Leveraging the Symbiotic Value of Trade Shows

Leveraging the Symbiotic Value of Trade Shows

IVY Marketing Group hosts a booth every year at state and occasionally national trade shows in the senior housing industry. Next up for us is just around the corner at the LeadingAge Illinois Annual Meeting and Expo in Schaumburg April 2-4. We’re at booth #512 – come visit us!

Why should I attend a trade show, you ask? And maybe you’re also wondering why we, or anyone, exhibits at them. Let’s explore both of those questions.

Why Attend a Trade Show?

Every year, more and more professionals attend an industry trade show, for various good reasons. Let’s explore some of the most compelling, based on statistics supporting the value of trade shows and expos.

  1. Discovering new products and services. Learning about new products and services is the number one reason people go to a trade show. In fact, a full 92% of attendees report they go for this purpose. Finding out what’s new in one’s field is key for companies and individuals who want to stay on top of the latest trends and ahead of the competition. Experiencing upfront, in person what innovations are or will soon become available is inspiring for professionals looking for new ideas and better ways to serve their customer base. Most trade shows and expos are chock full of booths at which visitors can see and demo products and learn from major players in the industry. They often get some good swag, too!
  2. Networking. Trade shows present a unique opportunity for professionals in similar arenas to gain in-person access to one another, make memorable and fruitful connections, have constructive conversations, exchange ideas and contact information and, sometimes, even form business partnerships on the spot. It’s easy to ignore a message from a faceless person you’ve never met, but much harder to do with someone you’ve encountered personally at an event with like-minded career people. Trade shows also offer prime face time and relationship building with existing vendors and clients.
  3. Learning something. Many trade shows and expos feature topic-specific educational sessions with keynote speakers and thought leaders in their field. A trade show is a wonderful way to learn a new skill, gain up-to-the-minute information on industry developments, satisfy a continuing education or training requirement, and get expert tips on company growth and success.
  4. One-Stop-Shop. At a trade show, everything and everyone is in one place, dedicated to one purpose: professional growth. In a single consolidated area, trade show visitors can discover new products, get fresh ideas, meet prospective business partners, clients, vendors, learn industry skills and trends, and compare companies offering similar products and services. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of opportunity!
  5. Return on Investment. There is some perception among trade show attendees (and exhibitors) that the cost and time involved are prohibitive. Fifty-six percent of attendees travel more than 400 miles to an expo, and many of them feel that the financial investment is too great as well. However, consider this: the average cost of an in-person meeting with a prospect or supplier at a trade show is $142, while the price of a courting that person on their turf is $259. The all-in-one-place possibilities a trade show presents are priceless in terms of both time and money. You might even say you can’t afford not to attend at least one per year. And consider this, too: 74 percent of attendees said they were more likely to buy products or services they’d seen at an expo.

    Why Exhibit at a Trade Show?

    Many of the reasons one would attend a trade show also apply to those who exhibit as well. A trade show is a symbiotic event, whereby both visitors and hosts gain from the experience in mutually beneficial ways.Ninety-nine percent of exhibitors agree that trade shows deliver unique benefits that cannot be attained through other marketing channels. Another compelling statistic is that nearly half of attendees go to only one trade show per year, meaning that exhibitors have the opportunity meet potential prospects that aren’t at any other expo.According to president and founder Debra Sheridan, IVY’s top reasons for exhibiting at trade shows are:

      • To showcase our capabilities as marketing specialists with 30 years of experience
      • To meet and network with new people and prospective clients
      • To greet friends and clients in the senior housing industry


    “We participate in trade shows throughout the country in both our vertical and horizontal markets. The horizontal market allows us exposure to prospective clients, new ideas and networking opportunities with our peers. The vertical market is where we learn what’s new and available to drive leads for our clients,” said Debra.

    Also important to Debra is demonstrating to IVY’s clients and business partners that we are committed to their industry. “They feel confident working with an agency that has experience in, and respect for, their industry as well as the longevity to support them and their trade organization year after year.”

