You’ve booked your exhibition space and now you’re keen to turn that investment into a surge of fresh, qualified leads. But how?
How can you make sure your presence cuts through all the noise and distractions from competitors?
How can you encourage people not only to visit your stand but also to stay long enough to start a productive conversation?
And how can you make sure you attract the right kind of footfall?
There’s no ‘one fits all’ solution, but following one or more of these proven strategies will lay the foundations for your best exhibition yet.
Create a stand to remember
It’s true what they say: first impressions really do matter. Your stand is your shop front. It’s the reflection of your brand values, your experience and your expertise what do you want it to say about you? You certainly don’t have to blow the budget to get this right, but you should keep a few important things in mind:
- Location Imagine the path visitors will take through the venue are you visible? Are you hidden in a corner, or in the path of natural footfall? Negotiating a prime position can considerably increase your visitor count.
- Set the stage What are your business objectives for this exhibition? What tone or atmosphere do you want to set? How can your stand portray your vision?
- Be creative Your stand needs to reflect your brand identity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Innovative stand design, striking aesthetics and clever use of lighting, audio and visuals can really set you apart.
- Test it out Your imagination can only go so far. If you want to have a clear idea of how visitors will see the stand, how the layout looks based in real life, and how everything will fit together on the day, it pays to preview your stand with a 3D concept.
Present a winning team
Your exhibition team is on the front line for capturing business leads, and their interactions can make or break a successful exhibition. We’ve all seen boredlooking staff and stands littered with coffee cups. It looks unprofessional and importantly uninviting.
- Motivation is key Exhibitions are tiring for everyone, staff included, but your last visitor of the day is just as important as your first. There are plenty of ways to keep your staff fresh and motivated, including bonuses for gathering leads, gamifying customer interaction and ensuring staff take plenty of short breaks.
- Brief and debrief Make sure your team knows exactly what’s expected of them before the exhibition starts. Do they know your objectives for the event? Do they have a rota for breaks? Do they know where the extra pile of brochures are kept, or what their individual roles are? Briefing them beforehand, and then debriefing daily will help to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals.
- Expertise and skill Your exhibition team should be experts in your field, ready to answer any questions about your products and services or they should at least instantly know where to refer queries. Make sure everyone is skilled in Exhibition Comms 101, too. Everyone knows to never leave people waiting, learn to differentiate between prospects and time-wasters, never huddle in groups, and always ask open questions.
Promote your stand
One of the easiest ways to guarantee steady footfall to your stand is to market your presence well in advance. Just remember to provide details of what special offers or giveaways you’re offering, and always include your stand number!
- Check your contact list You should already have a list of clients and prospects. As soon as you have your stand booked and your main attraction nailed down, send a personalised invitation or eshot to your contact list to let them know you’ll be there. You could even give them a free gift or discount only redeemable at the event as an added incentive.
- Use what you’ve got What are the everyday contact points between your customers and your brand? Your website might be one of them. Perhaps you send out a newsletter. Maybe you have delivery staff or customer service personnel. Think about how you can use these to spread the word that you’ll be exhibiting.
- Social media Use social media to piggyback event hashtags, announce your participation, and build buzz by giving sneak previews or teasers about your plans for the event. You could even live-tweet or stream the exhibition if that’s where your target audience hangs out.
- Event marketing All exhibitions have an event marketing team working hard to get visitors through the door. Make sure you take advantage of what they have to offer, whether it’s a listing in the event programme, previews in trade publications, or other promotional activities. Their reach can amplify your message.
- PR You can also reach out to trade publications yourself to let them know about a new product launch, a particularly high-value giveaway or notable attraction on your stand. Do you know which titles your audience reads? Start there.
Give people a reason to talk to you
One of the keys to capturing contact details is to keep people talking for as long as it feels natural. Once a rapport is built, it’s far easier to move the conversation onto business matters but it’s getting the conversation started that’s the tricky part. Think about how you can engineer reasons for people to talk to you.
- Games and competitions This is probably one of the easiest ways to start a conversation. Why not entice people onto your stand with an interesting game, or with a competition to win a prize the more fun it is, the more likely that word will spread.
- Hospitality There are three major gripes about exhibitions: Firstly, you can’t get a good cup of coffee without paying a fortune for it. Secondly, the wifi is either terrible or nonexistent. And thirdly, it’s tiring being on your feet all day. If you can solve any of these visitor pain-points (or others you can think of), you’re far more likely to attract steady footfall and generate even more chances to strike up a conversation.
- Giveaways The branded freebie is the mainstay of seasoned exhibitors, but it’s advisable to look beyond pens and keyrings and think about what’s going to be truly useful or interesting to visitors.
- Technology We all love a gadget especially one that makes interactions more efficient, fun or interesting. Harness that power to attract and impress visitors to your stand. Perhaps this technology ties in with a game or competition you’re running, or perhaps it’s as simple as providing tablets for capturing contact details instead of traditional pen and paper. These days most stands just scan the barcode on your visitor pass to get your contact info.
Let’s not forget why you’re there in the first place you’re an expert in your industry and you want to attract more business. Show them what you can do by adding value and making it worth their while to spend time and money with your company.
- Demonstrations Practical demos delivered in an entertaining or interactive way are perfect for breaking the ice. Chances are, that’s what the customer is there to see anyway, so make it easy for them to ask questions, get involved in the demo or try it out themselves.
- Workshops and breakout sessions Give it all away for free teach them something that’s of real value to their business so they know where to come when they want more.
- Q&As Channel all those questions into a focussed session and learn even more about your customers and their needs. You can even tie this in with social media to gather in queries before the show, or livestream
the session and present a more global image.