In the dynamic landscape of the UK construction industry, participating in events and exhibitions can serve as a powerful platform for both short-term sales activation as well as networking, brand exposure, and knowledge sharing.
Participation in these events, however, comes with a financial investment that demands strategic planning and resource allocation making it a lot harder to reach an ROI (Return on Investment) that would be taken seriously and seen as a success. Even those with deep pockets must produce the goods as proof that the marketing budget has been well spent.
But it’s not always about the monetary return. Sure, when crunching the numbers it can look disappointing or even be seen as a failure to show a return, but as we all know it’s never as simple as that as cogs turn slowly within construction and long sales cycles can mean getting purchase approval can take months or even years.
Whether you’re a seasoned participant or a newcomer to the realm of construction events and exhibiting, making the most of your budget is crucial to achieving a substantial impact and reaching your targets – financially or otherwise.
Here are four ways to maximise your budget and impact at construction events, plus a long, long list of the many construction industry events that are currently running (dated August 2023).
- Speaking and seminars: Elevate your expertise
One of the most effective ways to stand out at a construction event is by taking the stage as a speaker or seminar host. Offering valuable insights and expertise not only positions you and your brand as an industry authority but also attracts a larger and more engaged audience to your stand or online presence (basically wherever you tell people to engage with you)!
If you haven’t been asked directly by the organisers if you’d like to be a speaker at the event, approach them yourself. Just make sure you provide them with all the details they need to make the right decision and say yes! Details such as position, expertise, discussion title, topics covered and outcomes are all welcome… basically, anything that helps the organisations do their job.
Prioritise topics that resonate with your target audience, addressing pressing challenges, emerging trends, or innovative solutions.
Remember that it’s not all down to the organisers to push and promote your presentation, you should be doing this yourself. Promote it well in advance, leveraging event marketing materials and social media platforms to generate buzz and anticipation. Post event, utilise the material, repurposing it for marketing communications. This can include the presentation itself, speakers notes, video, audio, Q&As, FAQs, the list is quite long and makes it all the more valuable in speaking in the first place.
- Give people a reason to attend: Planning ahead for engagement
Waiting until the last minute to brainstorm engagement ideas for your exhibition space can lead to masses of missed opportunities. Instead, approach event planning with a strategic mindset and tactical execution.
Create a comprehensive plan that outlines the experiences and interactions (yes, you can make this an unforgettable experience) you intend to offer attendees. This could include:
- Interactive demonstrations
- Product launches
- Giveaways such as food and beverages
- Hands-on activities (ya know, the touchy-feely stuff)
- Meet and greets
- On-stand discussions/debates
- After-event activities (see point 3)
Note: make sure they have some connection with your brand and they are not just there to make you feel good by giving stuff out for free!
Think about events you have attended, what grabbed your attention and what sticks in your mind. By enticing visitors with a compelling reason to stop by, you increase foot traffic and enhance the likelihood of meaningful connections, conversations and conversions.
Remember, your stand is there to do ONE thing and that is to attract the right people to it and make them stop and engage with you. A fishbowl for business cards and a tray of Haribo don’t cut it I’m afraid. When your stand isn’t there to do this heavy lifting (i.e. pre and post-exhibition) you need to pick up the mantle, communicate effectively and continue to make compelling reasons for prospects to make contact with you.
- Think outside of your stand: Extending your reach
While a well-designed exhibition stand is undoubtedly important, maximising impact goes beyond the physical confines of your stand. Consider hosting off-site events, satellite gatherings, or exclusive dinners to foster deeper connections with key stakeholders. Others will be doing the same so how can you appeal to your target audience to come to your thing, not someone else’s?
Collaborations with local businesses or industry partners to co-host events will draw a wider audience, an audience you would not have necessarily gained attention from otherwise, providing additional exposure and very little (if any) expense.
Don’t forget to walk the floor as well. Exhibitions invariably have lulls when your stand won’t be as busy as you hoped, providing the best excuse to go and chat with other exhibitors. Not to sell to them, obviously, but to start to make more connections within the industry that could turn into potential collaborations or referrals as the chances are that your prospects will be in the same industry (at least) as other exhibitors (unless you’ve chosen the wrong event and at this point you have bigger problems to worry about).
These unconventional approaches can set you apart and create lasting memories for attendees.
- Collaborate with others: Strength in numbers
In the spirit of collaboration, consider partnering with complementary businesses or organisations to pool resources and expand your reach. Jointly presenting at an event can lead to shared costs, enhanced visibility, and a broader network. Look for opportunities to co-create content, share stand space, or collaborate on themed pavilions that resonate with a specific audience. By working together, you amplify your impact and showcase a united front within the construction industry.
Post-event strategy – The end of the event isn’t the end of the event
See this as a bonus tip as we couldn’t leave out one of, if not the most important part of any event or exhibition you attend which is the post-event period and what you do during this time. It’s easy to drop the baton and think the hard work is done as the curtains close on another construction event. It’s only the beginning.
A well-executed post-event strategy is essential for capitalising on the momentum generated during the event – the event, for you, is just the beginning. Follow up with leads promptly, nurturing relationships and delivering promised resources. Leverage social media and email marketing to share event highlights, exclusive content, and follow-up surveys. This continued engagement reinforces your brand’s presence and keeps your connections warm, setting the stage for future clients, collaborations and opportunities.
Exhibit to the max!
Maximising your budget and impact at construction events requires a strategic approach that goes way beyond a traditional stand setup. By embracing speaking opportunities, planning engaging experiences, exploring unconventional avenues, and fostering collaborations, you can create a memorable and influential presence within the industry.
Remember, the end of the event marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship-building process that holds the potential to shape the future of your brand within the UK construction landscape.
The construction industry events and exhibitions list
|Modular Matters Conference
|Destination Workplace: Places Where People Want to Be
|London, Business Design Centre
|The Construction Summit 2023
|London Tower Hotel
|Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition
|Arena MK, Milton Keynes
|Welsh Construction Show – Cardiff
|Cardiff City Stadium
|UK Construction Week
|Digital Construction Week
|Geo Business 2023
|Scotland Development Conference
|Edinburgh International Conference Centre
|Smart Factory Expo
|Peterborough East of England Arena & Events Centre
|QE II Centre, London
|Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre, Warwickshire
|UK Construction Week
|Welsh Construction Show – Swansea
|Liberty Stadium Swansea
|Milton Keynes Stadium MK
|Smart Buildings Show
|Manchester Old Trafford
|London Build Expo
|London Stamford Bridge
|Regen Conference and Exhibition
|Rum Warehouse Liverpool
|Northern Ireland Offsite Construction Conference
|Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast
What events are missing? Let us know so we can add to this ever-growing list.
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