Lets face facts, exhibitions or trade shows can be stressful depending on the level or your involvement, size of your market and how much time and money you have invested. As a company you will be looking to not only showcase your products and services but also looking to make key introductions and impressions on prospective customers/clients.
You could be planning o go to your 100th event or your 1st, so the guys at mm&d have put their heads together to come up with the Ultimate Exhibition Guide!
1. Do your homework!
If you are going to spend a small chunk of your marketing budget to attend exhibitions you best make sure that the events you are exhibiting at are worth the investment. Before you even think about signing up, double check to see what the average attendance is being estimated out, ask the organisers how many invites are being sent out and who to. Have a look at the type of companies that are being invited – are they the type of companies that you are trying to target or work with? Also have a look at the list of other exhibitors in attendance, is your main competitor there? If so, don’t you think you should be to?
2. Set some targets/goals
Sit down and think about why you want to attend this event. Is it to meet new clients or expand your current relationships with existing clients and customers? Are you using the event as a product or service launch? If so, is this event the right platform to do so? Make sure you set yourself some targets or all the hard work and effort you put in will be for nothing.
3. Make sure you understand what you are paying for!
The event organiser should have supplied you with an abundance of information and costs attributed to their event. Make sure you have a full understanding of what you are actually paying for, are you just paying for floor space or will you be supplied with a table etc. If you need electricity for a laptop or display materials, always double check to make sure if you need to rent an electric socket on top of you exhibition costs.
4. Plan and make a timetable
You might think that you are a hardened event veteran that can arrive, set up and be ready for the doors to open all in half an hour but you never know what curve balls could be thrown your way. You will know the date of your event, work backwards from that day marking on your calendar what tasks need to be completed and who by, remember if you need new literature printing, always leave a few days for the print to be completed and delivered. If you have any support staff joining you from other departments, make sure that they have the full details of the event, get a contact number from them just encase anything changes and work out when you will need them at the event – it is all about balance, you don’t want too many staff at your event but on the other hand you don’t want your stand to look bare.
5. Fill out all the paper work
It is the bane of everyone’s life – PAPERWORK, but when it comes to events paperwork is very important, if you miss any part of your booking etc. it could mean that you cant display what you want to show, you might loose out on a spot with electric or you might end up a million miles away from when your thought your spot was going to be. You might also need to fill out a bundle health and safety forms, but in the end it is all worth it in making sure you secure your spot.
6. Work out what you are going to take
Depending on the floor space you have booked you might have to be brutal with what you take to an event, yes, you want to be able to show off your products and services to their full potential, but in a tight space with a table and stands you might be limited in what you can display. Having limited room shouldn’t put you off in being creative, it just means you have to work out the best way of displaying your products and services, it could be a bespoke brochure or a table top display. There is nothing worse than running out of literature or freebies, so make sure than when you do plan out what your taking plan to take enough. If the organisers have 500 people scheduled to turn up make sure that you have enough materials for one item a person. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far you will have to become savvy with who you issue your literature or freebies to, work up a bit of a rapport with the visitor to see if they will need more information from you about your product or service. If you are taking freebies to give out, it is always good to stick with something safe and cost effective like pens, but if you are really looking to stand out from the crowd, maybe it is time to look at something a little different.
7. Raise awareness
Some of your current and potential clients might follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. Why not push out a few messages via those platforms to gain a little extra exposure. If the event itself has a social media account or hashtag remember to use them in anything you send out, it might get you a retweet or a share to a bigger audience.
8. Do a little networking
Take a look around at the other companies at the event, yes you are there to talk to the visitors about your product and services but depending on the size of the event there could be 100’s of other businesses around you primed to network with. Have a quick look at the list of exhibitors, highlight a few to maybe go over and have a quick chat with maybe set up a meeting for after the event. Try to get the maximum amount of exposure you can. While at the event if you get a few minutes down time, why not have a look and see if any of the companies you have spoke to are on Twitter, if so, follow them – maybe give them a little tweet saying it was good to see them at the event.
9. Follow up leads
While it might be hard to gauge how interested everyone’s interest who visits you, you should be able to gain some clear indication of who is really interested in talking to you further, make sure that you highlight these people – keep their contact details separate from everyone else’s, follow initial contact up with a quick email or call a few days later and if possible, book in some time to meet face to face. That doesn’t mean that the other leads should fall by the wayside, get in touch with them to see if they have any requirement for your product or service, but don’t leave them out because you never know.
After the dust has settled post event and you have worked up contacting prospective leads sit down and work out if the event has been worth both the investment and time that you have put into it. If you have gained new business off the back of the event, then maybe when it comes around to the next time it is on, sign back up, maybe expand your floor space, make more of an impression. If by chance you haven’t gained anything from the event and it hasn’t really worked for you, don’t write exhibitions and trade show off completely, maybe this event wasn’t for you, have a look at other events in your sector, do some more research before you commit to further commitments to other events.
We are in no way saying that the above points are set in stone, you might have your own way of running events, but we find that the 10 points above are always a good starting point when looking to really excel at events.
Remember if you need any literature, printing, exhibition stands or freebies, mm&d are always here to help.