Exhibitions in a nutshell
Thinking an exhibition to be like a market is really useful when exhibiting. Market traders use every trick in the book to attract potential buyers to their stalls. Visitors to your show will not be coming to window shop, they can do that by ordering a catalogue. They will be coming to learn about the products and services that are available to them. They will want to see, feel, taste, hear and experience what you have on offer. Your challenge is to appeal to as many of the five senses as possible; to create an experience.
Take time out to plan
An effective plan, taking into account all the areas covered in this guide, will guarantee you maximise your potential. Planning an exhibition should take into account activity before, during and after the event.
Planning & Objectives
Set yourself measurable objectives. Begin by thinking about the audiences that will be at the show. Which customers will be your primary concern? You might like to divide your stand to cater for different types of customer.
Remember that many existing customers may be coming along as well as potential ones. Your objectives should be specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time constrained.
An existing customer objective might be to meet with your top ten clients, 2 per day, to build your existing business relationship.
A potential customer objective might be to secure 20 contracts with new customers two months after the show.
Write a brief for your stand which clearly states your overall objectives, indicate your brand identity, any values you may hold as an organisation and your unique selling points over your competition.
Who will you need?
Ensure your company is represented well at the event, you will need executive managers to meet decision makers as well as technical staff to handle specific questions.
Think about who will be coming and what questions they may have, then organise your staff accordingly.
Having the right staff available is a key factor, get the exhibition into their diaries as soon as you can.
Let your staff know why they are there.
Ensure you make your staff aware of the objectives and the way the stand will be worked. They will need to know the key targets and the main messages you are wanting to convey. Make sure they aware that they will be the public face of your company and therefore must be cautious to portray the right image.
Create an overall project plan
Plan your activities in detail well in advance, draw up a schedule. Remember to include pre-show activity and actions to be carried out after the event.
Letting your customers know you will be there is a vital element to your success and is often overlooked. Examine all your communications with potential and existing clients. There may be more opportunities than you think to alert people to the fact you will have a stand at the event. Perhaps you could even include ‘See us at stand xx at xx event' as a sign off on all your emails.
Target mailings are also advisable – mail your own database (depending on your objectives) and look into any other lists that may be available.
Briefing the organiser of the event is something not everyone thinks of. Make them aware of your products and services, your objectives, what will be happening on your stand and your key messages.
Give them copies of your brochures, newsletters, or any press releases you may have. Organisers often display and use your literature, press releases and show activity to promote their event – think of them as a partner.
You might like to generate your own advertising or PR around the event. YOU could create a section on your website for visitors to book appointments to see you or you could invite them by email to the launch of a new product at your stand.
There are also many sponsorship opportunities open to you at an event. You could for instance sponsor a particular feature area at the event.