Simple Tips For Exhibition Success
Trade exhibitions offer a great opportunity to grow a business, and often account for a major chunk of an international marketing budget. When done well, the chance to meet and impress potential customers in bulk can pay real dividends. When done badly, exhibitors can be counting the costs – and lack of return - for months.
Here are some PHD tips on making your exhibiting more successful.
First attend, then exhibit
Exhibitions can feel like a do or die investment. Can you attend your chosen show as a visitor a year in advance? This will give you a feel for the audience, as well as some tips on what to do, or not, when it comes to putting yourselves on show. If attending ahead is not an option, try to gather a breakdown of visitors by industry and job title, and look to see if your target customers and competitors are involved.
Announce your attendance, and pre-book appointments
Ever seen how customers move at a street market? People tend to gravitate towards the busier stalls, while some stands remain relatively empty. Ensuring your booth has a steady flow of people will appeal to the sub-conscious of attendees, while avoiding a ‘feast and famine’ flow of visitors. Social media, newsletters and press releases can all attract attention ahead of, and during, the show.
Appearance is everything
Your stand is effectively your shop window, so ensure it reflects your company well. Staff should be dressed appropriately, and stand design should err on simple-done-well rather than extravagant-done-badly. Think about what passers-by encounter at eye level, and don’t let your stand become a refuge for half filled water bottles and empty coffee cups – clean up whenever you can.
Train the team
Most exhibitors have a mixture of sales and other personnel manning their stand, each with various levels of training and confidence when it comes to speaking to booth visitors. Investing in exhibiting training can make the difference between a friendly encounter and the type of awkward sales ‘pounce’ most show attendees dread. Body language and on-stand staffing levels are also key factors.
Track all visitors
Keep a record of visitors, even if they are not target customers. Ask what attracted them to your stand, what they think of it, and tell them about your business – you never know who they might know. Exhibitions are also a great way to build mailing lists, but make sure you gather this information in an ethical and legal way.
Process leads effectively
Ask yourself these questions about taking down ‘lead’ details. Does everyone on the stand know how to record a lead? Is this process easy for the potential customer? Who is responsible for the leads list? Is there a back up? Have you recorded a) contact details, b) nature of enquiry, c) who took the enquiry and d) who will follow up? Consider the use of electronic lead retrieval systems. They may save you time, but is the expense justified?
Maximise your investment
Exhibitions are not only about selling. Ask your team to gather competitor and market intelligence, meet suppliers, build media relationships, and enhance their technical insights through seminars. With most of your industry in the same exhibition hall, why not host several meetings in one day, saving the time and the cost of travel if they were organised on another occasion.
Use a checklist
Even experienced exhibitors need reminders, and its amazing how little things can quickly become major aggravations. How do people collect their stand passes? Where do they store their bags? Do you have a bowl for business cards? How is everyone getting to and from the hotel to the show? We recommend using a stand rota too.
Set show objectives
Individual and team goals can bring focus to your efforts. We’ve all seen people wandering aimlessly through exhibitions, picking up brochures with little thought to the relevance. Setting a shortlist of people and stands to see pre-show is one way to ensure a much more efficient exhibition.
You’ll be surrounded by similar sized stands – many of which will be direct competitors. Ask yourself, what will get people to stop by the booth? Virtual reality experiences, remote control robots and guessing games have all caught our eyes at recent exhibitions.
Shows are often held annually, and rely on repeat business. Track your leads, not just in number but also in sales figures in three, six and 12 months’ time. Think about your location – is there a better one? What worked well at other stands? How can you improve for next year?
Lastly, have fun!
Exhibitions can be physically punishing affairs. Heels ache from standing all day, and eyes get sore from lack of natural light. Overpriced and barely edible lunch options are all too common too. Make sure your team have adequate breaks, and try to arrange something fun for the evenings. Think of exhibitions as team – and sales – building exercises.
++ PHD provides full international exhibition support; from helping you to select the right show, to stand booking, design and build and even staffing. If you would like some advice or help with exhibiting, call our friendly team on +44 1977 708643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.