Exhibitions are a versatile and cost effective way of getting your products/services out there to customers, on average 75% of visitors to an exhibition are there to buy or plan to buy in the future.
Exhibitions are a great opportunity to network and showcase your business. But they also demand a significant investment of your time and money, so make sure you're well prepared. Here are our top 10 tips to help you get the best out of exhibiting, from designing your stand to the most effective ways to engage with prospective customers.
As the saying goes ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ and how true this is when it comes to exhibitions. It is crucial that you plan everything to do with your attendance at an exhibition. Start with clear, measurable objectives for why you are exhibiting, what you are going to exhibit and how you are going to exhibit. Plan your marketing strategy for your stand, your staff and don’t forget to plan for what happens after the event – follow ups and reviewing performance. Booking events further in advance will give you plenty of time to do all the necessary planning and arranging for the exhibition. The more time you take planning the event, the more organised you will be on the day.
2. The design and layout of your stand/display
Here at XL Displays we offer a wide range of exhibition stands and equipment. We also provide an in-house, professional graphic design service for all the products we supply. This includes pop up display stands, pop up banners, exhibition stands, printed tablecloths and outdoor displays. Our creative design team are experts in large format graphic design as well as smaller scale designs.
Attracting and holding potential customers’ attention is the primary aim of any exhibition stand. In order to ensure your materials achieve maximum visual impact, a number of factors must be considered when designing your stand. Usually, minimal text and a simple design works best.
The design of your stand doesn’t necessarily just mean the artwork, it also incorporates all of your various accessories and technology too. A screen displaying interesting video or image content about your products and good lighting to complement your artwork are important design features that will help to attract visitors.
3. Staff appearance
The people on your stand represent you and your company and first impressions count. Appearance is important and helps towards improving the effectiveness of your exhibition stand.
Don’t allow your staff to show up looking hung over or unclean, in a face to face environment like exhibitions, attendees will be put off from visiting your stand. If you don’t have a uniform for your place of work consider organising a uniform for exhibitions that aligns with your company branding and helps all staff members to be easily identifiable. Alternatively, ensure all of your staff look professional, for example, in business dress.
4. Staff training
Staff training is a crucial part of the preparation for an exhibition. If all staff are trained correctly, they will know what they are doing at all times. Staff should be trained on talking to customers, for example, they need to know how to answer awkward customer’s questions in the right manner. Staff will also need to be fully trained on the products or services that you are marketing, this ensures that if any customers ask questions, your staff will be able to answer quick and correctly.
Don’t rely too much on a predetermined script, this will come across to visitors as insincere. Wherever possible you should speak to visitors as naturally as you would anyone else, this will help them to feel like you are less like a robot and more invested in the conversation. On the other hand however, a script can be helpful to greet attendees quickly and appropriately but from there you shouldn’t refer to a script for help.
5. Promoting on social media
Social media is very important and can be extremely useful to businesses looking to exhibit. Through the use of social media you can greatly improve your exhibition presence, generate more leads and pre-schedule appointments with little to no cost. Social media will allow you to showcase your company and give customers a chance to come to your exhibition and learn more about your company.
Social media is a great way of telling customers or potential customers that you are exhibiting and to invite them. Customers can’t attend your exhibition if they do not know that it is taking place. You should use social media before, during and after your event to let customers know where you are, what you’re marketing and then how the exhibition went.
6. Setting smart objectives
Not only do you need to set objectives, you need to be SMART about them. SMART is an acronym relevant to objectives that means –
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Time Sensitive
To set a ‘Specific’ objective you have to answer the five W’s which are, WHO is involved? WHAT do I want to accomplish? WHERE will you work towards the objective? WHEN will I aim to achieve it? WHY am I setting this particular objective?
A ‘Measurable’ objective helps you to track your progress towards the overall objective, questions to ask yourself to help you set a measurable objective would be – How much? Or How Many?
‘Attainable’ is something that is specific to you and your business, don’t set an objective that you know is out of reach to you because it won’t be achieved. If you want to achieve your goals, then plan wisely and set something that is within reach.
A ‘Relevant’ objective is important to your business because if it’s not relevant then it is likely not benefitting your business in any way.
Finally a ‘Time Sensitive’ objective should simply be set within a time frame. Without a time frame there is no sense of urgency and you’ll more than likely just be putting off completing it.
An example of a SMART target is, establish 25 new business leads by the end of the exhibition. This is accomplished by talking to visitors at your exhibition stand. Try to collect as much information as you can about them such as their name, company, email address and telephone number.
For more information, please see our article - SMART Objectives for an Exhibition
7. Staff rota
Having a rota will ensure that your day runs smoothly and successfully. Your rota should include, short breaks and lunch breaks; who’s running which part of the stand; which customers you have invited and when they will arrive and leave. Your staff will need short frequent breaks to ensure they stay alert and refreshed. Make sure your staff take their designated snack and lunch breaks.
Our bodies need energy to get through the day and this energy comes from food. It is important to eat regular meals to ensure your body gets the energy it needs to perform and stay focused. If regular meals aren’t eaten, your staff will feel tired and deflated.
Plan everyone’s breaks and lunch times to allow for constant stand cover. You don’t want to leave your stand under manned as this will result in either an overflow of visitors that don’t get the attention needed, or people avoiding an empty stand.
For more information, please see our article - 10 Top Tips to Beat Exhibition Fatigue.
8. Generating leads
Remember, the event doesn’t end when you’ve left the venue. In fact, in most cases this is when the important work starts. Make sure you follow up with all the leads you’ve generated and the people you’ve spoken to. You need to keep your business at the front of your prospects' minds by staying in touch after the event. This increases the chance of converting your leads into sales. Staying in touch with customers on a regular basis helps maximise your long-term return from the event.
9. Ask the right questions
Conversations with customers should be light hearted, to the point and interesting. You should not ask closed questions because the answer will usually be no and this is a conversation killer and you will have wasted an opportunity to sell. As many questions as possible should be open for the customer to give a detailed reply. Try to use questions like, what are your reasons for attending this exhibition? Are you looking for any specific products or services? What company do you work for and in what capacity? Which product/supplier do you currently use? What do you like about it/them? What, in your opinion, could be improved upon?
10. Show de-brief and evaluation
After the show it’s important to de-brief your stand staff and managers. Figure out what worked well and what didn’t and what you can do better next time you exhibit. You should also measure your success against the SMART objectives you previously set. You should include your stand location, your stand layout, the conference traffic flow, your stand traffic flow, the leads, the competition, your staff, the sales script, and the quality of your display in your team debrief. Decide if the activity was a success and record the successful actions for future use and the mistakes so they will not happen again at your next exhibition.
At XL Displays we supply everything from custom built exhibition stands to portable display equipment such as pop up displays.
We hope these tips help your next exhibition to run smoothly. For help designing your exhibition stand or for more information please contact us or call us on 01733 511030.