Last week we visited the National Apprenticeship Show. It was a great event full of energy and enthusiasm, and lots of attractive stands from leading employers.
However, not every stand was up to the same standard. Whilst some had invested in VR, interactive games and exciting displays, there were others who decided that two people standing in front of a bland, generic backdrop would be enough to bring in the punters.
Probably the most intriguing exhibition was from GCHQ which consisted of an empty space and some curtains. We’re still not sure if they didn’t turn up or it was an elaborate test where, if you could find the recruiters then you obviously had the acumen to succeed in the world of espionage.
The entire experience brought home to us the need to make a real effort with your exhibition displays. Exhibitions matter. They give you the chance to meet potential employees face to face and drive home your employer brand propositions. And they matter to those looking for a job. Our recent survey of Generation Z showed that Job Fairs were still seen as a good way of finding a job, well above Facebook, Twitter and Careers Advisers in terms of importance.
If you’re working in a narrow sector then exhibitions are a great for talking to your talent audience en masse. For example, there’s a big demand for nurses at the moment, and an event where nurses gather together should be a gold mine for those looking to recruit.
Like most things relating to employer marketing, if you don’t make an effort then you won’t be rewarded. The competition is too tough. Investing in an eye catching, interactive and memorable exhibition space should be a priority for recruiters. You need to think big, have a plan of what visitors will do when they visit your stand, a script of what you’re going to say and a simple, frictionless way of obtaining their details so you can follow up later.
You may wish to invest in interactive games or visuals. As mentioned, Virtual Reality is becoming more and more common at recruitment fairs and can be fairly cost-effective to implement. Some form of video is also a must. Not everyone is confident enough to go up and talk to you and giving them something to watch from a distance can get your message across to all your audiences.
Make sure your literature looks good, is consistent with your brand and you bring enough of it on the day. Print is still very important.
You might also consider using the latest technology to reach your visitors at the exhibition without them even visiting your stand. We’ve helped clients to deliver messages to mobile phones within a certain geographical space, meaning everyone who attended knew that the client was there and had already learned something about their employer brand.
Social media can really help you create a buzz before the event begins. Repeatedly mention the event in the lead up, and how much you’re looking forward to being there and meeting everyone. Give people a reason to attend. Make sure you say when, where and, if possible, which stand you are going to be on. Talk about any activities you’ll be doing: competitions, freebies etc.
At the event itself, share pictures of your stand being set up. You could create a Snapchat filter for your location or a hashtag specific to the event so people can share their pictures. Make sure you retweet and like these pics throughout the day. Mention the event handle and hashtag in a few of your posts. They are likely to be retweeted and get you more exposure.
After the event, write a closing post along the lines of ‘sadly it’s the end of the event – if you missed us don’t worry you can still contact us here’ or ‘we will be at another event next week’. An overview of the event works well; if you’ve taken a video of the day then upload it. Use content from the exhibition to promote your next event.
Exhibitions are investment of time and money on your part. Not making the most of them is a waste of your resources. So, go on and make an exhibition of yourself and start funnelling talent directly into your recruitment process.