Back in May, we discussed the power of exhibitions as an experiential marketing technique; promotion through allowing potential customers and/or clients to experience your brand hands on. This week, we’re offering up our top tips for exhibition success, helping you get the most out of your experience and achieving the greatest return on your investment:
Exhibitions and Trade Shows are one of the most effective ways to deliver your brand directly to your target audience, but they also require an investment of both time and money. Ensuring the best level of return on this investment involves careful planning pre event, perfect execution on the day and a solid follow up and review process in the aftermath.
Create specific goals with measurable targets: it’s important to establish why you have chosen to exhibit at a particular show and what you hope to achieve from it. If your aim is to extend your potential customer base, set a realistic target of how many leads you wish to generate and formulate a plan as to how you will follow these up post event – this will help determine the specific information you need to obtain from each lead. If you’re more focused on actual sales, set volume or monetary values to work towards. Understanding your objectives will not only help you measure success but allow you to design an exhibition stand fit for purpose.
Design for form and function: whether presenting in a fully bespoke, large scale stand or a small shell scheme, use your designated space to full effect by considering both form and functionality in the design process. Reflect your brand identity through its aesthetic form and visual appearance but combine this with your exhibition objectives. For example, if generating leads, have easily accessible and comfortable areas for form filling or tablet stations for attendees to input their own information. If sales are you goal, consider product display and storage.
Promote your attendance: use every outlet at your disposal to let people know where you are going to be and when. Announce it through your website, via contacts already on your mailing list and schedule a series of social media posts to be published in the run up. Many exhibitions will have dedicated social pages and custom hashtags – be sure to include these in your posts. If the show has a dedicated website listing exhibitors, spend some time writing a well-crafted profile of your company.
Train your staff: the staff you choose to man your stand will be acting as the face of your company so choose and train them well. Make sure they understand your product or service inside out and walk through a dry run of their sales pitch with them. Appoint a designated project manager for the entire process and, for exhibition day, create a rota so every member of staff knows the running order and their role within it.
At the event
Continue to promote: don’t rely on your pre event promotion to draw people to your stand. Keep the momentum going and post regular social updates throughout the day. Create as much useable content as possible from the exhibition – photos, video clips, statistics from the day – these can all be used post event in blog posts and marketing materials.
Think like a salesperson: we often associate sales with hard tactics such as cold calling and other unwanted correspondence. But the key to good sales is good communication: ask open ended questions that draw people into conversation, listen to the needs of your visitors and address them with the potential benefits of your product or service. But remember, whilst it’s important to make each and every visitor feel valued, it’s equally as important to limit the time you spend with them – aim for a fair balance of both quality and quantity.
Appeal to the senses: as consumers, our senses play a huge role in our decision making, so use this to your advantage and entice visitors to your stand by using as many sensory tactics as possible. Sight and sound are obvious choices but consider how to incorporate more – for products with an associated smell, is it possible to emulate the scent? For example, if your product is a new line of gardening equipment, how can you replicate the smell of freshly cut grass?
Debrief and review: gather all staff involved with the exhibition to run through an assessment of the event. Review what went well, what proved unsuccessful and what you would change if you were to exhibit again. Post event analysis is crucial to ensuring maximum return on any future investment and should be conducted as a natural part of the process.
Follow up with leads: as obvious as it may sound, post event many exhibitors fail to make full use of the leads they managed to generate. On average, a new lead will need to be contacted seven times before they convert to a customer, so don’t be disheartened if results are not immediately apparent. Continue with your efforts and attempt to drive potential opportunities through your sales funnel.
Plan for the future: it’s never too early to start the planning process for future exhibitions. Doing so whilst your recent show is still fresh in your mind will provide clarity and help you to grow from experience which in itself provides added value.
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