    It is equally important to Debra to support her team by inviting them to join her in attending and exhibiting at trade shows. “The more we all learn and grow as a team, the better we can serve our clients and prospects.”

    The IVY team will be at booth #512 at the LeadingAge of Illinois Annual Meeting and Expo April 2-4 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. Come see us! Let’s plant the seeds of growth together.







Mature Audiences Only: Event Marketing for Senior Housing Part I

Mature Audiences Only: Event Marketing for Senior Housing Part I

The viral advantages of online marketing are undisputed, but, until recently, most seniors were not regular Internet or social media users. Today, 67% of people 65+ use the Internet, and 62% are on Facebook, and those numbers are rising all the time. In fact, 82% of Baby Boomers belong to at least one social media site and spend two hours more per week online than those aged 16-34.

Despite seniors’ increasing adoption of the Internet into their daily lives, events are still the most effective way to generate relationships with customers and leads across all populations, particularly among people 65 and above. Eighty percent of marketers believe that event marketing is the single most effective marketing channel, and seniors have more time and opportunity than other demographics to attend events.

Let’s examine how to take full advantage of event marketing for the senior housing arena.

Why an Event?
Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish by hosting an event. Are you aiming to raise awareness of your senior community within the greater community (appropriate for a guest list of 50+ people); are you hoping to reach a smaller group of marketing qualified or sales accepted leads? Whatever your purpose, your event should conform to your overarching objective in every way—whether it is to raise awareness, gather contact information, clinch interested leads, raise funds, strengthen bonds with community partners, or simply entertain.

Live and In Person
Regardless of the reason for your event, there is no substitute for face-to-face communication, live and in the flesh. No amount of technological advancement or social media connections can change that. Live events provide invaluable opportunities to showcase your mission in action, property(ies)/services and foster lasting relationships with your prospects and stakeholders. Older adults who haven’t been glued to their electronic devices all their lives are likely to appreciate that more than most.

What Kind of Event?
The reason you’re having an event must govern the kind of event to host, with every detail falling in line with your primary goal. That said, because older adults generally have more breathing room in their lives, events that encourage lingering and facilitate learning and/or provide quality entertainment are especially effective. Seniors are seasoned, savvy and wise, but they are also continuously seeking new experiences.

Events should not only showcase your community inside and out (fair weather is best for outside events and tours); they should also feature speakers or presentations on topics of special interest to older adults and their families or cultural enlightenment. Even if they’re not yet ready for a move, your guests will remember the senior community that provided them with a memorable day or evening, and they’ll be much more likely to contact you when they are ready. Keep in mind, too, that older adults are accustomed to and motivated by incentives such as discounts for “early bird” registration, raffles and giveaways. Unless your overhead is considerable or you’re trying to raise charitable funds, offer free events instead of those that impose a cost to attend.

Your community is the ideal location to host an event, because it invites guests directly into the space you want them to call home. There, you can let them experience not only your residences, but your fabulous dining and amenities, too. Larger venues are appropriate if you’re partnering with other sponsors in a conference or trade show setting that is focused on your industry rather than your senior living community(ies) per se, or if you’re celebrating a grand occasion or milestone with a sizable guest list and require more space.

How Many and Whom to Invite?
First, invite no more than your community can very comfortably accommodate. There should be plenty of dining space and food/beverages (including seconds), mingling areas, manned check-in stations, commodious seating/staging arranged appropriately for your focus activity, adequate lighting, handicap accessibility, apartments to tour, restroom accommodations, amenities/common areas to showcase or try out, and friendly staff to handle all of these offerings and answer any questions. As for whom to invite, check your goals again. Most senior event guest lists include resident prospects first and foremost, their adult children, friends, caregivers, grandchildren (if appropriate), your marketing and sales teams, community partners, donors, and any key players in the life of your community.

Watch for “Mature Audiences Only: Event Marketing for Senior Housing Part II” next week (or next month, in the case of our newsletter), when we will examine how to promote your event and assess results.