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6 top tips to make the most out of exhibiting at trade shows
1. pick the right show
This sounds obvious right? But it’s not always that easy.
What’s the point of going to a show where none of your customers are?
This first point is key, if you go where your customers aren’t you are pretty much wasting your time. With floor space somewhere between £250m2 and an eye watering £1250 m2 you really want to get this nailed. The first question we’d ask you is, do you know who your customer actually is?
Who are they – what businesses do they work for, what size of organisation are they in? Also what buying demographic do they fit into to – what age range are they typically in, whereabouts in the world are they? The list goes on…..without this info you are pretty much throwing a dart at a board.
If you aren’t sure, and a lot of people aren’t, make a list of your top 10, 20, or 30 clients and find out what you know about them. If you’re not sure ….. ask them, phone them, email them, find them out on Social Media?
Once you know who they are you at least have an idea of where your customers might go, where they hang out and a rough idea of what it is that “turns them on”. It’s a good bet that if your top customers go to Expo A, more of your potential leads will also go.
2. don’t go where all your competition is
Ok this is a brave move, but we see it time and again.
If you are selling a product and all of your competitors are at a show, you can run the risk of being “drowned out”? If the entire show is selling cake and you want to sell cake, it’s going to need to be something special to differentiate you from anyone else?
If though, and I accept this isn’t the greatest of analogies, everyone else is selling diet foods and you are selling cakes, you are going to stand out 100%!
There is a little more to it than this mind you, have you ever been to a sofa store? Ever wondered why they are surrounded by other sofa stores? It’s in part due to the fact that if you want something and everything is all in one place it’s easier to get a comparison. Regardless of this, our experience and our advice is don’t go where all your competition is. Your business is different, so why not be different?
3. work out what you want from the show
“Not sure really, just think we should go”
We have heard this so many times, and every time the answer is the same. Why would you spend thousands of pounds just to go? Are you mad?
Surely one of the first questions has to be, “What would be a successful exhibition?”.
Is it 50 great new leads? Or selling £20,000 pounds worth of widgets? Or meeting 10 people who place orders? Whatever it is, you must have a number, a way of measuring, a target. You might not hit it at the first show, but unless you know what you are aiming for you will never really know whether it was a success.
Work out what your target is, record it and then report it.
4. measure your results
I wanted at least 10 decent leads, how many did we get?
There is a lot of tech, some of it that the show organisers or event centres will supply you, this is rarely cheap, but there are also things you need to look out for.
Here’s a scene – the show is running, all the team are full of coffee and are buzzing to get going. “First one to get 50 leads wins”, the team are then leaping on anyone that comes onto the stand and are then blazing away with barcode scanners, at the end of the show you’ve got 500 leads to go for. Great – or is it?
Realistically can you and the team follow up 500 leads? Of that 500 how many did you just zap for numbers? How many are your “dream clients”?
We’ve seen (and from some really large blue chips) a move away from the tech dependency. I had a chat with a client whose business turnover is more than £3 billion, they have made a shift away from tech, that’s not to say they don’t use it, but they don’t rely on it. Their team now carry note pads, they are trained in how to start a conversation, find out whether this is a dream client, if it is it goes in the note pad, if it’s a lead they zap it, but if it’s basically a tyre kicker – don’t bother!
5. get your vistiors engaged
“I met you at the show” “Yeah, so what?”
You need to make an impact, you also need something tangible. One of the best ideas we have come across was a competition, everyone who entered had a picture taken with the rep on the stand and a voucher printed off to put in the goodie bag. The photos was filed, with the contacts details.
After the show an email was then sent to the now, new lead, embedded into which was the picture.
Next day a call goes out, did you see that email yesterday, the one with the picture of us on the stand together? The response was enormous, it was visual, everyone remembered.
If you get people to do ”something” they’ll remember it, or you could play a game, do a drawing, give them a cartoon, basically get them involved etc anything. People will remember it.
6. look the part
The space is costing a fortune, we’ll have to save some money on the stand.
Basically don’t, it’s a false economy. Sure, your team can take a cheap roller banner and some table clothes along with a few old bits of furniture that you’ve got in the office.
It’s a false economy.
You are in marketing? Or it’s your business? Do you care what your brand looks like? Of course you do, do you really want your brand to look like it’s a cheap higgledy-piggledy, mish-mash? No, of course not.
First off, work out the costs, sure getting someone like Motive Exhibitions will be a cost, but work out what it’s currently costing to hire a van, put fuel in it, put your team up the night before/during and after the event. Along with the “cost” to your business of losing your guys off the road and all of a sudden it isn’t a huge amount of money.
If Motive Exhibitions deal with the full event, from design to installation, logistics and storage, you won’t have the hassle of organising everything AND (this is the biggy) after three days at the show on your feet and out entertaining every night, you don’t have to deal with the breakdown!
Thanks for reading our tips to make the most out of exhibiting at trade shows, as a team we have a lot of real-life experience and are in constant contact with people who run their own business or are Marketing for a business, we have experience and we hear loads of ideas so we are great to bounce ideas off. You may also find our article about different types of exhibition stand useful .
If you want to make contact, click here and we’ll give you a hand, make you, and your brand look brilliant, and most importantly make its easy.
Enjoy your show.
David Hennessy is our Managing Director and co-founder of Motive Exhibitions. Based in St Neots we help businesses across Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire exhibit across the UK and beyond.