Jonathan Heastie & Toby Wand discuss the importance of content in attracting visitors to a trade exhibition.

The SEC is home to a broad range of trade exhibitions, with two of the largest being All-Energy and ScotHot.

For our latest blog, we spoke to experts Johnathan Heastie, Exhibition Director at Reed Exhibitions and Toby Wand, Event Consultant and former ScotHot Event Director, to find out the importance of content in attracting visitors to trade show exhibitions. 

Content drives customer value

Both our experts agree that content is crucial in ensuring that attendees have something tangible to take back to their organisation. Jonathan said: “In a world where we are so time precious, an event needs to offer something extra to justify taking a day or two out of the office. As a result, this is why content is so important. Without offering great content that is relevant, it can hinder attendees returning and attracting newcomers.”

Toby comments: “I view content as the glue which holds the exhibition together, as the content will form the proposition of the event and determine the customer offering. Content is what drives customer value, it is what entices an audience to attend and ultimately it forms what they will take away from the event.” 

Creating relevant content is key

So, we know that content is important to the audience once they get there, but how, exactly, do they go about curating that content in the run up to the event?

Jonathan, finds that government legislation drives a considerable amount of his content: “Due to the nature of renewable energy, a range of content is led by Government policies. As a result, there’s a need to inform attendees on all the latest updates.”

Toby, referring to ScotHot, says that research plays a pivotal role in content curation: “We invested a huge amount of time and effort into researching what the audience wanted, thereafter, the results were used to form the five key themes of the exhibition. I believe there’s nothing worse than having badly thought out content, as it will have a negative impact on both visitors and exhibitors.

Having a star attraction

Both All-Energy and ScotHot offer a comprehensive programme of seminars and speakers to attract audiences, but on top of that each event often has a marquee speaker which acts as a star attraction.

Jonathan has found that using an influential key speaker is a key driver in enticing attendees. “At the 2017 edition of All-Energy, Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, opened the conference to a packed auditorium. A speaker such as the First Minister is a big draw as the Government can dictate what happens in our marketplace so attendees are really interested in what they have to say,” he said.

Toby, commented “In the 2017 edition of ScotHot, Gary MacLean, who won MasterChef The Professionals the previous year, featured across many of the live showcases and was a major draw for the audience. Using a featured guest such as Gary is an excellent marketing ploy and heled reinforce the content proposition to visitors.”

Both went on to say that however strong a key note speaker is, this must be backed up by additional valuable content across the event.

Ultimately, then, how important is content?

“The influence content can have should not be underestimated, as without a quality offering, attendance numbers would simply not be as strong,” finalises Jonathan.

“Overall, content is instrumental to the success of a trade exhibition not just in attracting visitors but it can also help secure event sponsors and partners. Therefore, having a strong content proposition can entice all potential stakeholders to an event,” adds Toby. 

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that content plays an integral part in the success of a trade show, no matter what market it focuses on.

Local and national legislations and policies can be slightly different in Scotland than the rest of the UK, as Jonathan pointed out, and we can help to open doors to local government and academia to help deliver content which is in line with these.

We’d like to thank our experts, Jonathan and Toby, for their expert advice on the importance of trade show content. In our next Clan of Experts blog, we’ll be looking at how organisers adapt their marketing by geography.

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