New to Exhibiting, not sure where to start?
Don’t worry. This page has been designed especially for you. It’s a short but mighty checklist, packed full of PRACTICAL TIPS on what to know to plan for a rewarding and enjoyable show.
Each drop down box will take you on an exciting journey. A journey that will help you avoid some of the mistakes exhibitors make resulting in lost sales, lost profits and even worse – lost personal cash.
You’ll find information from selecting an event through to successful participation and follow up. If you already have some experience then you may wish to skip certain sections or dip in and out to find ideas and inspiration to maximise your effectiveness at an event.
If you do have any questions please do contact us on 01242 375717.
‘Live’ Marketing is a strategic initiative designed to grow your organisation in a face-to-face setting by setting up a display at a trade show, conference, sporting event, shopping centre, hotel room, or in a boardroom.
These displays are seen at consumer shows, special events, road shows, private shows, hospitality events, product launches, demonstrations, seminars, professional conferences with the most popular of all being Trade Shows.
A Trade Show, as the name implies, is an event where companies in a specific industry gather to showcase and demonstrate their new products and services. In general Trade Shows are business-to-business (B2B) type events; they are not open to the public and are meant to be attended by company representatives, industry officials and of course the press! Usually Trade Shows are organised and sponsored by trade associations for specific industries, so they are perfect networking platforms for industry professionals. Often the price of a stand is quoted by the square metre.
The responsibility for a successful Trade Stand usually falls on the shoulders of the Exhibit Manager.
An Exhibit Manager is the person responsible for planning, organising, and executing the exhibit plan.
An Exhibit Plan contains all the elements required for successful exhibit-marketing campaign. It comprises two essential elements; the hardware and the software.
The hardware refers to the actual exhibit and materials – the physical means of creating the right image and attracting the right audience. The software includes the planning and implementation of programmes required to facilitate face-to-face interaction.
To do the job properly, the exhibit manger will carefully orchestrate both of these elements into one harmonious package with one goal in mind – results.
From visibility to credibility, exhibiting at a trade show has hundreds of benefits for your business. Establishing a presence, whether big or small, for your company at a trade show give you a powerful platform for meeting new customers, reaching out to your existing clients, and building a more established an reliable brand.
Trade shows are a great place to learn what is new in your industry, listen to expert speakers, check out prices of competitors pricing and walk around on a fact-finding mission searching for opportunities for your company and keeping an eye on what’s hot and what is not.
After a few hours on the show floor you’ll be able to piece together the sales strategies and marketing tactics of your competitors.
Before you can select a red hot show for your business you need to know who you are selling to. Who are your ideal customers? What do they look like? How do you know which shows they like to attend? Not knowing the answers to these questions will seriously hinder your exhibiting success. You could be in the wrong place, at the wrong time and trying to sell to the wrong people. Not only could this lead to an expensive disappointment it could damage your reputation and your brand.
The place to start is with the event organisers. Ask them about the demographics of the people who attend – do they match your ideal customers profile? How many attendees / visitors registered last year – and how many of those actually turned up? What is the total number of registration and how many do they expect to turn up this year (excluding exhibitors and speakers). Ask if you can have a copy of the exhibitor list from last year and ask how many of those have re-booked.
Too many exhibitors, when I ask them why they are exhibiting, say “We’re here because we always come” or “We’re here to give-it-a-go”. Investing in a show without setting, clear, focused measurable objectives is like setting out on a journey without any idea of which road to take. Without a focus for all your activities, there is no way to know if you have achieved your goal.
You must establish your objectives before doing anything else. However, that is not as easy as it sounds. You might have be delegated to manage the trade stand without any real reason to why the company want to be at the show. You might just think it’s a good idea – maybe you’ll pick up some work or make a few sales.
Objectives are the “fundamental strategy of business”. Without them you’re likely to spend a lot more money than you intended and end up feeling disillusioned and disappointed.
What objectives are you going to set? Here’s a few ideas…
- To collect a certain number of qualified leads?
- To take orders?
- To promote your business?
- To carry out marketing research?
- To meet industry experts?
- To introduce new products to your current customers?
Objectives are of little value unless they are quantified. I’d suggest you use SMART objectives.
