A-Z of exhibiting
A lot of businesses wish that exhibiting was as simple as ABC, but unfortunately that's not always the case. That's why we've put together this handy guide to the A-Z of exhibitions.
If you want people to visit you at an event you have to make sure they know you’re there! Whether it’s pre-show marketing or an eye-catching stand, make your presence known.
With only a few days (max) to put everything together, getting your stand delivered and installed on site can be a tight affair. Having a good team on site is essential for any exhibition.
Like any marketing, keeping a careful eye on your ROI is essential. When assessing your return It’s a good idea to evaluate not just the leads generated, but also the value of the increased brand exposure and relationships that were built within the industry.
A great stand design can be the difference between a successful event and a missed opportunity. Everything you do at an exhibition presents an image of your brand, so prioritise making the right impression.
Exhibiting your company at trade shows are a great way of gaining brand exposure. Try to maximise this potential by having a stand feature, product or giveaway that people want to share on social media, and don’t forget to get involved with the local press activity that accompanies every event.
Each exhibition will have a floor plan provided by the organisers showing the different stands, networking areas, bars and entrances. While location isn’t everything, you would ideally want to have a spot that will have a good flow of people such as near to entrances, exits and central aisles. Knowing where your key competitors or partners are can also help with picking the right spot.
Giveaways, freebies, merch, swag…..Whatever you call them, everyone loves them. From the humble pen to the latest high-tech gadgets, the giveaway has become a mainstay of every stand and will be here to stay for many years. The right giveaway for your company can be a cost-effective way of keeping your brand in a visitor’s memory.
Any seasoned exhibitor knows to book their hotel early. Nearby hotels will fill up near to larger events and booking early will not only ensure you can stay close to the venue, but also save you a lot of money on the room prices.
The most important part of any successful event is making sure that you follow up with your visitors after, and the key to doing this is gathering as much information about them as you can during the event. A simple business card with scribbled notes is not going to cut it, instead you should be gathering everything you need to make that follow up a personal affair.
Don’t be afraid to inject fun into the event. Of course the main aim is to develop your business, but the best way to do that is to be as engaging with people as possible. Keep it light and friendly, build relationships first and get to business later.
Know your neighbours
Exhibitions aren’t just about meeting with potential clients, they’re a valuable opportunity to network within your industry and build relationships. Pre-show build ups and after show wind downs present plenty of time to go and meet fellow exhibitors, share your experience and explore potential partnerships.
Good lighting is one of the most fundamental aspects of any great stand design. Ensuring your stand is well lit is a must, but expanding upon that with branded colour LEDs and dynamic lighting effects can take your stand to the next level.
Put the planning into your pre-show marketing and you’ll see the results during the event. If you can, try to get hold of visitor lists and target the people you want to connect with. Utilise any meeting apps the organisers have, and make sure you’re using all of your other marketing channels to advertise your presence at the event.
Events aren’t just about talking to potential clients or customers, they’re also an ideal way to get your company known within your industry and build relationships. Don’t neglect the plentiful opportunities you will have to network with your peers…..Just try not to overdo it!
Getting to know the organisers can make a big difference to your event. They can determine where your stand is located, help to market your business before and during the show and generally try to do as much as they can to promote networking. Think of it this way, organisers want exhibitors to be happy because happy exhibitors rebook their events. Don’t be shy, use that leverage to see what the organisers are willing to do for you.
Getting your company ready to exhibit can be a minefield of suppliers and deadlines. Nobody needs the headache and with so much invested into every event, a last minute issue can cost your business a lot. Having a dedicated Project Manager to handle the process for you can free up an enormous amount of time and energy to focus on your business instead.
To present a professional business you want to make sure your stand has a professional finish. At every trade show I see poorly put together stands, loose graphics and signage, cheap materials, and missing paint. If you do not care enough about the image you’re presenting to people, how can you expect people to care enough about your business?
Research the event, your market, your competitors, the attendees, the venue, the location……You can’t ever do enough research. Going into the event knowing exactly what you want to get out of it and how you’re going to go about it is always going to produce the best results.
Always make sure you’ve got the right people staffing your stand. Not only should everyone be knowledgeable about your products and services, but more importantly they should have the enthusiasm and social skills required to engage with your visitors and build relationships.
Even though an exhibition may seem like it’s a long time away, deadlines can easily creep up on you and leave your planning a rushed mess. Getting everything prepared early is less stressful, more efficient and less costly than leaving it to the last minute. For major events a business should really be planning 9-12 months in advance.
Exhibitions will invariably see lots of competition within your industry. Getting seen above the crowd does not always have to involve a bigger, flashier stand, the same result can instead be achieved through a truly unique design.
Each venue has their own rules and regulations that need to be understood before planning your exhibition stand. Failing to understand these rules can result in last-minute changes that need to be made, and possibly a lot of wasted time and expense.
A simple approach to meeting visitors is to be as welcoming as possible. When people walk by, be at the front of your stand with a welcoming smile, make eye-contact and introduce yourself. You’ll be surprised how effective this can be.
Alongside large scale exhibitions there will always be extra networking events, often sponsored by the organisers or larger exhibitors, and frequently involving a lot of drinks! These can be a great way of winding down while providing even more opportunities to build your network.
It’s quite surprising how tiring it can be just standing on your feet all day talking to people. You will talk. A lot.
Make sure you’re prepared for this, drink plenty of water and have enough staff to allow rotational breaks throughout the day.
The return you will get if you fail to follow up with your visitors. This is such an important stage it’s worth mentioning again and again. You’ve already put a lot into exhibiting, don’t waste it all by failing to follow up.