowledge and experience they’ve picked up from years and years of hosting events.

For everyone - Industry leaders and organisations

Several professional bodies are leading the way in education for exhibitors. The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) in particular has a fully comprehensive program for those who need it. It is classified as a member benefit, so is attached to a fee, but could be more than worth the cost in terms of the quantity and quality of the leads you’ll generate as a result of this undertaking.

Free content - search for it

If none of the above avenues are available to you, then there is still no excuse for the “lazy exhibiting” I described earlier. If in doubt, get online! There is plenty of free content out there; all it takes is a quick Google search to find out about it. You can discover gems on how to engage with your visitors, keeping your sales teams motivated, how to make the most of audio and visual content, and general best practices, industry secrets and top tips.

Become an exhibitions expert

Organisations that buy a stand at a show do so for one single reason. LEADS, everyone wants more leads. But the reality is that event organisers provide you with the market place for this to happen, but if you are a lazy exhibitor (or whoever you decide to send to your booth is one of them), it will not happen, and this is your fault NOT the event organiser’s.

Remember, a great sales team does not necessarily make a great exhibiting team, and there’s no shame in needing a little extra training. Why bother showing up to an expo, where there is so much potential to make contact with relevant prospects, and come away with a vast number of new leads, only to screw it up with your (lack of) strategy?

Do you have lazy exhibitors at your event?

Eleven most talked about predictions for the conference and events industry

Topics: B2B Marketing Event Marketing Lead Generation