S = specific / significant / stretching
M= measurable / meaningful / motivational
A= agreed upon / attainable / achievable / acceptable
R= realistic / relevant / rewarding / results orientated
T= tangible / trackable / timely / time-based
“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal” – Elbert Hubbard
The best advice I can give here is to know exactly how much you have to spend on your entire trade show campaign. You need to make sure that you allocate resources properly and report results accurately to management (or your bank manager if you go into the red).
The place to start is with your measurable, realistic goals. How much do you need to spend to achieve these objectives? At this point it’s wise to prepare a draft budget based on a wish list. Although you likely not have the resources to do everything you want, developing a budget based on what you think you need to do the job properly is a good place to start.
One thing you need to know before you start to design your trade stand is that exhibiting is all about the customer. It’s not about you, your service or your product. The whole purpose of exhibiting is to attract people to you. People who are potential buyers of what you sell. To do that you need to create an experience worth remembering for them.
Setting out your table with a pile of leaflets or with graphics and images on the walls that are too small to see is a sure way to spell disaster.
When thinking of an experience remember to consider all the 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and sound.
- What could you do to stimulate those senses in the visitors?
- What is it that your potential customers and clients really like?
- What is it that they will remember about your company and of course the people manning your stand?
Try this experiment. When you next visit your high street or shopping centre look at the signs. What do you see? Starbucks, Marks & Spencer, Clinton Cards, Boots the Chemist and so on. What compels you to go into one of these stores – habit, need or an attractive window display?
Now do the same at a trade show. What attracted you into one stand over another? With rows and rows of exhibitors all trying to differentiate themselves from their neighbours what caused you to stop? Some are elaborate while others were just simply boring and uninteresting – where you do fit into this range?
Creating the right signs and graphics is crucial. If you haven’t caught the visitors’ attention within the first four seconds, you have missed them altogether.
The right balance is to ensure that the message you are trying to establish is clear, concise, and appealing.
Marketing for a show falls into 3 main categories.
An organised marketing plan is what’s needed to:
- generate interest before the show
- generate interest at the show
- generate continued interest after the show
Who will you invite to the show? How will you attract new and existing customers to your stand? How will you keep in touch with them after the show?
Too many companies send their stand team without any formal training. Manning a profitable exhibition stand is more than standing around handing out leaflets or collecting business cards in a bowl in exchange for winning a bottle of champagne.
To be a professional looking business, one that is organised, ordered and ready to serve its customers, all stand staff need to look and act like ambassadors of the company. They need to be knowledgeable about the products or service on offer, be able to engage in conversation with perfect strangers and have an air of professionalism every minute of every day.
Take a moment to consider how much the live marketing event has cost. Don’t forget its not just the cost of renting space at a show but all the costs, include the stand decor and fittings, literature, travel to and from the show, hotel accommodation, preparation, staff refreshments,opportunity costs, and so on.
Training your team is as, if not more important, than the money you spend on making the stand look attractive.
The key to successful data collection starts with your objectives. Always keep those objectives in mind when speaking to visitors. This will help focus the mind and engage in conversation with people who are interested in your product or service.
Approaching strangers isn’t easy. For most exhibitors it is the number one social fear. You need to overcome that and look at approaching as a compliment – an attempt to engage visitors that, nine times out of ten, will appreciate.
- Do #1 Ask open questions. Effective openers invite the visitor to pause and continue the conversation – avoid questions that will attract a yes or no answer.
- Do #2 Focus on business. Effective openers should get directly into the job of qualifying visitors. Questions like “How are you keep up with the rapid changes in technology?”
- Don’t #1 Don’t ask a question if you don’t want the answer. “Are you enjoying the show?” do you really want to know? No you don’t, so ask something meaningful that will identify if that person is a potential customer of yours.
- Don’t #2 Don’t ask a question if you don’t know what to do with the answer. “Have you heard of our company?” is a good opener. But the script often expects the visitor to say no. What will you say if they say yes? You need a script answer for yes as well as no.
All stand staff need to be careful not to pre-judge visitors based on the way they look, dress, or talk. They should approach everyone as if he or she were the most important person in the world.
We are Trade Stand Specialists
our promise is to help you achieve spectacular results
Our approach is simple yet effective. Every plan we develop is individually tailored to ensure we help you deliver the best possible results and exceed expectations every time.
We pride ourselves on our ability to show you how to effectively and efficiently plan, implement, market, engage, train, follow-up and measure your results, so you can create exhibits that will make you proud of your accomplishments and, more important, produce stellar results for your organisation.