Tap Your Venues for Local Reach

By Siroun Majarian
Market Research Analyst, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

A recent CEIR report (MC41 – Effective Methods for Visitor Promotion, Part 1: Exhibition Organizers) makes an excellent case for channel organizers to maximize their reach. One channel few organizers use is to work within their venue or convention center to find and market to attendees.

Venues are unique in the face-to-face business. A venue has two sets of clients – the organizers who rent the building, and the attendees and exhibitors who take part in the event. But venues also have their own direct relationships with local media and local audience pools via a venue’s head of marketing and public relations, both of which are excellent resources.

Venues develop their own sales program to help fill in their dark (or available) dates, and these sales departments also often have direct relationships with major corporations, universities and other institutions nearby. Need access to someone in a state or local government agency to invite to your conference? There’s a pretty good chance that someone in the venue’s management organization will know someone and be able to make the connection for you. Venue public relations departments today also manage their own Twitter feeds. Asking for re-tweets on your campaigns and event information is a quick way to extend your reach.

Try a brainstorming session by telephone with the head of PR to learn about whom to talk to at local media outlets – television, regional cable news channels, daily and weekly newspapers. And in today’s social media environments, do not forget the many online sites that are rapidly becoming the news sources that Gen Y’s turn to. Here in Boston, Twitter-based news feeds and these followers will re-tweet event content, announce speakers and keynotes and highlight exhibitors, especially local companies – all for free.

Show organizers must continue to rethink how they market to attract audiences. Years ago it was direct mail brochures, catalogues and guest tickets mailed to prospects and through exhibitors. More recently it has included digital marketing programs including email, PDFs of brochures, and in-bound marketing to an event’s website. It is time to expand your thinking to include your convention centers, CVBs and even Chambers of Commerce to help find B2B and B2C attendee prospects.

When in doubt – make the phone call and just ask!

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