4 Quick Tips for Building an Exhibitor Referral Marketing Program

In just a few weeks, we’re heading to Washington D.C. for the 2018 Attendee Acquisition Roundtable (AAR).

As one of the sponsors for this year’s event, we’re looking forward to participating in a power-packed day of information-sharing and brainstorming new ideas to find, attract and retain attendees to grow events.

Of course, social media and email communication are likely to continue to be hot discussion topics during the event. According to new research that will be released during the Roundtable, these communication channels are two of the top drivers for attendance growth.

But as we’ve been working with our clients on their social referral marketing programs, we’ve noticed another topic gaining traction and likely worthy of discussion during AAR: exhibitor referral marketing programs.

As more organizers tap attendees to promote attendance and awareness of an event to their networks through social referrals and other channels like influencer marketing, it’s time to do the same with exhibitors and sponsors.

Follow these four quick tips to build a referral marketing program that harnesses the power of exhibitors or sponsors and their networks.

  1. Offer Value-Based Incentives

One reason social referral marketing has been effective for many organizers is that it’s based on trust. Peers share and recommend an event they’ve attended or will be attending with their networks. Because 92 percent of consumers trust referrals from people they know, those recommendations carry tremendous weight.

And because those recommendations happen organically – meaning advocates aren’t paid to make the referrals – the underlying trust foundation remains intact.

When it comes to offering incentives for exhibitor or sponsor referral marketing programs, the same concept applies. Incentives that provide value to the exhibitor or sponsor, like free online marketing enhancements, booth upgrades or credits applied to future costs, organically reward participants for participation and create a win-win for everyone involved.

  1. Provide Promotions to Drive Participation

Exhibitors and sponsors are often overwhelmed with their to-do lists running up to an event. Aside from the logistics, they have their own marketing efforts and promotions to tend to, so promoting the benefits of attending an event can often take a back seat.

Organizers can increase the likelihood of exhibitor or sponsor participation in a referral marketing program by providing ready-made promotions, such as:

Tailored promotions that include a name or logo, booth number and/or other details like special discount registration codes make it completely turn-key for exhibitors or sponsors to use in their promotion efforts.

  1. Prioritize Partner Outreach

For organizers, it can be overwhelming to think about coordinating a referral marketing program with all exhibitors or sponsors.

Rather than targeting every single possible exhibitor or sponsor, prioritize the involvement of key partners. These may be your exhibitors with the largest presence on the show floor or top-tier sponsors.

Targeting those with a vested interest makes the process more manageable, and at the same time, increases the likelihood of partner participation.

One other key tip. Your exhibitor or sponsor contact may not have full access to their database of customers and prospects. As part of prioritizing partner outreach, make sure to loop in other key marketing and sales personnel within the exhibiting or sponsoring company to your efforts.

  1. Measure and Reward Participation

Referral marketing program success hinges upon measuring and rewarding participation. As such, establishing what, where and how data points are collected to track effectiveness is critical.

For example, as special registration codes are used, analyze and share results on a regular basis with exhibitors and sponsors to illustrate the payback of their efforts.

Ultimately, an exhibitor or sponsor referral marketing program not only helps organizers reach previously unreachable attendees but also creates happier exhibitors and sponsors. Partners also directly benefit by an increased customer and prospect attendance – which improves the chances they re-sign for a future event, tell other potential exhibitors about the event and encourage their participation –creating a reciprocal benefit for organizers.

Schedule a demo to learn more about the benefits of social referral marketing as part of your audience acquisition strategy.

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