How to make Business Exhibitions work for you

People buy from people and in the digital world we now live in, exhibitions provide businesses with a unique marketing advantage — the opportunity to meet, connect and build rapport with prospects and customers. Here’s how to make the most of exhibitions!

Exhibitions can be seen as a big investment, particularly by small businesses, but by investing in the short term, you can reap the benefits in the long term, turning the leads collected at an exhibition into loyal customers.

To get the most out of your investment, it’s important to pick the right exhibitions and conferences. By researching thoroughly, you can establish whether the event will match your marketing objectives and reach your target audience. The conference programme needs to have a strong seminar and speaker line-up to draw visitors to the event. In addition, the marketing budget dedicated to the event should be focused on delivering maximum visitors through the door and ensure these visitors are decision-makers. Ask the event organiser how they market the event and how they maximise visitor numbers.

Build relationships

  • Exhibitions, conferences and trade shows are the perfect platform for meeting key people in your industry — giving you the opportunity to market your business face to face.
  • Talk to as many people as possible, take time to learn about their business and remember to take their business card. You’ll need it after the event.
  • Don’t forget, the event can also be used as a live research session. Ask people opinions of your brand, products, sales pitch and marketing material. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from a couple of day’s face-to-face marketing.

Exhibition planning

  • Preparation is vital for success and will maximise opportunities, giving you better value for money. The more thought and planning you put in before the exhibition, the more likely you are to succeed at the event. Follow the exhibitor manual carefully when you receive it and ensure you know if you need to organise anything that you will you need on your stand (such as lighting and electricity) .
  • Set objectives for the event and put a plan in place as early as possible. This should include all deadlines for getting the stand designed and the information you need to submit to the organiser.
  • Your personal DAH exhibition planner will help get this planned.

Choosing the best location

  • Visitors can often miss certain areas of the show. Consider the location within the size of the hall carefully to avoid missing out on visitor traffic.
  • On occasion it can be helpful to position your stand on the outskirts of the hall. Visitors often use services such as food outlets and toilets during their visit and you can pick up additional visitor traffic.
  • If you can, try and visit the venue during another show. This can be useful as you will be able to identify dead areas before you book your space.
  • When the show opens many visitors will rush to the centre of the exhibition, so try to avoid being directly opposite the main entrance as visitors tend to walk straight past.
  • Check with the event organiser prior to booking your space to see who is exhibiting on the neighbouring stand. If you are planning to have meeting, you don’t want a music stall next to your stand.
  • If you have multiple divisions within your company it can be advantageous to occupy several smaller stands rather than one large stand to ensure you reach all areas of the hall.
  • Locate your stand near your competitors and other businesses who fit within your niche market. You can often pickup extra visitors who are searching for a similar product who may have never heard of you

Island Stand Vs 1,2,3 open sided stands

  • Consider the amount of frontage when selecting your stand space. Typically the more frontage you can get the more attractive your stand will look.
  • You may want to consider booking two spaces either side of the isle. This allows your stand to appear as a single space but with the added benefit of having a stream of traffic passing through.
  • Stands positioned on a corner always appeal, as they give the impression of an open and inviting stand.
  • An ‘Island’ stand is generally placed near the centre of the exhibition and is open on all sides. This is a great way to remove and potential barriers and attract more visitors onto your stand.
  • A stand that is open on two or three sides is often visually appealing and will have the added bonus of being able to attract visitors approaching from different sides of your stand.

Shell Scheme Vs Space Only

  • A shell scheme is a system of poles and panels that is generally installed by the event organiser. They offer an easy option for exhibitors to place their own artwork to dress the stand.
  • To give the impression of a major player within your industry, a space only stand is custom built to your own specific requirements. Branding can be delivered in a purpose built 3D environment which is geared specifically to demonstrating your products or services.

Marketing messages

  • Make sure all your marketing messages are prepared in advance of the event.
  • Your messaging should be consistent across your stand, company literature and press material. This will ensure you’re communicating clearly to your customers and prospects about who you are and what your business is about.
  • If you don’t already have one, you’ll need an“elevator pitch”. This pitch should say everything a visitor needs to know about your business and unique selling points in less than 30 seconds, the time it takes to travel a few floors in an elevator.
  • Maximise your exhibition presence by attracting more visitors
  • Media coverage in the press and related publications can all help get the word out and further promote your presence at the show.
  • Maximise your presence at an event by combining it with other marketing techniques. Usedirect mail, e-newsletters and PR to raise your profile ahead of the event.
  • Check the event website to find out who the media partners are. These publications will normally run features and articles about the event.
  • Contact the journalists and let them know what you can offer attendees to the show. You’ll need to prepare press packs, as most exhibitions have a press office for journalists attending. Putting your background information, latest news and customer case studies in a press pack is an effective way of getting in front of journalists.

Post-event follow-ups

  • Remember, the event doesn’t end when you’ve left the venue. In fact, in most cases this is when the important work starts. Make sure you follow up with all the leads you’ve generated and the people you’ve spoken to.
  • Most events offer data scanners, which means keeping track of who visited your stand is easy and hassle free. The data is then provided to your business in a spreadsheet after the event. This makes the follow up process much more efficient and ensures you have data for everyone you met, even if you didn’t get their business card or details.
  • You need to keep your business at the front of your prospects’ minds by staying in touch after the event. This increases the chance of converting your leads into sales. Send personal emails to people, rather than a group note to everyone you met, invite them to respond and to stay in touch with you. Many sales can be completed at the event or soon after. However, some take months or even years to come in. Staying in touch on a regular basis helps maximise your long-term return from the event.

With the right preparation, exhibitions provide an excellent platform for building brand awareness and generating sales leads. It’s important to build a pipeline of new business opportunities all the time and to keep your current customers happy. Attending an event, conference or exhibition offers your business the chance to connect with both customers and prospects.

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