A successful exhibition, conference or roadshow requires the right planning and preparation.
With decades of experience, our team has put together the following hints and tips to help you get the most out of exhibiting.
Set clear objectives
Before you select an event or book a stand ask yourself some important questions:
- What are my business goals for exhibiting? Are these specific, measurable and realistically achievable?
- Who is my target market?
- Are there any particular products/services that I will focus on or is it mainly a brand building exercise?
- How will exhibiting fit into my broader marketing strategy?
- What is my budget and what return on my investment am I expecting?
The answers to these questions will help you in everything from selecting the right event to designing an appropriate stand. It will help ensure you see a return on your investment.
Choose the right event and get in early
Don’t go for the cheapest event just due to price or the biggest event just because of the brand.
Do some detailed research:
- Ask the show organiser for the last few years’ attendee profile and volume of unique visitors. Are these the potential customers you want to target? Is the event’s attendance growing or declining?
- Ask about who has already signed up to exhibit.
- Find out where your key competitors exhibit.
- Talk to existing customers about which exhibitions they attend regularly and rate highly.
Once you have selected an event make sure you get in early. There are usually early-bird booking rates to take advantage of. Also the best spaces go fast and getting the best space will definitely improve the chances of achieving your goals.
Consider some of these factors when booking your space:
- Corner and peninsular spaces have more open sides and create a more inviting environment for your customers to enter. However these spaces are limited.
- Book space only to begin with. It’s cheaper and the saving can offset your stand upgrade cost. If you decide not to do a stand upgrade in the end, you can always pay for the shell scheme then.
- Try to get a spot near an entrance, on a corner, near a toilet or near the venue café. These areas provide the best traffic flow and visibility.
- Check for columns and pillars inside your space as these can limit your stand design and block signage.
Make sure to stand out
Walking through an exhibition can be an overwhelming and mesmerising experience for visitors. There will be hundreds of stands and thousands of staff vying for visitor attention. Standing out from the crowd is not just important, it’s critical.
Start talking to an experienced exhibition stand builder like Trade Show Solutions early.
- Make sure they take a detailed brief from you before suggesting a design.
- Request a 3D image of the stand design as this will give you the clearest idea of how the finished product will look.
- A custom designed stand is best if you have the budget. Otherwise select a suitable Upgrade Package.
- Consider a raised floor. It will significantly set your stand apart from those around.
- Make sure there is adequate signage as this will attract visitors and also promote your brand. When designing signage it is preferable to go for fewer, larger images and limited wording as this will be more noticeable from a distance.
- Consider an overhead banner or sign and try to use height wherever possible.
Remember that it may take several drafts to design the perfect solution for your business so start early.
Ask yourself these questions in evaluating stand designs:
- Does your stand say who you are, what you do, and the benefits of your product/service in just a few seconds?
- Is your corporate image and identity prominently featured?
- Are there unnecessary physical barriers? You want visitors to access your stand easily and to feel comfortable.
- Are there any demonstrations and presentations to create movement? Movement attracts visitors.
Before the event
Let all of your existing and any potential clients know you are exhibiting. Try to create a buzz of excitement around it.
- Send letters/emails advising your target visitors that you are participating. Make sure to include the Hall and Stand number. Send one communication out early so people lock in time to go and send another one week before the event as a reminder.
- If you are launching a new product or service at the event then make some noise about it. People are more likely to visit you if they think there is something new to see.
- Make sure your sales people mention your event participation to their customers by word of mouth as a support to the written communications.
- If the event has pre-registration then try to get as many people as possible to do so. This will ensure they are on the mailing list for any marketing done buy the show organiser.
During the event
Make sure all of your staff turn up to the event with an understanding of the strategy and their role.
- Assemble all participating staff on-site on the day before the event if you can to familiarise them with the layout.
- Schedule staff on a rolling four hour cycle if possible. This will ensure that they are fresh and enthusiastic. It also gives them time to do their normal work while the event is on.
- Spread staff across your stand and focus them on visitors. Having staff standing in a big bunch talking to each other does not create an inviting atmosphere for customers.
- Give aways, even small ones attract people. They are also a good ice breaker. A competition is usually effective in getting more people to leave their personal details.
Take down names and contact details of every visitor to your stand and ask for their business card. This is the single most important thing you can do. Try to arrange a follow up meeting with good prospects on the spot.
After the event
Don’t be disappointed if you didn’t get the number of orders or other business hoped for at the actual event. Many buyers and visitors gather information only and decide on orders after the event. In reality after the event is where the real work begins.
Make sure you follow up on every single lead within the first week after the show. Even a quick phone call or email thanking them for visiting your stand is worthwhile as it communicates that you appreciated the customers’ time and effort. If you have promised any activity like sending out samples and catalogues get this done immediately after the event.
An exhibition space is often an exciting place and customers’ enthusiasm is driven by the buzz and excitement of the day. This can also be true for staff. To ensure a good return on your investment you have maintain this buzz after the event. The longer you leave your follow ups the harder thius will be.