Whether it’s a case of attending only one or two major events per year, or sticking with smaller, local trade shows and exhibitions, companies of every size and in every sector can reap significant business rewards from an effective exhibition stand.
Attracting potential customers, promoting your products and services to a wider audience and gaining valuable sales leads isn’t a matter of pot luck, however. Businesses, especially those exhibiting for the first time, need to put in a little effort to ensure that time spent at an exhibition is productive and profitable.
Here, specialist exhibition stand contractor Aspect Exhibitions list the 10 best ways in which companies can maximise their business performance at trade shows and exhibitions.
1. Set realistic and measurable goals for your exhibition attendance.
Clearly, you want to achieve something by attending a trade show or exhibition. Define your purpose in exhibiting as a set of realistic goals and plan your attendance in accordance of meeting them. Perhaps you want to generate fifty new sales leads, gain constructive feedback from a hundred potential customers on a prototype product you’re launching or expand your network of industry contacts. To get the most from your exhibition experience you need to know what it is you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it.
2. Choose the location of your stand wisely.
Although exhibition stands located closest to an exhibition’s entrance will see the highest footfall they are often overlooked by visitors. An eye-catching stand positioned somewhere along the exhibition’s main visitor thoroughfares should offer the greatest business benefit. Aim for a spot that is unobstructed by features such as pillars or partial walls and that is not heavily populated with the exhibition stands of your close competitors. If possible, locate your stand next to an exhibitor whose business naturally complements or is linked with – but not the same as – yours.
3. Pre-publicise your exhibition attendance.
Use your emailing list, press releases, adverts in trade press, social networking etc. to let existing and potential customers know that you’ll be attending an exhibition, and provide the location and date well in advance. Adding a logo to advertise that you are exhibiting to your corporate email signature would inform existing or potential clients that you’re exhibiting at the trade show and may encourage them to attend and visit your stand.
4. Ensure that the nature of your business is obvious to visitors.
Your exhibition stand should be attractive and uncomplicated, allowing visitors to see at a single glance exactly who you are and what your business is about. Make sure your stand and any branding is clear and visible, use simple but eye-catching graphics and keep logos, taglines and vision statements brief.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of people skills.
You might have the most effective and attractive exhibition stand on earth, but if the staff running it look miserable, are reluctant to talk to visitors or simply look scruffy and unprofessional you may be kissing new business goodbye. Exhibition stand staff should be ambassadors for your business, presenting a friendly, smiling and approachable persona to visitors. They should be prepared to provide product demonstrations and answer questions from customers and should not be seen eating or drinking whilst occupying the exhibition stand.
6. Give visitors an incentive to seek out your stand.
At trade shows where many companies in the same business sector may be exhibiting the key to success is offering something at your stand that offers don’t offer and which encourages attendees to visit you. Incentives might include branded ‘giveaway’ items, promotional offers/discounts, competitions such as prize draws, or interactive games. The incentive you choose should fit in logically with the business image you are trying to present; e.g. if your business promotes safe driving you may not want to raffle a case of whisky.
7. Make sure you have a plentiful supply of promotional material.
The key to successful exhibiting is to raise awareness of your brand and its benefits with potential customers. Running out of flyers, brochures, price lists and other useful literature for customers to refer to after they’ve left the exhibition can be a costly mistake.
8. Avoid using technology for technology’s sake.
In theory, touch-screen technology, automated audio-visual displays and interactive electronic communications could render human presence on an exhibition stand redundant. However, nothing is more reassuring and encouraging for a potential customer than the personal touch from a courteous and knowledgeable representative of your company.
9. Have a reliable way to capture new sales leads.
By ensuring that you have a suitable solution to capture new sales leads, be it a Barcode Scanner, Tablet App, Computer Software or just good old pen and paper you need a strategy to capture the leads, and you need it to be reliable, you don’t want to have had a great conversation with a potential customer and for your scanner to give up, it could mean you lose a hot lead. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup solution as well.
10. Have a strategy for following new sales leads.
The majority of exhibition and trade show attendees are budget-holders with the power to make purchasing decisions. They are attending to weigh up the pros and cons of the products and services offered by competing companies in the same sector, usually prior to making a purchase. The worst sin a business can commit is failing to properly and thoroughly follow up every potential sales lead they gain as a result of exhibiting. Making contact immediately after the exhibition is crucial, as is persistence, if a profitable return on your time is to be achieved.