Exhibitions are one of the best ways to get exposure for your business and also a great opportunity to network. Yet many companies feel daunted at the prospect of exhibiting at an event for the first time. Having attended enough number of events – both as a visitor and exhibitor, we at PrintStop have picked up quite a few insights along the way. So if you are exhibiting at an event for the first time, don’t be worried, they are a piece of cake once you have these tips at hand!
Here is a list of things you need to help you exhibit an event.
1. First Impressions are everything while exhibiting at an event
Studies exhibit that the first impression has a high correlation with the actual long-term status of any relationship. There is not much time to spare on your initial presentation either during an exhibition.
The first opinion of someone forms in only one-tenth of a second. Not surprisingly, there are similar results when someone’s first impression is of a brand. It takes only one-fifth of a second to form an opinion of a website and 94% of that opinion is design related. Thus, creative exhibitions booth ideas can give you a huge edge at any event.
2. Pick your exhibiting space
Exhibiting space goes fast, especially at popular exhibitions and exhibit location does matter when it comes to the success of an event for you. If you know which exhibitions you want to attend, register as soon as possible to secure prime booths on the exhibition floor. Here are exhibiting space selection tips:
- Exhibiting space near the front of the exhibition is ideal.
- Near the center of the exhibition floor is always preferable to the ends.
- Exhibiting space at the ends of aisles is good because you have a “corner” and traffic can spill out over the edge, allowing you to house more attendees.
3. Organize for meeting at your booth before the exhibition days
Utilize your exhibition display by marketing yourself pre-exhibition. This is where most of the magic happens. A lot of companies reach out to attendees about a month before the exhibition. Set up meetings with them at your booth before the exhibition starts. Make it about networking and not selling. You want to hear about what they do more than what you do.
Collecting email addresses and phone numbers of attendees in advance from the organizer comes in handy for this type of exhibition preparation.
4. Advertise before the exhibition
Put the word out that you are participating in a particular exhibition by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers and other contacts to attend the event. Be sure you give them all the details, such as event address, your booth number etc. Be sure to advertise your coming exhibition attendance on your website as well.
You can also advertise in the conference program if one is available. Programs are handed out to attendees and provide them with conference information, such as session topics, times, and descriptions.
5. Incentivize your best salesman
Have your best salespeople on the floor and make it a positive and fun competition among them. Make sure all exhibitions staff is well trained before the conference. Have them all aware of the company’s strategy going in and how to utilize the resources provided. In the end, your people are a big representation of your brand. Give the winner something nice in return.
6. Stop Selling, Start Gelling!
What is the best way to generate interest? Show interest in others first. Don’t have your staff sell your product unless they are interested in it. The way you gain interest is by being interested in others first. Ask questions about their company and where they came from first. Almost every time they will follow up by asking you the same. It is much more natural than introducing your brand after you have introduced yourself.
7. Giveaways or souvenirs on the stand are a great ice-breaker
Running a special promotion just for the event can be a great conversation opener, as well as a good way of gathering the contact details of passers-by. Today, there are so many innovative and personalized products that you can use as a giveaway instead of going for the traditional printed pens/USB sticks/and other Chinese-made options.
During one of the events that we attended which were almost at the end of a calendar year, we gave away personalized tent card calendars to the attendees. Our booth visitors were surprised when we handed them calendars with their name on it. It was a major hit at the event as attendees dropped by to our booth to collect their personalized calendar which helped us have more conversations and generate leads.
8. Don’t waste time on time-wasters
Efficient and experienced exhibition organizers tend to focus more on the quality of the audience they can deliver rather than getting just huge visitor figures. You need to find an event that can offer an audience of buyers, not time-wasters. Visitor data from previous events will give you a good guide to the type of visitors you can expect to see. However, it is up to your sales team at the exhibition to minimize the amount of time they spend with visitors who are not decision-makers.
9. Measure ROI
The only way to know if something works is to test it. And the only way to know if the test worked is to measure it. Before going into the exhibition know or decide how you are going to measure success.
Find a way to measure the marketing techniques and their effectiveness. Rule out biases and outliers that can skew your data. After all, if you don’t measure your return on investment you won’t know what works. If you don’t know that, you are risking failure at the next event you attend.
10. Follow up with people you connect during the exhibition soon after the event
Follow up with leads soon after the exhibition. The longer you wait the longer they have to forget who you are and what you said. People have many interactions at exhibitions. As much as you want to believe yours were different, it is tough to remember everyone’s name and product after the exhibition.
Don’t be afraid of reaching out too quickly. Typically wait one day after the exhibition to follow up with potential prospects. Waiting too long will dilute the connection.
11. Apply what you learned about your product or service post the event
Showcasing your products on the exhibition floor is a great way to learn what the buying public thinks. After you have demoed your product 100s of times and allowed attendees to try it for themselves, you should have learned invaluable lessons.
Now it is time to apply what you learned to improve upon your products after the exhibition and so you can adjust your exhibition checklist before your next event.
Questions to get you started:
- What features and benefits did attendees ask about that your product possesses, but were not obvious to users?
- The features and benefits did attendees ask for that were missing from your product?
- What part of your demonstration seemed to drag because your product is not easy enough to quickly use?
- What product terminology confused prospect? Are there ways to make it clearer?
While these 11 tips are what will help you make your marketing strategy of lead generation through exhibitions and events successful, mentioned below are
9 more things you should keep in mind to do well in an exhibition.
- Engage in social media
- Use a prize – draw or contest
- Have a stock of promotional items that you can use as giveaways at your booth
- Actively engage stall or booth visitors… and do it with a smile!
- Make sure you have plenty of promotional literature on hand
- Have your exhibitions booth manned at all times
- Send knowledgeable staff to man your booth
- Get out from behind your booth and get off your phone/computer
- Arrange a vendor presentation during the exhibition
26 items that should be on your exhibition packing list:
There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot something you need during an exhibition. Showing up prepared also makes it easier to make friends right from the beginning because you can let them borrow your supplies!
The following is a list of items that are easy to forget on your way out the door to capture those leads. Some may be lifesavers and others just make the experience more enjoyable.
- Promo Items
- Business Cards and Business Card Holders
- Containers to hold your giveaways
- Bowl for Business Cards of the booth visitors
- Name Tags
- Table Linens
- Notepads & Post Its
- Rubber Bands
- Paper clips
- Computer/iPad Charger
- Appropriate Cords to Connect Computer to TV/Monitor
- Extension Cords
- Safety Pins/ Straight Pins
- Gum/Breath Mints
- Wire or String
- Zip Ties
- Ziploc Baggies
Hope you find this blog enough to get you started. Always remember, unique ideas get the most buzz but only if the strategy harmonizes with the brand and the industry. Don’t go big and extravagant if it does not have a purpose.
The biggest success stories come from the companies with the most thought out marketing campaign at the exhibitions. Take plenty of time to prepare. Exhibitions are a big investment. Make it worth it.
If you want to know more about how to Network better, you can check out our blog on, “25 things to do before attending a networking occasion for Small business“