Get the most out of your event
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10 steps to a tiptop trade show.
Business exhibitions & trade shows are one of the best ways to showcase your company and your services so it is vital to make an immediate and lasting impression to catch the attention of those passers by - your potential customers. In a digital world companies can tend to lose that personal touch. We all have a tendency to forget that there are actual walking, talking people behind each and every website or company. According to the AEO "86% of business directors agree that exhibitions are the second most effective way of generating leads after their own website". Exhibitions offer up an opportunity to give your customers a face to face experience and meet and greet your audience directly. This is your space to shine and showcase your amazing team and fantastic services - so you need each & every moment to count.
In our experience it is not just about having a shiny new roller stand... (Although that can help!) It all comes down to a bit of planning ahead and utilising those benefits each event can offer. So why not follow our Top 10 tips and we're certain you will come away from your exhibition with so much more than a handful of business cards.
1. Why are you attending the show?
Why, What, Where, When? It may seem like a cliche but taking the time to consider these four W's will give you a head start in the right direction and ensure a smooth running throughout your exhibition journey. The top 4 questions we repeatedly ask our clients starting with (in our opinion) the most important of all.
Why are you attending the show?
Having an understanding of why you are attending and what you are looking to achieve from the show is an essential starting point for any business. Is it to generate new business, get your name and face out there or launch a new product? Establish some clear goals and you can't go far wrong.
What type of show do you want to attend?
With so many exhibition shows out there it can be all too easy to attend one that doesn't suit your needs. Do your research - find a few alternatives, speak to those who have previously attended the show and listen to their experiences. Remember it is not always a cheap decision to attend a show so make sure you chose one that will benefit your business and is relevant to your target audience.
Where is the show located and how will you get there?
Maybe an obvious statement but your travel and transportation must be considered well in advance of your show. Attending an international show? Think about your travel, the size of your kit, transportation to the event - will you require translators?
When will you be attending?
It may be 2 years away but having it booked on the calendar doesn't mean everything else will happen by magic - make sure you plan ahead and consider every avenue in order to gain the most out of your exhibition experience. By assigning the project to someone in advance will at least set you off on the right foot so everything gets done in a timely and orderly fashion.
2. Promote yourself
Prior to the run up of any trade show or exhibition there is always opportunity to utilise the organisers own promotions for the event. Make sure you get your company details on the event website and ask the organisers to link back to your site. Ensure your existing customers and clients know you intend to exhibit - shout about it in your monthly newsletter, keep them posted via your marketing emails and engage with others who are attending through social media. Remember, although exhibitions are mainly focused on generating new business they are just as much about keeping your existing customers in the loop and maintaining those valued business relationships you already have.
3. Take your dream team
This not to say that you don't value all of your staff members however it is important to choose your group wisely and ensure everyone understands exactly what your objectives are and have the ability to deliver those goals. Select the best people - those who are not interested in your company will never promote your business in a positive manner. Your team will be the face of your company throughout the exhibition so they need to represent your brand with the correct etiquette and appearance, most of all, be able to communicate your values effectively and make every handshake count. If necessary consider investing some time in training for your team.
4. Plan ahead
Now you know which exhibition you're attending and why, you need to select your space and decide whether your stand and 'dream team' will fit within your allotted space. Thinking about the dimensions is a great starting place before you get too excited and carried away with design and the style options available to you.
5. Choose your display wisely
Whether you've attended shows previously or it's your 1st time, the wrong kind of stand for your space can make or break your exhibition if it doesn't fit satisfactorily within your chosen area. With so many options available it can be easy to get overwhelmed or over excited when looking through you're options, discuss your needs with your exhibition supplier, they will help to make sure your stand looks and fits perfectly within the space.
You may be considering attending these events on a regular basis, if so it is worth bearing in mind you may want to adapt and build on the stand structure in the future so even if you start small there are so many adaptable options out there which can help you build and grow an impressive looking stand.
Our 3D mock up (right) offers a fantastic preview of your stand working with the dimensions of your space, so you can really grasp what your stand will look like with your brand, colours and fonts in place. After all, you are spending your hard earned money on your stand, knowing what the end product will look like can certainly be reassuring - It also offers you the chance to make any changes prior to full production.
6. Digital data collection
Gone are the days of the business card draw or so we'd like to think -although a great way to collect a whole load of business cards it's not always the best way to keep track of those relevant contacts you make throughout the day.
These days we are seeing more and more digital devices used within exhibition stands, from flat screen TV's, iPads and touch screen apps, so having a visual and digital display is a great way to grab attention and capture those important emails and contact numbers.
If you are going to run a competition to grow those contacts then make it relevant – throw a competition across a social platform just before and during the event. You'll encourage visitors to your stand while growing your followers - just make it clear what is on offer and keep it focussed around the services and products you offer.
Collating a focused data collection system using a portable tablet (by offering a something in exchange of details, for example) is another easy way to generate a digital list of contact details that you can follow up on when your back in the office - saving you a lot of time wading through unrelated business cards. If you are a B2B service then why not offer up a few useful or relevant articles or white papers in exchange for their details, you've written and designed them for your website so why not print a few and hand them out at the show.
Many exhibition organisers are even able to provide mini hand held scanners which allow you to easily capture each visitors details by simply scanning their visitor pass - a great digital answer to collecting relevant contact details of those important people you meet at the show.
7. Get attention
Short of doing cartwheels and backflips in front of your stand getting people to stop by and look at your stand and services can be a trick in itself. More often we are seeing temptations in the form of sweets, cakes and competitions that although often unrelated to the business are a great way to offer a little treat to your potential clients, who in turn are likely to view you as a friendly and open company and associate your name and image with the receipt of your kind gift!
8. Keep it tidy!
Once you have better idea of the design and layout you'll want to use have a think about your storage. It is important to present your services within a tidy and presentable space so ask about the storage options that are available with your stand design. Many styles offer adaptable systems in which your carry case can turn into a desk and a table can also provide storage on the day.
9. Softly, softly catchee monkey!
Most attendees know what they want to get out of visiting a trade show so it's a safer option to let them peruse your stand and take their time, allowing them to come to you with their questions. You will not make many friends by hard selling your services to someone as soon as they merely look your way. Starting with a much softer approach, a smile and acknowledgement, will give them chance to consider your services and take a look at your stand as a whole and allow for a far more natural introduction.
10. Post show power - Make those leads count!
This is where the real work starts. The time you spend following up after your exhibition is crucial to making that lasting impact with those prospective clients you met during the event. It can be easy to dust off your hands after the event and think that is all you have to do.
We recommend you have an action plan ready and get stuck in as soon as you're back in the office. Write a blog about your experience and share it with those new contacts you made, interact with them on their social media sites, like their pages and mention them in your tweets, stay in touch and build on that relationship if you think it will benefit you in the future.
Make use of your data capture program, filter it down and contact those key prospects within the 1st week following the event - by being proactive and showing interest at this early stage will be sure to keep your name in their mind and more importantly demonstrate your willingness to do business with them now and in the future.
We manage everything from registration, planning, production and design of your stand right through to transport and your data capture on the day. Our team have experience in catering for a simple stand production right through to full package exhibition services - so whatever your needs we are always on hand to offer advice, just give us a call.