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What is the value of the Education & Career Fairs

July 13th, 2018 – Ben Glassen, ECF Coordinator

 

It can be daunting to allocate $10,000 or more of a marketing budget for a couple days exhibiting. There are so many ways of attracting new leads, so how come the best opportunity in B.C. is visiting 5 cities over two weeks just before the winter holidays?

Let’s first look at the mission of the Education & Career Fairs.

The Education & Career Fair’s (ECF) mission is to support the career pursuits of B.C. residents “starting from square one”.

This mission represents the need for employers and educators to connect with their next generation. A large percentage of attendees at ECF are high school classes. Exhibitors create a warm connection by planting the seed of career growth in a generation ripe with talent and potential.

What do these things mean: ‘accounting’, ‘graphic design’, ‘boilermaker’ or ‘logistics and supply chain management?’ Those are careers, but what do those people actually do? By painting a picture for the attendee, the exhibitor can open their mind towards an entire trajectory. To work at a sporting goods company choosing what products should continue production or be dropped, that requires an accounting degree. Working for Amazon and deciding that drones are the most efficient next step, that requires training in logistics and supply chain management. The exhibitor plants a seed with an attendee, suggests specific training while following the brand, the payoff being when the attendee submits an application sculpted for the position that was introduced to them at ECF. Spark a fire, set a path, direct training and focus the very best next recruit.

The ‘sales funnel’ is a commonly used term for how customers are guided through a strategically designed process towards ultimately a purchase, (though the sales funnel often includes steps in post-purchase.[1]) Predominantly the Education & Career Fairs would be positioned near the front of the sales funnel. This is where attendees may be looking to learn about something new altogether or to strengthen a connection to an organization they may recognize. However, at ECF it is entirely possible to move prospects from the fringe of the funnel, deep toward commitment.

Up to four thousand attendees may attend a single fair. This allows any organization to filter through to find the few good candidates. Attract the masses, talk to many, qualify a few and measure the return. Exhibit design and strategy plays a key role in how this can happen. It is important to have qualifying questions to understand if the prospect is the right fit, or if they know someone to recommend as the right fit. Spend time, create an impression, and express your ability to meet the needs of the individual.

The timing of the Education & Career Fairs just before the holidays is absolutely ideal for exhibitors’ success. The exhibiting goal is to leave an impression that the attendee will go away talking about, thinking about and contemplating in their holiday time. The more someone talks about a goal, the better the chance of their follow through and completion of this task.[2] Can applying become their New Year’s Resolution?

British Columbia is a diverse environment where the ocean meets forest, with high plains, desert and the prairies. Natural resources are abundant, and the tech industry is booming. By travelling through the Province over the two weeks of five ECFairs, exhibitors reach candidates in all corners of the province. Though an organization may focus on one region for their speciality, it is extremely important to reach those who dream of moving for this specialization. For example, Nanaimo and Kelowna fairs are where people dream of moving to the big city. Vice versa, some city dwellers dream of studying in a smaller, quieter place and look to their local Education & Career Fair to find a place that will be the right fit.

The Education & Career Fairs are a unique opportunity for organizations who continuously need upcoming talent. This opportunity is unlike any other because this is the only venue to reach up to 12,000 people at the same time. By offering an engaging, entertaining and educative experience to the attendee, an organization can move candidates through their sales funnel. Leave attendees with a positive impression that they will go away excited and dream about over their winter holidays.

 

[1] What Is a Sales Funnel? The Guide to Building an Automated Selling Machine., RL Adam, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296526, July 28, 2017

[2] Weight loss social support in 140 characters or less: use of an online social network in a remotely delivered weight loss intervention, Gabrielle M Turner-McGrievy & Deborah F Tate, Translational Behavioral Medicine, September 2013, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 287–294