15 Jun 10 Tips for a Knockout Exhibition Presence
You’ve booked a stand at an exhibition to promote your business. Great. Job done.
Reserving your stand is the easy part. What you need to do is determine how to get the best return on your investment, or else you’ll just find the process a waste of money, time and effort and can put you off exhibiting in the future.
But, with the right strategy and tactics, you can deliver a knockout exhibition presence and your stand pitch will more than pay for itself.
With the Northamptonshire Business Expo just around the corner, taking place on the 22 June at the Holiday Inn, Corby, I wanted to share some tips with you.
By booking a stand, you must have already decided that there is a significant benefit to your business by attending. Define your goals for your presence. Are you looking for sales leads, to increase your contact list, or to market a specific promotion? Whatever your reason for attending, make this your focus on the day to ensure your attendance is worthwhile.
Prior to the event, see if there are any social feeds relating to the exhibition or a relevant hashtag. Get involved in the run-up and start posting to let your followers know you’ll be there. Perhaps post on the event’s Facebook page so everyone who is attending can see your post. This will encourage a level of familiarity with attendees and you may even find that people attend the event specifically to meet with you.
Look at the exhibition you’re attending and plan your stand accordingly. It could be a ‘table and two chairs’ area, a shell-scheme or a space only stand that you’ve booked. Make sure your physical stand is suitable. A couple of roll-up banners would be ok for a table top stand, but wouldn’t work for a space only, likewise, it’s no good taking a 3 metre pop-up stand if you’ve only got 1.5 metres to play with.
What are you actually putting on your stand? An interesting looking stand is likely to attract more visitors than one that just has printed literature. Video content is the current winner in the engagement stakes so if you’ve got something you can display then this is a great opportunity to use it. Perhaps it’s a showreel, a product demonstration or a company profile?
The staff working on your stand is representing your business. Make sure they’re knowledgeable and are able to answer a range of questions that are thrown at them. Contracts can be won and lost at exhibitions – make sure the right people are there to do the deals.
Hello goes a long way. Some people will naturally engage with you. Others, you may notice, are eyeing your stand from the other side of the aisle. Make contact with them. A simple hello, good morning/afternoon could encourage them to come on over. Also, remember that you don’t know who you’re talking to. A visitor to your stand could be in control of a huge sales budget. They’re perhaps not going to want to buy from someone who doesn’t make eye contact when they approach your stand and you could be doing yourself out of a load of business. Treat everyone fairly, politely and take time to listen to them and their needs before going in with a sales pitch. Also, stand when you’re talking to people. There’s nothing wrong with having a seat to sit at, but if someone comes to engage with you and your stand, the least you can do is offer them the courtesy of standing to talk to them.
Freebie or not to freebie?
Everyone loves a freebie don’t they? But, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to give away something just because you’re at an exhibition. Many exhibition items fall into the category of tat and either get thrown away or collect dust at the back of a desk draw. Of course you want people to remember your stand and have your details to hand and this is where you can be smart. There is an infinite amount of promotional merchandise out there now and it doesn’t have to cost the earth, but make sure you’re giving away something suitable, worthwhile and of value to your business. If you’re in the automotive industry, why not branded ice-scrapers, or if you’re in fitness, you can give away a pedometer?
Alternatively, why not hold a form of competition. People are naturally competitive, particularly if they’re with a group of friends or colleagues. If you give them the opportunity to win a high value item in return for signing up to a mailing list (see data collection, below) then the chances of them remembering you will be significantly higher. But, I’m not talking about a business card draw, these are only good for business events anyway, I mean something more competitive that has a skill element. People love a challenge!
Keep Britain Tidy
Please, don’t eat on your stand! There’s nothing worse than seeing someone trying to deliver a sales pitch with a half-eaten sandwich in a box on the table which has to be moved to reach the relevant literature.
However, I do appreciate that you have to be realistic. If you’re the only person on your stand, the chances are the exhibition will span a lunchbreak so just be discreet. Of course it’s fine to have a cup of tea/bottle of water available, but if there are two of you, make sure breaks are taken away from the stand.
Data, data and more data
Not everyone will be in a position to purchase from you there and then, particularly if your product requires a procurement process.
Make sure you have a means to collect the information of the people you’ve spoken to. At large exhibitions that have pre-printed barcodes on visitor passes, you may have the process to hire a scanner. You then simply ask to scan their barcode when you’ve spoken to them and this harvests all the data they used to sign up which you can then access after the event. For smaller events, why not have a tablet on your stand with a simple sign-up form that people can input their information into. After all, if you don’t capture information, you’re potentially letting thousands of pounds of business walk off…
Probably the most important tip…
Now that you’ve got all this data, make sure you use it!
Perhaps you’d agreed to send someone further information or a quote, or said that you’d arrange a follow up meeting. It’d be no good not doing any of this would it?! Again, you could be letting business pass you by.
Some of the data may be for people who you hadn’t agreed a specific action with, but drop them an e-mail after the event. This could keep you one step ahead of your competitors and it will remind them of you. This increases your chance of further engagement and potential business.
So, as you can see, with a few simple tricks, you can maximise your attendance at any exhibition and make it a real worthwhile marketing exercise.
If you’ve got any comments, further tips or any experiences you’d like to share, please get in touch, it would be great to hear from you.
Northamptonshire Business Expo is being held at the Holiday Inn, Corby, on 22 June 2017 from 10am – 6pm. It’s free to attend!