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Promotion case histories.

A number of associations have found it to their advantage to work closely with their exhibitors to promote attendance. Richard Dobson, Jr., formerly senior vice president of conventions and expositions for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Washington, D.C. (now executive vice president of Atwood Convention Publishing and Galaxy Registration, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, branch), says, "For years we watched as our exhibitors advertised their participation in our event. Then we had an idea: What would happen to attendance if the exhibitors included information that a potential attendee could use to actually register and obtain housing?" He developed camera-ready copy with the association's 800-number that exhibitors could use in their advertising.

The only problem, he says, is that there was no incentive. NAB subsequently developed a point system that awarded benefits to advertisers who actually used the copy. "Every time they placed an ad they received points, no matter what the time or publication. Points could be cashed in towards any advertising vehicles that we offer, such as the program, mailing list purchases, and so forth."

Dobson has also offered to mail promotional pieces to exhibitors who offer their lists; they can be reluctant to share, however, because of the proprietary nature of the information.

He's continually looking for new ways to promote the show with the exhibitors. "We will look at any idea for co-op marketing with our exhibitors," he says, but warns against expecting results too quickly. "It takes more than three years to make almost any change in the show."

Consumer Electronics Shows, Washington, D.C., allows exhibitors to rent the pre-registered show list so they can send promotional materials to attendees. In return, the organization also asks exhibitors for the names of their top 10 companies and provides those delegates with VIP passes, lunch tickets, and fax and office services. In addition, the communications department of Consumer Electronics Shows asks the preregistered media if their names can be sent to exhibitors, and then provides a list of publications and media that will be attending the show. This makes it easier for exhibitors to send press kits and promote their new products--and the show itself in the process.

Nancy Berg, director of exhibitions for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Dearborn, Michigan, says, "We consider exhibitor-generated promotion to be the critical component of the success of any of our trade shows."

SME produces 15 to 20 shows a year around the world. Her organization supplies free custom-imprinted VIP tickets, offers the preregistration list for mailings, and holds contests and offers incentives for exhibitors that engage in successful promotions.

"Every producer of trade shows provides an exhibitor service manual that shows how to order, design an exhibit, etc.," she says. "We also do a separate binder called an exhibitor promotion kit that's customized for every show."

Berg is excited about the prospects for attendance promotion partnering. "Once a company sees the benefit of direct involvement in promotion, it's committed to involving [itself] in a big way," she says. "There's no doubt that when we have a successful exhibitor-generated promotional campaign, we have a higher level of buyers."
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Association Management
Date:Dec 1, 1994
Words:519
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