When 21st century business is built on digital connections is the trade show or exhibition is still relevant?
Getting out of the office to find out what’s new in your industry, hear about research or connect with key players in your sector are all reasons to visit an exhibition – either as a visitor or exhibitor. For businesses wanting to launch new products or generate valuable sales leads exhibiting offers a valuable ingredient in the marketing and sales mix.
My business helps organisations secure exhibitors at their conferences. When planning an exhibition, we carefully develop a range of different packages that offer businesses, whatever their size, get the most out of the event. I work closely with both my clients and their exhibitors to help the process as smooth as possible.
So here is my 5 top tips for making the most of exhibiting at your next event;
Research, fact finding and planning
Exhibiting at a show or conference can be a big investment, not only in the cost of the space but in marketing materials and staff time, so research which events is going to get your business, charity or organisation directly in front of your target audience. Find out what the footfall will be and what seminars or workshops are being put on for delegates or visitors. What kind of marketing are the event organisers doing to get people to their event? Build events into your marketing budget and activities throughout the year and, even if your business is small, you can see your investment turn leads into loyal customers.
Once you’ve booked your stand then plan what you are going to need. It’s no good just turning up on the day without knowing the size or layout of your pitch. A good conference or exhibition organiser will keep you up to date with details of what you need to do when, but don’t be afraid to ask about if you’ll have access to electricity, what are the set up / breakdown times, is there an exhibition programme that you’ll need or supply copy for and do you need to supply your logo for stand signage?
Within your sales and marketing team what will be your objectives for the event? Plan what marketing collateral you’ll need and order it well ahead of the event – will you need banners, leaflets, brochures or business card? Its also useful to polish up your 30 second elevator pitch – making sure everyone is up to speed with your key messaging for the show.
I’m going to put it out there that free pens on your stand will not get you noticed! Believe me I’ve done enough events to know that if visitors to your stand are to remember you, you need something special!
Be creative in how you engage with visitors at the show – remember you are there to build relationships with potential customers. If you supply first aid equipment – demonstrate it – get people involved in learning first aid with your products. Or if you sell pens why not have a cartoonist doing 60 second portraits of visitors?
The best stand I visited last year was a charity at the NEC doing free mini manicures in their brand colours – whilst we sat having our nails done staff talked to us about the importance of their work. It beat the free pens hands-down!
Maximise your exhibition presence
Increase your visibility at an event with posts across your social media and digital platforms, most events now use a # so make sure you get coverage along with your competitors! Let your customers know that you’ll be at the next big trade event in your Enewsletters or news page of your website. If you are launching a new product make the most of your PR by connecting with trade magazines or journalists covering the event and put together press packs.
Hopefully you’ll have done some excellent data-capture at the conference – collecting business cards with the offer of winning a free bottle of bubbly works wonders! By following up each of these new contacts with a personalised email you can send information about post-event offers or news on special sales deals up, giving your business more opportunities to convert lead into sales.
Chosen carefully, taking a stand at an event is a valuable investment in your marketing and sales plan. It is an excellent vehicle for building brand awareness, can generate sales leads and will connect your business directly with new customers and prospects face to face.
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