Helpful hints for great exhibitingSo, you have decided to market your business, product or service at a trade show. You’ve got an old pull up banner and a box of brochures – and once you pick up one of those cheap folding tables and maybe borrow a chair from the venue, you and your exhibition booth are ready to go. Right? WRONG!
Exhibiting is not about renting some space and being a human brochure rack for a day or so. Just like your other marketing activity it needs to be strategic, focused, and treated with respect. You wouldn’t book space in the local newspaper and then scribble a couple of lines on a brown paper bag and give that to them to run? Would you? Here are some questions that you need to ask before you get to the event.
The answers will formulate the strategic plan that you need to create and adhere to, to make sure that you get the most out of your next trade show.
Why am I here?What do you want to achieve from exhibiting? Generate leads? Build awareness? Promote your brand? Who with? All the people who attend? Those who attend who match your target market? The other exhibitors? Use SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) to ensure that you can evaluate each aspect of your expo plan against what it is that you want to achieve.
Why are they here?Why are the people at the event attending? How much time do they have? What do they want to get out of it? When will they want to speak to you? How will they want to receive information? The nature and content of the event will tell you why people are attending. For example, a holiday show is likely to attract people who have an interest in travel and are likely to be looking for great deals direct from suppliers, all in one place at one time. A show that is heavy in forums, workshops and seminars is likely to attract people who want information and contacts.
What do I want to say that they want to know?You have a message that you want to convey to those delegates who are in your target market. Is it a message that they want to hear? Have you considered the What’s In It For Me for your potential customers? Are you promoting a feature of your business (which is probably something that is more important to you) or a benefit of doing business with you (which is what is in it for them).
How should I say it?Now that you have worked out who you are targeting and what you have to say to them that is of real benefit to them, how are you going to communicate that? Does your exhibition site complement your other marketing activity? Does your exhibition site look like a physical, 3-D version of your brand? Are you using colours, fonts, signage, props, furniture, that is consistent with your brand and of high visual appeal to your customers? Are you going to use sound, sight, touch, smell, to convey your message? Are you going to use the event to tell them everything about your business, or to qualify their likely interest for the future?
Once you have answers to the questions above, you can start on your Exhibiting Plan which should include such things as: Designing your site – physical layout and visual look; designing and ordering signage and promotional material; arranging furniture, audio visual gear and props; selecting, briefing and training staff; creating follow-up material.
And remember – the period after the event is just as important as all the time you have put into planning and being there. Around 79% of leads generated at expos are never followed-up! Which means that 79% of the time, energy and resources that those exhibitors have put into being at the event will never generate a return. Don’t let that be you. Plan all of your follow up activity long before you get to the Expo.