The 10 essential stages for trade show exhibitors
Updated: Jul 4, 2019
1. Research reaps rewards
Entering a trade show on a whim with no defined goals or specific aims is a recipe for disaster. No matter how many attendees you meet or leads you receive, the overwhelming feeling will always be one of lost opportunities. Before you book your place, ask yourself some important questions: Who am I targeting? Is this the right show for my goals? Who else will be exhibiting? Who will be in attendance? What is my budget? Comprehensive research far in advance of a show will reap considerable results.
2. The early bird catches the worm
Once you’ve decided this is the right event for you, organising early will give the best outcome. Being proactive often brings the added benefit of “early bird” prices with organisers and suppliers, preferential spaces and more time to fine tune your approach during the build up to the event.
3. Planning your stand
To succeed in a busy trade show you literally have to stand out from the crowd. Large tradeshows will have hundreds of exhibitors vying for the attention of visitors and an eye-catching display can be the difference between success and mediocracy. Whether it is a small-scale booth or a large and open design, an exhibition stand is a representation of your business and should project a professional and innovative image. Achieving the right image can be a minefield of different suppliers, contractors, deadlines and missed deliveries. Leaving the stand design, project management and installation to specialist exhibition designers such as Creative Global can navigate this minefield and allow your business to focus on its specific event goals.
4. Let people know you’re there
As the event nears, it’s critical to let your target audience know that you’re there. Lots of events will have attendee lists which can allow you to reach out pre-show and build interest or arrange to meet key people. Utilise your social media channels to market your presence and ask the organisers to do the same via their channels. Exhibitions are huge networking opportunities for everyone involved, so make some noise and reach out.
5. Planning your pitch
You’ve done your research, you know who you’re targeting and you know who you’re meeting. Now is the time to fine tune your pitch to maximise the return on your event investment. Who will represent you on the stand? How will you approach the visitors? What kind of common questions can you expect? Do you have the right material and information on hand to answer any queries? Being prepared for every eventuality will impress upon your visitors.
6. Have fun
You’ve put a lot of time, money and energy into being at a show, don’t waste it now with a lack of enthusiasm! Visit any show and you’re bound to find at least one stand with an uninterested representative staring into a phone/laptop and nobody lining up to speak with them. You don’t need to (and you should never) run into the aisles grabbing people, but you absolutely have to smile, be attentive, make eye contact and draw people to you. Have the right amount of the right people on your stand will keep the crowds coming.
7. Get to 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.
8. Information, information, information
We’ve all been in the same scenario, you have a positive talk with a potential client, you exchange business cards, and thousands of conversations later it’s hard to recall all the details. Making sure that you can remember all of the relevant details of those key conversations is essential for your post-show follow up.
With so much technology now available there is no reason to rely on scribbled notes on a business card any more, take an Ipad or maybe invest in a hand scanner, but either way gathering as much information as you can now will make your life easier later.
9. Follow up
The primary purpose of any trade show is lead generation and without a doubt the most important part of exhibiting is following up on these leads. It’s surprising how many companies show no sense of urgency in their follow up strategy and let hundreds of potential clients slip through their fingers.
Within days your team should be using the information you’ve gathered at the show to prioritise leads and reach out to potential customers while your name is fresh in their mind. Leave it weeks and you’ve missed your opportunity.
You went into the show prepared, spoke to thousands of prospects, and you’re starting to see the results of your efforts. Was it worth it?
Analysing your ROI from an exhibition can be a difficult task, the investment may take a lot of time to materialise and it is important to analyse a value not only from direct sales, but also from the contacts you have made, the new relationships you have formed and the market exposure your business has received. Give it time to grow and then make a decision on your future events.