In an age of website’s and telephone ordering, exhibitions are an important way to be out there with your customers, push sales and scope out competition.
However, it is all too easy to fall into bad habits, which means your exhibition might not work for you. And after all that time, money and effort that has gone in to it, why would you want to waste that opportunity?
Here are a few simple tips on the planning, execution, and follow up for an exhibition event.
As the saying goes “location, location, location!” Visitors to exhibitions act in a certain way. Most of them will walk round it in a certain way. They will even do a lap round first before approaching anyone.
They will look out first for the people they know they want to see. They don’t want to have to search all that hard for you, and they will wonder off to other stands if they can’t spot you.
Making sure you are clearly spotted takes pre-planning. When booking, some events will be first come, first serve, and you will be assigned a spot. But most events these days allow you to pick your place, meaning you can carefully consider your position. Always consider proximity to the entrance, the café and any lecture space.
Once you know where your stand is, advertise your position on your webpage, blog, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or even your own clothing if it means people who are attending will see it. If other people post that they are going to that event, let them know you are too and where you will be, start the dialogue then!
The sale race has already started, and you have the chance of a head start if you can already plan in conversations for the day.
What if I’m not where I wanted to be?
Regardless of where your stand is, you can make it work. Do your pre-planning as above. If there is an information point at the event, make sure you are well represented with marketing material. Try and update any material you have with your location, so they can find you from the information point. We have helped a number of companies make sure they have the most effective marketing materials for the day, have a nose at one example here.
And if people still can’t find you, go out and find them. Grab a coffee and start a conversation, pop over to another stand, or even standing slightly away from your stand in a better location to get a conversation going.
Expos can feel awkward if it’s not an environment you are used to, and it can be easy to slip into letting people wander by and not encouraging interaction.
Always remember, people have come here specifically to look for your products or services, they expect to be approached. No, that doesn’t mean pounce on them, but it does mean when people go past, asking how they are, and how they’re finding the event are perfectly acceptable questions to ask. Letting your target audience walk by when they are open to sales is a completely wasted opportunity.
Once someone has stopped, you should consider using an elevator pitch. To ensure you make the most of the attention from the potential customer, you need to pitch in a brief but intriguing way.
There are plenty of guides on how to do the most successful elevator pitch, but the essentials are: keep it brief, state a problem that affects your target audience, and then a solution your company can offer.
For example with The Marketing People: “so, what do you do?” “Small to medium businesses can often struggle to market themselves effectively. We create opportunities for them to sell and improve their business.” This hopefully starts a more detailed dialogue on the particular services you offer.
Oh and don’t forget to smile. Really, it’s important.
Appearance applies to your whole company presence. How the stand looks, how the marketing materials look and how the staff look.
Your stand needs to be clear about who you are and what you do. People who walk past will spend probably no more than a few seconds taking your stand in. Your stand needs to look eye catching enough and clear enough that people going past know exactly what you do. Inspired enough to want to talk to you. So they can stop for more informative marketing materials and more in depth conversation.
Marketing material should be carefully thought about, so that people can go away informed. But you don’t want so much that people will break their back trying to carry it away, and the bundle will inevitably end up in the bin. This is even more important for the stand itself. If you were to put your stand up and look at it objectively. Would you be able to say honestly, that a passer by could tell exactly what you do from that stand? If the answer is no, then perhaps invest in a new stand. One which will improve attraction to the stand, and stop time waster at exhibitions. Though a big purchase, these have proven exceptional effective. As can be seen here from our work with laser process.
Don’t forget the people on the stand
Anyone on the stand, or in company branding is an extension of how you dressed the stand. If everyone is on their mobile phone, scoffing a bacon sandwich and not bothering to say hello to anyone, it does not give off the best impression.
Yes, you will need to answer that email that just popped through. Make sure your belly isn’t rumbling, and give your face a rest from polite smiling. But these should be done off the stand.
Are the people representing you recognisable? If someone was to bump into them on their way to the loo, or grabbing a cuppa at the cafe, would they be able to associate them with the company? Yes business dress will almost always be appropriate at expos, however there are huge benefits to being in branded clothing. It means you can still be selling no matter where you are in that event, and people who maybe couldn’t find your stand have a second chance to say hello. Have a look at some branded clothing we have done here for the Xtreme Training Centre.
That stand and the people there, are the only snippet of your company that the customer will see on the day, in amongst all of your competition. Make it a good and lasting impression.
Following from the point above, you need to take breaks and give yourself time off the stand.
Let’s get back to basics; you need to stay hydrated, eat enough and be comfortable. Ladies that means that if you can’t wear those heels for the whole day, then don’t. This is a mistake I have had to make a few times before I learnt. But nothing brings a conversion to a close quicker than the constant wincing that comes from painful feet.
Hopefully you are lucky enough that there’s more than one of you manning the stand. You should take it in turns at regular intervals to stretch your legs, grab a drink and also to check out the competition. Once you are back at the stand you can then refocus to the task at hand.
Expos are long and exhausting days, but are worth every minute. Though you may have targets set for you by your management, set your own targets too. You could even race against each other to get the most leads.
Remember your purpose. Whether that is direct sales, gathering information or networking. Having a purpose makes the day worthwhile, and can keep you going in the quiet moments. It can even make you smile when you’re on your long drive home.
Closing can be hard at expos. People can be there for info rather than to buy, so it is essential to ascertain when your next contact will be. Whether that’s a meeting, phone call or email. Gather all their correct information in a safe place. Along with a note of what you have talked about.
Notes are so important. As it is easy to associate the wrong company to the wrong information. Especially after a long day of talking to lots of people. Notes could mean keeping that customer. As you remembered about their dog or their recent holiday or the awful event they went to last week. It’s a personal touch that shows that you have not only listened, but you have made the effort to remember.
If possible and appropriate, follow up with an email at the end of the day or early the next morning. To confirm your call or meeting. Expos are a lot to take in for everyone. Ensuring at the end of all of it, that person has a reminder of who you are and what you discussed might be just what they need to go back in to their bag of freebies and scoop out your business card.
Could we help?
If you are struggling with any aspect of attending an exhibition, we may be able to help.
We always start working with a client by having a chat, and learning everything there is to know about the brand, before we advise you on anything.
Every business is different and we aim to showcase your brand in the most beneficial way to you, so our services can change massively depending on the needs of the client. But to give you a brief idea of the possibilities:
- Pre-marketing: We can help with your blog, social media accounts, or even update your website to show what events you will be attending. We can even send out carefully planned email campaigns to a target audience.
- Marketing materials: We will ensure you have the right materials to push your company’s message. From business cards to brochures, we will design and print whatever will be most beneficial to you.
- Exhibition stands: Such a big part of what will attract people to you on the day can be a scary task to tackle. We will sit with you and design your promotional stands, with the right message and get them printed and ready for exhibition.
- Staff briefing: If you have re-branded recently, and you’re attending events to send out your new message, you need to ensure your team are fully equipped with answers. If you have gone through the re-branding process with us, we can offer team briefings to make sure everyone has a thorough understanding of the message they need to put across.
- Follow-up: Once the exhibition is over, it can be hard to stick to your follow up plans, when you undoubtedly have a pile of work to get back to. We can manage your online accounts to ensure you have enough coverage of your attendance and who you met. We can also arrange letter or email campaigns from start to finish, including content, printing and postage.