by Mark Lait

Event Marketing Essentials



Learn how we operate use different styles of displays to capture the audience we want to market to.

Display Booth_2 copy

There’s plenty of ways to skin this cat, and you can spend an enormous amount of money …


What is your offer? we run the same one for all campaigns and there is a good reason for that.


You need to have an audience to market to, let’s create one.


This is where it all comes together, we use an audience to go with your ad.


Event such as trade shows and lifestyle expos form part of our staple diet when it comes to lead capture, as you can see in the image above, with this display we are targeting our glamour division, but this is a case of one size fits all.

You can use the same set up for many different situations depending on where you are and what you are trying to promote, for example, we will use the same components of the display but we configure them differently to suit the situation, if we have a larger area will use the full display to provide a greater impression and if we are in a smaller area, we can break it down into a single box with a couple of banners.

The basic elements of your display booth will be your booth components, display pieces, stand and some form of data capture mechanism, we’ll cover these in some detail in the articles below. Be prepared for success because if you get loads of entries, (and there is a high likelihood that you will) you will then have to manage them, and this can be quite an ordeal but what a great problem to have!

Equipment And Displays

Display Booths 

If you do a google search on ‘expo displays’ you will find hundreds of sites that will offer you an enormous variety of options and once again, it is easy to be overwhelmed but you really don’t need too much, I believe that people want to see that you have the capability to take good photos, because they see themselves and their families in your displays, they don’t hav to be perfect. We’ve proved this time and again when we are next to another photographer who has spent $10,000 on their display. The same people walk past and we get the same amount of leads.

The display below cost us about $600, it has interchangeable wrap around graphics and basic storage under the removable top, we’ve used it for years for the smaller events and is a great option for shopping centres where there are strict compliance rules. It’s light, easy to carry and set up in minutes.

Pop up Banners 

These things are great! after years and years of trying every kind of media to present our images on, I would have to say that these provide the best value for money that you can get.

They show a range of images, you can design them so that they have offers to entice the public. Seriously, if you look at either of these there are 6 – 10 images as well as the branding of the division we are marketing to and this is all that we want in this busy world.

A quick summary, ‘yes I’m interested’, or ‘no, I’m not interested’ and people have made their choice, if they are interested, they will come to you to find out more and that’s when you cane have a more meaningful conversation with them.

Gone are the days of the spruiker challenging everyone who walked past by shoving a pamphlet in their face. We are servants to the public and need to treat the respectfully by being able to serve them when they require.

We have found that many people are like sharks … they circle their prey judging the best angle and the right time from which to attack and it is not at all uncommon to see people walk past two or three times before they come and approach you.

Display Hardware

We use a couple of different configuration of the same boxes and boards, and these were purchased more than 10 years ago, this is what we started out

with … a single box which measures 900 high and 600 square. The advantage of this style of display box is that it doesn’t take up much space which is always a big advantage.

There is a slot in the top for people to place their completed entires in and while you may be thinking that paper entries are long gone, don’t fool yourself! Paper entries can tell you a whole lot about the people you are going to be spending hours trying to convince to book a photoshoot with you.

Add an entry pad and a pen to the top of the box and you’re in business. This used to be our shopping centre display way back in the beginning, along with a chair and a couple of pull up banners it was an instant display.

Surprisingly, after going through the whole cycle of different display types, we are going back to the simple things … because it really doesn’t matter that much what you show, as long as you show them that you’re a serious operator.

The Complete Look

Here is one of our current display setups in a larger shopping centre – minimalism is a good thing, try not to overcrowd your displays as you may give people too much to have to consider. We have used seven display pieces here, four on the box behind and three on the main display table. We have found that the old adage of ‘less is more’ is very true.


The Offer/Competition

We use the same offer for all campaigns with good reason. If you have too many variables, you open the door for confusion, both for yourself and for the customer.

Remember, this is about making money from photography and one of the most fundamental ways of doing that is to save time on unnecessary content, the simpler and easier to understand your offer is, the more engagement you will get. people have ,limited time and attention spans in today’s world so you need to brief and impactful.

Our offer is simple, the winner receives a $3000 portrait package which includes a professional photoshoot, cinematic image presentation and 20×30 inch wall portrait. 

This is the same for every campaign and our staff know this particular package by our unique identifier.

To the left is an example of a sign we would use at an expo or shopping centre to attract attention. There is a good reason why we have created this offer the way we have and you can find out the clever and profitable reason behind it on our Downloads Page 

Whatever your offer is, your primary objective is to gather leads, that is the phone numbers, email addresses and first/last names of the people attracted to your offer. There are a number of ways to do this and we will cover the two simple options we us in the next section.

Lead Capture

This is the business end of the whole exercise, getting their details, in the beginning we used to use only paper leads, you can see the data fields we want to capture in the example at the right).

At one expo we received more than 800 entries! can you imagine manually entering all of those paper entries? it took days, trying to interpret people’s poor handwriting and phone numbers with missing digits.

Then we tried scanners provided at the event which where prospects could scan a QR code on their entry as a means of entering your competition.

While the data was good, many of the entries were poor quality as people will just walk past every exhibitor and swipe their entry in the hope of winning anything!

This wasn’t great either, heaps of poor quality entries from people who have entered every photography competition at the expo.

We always knew that some form of electronic data capture would be ideal, and we also knew better than to let the prospect fill in the detail themselves, (they will still misspell their name and forget their phone number).

We have learned over many years that if you give someone an opportunity to make a mistake they will take full advantage of it so while our staff engage in pleasant conversation with them, they also obtain their details if they are interested in entering.

This way the data is solid and ready for upload to your CRM once your event is completed. See the form to the left which we now use, it was made with a program called ‘Jotform‘ which we have found very good and their support is solid.

Using a web form like this means that the entry is uploaded to the cloud on submit so everything is waiting there for you.

Notice that we have added a ‘notes’ field to the  bottom of this form so that when the staff are entering their details, they can also enter particular details about the prospect for later use when calling them.

Of all the entries you receive, you will choose one winner but you will also have many other entries, it is from these that you choose your consolation or ‘runner up prize winners’ (how ever many you have chosen to include).

These are your bread and butter! give them a good enough reason to come and see you and they will come, and they will spend! Our motto is ‘show them something of value and they will buy it, make it easy for them to buy and they will buy all day long. This is explained in much more detail on our downloads page so head over there and have a look.

Managing The Outcome

Well, you’ve done all the hard work, now you just have to get cracking and enter those leads into your CRM and start engaging with them again.

We use a CRM called Studio Plus which is dedicated photography studio software, it has almost anything you can think of covered, it has a great facility to upload the excel spreadsheet with your leads in it straight into the software with whatever fields you have chosen displayed so that you can quickly send an email or and SMS to the entire group at once.

This is a real time saver and only one of the many features of this software. I’m not selling it to you, I’m just letting you know that this is what we use with great success to run our business with a minimum of fuss.

Having said that, we started with an excel spreadsheet as our database, in the beginning, you do whatever it takes to get going and it all works … we  progressed from there to using Microsoft Outlook as a CRM. As I say, we’ve made all the mistakes for you so you can benefit from our knowledge by using the systems we have spent more than a decade creating.