Making the most of your trade show exhibition stand
With restrictions easing I want to try and give you some ideas to ensure if you are exhibiting at an event this year you can make the most of the money you have outlaid.
Exhibitions are not cheap, and often exhibitors walk away from a show feeling like they didn’t achieve anything from the show but had to be there anyway.
Following my point in magazines past, any marketing dollars you spend should have an associated return on investment attached to it. So always think about how you can make something trackable.
For many years I curated a stand at Diesel Dirt and Turf myself, so as an experienced exhibitor who tried and tested several ways to try and maximise exposure and engagement at the show, I am happy to share some tips and tricks which should hopefully work for you.
Do not wait for visitors to come to you.
Sitting down on your stand and just hoping that people will “pop-in?”
If you are serious about the money you have spent to be at this show then I highly recommend being at the forefront of your stand and actively engaging with those people walking past your stand.
They may not be your ideal customer, they may not be a customer at all, but the thing with networking is you never know who they might know and who they might pass your details onto.
People remember meeting people who genuinely and actively try to connect with them.
Get the details of those people who visit your site
Find a way on your stand to encourage people to give details.
Some of the really popular ways to do this is holding a competition where people have to drop in business cards (don’t stress there are business card readers now, so you won’t have to manually enter all those details into your CRM or database.)
Another way would be to ask for an email, company, and name before handing over any promotional items. For people who are just looking for a freebie this could be a sticking point, but I challenge you, do you really want to be handing out expensive promotional items to people who don’t really want to engage with your brand?
Flex your technology muscle and try to use tablets to obtain peoples details. You can set up great forms online to take care of this. Getting details on a table or through a form of technology, whatever it may be, not only makes you look like a progressive company, but it also makes it a lot easier to work with the data later.
Remember you must obtain the permission of anyone who gives you their details to email or contact them, be sure to disclose this on the form somewhere.
Has there been a stand at Diesel Dirt and Turf that hasn’t given away free food, beer, balloons you name the popular item guaranteed it has been given away (the balloon idea worked incredibly well for our stand in the opening year as we were the only team doing it.)
So, you need to constantly be thinking ahead of the crowd.
You also need to constantly think about what a potential client would like from you, if they are coming to visit you at an exhibition, try and get in their head.
Remove all thoughts about how you want your stand to be the biggest and the best and bring it back to remembering the whole purpose of the show – ROI (return on investment.)
For some of your customers the show might be a great time to have a relaxed chat. But if they are not aware that you will be there exhibiting then how will they do that.
So, my suggestion is ensure your customers – and potential customers – know in advance that you will be there. Post about it on your social media, include it in newsletters and make sure your sales team is mentioning it.
In this communication be sure to give them a reason as to why they should visit your stand – tying in whatever it is that you come up with which is unique to your stand.
Reflecting on past shows
While planning always be sure to reflect on what you have seen work at previous shows and try and replicate those actions.
If you admired something another stand did, have a think about how you can use the concept as a base to build something better for your own stand, the last thing you want to be seen to be doing is copying a stand from years gone past, any regular exhibitors and patrons will be sure to remember.
In summary, if you have outlaid a significant budget towards this event then I highly recommend you ensure that you try to maximise your activities to achieve some return on investment.
Post show I would recommend a full debrief of all your activities and making note of what did work, what did not work and how you can improve in the future, if you decide to head back for another year.
Be sure to keep a report of exactly how much money did get spent at the event – including accommodation, food and alcohol and anything else that was spent on the show.
Any new customers which have come from the expo be sure to track their lifetime spend for up to 6 months and then you can truly understand if it is value for money doing events like these.