This time of year always seems to be one of the busiest for conferences and exhibitions, September and October can be the same, but this year it seems we have a straight run of events through April and May where at least someone from the office is out at a show every week. Companies spend big bucks on exhibiting at events, but they can sometimes let themselves down in the final execution, and not make the most of the opportunity. To that end I’ve prepared a few helpful tips that we use when exhibiting.
- Have an expo booth kit
Whether you’ve got a custom stand that you regularly ship, or whether you just turn up to the occasional show and roll out a banner on your basic 3 x 3 stand, you’ll save a lot of time and stress by keeping everything you need for a show together in one place, so when showtime rolls around you simply ship it, or pack it, and away you go.
The kit should include;
- all the basic stationery, as well as a few tools like a screwdriver and box cutter.
- Powerboards, extension cords, phone chargers.
- Hi-vis vests are a good idea as they’re often required for set-up and pack-down.
- A stack of business cards for all relevant staff, in case someone forgets theirs.
There are plenty more things too, and it may vary depending on what business you’re in, but there’s a start.
- A unique giveaway that matches your business.
How many pens, caps and stubby holders do people need? Try to think of something a bit more memorable, but also something that people will actually use afterwards so they will remember you. The ideal giveaway ties in with your business as well. Last year we launched a new custom marketing division called ‘made to measure’ so we gave away branded measuring tapes – nothing earth-shattering but it was simple, practical and fit our message.
- Have you seen what they’re doing on booth 12?
If you’re competing for foot traffic, then you need something a bit cool or original, something that can generate a bit of a wow factor, so that visitors start talking about it and seek you out. Competitions such as games of skill can work well here, or visible giveaways that people will see around the show. But also keep in mind if your goal is to attract quantity or quality – a gimmick might also mean your booth staff are busying dealing with visitors all day who are never going to be customers.
- The elevator pitch
“So, what do you guys do?”, many visitors will politely ask as they line up to grab your freebie. Your team needs to be able to make this most of this brief opportunity and tell them clearly in 30 seconds or less. Work out what your value proposition is in the context in which you are exhibiting. How do you make your customers lives better or their jobs easier, don’t just regurgitate a technical description of your product.
Get the wording right – clear and simple – and make sure everyone on your booth is singing from the same song sheet. If you can tie it in to match the message of your other materials as well, even better.
- Well trained staff
Which leads me to the next point. I know it sounds obvious, but booth staff should have it drilled into them to not eat, talk on their phone or work on their laptop on the booth. We all have to eat and need a break from time to time, so plan those breaks rather than stuffing your face on the stand.
And as for working on the booth, I know your staff are all busy and have lots to do, but if they don’t have time to represent the company properly on the stand, don’t send them in the first place. If you can’t spare any staff who can dedicate themselves to representing the company at a show, don’t waste your money booking a booth.
Tradeshows can be very effective, but it requires a full commitment of time and resources to do it properly.
- Market it
Let people know you’re going to be there. Let customers know, let prospects know. Invite them to come by, try to set up times to meet.
Hopefully you’re all doing your own regular newsletter to clients and prospects now? If not, start working on that before you considering booking any more shows. If you are, make sure you use it to let them know you’ll be at the show.
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