Founded in 1993, Step Exhibitions is a specialist event organising company with a proven record of delivering conferences, congresses, exhibitions and scientific meetings to a world class standard. Based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, Step organises twenty three annual events across a number of different sectors including healthcare, biomedical, food technology, data centres, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, buildings and property.
The company’s overall approach when working with organisations is to combine their skills in the planning, organising, selling, marketing and delivery of conferences and exhibitions together with the specialist knowledge and expertise of partner organisations to create well balanced, progressive and integrated events.
Step Exhibitions engaged The Telemarketing Company to help promote a range of conferences, dinners and awards in the healthcare, personal care and construction sectors. Step had worked previously with another telemarketing provider but had made a decision to look for a new agency because results had fallen short both in terms of quality and quantity. In addition, Step wanted an agency that could work consultatively with their clients to nurture opportunities through an open, solution-based approach rather than a ‘hard-sell’. In addition to a solution sales methodology, The Telemarketing Company stood out because of their deep and broad experience within events promotion. Following an initial event, the agency was engaged the following year to promote four events and then this was extended to encompass the full programme in London and Manchester: Healthcare Estates, Education Estates, Design in Mental Health, Hospital Innovations, Construction Industry Summit, and CIBSE (The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) Conference.
A structured plan was devised to manage the size and complexity of the events programme, which needed to integrate telemarketing with other channels including email, direct mail and print advertising in industry specific journals. With target attendance averaging 400 delegates per event and attendance fees ranging up to £500 per individual, a systematic approach was adopted in order to drive the required attendance. Campaigns began six months before each event, with calling continuing right up to the week before each event took place.
Callers were required to sign up individuals and groups via an online registration form taking credit card details or invoice information to facilitate payment processing. The process needed to accommodate a complex pricing structure, which varied depending on industry type (For example, NHS delegates received preferential rates), registration date (Early Bird rates applied at the start of the campaign) and length of attendance (delegates could book for one or two days attendance).
Data was supplied by Step Exhibitions, and was prioritised and grouped according to previous conference attendees, previous exhibition attendees who might wish to attend the conference, attendees of similar events, as well as cold contacts in relevant industry sectors. The Telemarketing Company was responsible for data management and created segments for each event’s target audience and sector focus. The agency was also tasked with maintaining and updating the contact database for each event, which was essential given the high staff turnover in target sectors such as NHS/healthcare. Incorporating the data refresh and email capture into the campaign was fundamental to the success of future events, providing a solid foundation for multi-channel marketing going forward.
Call recordings and regular reporting shared with Step Exhibitions enabled both parties to work together to refine the campaign and improve campaign performance. The team at Step was encouraged to communicate directly with the calling team at The Telemarketing Company, allowing them to give open feedback and provide coaching around the calls, and to respond quickly to any queries raised. This collaborative approach helped integrate the teams and build a strong partnership, which in turn drove productivity and results.
The structured and systematic approach and the continuous refresh of contact data have yielded strong results – there has been a year on year increase in paid delegate bookings across all events and footfall has also increased to each of the free exhibitions which take place throughout the events. For the Health Estates event, 273 visitors were signed up by The Telemarketing Company generating £50,389 in attendance fees, against an investment of around £11,000. In addition, there are an increased number of clients signing up for both days of the event and an increased percentage of registrations from the private sector in line with the client’s strategy. Based on campaign results, Step Exhibitions has now engaged The Telemarketing Company to support subsequent annual programmes.