Event Roadshows: A Complete Guide


Tim CookManaging Director of Versatile Venues

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

One of the most popular trends in the event industry in 2019 was undoubtedly the event roadshow. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this kind of event was gaining traction as an increasingly prevalent solution for taking an event to the next level.

Article 8 Minutes
Event Roadshows: A Complete Guide

Event planning in general requires a lot of juggling, but the logistical nature of roadshows can be even more complicated. This means that when you’re planning an event roadshow, you need to prepare well in advance to ensure you’re hitting your targets and deliverables.

We’ve put together a complete guide to the event roadshow process, so that when everything gets back to normal, you can deliver an event which satisfies all your business targets.

What is an event roadshow?

An event roadshow usually takes place across various locations, with the goal of reaching a key demographic in different towns and cities. These events may include Q&A panels, speakers, product demonstrations, interactive experiences and networking opportunities.

The idea behind an event like this is to provide a unique opportunity to get in front of existing and new demographics to find out how their reaction to your brand may differ from location to location.

Deciding on the fundamentals

Before you even set tire to tarmac, you and your team must all be on the same page in regards to how this event will proceed – after all, there’s no chance you can be overprepared.

During these initial stages, it’s crucial that everyone is clear on why this kind of event is the best way forward and what you’re hoping to achieve. This means digging down into the nitty-gritty, where no stone should be left unturned. Everything from location scouting to constant inter-team communication needs to take place.

For example, you may be thinking about taking your roadshow across the globe – we’ll say London, New York, Paris and Tokyo, for argument’s sake. However, have you stopped to consider the justification for doing so?

You may wish to consider the following:

  • Is an international roadshow necessary, could you instead visit four cities in one country?
  • Do these specific cities meet your demographic requirements?

And most importantly:

  • Is a roadshow event actually necessary for your business?

When you can adequately answer these questions, the better understanding you’ll have of what you’re hoping to achieve.

How to develop a data-driven event strategy

What can’t speak, can’t lie, and once you’ve collated the data in front of you, you’ll have all the tools necessary to convince people within your organization that this event strategy is the correct one.

The most common questions you’ll be asked are:

  • What is the target audience?
  • How will that audience benefit from attending this event?
  • What themes, content and topics might appeal to them?
  • What locations would attract current and new audiences?
  • How does this event roadshow achieve our company goals?

To find the answers to these questions, you’ll need to dig deep into the data, using the following insights:

Previous event data

To find out if your key demographics are interested in what you’re proposing, take a look at previous events. This means going back and delving into any data that you’ve collected from any prior event.

Ideally, this will help you build a picture of the kinds of people that are attending these events, which in turn will give you an idea as to whether your key audiences will be interested in what you intend to put to them.

Any data you discover must answer the following:

  • Did your past event attract the right personas?
  • Where were your attendees located?
  • What activities, speakers or experiences encouraged the most engagement?
  • What feedback were you given?

Although there are quite a few bases to cover, answering these questions will provide you with all of the information you need to shape your event.

Research and development

If you have both time and resource, it’s worth visiting the locations you intend to bring your event to, in order to get a good idea as to whether its suitable for the audience.

You may also get an opportunity to envision how your event might be executed, what laws may be in force, and how your strategy may need to deviate depending on location. Seeing something with your own eyes takes a lot of the guesswork away.

Set objectives

Once you’ve justified that a roadshow event is the very thing your company requires, you must then define the goals that you’re looking to achieve. Every event will have a slightly different objective, so this is crucial:

These could be:

  • Looking to take your brand into new territories
  • Launching a brand-new product
  • Solidifying current audience relationships, while creating interest from previously untapped markets

By selecting a few primary objectives, you can use them to inform the rest of your strategy. These goals must be realistic and achievable.

Having the right goals in place from the get-go is equally as crucial as your capacity to achieve them.

Time to look at locations

Now that you’ve pushed ahead with plans and your aspirations for the event have been formalized, the next phase begins. Selecting your roadshow locations requires a great deal of thought since your event will live and die by your choice of location.

For example, perhaps a great deal of your key demographic resides in North America, in which case, you may wish to select three or four big cities across the US.

Creating the right event content

Now the fundamentals have been moved into place; it’s time to refine the details. The trickiest part of creating your messaging and content for a roadshow is the fact that you’re walking a line between speaking to a specific location while trying to maintain a consistent marketing message.

This is an area that requires a great deal of attention; otherwise, you run the risk of putting out mixed messages that don’t appeal to anyone.

Consider interactivity

One considerable advantage that a roadshow has over a one-off event, like a convention, is that it allows you to be more flexible in exploring interactive experiences due to its more casual nature.

However, remember that experiential marketing campaigns are mostly stand-alone events, used to bring direct value to an audience through experiential set pieces and product demos. This means it’s easy to distract your audience from your true intentions, if you’re relying on flashy gimmicks.

Of course, that’s not to say that a studiously selected experiential marketing campaign can’t encourage an emotive connection to your brand when done well.

Spreading the word

Now goals, logistics, locations, messaging and interactive experiences have been decided; it’s time to get the megaphone out and shout about it.

With an event like this, it’s essential to leverage every channel you have to hand to let people know you’ll soon be pitching up in a location near them.

To do so, you should consider the following techniques:

Creating a content series

Use the build-up to the roadshow as a chance to generate some a buzz that gets people energized about what’s to come.

This could be a series of blogs, videos, or images that shows your audience what’s happening behind the curtain.

No matter how you decide to approach this, it’s important that your chosen medium is capable of building a momentum that not only enlightens but gets people excited too.

Social media

Taking advantage of social media channels to let people know about your event is a key factor, and may well be the difference between success and failure.

You may also wish to consider pushing some sponsored content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for maximum coverage.

When social media is used within a business setting, its greatest attribute is its shareability, which is why it’s essential to create content that is easy for your audience to consume and share. While this will take a little extra time on your part, it will make all the difference in the end.

Geographical content

When you hit the road and enter different countries and cities, you must be sure that your messages are interchangeable, so they fit the geographical area in question.

For example, if you’re entering a foreign country, you may wish to translate your content or have whatever your speakers are saying interpreted to fit the local language of your audience.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting a territory which shares a common language, you should certainly look into some of the local customs. For example, serving some local dishes or bringing in some regional entertainers such as dancers.

How to measure the success of the event

So, your roadshow went off without a hitch, and your events were successful on face value, but how do you know if you’ve actually achieved all that you wanted to?

Your success will depend largely on what you set out to do from the beginning, and you will need to use specific metrics to determine whether the goals were met.

For example:

  • If you wanted to expand your brand reach, you should look at ticket sales, social media interaction and local buzz around the event.
  • If your goal was to increase revenue, sponsorship and ticket sales might be important metrics for you.
  • If you were trying to increase interest around a new product, you could look at email signups and customers who signed up to buy the product when it’s released.

Depending on what you set out to achieve, you might not be able to determine the success of your roadshow until months afterwards.

Key takeaways

The buzz word in business circles these days is ‘why’. This is because the why behind your event will eventually inform your key demographics, content creation and quantifiable metrics.

Everything you require during the planning and strategy phase of your event roadshow is already in front of you; it’s just a case of finding the correct information from the data available.

Tim Cook

Tim Cook is an events and marketing expert and the Managing Director of UK-based events company versatilevenues.co.uk


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