Exhibitions can be good for business
The cost of exhibiting can be off putting for many small businesses, but the right show can see tremendous returns if it’s done properly.
We’ve helped our customers through the whole process, from choosing a theme, designing and producing the stand, marketing collateral, promotion throughout the event, PR and marketing support, training staff how to deal with enquiries and sales leads afterwards, even attending events with our clients. As you see there’s alot to think about. You may need all of this support, or just some of it!
If you are thinking about an exhibition, here’s our top ten check list of things you need to think about.
1. Choose the right exhibition.
Whether it’s business to business or a trade show, make sure your potential customers are going to be there. Ideally attend as a visitor first to check out the quality of attendees. Are there good quality seminars and speakers to attract visitors and what promotion does the company do to get people to the event? Basically do your research first.
2. Choose the right position.
When you’ve decided you are going to exhibit, choose a good position. If you have booked early enough (some of the most popular events get booked for the following year at the event!) you’ll get pick of the spaces available. Study the exhibition map and look for the best spot. You don’t want to be near the toilets or the exit, they might be busy but people don’t tend to hand around for very long.
3. Plan ahead.
There’s alot to do and alot to think about so you need planning. Read the exhibitors manual which is always full of information and your responsibilities regarding health and safety and your stand requirements for lighting, power, carpets, tables and chairs, for example.
4. Have a plan.
Be clear what you want from the event. 50 sales leads for example – but what type of leads – the more specific you are the better. Collecting 50 business cards is not the same as 50 qualified leads, so make sure you are clear what you want. Maybe you are looking to attract suppliers or raise awareness. Whatever it is you want, you need to be clear and decide how you can measure the success.
5. Have a theme.
Once you know what it is you want from the exhibition, you can set about planning your theme or overall messaging. It needs to be simple, eye catching and be consistent across everything – visuals on the stand, leaflts, press packs, advertising, PR – everything. It’s not as easy as it sounds but this is key to the success of your exhibition. Bring the experts in at this point if you are struggling.
6. Market yourself.
Unfortunately, you might have spent £2 – 5K for the space at your exhibition, but this doesn’t guarantee customers will be knocking at your door. You need to promote that you are there using every opportunity, from direct mail and e newsletters to invite your existing contacts, PR and advertising in the pre event press opportunities to attract people you don’t know. Visit all the press on the day with a pre-prepared press pack of company details. If you make it easy for them, they are more likely to use your story. Take up any opportunities to speak at seminars or product showcase areas.
7. Train your staff.
Make sure everyone understands their role on the day. Exhibitions are hard work so be prepared for alot of time on your feet. There’s nothing worse than staff sat down on a stand or talking amongst themselves. Get staff to take a break away from the stand so they are fully aware when representing your company. Don’t just hand out marketing literature to passers by this will just end up in the bin and cost you money. You want conversations and to find out who really is interested and who is not. Pass good leads to senior sales people to deal with and make sure details and requirements are captured. A simple A5 enquiry form to capture their needs is best and you can staple a business card to it. Many events have electronic devices now that you can capture details electronically but be warned, we have had a client where this failed, so a back up is always a good idea!
8. Follow up.
At the end of the first day you’ll probably just want to lie down. But before you do you should have a debriefing with the team. Most events will cover 2-3 days. So find out what went well and what didn’t. Is there anything you can do better tomorrow? If you are really slick you can capture all of your leads into a spreadsheet and send a preprepared emailshot that evening to thank people for coming to your stand and that you will be in touch in a few days time. They are more likely to remember you when you do call than other companies!
9. Follow up.
At the end of the event make sure follow ups are completed properly. A good idea is to rate your leads on the day. Leads rated A could be your top prospects, maybe they’ve asked for a quote or a meeting. Make sure these are called as soon as possible and action their requests. Leads rated B may have asked for information but don’t have a specific need right now and Cs could be even less urgent. But make sure everyone is contacted in that first week. If you don’t your competitors will.
10. Follow up.
If you have achieved your goal of 50 sales leads, it can often take up to 6 more contacts to get a visit or a sale. Don’t give up. Sometimes it can take months, but as long as you put them on your database and communicate with them regularly, you’ll be surprised how many do actually turn into sales eventually. It doesn’t always happen in the first week.
If you would like help with your exhibition, whether it’s design and production of the stand itself, or support throughout the whole process, give Fig Creative a call on 01457 857111. We’ve got many years experience helping our clients and achieving some fantastic results.