Taking it live – why livestreaming helps maximise exhibition ROI

November 8, 2017

Taking stand space at exhibitions can deliver exceptional returns but it’s also a big expense. You naturally want to ensure your investment pays off. One way to maximise your exhibition success while keeping costs under control is livestreaming.

There has been a lot of livestreaming software launched onto the market in the last couple of years, bringing this powerful technology within easy reach of every business, and adding an extra dimension to their marketing. Consider the marketing power of television combined with the engagement potential of a live event and you begin to see the benefits of livestreaming.

It doesn’t just enable you to reach a wider audience in real time, it gives you the facility to engage your audience before, during and after the event, in exciting and relevant ways that squeeze every ounce of value out of every aspect of your exhibition activity.

5 reasons to livestream your next exhibition

Brands as diverse as Airbnb, Chevrolet and BuzzFeed have leveraged livestreaming to support their events and exhibitions.

So here are six compelling reasons why your business should consider doing the same.

1. Increase your reach dramatically: According to the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 78% of exhibition attendees travel more than 400 miles to attend. That sort of commitment is likely to keep a significant proportion of your target market away, a point that’s backed up by the fact that 45% of attendees only visit one exhibition per year. So the most obvious benefit of livestreaming is that it extends the reach of your event activity beyond the attendees who turn up in person to a much wider (remote) audience.

The most obvious benefit of livestreaming is that it extends the reach of your event activity beyond the attendees who turn up in person to a much wider (remote) audience.

In the UK, for instance, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery recently used livestreaming to reach over 22,000 remote viewers for a new exhibition. A couple of weeks ago, the 44th WorldSkills Finals in Abu Dhabi was livestreamed, generating global engagement. Baselworld, the world’s premier watch and jewellery exhibition, attracted 86,000 global livestream viewers for their 2017 press conference (nearly eight times the audience for the previous year’s stream).

Livestreaming isn’t just useful for engaging the audience that couldn’t attend, it also enables attendees to take in more of the event without having to be in two places at once. They can have lunch while engaging with your seminar or product launch, for example. And you can add to the exhibition experience for your streaming audience by taking them on a guided tour, offering them a glimpse behind the scenes and giving them an opportunity to interact with you and make requests to see specific items.

2. Target your audience more accurately: It’s rare that your target demographic is exactly aligned to the exhibition audience. Indeed, many exhibitors would say they attend as much because they “have to be seen to attend” as anything else. Exhibiting becomes something you’ve always done, something your competitors do, rather than a well-planned strategy for increasing profitability, with measurable results. Livestreaming enables you to change all that and get so much more from your investment by directly reaching the people you want to target.

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery example above is a case in point. They decided to livestream to see if it would help them overcome a major challenge: they needed to reach a younger audience and they needed to reach people aged over 75.

For the over-75s, they livestreamed directly into a care home, bringing the exhibition experience to residents. Viewers could direct the stream themselves and choose which pieces to view. This gave the team valuable feedback to inform future exhibitions, while also reaching a demographic that was previously inaccessible.

For the younger audience, they used Periscope to livestream the exhibition. Knowing that Periscope attracts a younger demographic, they were able to specifically tailor the stream presentation to that younger audience, ultimately reaching over 22,000 viewers. The gallery has since reported an increase in young visitors and people visiting the gallery for the first time.

Livestreaming enables you to control the audience for your live exhibitions in a way you cannot in the live setting itself, and to add functionality such as interactivity to make the viewer experience more relevant and engaging. You might well find that, through using this functionality, you can reduce the number of events you need to attend and still reach a bigger overall audience.

3. Build greater brand awareness: Building brand awareness is one of the biggest benefits of taking space at an exhibition. In fact, the CEIR found this to be a primary benefit according to 88% of exhibitors. Exhibitions offer the rare opportunity to meet your potential customers face-to-face but livestreaming allows the same.

Once you’ve built a stand that aligns to your brand and tells your story in a way that creates a connection and hopefully converts visitors into sales leads, livestreaming enables you to broadcast that story beyond the four walls of the exhibition. This gives you an opportunity to build even greater brand awareness, by speaking to more potential “visitors” in a way that resonates.

4. Create snowball success: If you’re marketing your live event activities properly, you will be sending out communications before, during and after the event in order to build interest, deliver the spectacle, and then maximise the lasting impact of your event. Livestreaming is a valuable tool for all three stages.

Use your comms to alert your audience that you will be livestreaming the event and then offer them a taster, with streams of preview content, such as a teaser piece about a new product you’re launching at the event or an interview with a key member of staff, which gives your audience a level of insight they could not otherwise obtain. This can have the double benefit of engaging the livestream audience and persuading potential attendees to make the effort to come and visit you at the event. Some exhibitors worry that livestreaming will replace live attendance but the opposite is more likely. Livestreaming is a potent advertising tool that can help you recruit visitors for your next event.

Livestreaming is a potent advertising tool that can help you recruit visitors for your next event.

Extend your content plan beyond the duration of the exhibition as well. Livestreaming can turn a one-time event into a recurring sales and marketing tool. You can create a post-exhibition video destination page where your event community, both real and virtual, can revisit video clips, ask questions, experience your products, and interact with your brand.

In this way, live steaming gives greatly improved ROI, giving you valuable sales and marketing collateral on top of the exhibition itself, for marginal extra cost. You get more for your money, essentially, with an asset you can use at the heart of your future marketing efforts.

5. Get valuable feedback: The nemesis of event success is poor feedback and success measurement. A staggering 59% of marketers believe they have no way to measure ROI at events and exhibitions, and, as I mentioned earlier, only continue to invest in exhibiting because they have always exhibited and because their competitors are exhibiting.

Poor feedback mechanisms mean you don’t know whether your exhibition was on the right track. You keep doing the same thing “just in case”, because you don’t want to rock the boat. But you can look at depth at the success/failure of exhibiting – and livestreaming can help you do so. It may not be feasible to take your entire marketing department and leadership team to your exhibition, but their feedback would be invaluable if you could only get it. Livestreaming enables you to do just that, leveraging the talent of your organisation to help to determine whether or not the event was successful and where there is room for improvement.

That’s what livestreaming does. It allows you to deliver first-hand experience of your exhibition to stakeholders who can’t be there, so the business can make better decisions going forward.

Livestreaming allows you to deliver first-hand experience of your exhibition to stakeholders who can’t be there, so the business can make better decisions going forward.

Make exhibitions work harder for you with livestreaming

Exhibitions are an opportunity to tell your brand story and show your product to more people. Livestreaming your exhibits allows you to do that on a bigger scale, extending your reach, amplifying your brand and reaching new demographics over a longer period.

Livestreaming helps generate awareness and inspire more potential visitors for your future exhibitions. It transforms an exhibition from a one-time event into an ongoing asset and helps key stakeholders become involved. Future event marketing decision-making becomes more informed and more democratic, so your business spends money in the right places long-term.

For a relatively very small cost, livestreaming offers an immediate impact on the effectiveness of each event you take part in and also helps your future exhibition strategy. Instead of being an expensive routine that no-one in the company understands, livestreaming puts live events at the very core of your overall marketing strategy.