Making the most of exhibitions
Whichever industry you’re in, we’ve all missed the regular industry trade shows over the past couple of years as the pandemic caused their cancellation or postponement. However, life, and business, went on regardless and many event organisers tried interesting virtual options with varying degrees of success. But now live events back, and the SHC team is looking forward to once again meeting old friends face to face and making new ones at a series of upcoming trade shows.
Trade events represent an incomparable opportunity to meet new people, network and get your brand out there. A good trade show can give your business the impetus and the confidence it needs to thrive. They require a significant investment in both money and time, but get it right and you can reap measurable rewards.
We’ve put together our top tips from our expert team to help you get as much as possible from your next event:
Bigger isn’t always better
You don’t have to have the biggest stand at a trade show to get noticed. Though large stands will draw attention, if your booth is well put together, full of useful information and staffed by an engaging and knowledgeable team, visitors will be sure to stop by to talk, learn and network.
Get your message across
Decide exactly what it is you’re trying to promote at the exhibition and then work to ensure all your information and branding is getting that same message across, clearly and concisely. Avoid the ‘car boot sale’ approach at all costs, as if you try to pack too much in, your message can become diluted and confusing, so be clear, stick to the point and create a confident and engaging company image.
Many event organisers offer benefits and support to exhibitors both before, during and after the show. Discover what they provide in the way of social media, press activity, add-on events – such as drinks receptions – and make sure your company is involved wherever possible.
Keep the stand clean and impactful in terms of design rather than drown it with text that no one will read. The aim is for the design to stand out and look professional. Hire a TV screen to show a deck on a loop, short key messages, client quotes and client logos rather than a lot of text.
The people manning your stand are ambassadors for your business. The more professional, knowledgeable and communicative they are, the more you’ll get out of the event. It’s important to ensure your company comes across as professional and trustworthy, so make sure your staff don’t eat while they’re on the stand and end up talking to potential customers with a mouthful of food. Make sure they don’t sit down and that they are always at the front, engaging with customers and talking to fellow exhibitors. In addition, even if it has been a long day, never look bored and ensure the stand is buzzing as the doors are closing just as much as it was when they opened.
A competition is a great way to engage with passers-by and get contact details from potential customers. Offer a prize that’s worth competing for and do your best to get entrants as excited as possible about what’s on offer.
Invite people at the end of the day for craft beers, prosecco and snacks. A gathering at the end of the show works well with potential and existing clients.
Organise an area on the stand for people to sit and talk. It should have the feel of a meeting area giving visitors an opportunity for a more in-depth discussion.
Take photos of people visiting your stand, playing games, talking to senior people and generally
taking an interest. These photos are valuable for using across your social media platforms.
Work the show
Make time to go around the show and see what other businesses – and crucially, your direct competitors – are promoting. Take time to gain an impression of the state of the industry and pace of innovation.
Capturing visitors’ details
Capture the details of everyone who visits the stand. Details such as name, company, phone number, and email address. This can be collected using a scanner or ipad and used in subsequent marketing activity such as emailers.
Last but not least, it’s incredibly important that you follow up on any leads you get during the show. If you just sit back and wait for customers to get in touch with you, you may lose out on valuable business, or worse, rivals could steal your new client from under your nose. Putting in a few hours on the phone after the event will consolidate the work you did during the show and help your business get the most out of the exhibition. A good CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics will ensure valuable contacts are not lost or forgotten.
Other things to consider:
• Speaker platform opportunities are available in the seminar events
• On and offline media coverage can be generated in the lead up to events in the preview editions of the selected media partners
• Press packs can be produced for the press offices at events. These can also be created online if there is a virtual press office
• To boost your PR, arrange one-to-one editor briefings on the stand
• Social media management before, during and afterwards is critical to reaching potential customers as well as existing customers.
See what Suzanne Howe has to say about making the most of exhibitions here.