Make your event work with successful exhibition marketing

Posted on Sep 16, 2016

How to make sure your exhibition is a success

Standing out from the crowd

As one of many businesses at the exhibition you’re attending, you face a battle to get people interested enough to stop at your stand instead of your competitors’. There are myriad techniques for doing this, but it’s only half the battle.

In this article we’ll give you our top tips on how to take advantage of tried and tested exhibition marketing methods to make sure that your event is a success. From stand designs and techniques to bring visitors over, to ideas for engaging them, we’ve seen and done a lot of this, so here goes …

Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Ok, getting Eminem might be a bit pricey. Even if you could afford it, the chances of getting him to rock up to the NEC on a wet and windy Wednesday in February to help you promote your brand are slim to none.

However, we have seen this technique used quite effectively on a number of occasions. Jeff Capes, Frank Bruno and even the Chuckle Brothers have been known to appear on the stands of various companies (and if they’re a bit expensive, there are loads of look-a-likes out there).

Granted you might not be able to get them well versed enough to give detailed pitches for you, but they will help to draw crowds.

Given that as with everything else there’s a little ‘to me, to you’ with exhibitions and how to present your company, not everyone goes for the guest celebrity idea.

Scalextric tracks are always a good option. Some people get jugglers. Others just go for pin-up girls (or boys). Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is right for your audience and will attract them to the stand rather than scare them away.

Appealing stand design

This may seem fairly obvious, but, if you’ve not been to an exhibition before, you’d be surprised by how many people seem to either think that their stand’s design doesn’t matter.

Your stand is effectively a pop-up shop. As such it should attract the attention of your audience. Don’t go over the top with information as part of the design, you can give your visitors the information they want once you have them at your stand.

Innovative lighting, bold colours, even moving parts and interactive features can all add to the allure of your exhibition stand and help to drive foot-fall. Many companies go as far as having games consoles, high-tech toys such as F1, rally-driving and flight simulators, to old school Pacman machines and other similar games on their stands.

Encouraging engagement and interaction

Once you have them. Don’t let them go.

‘Sounds easy’ you’re thinking, but this can often be one of the hardest parts of your time at an exhibition or trade show.

You have to remember that whatever the footfall, every single person at the event has been visited a plethora of stands during the course of the day.

So here’s a list of tried and tested methods to help you to make sure you’re the exception and not the rule;

Coffee, tea, food & booze

It can be remarkably difficult to get a good coffee at a lot of trade show venues. If you provide some on your stand then you are effectively going for a three pronged attack.

We’ve also seen popcorn machines, candyfloss machines and even a full scale sweet shop set-up used to great effect at various trade shows.

Take your best staff

This may seem obvious, but over the years at the many events, trade shows and conferences we’ve been to, we have come across some boring and unenthusiastic people manning the stands of companies that you would think would know better.

If you have your best people with you (not necessarily your most knowledgeable, not even always your best salespeople, but your most friendly and easy to talk to people) then the chances of them engaging with your visitors effectively is much, much higher than if you bring Brian from accounts, who collects stamps.

Ok, we’re exaggerating to prove a point, but you see what we’re getting at

Videos

Having interesting, interactive videos playing at your exhibition stand can be an incredibly effective way, not only of getting people engaged with your brand, but also of taking the onus off your already busy staff.

If you do use a video, ensure that it has a clear call to action. Whether that be an instruction to get further information from a staff member, a direction to take a leaflet or a request to download an app or scan a QR code, make sure that your video isn’t just informative, but helps you get the data you need to follow up effectively after the event.

Live Tweets

Twitter is an event marketer’s dream. If you incorporate Twitter into your stand on the day of your exhibition then you open up a world of engaging, interactive possibilities for your visitors.

You can run competitions, get visitors to follow you and Tweet about you, create an event specific hashtag and get visitors to use it, you can even use it to allow visitors to ask questions of your off-site team if your on-site team is busy.

Using Twitter alongside your exhibition presence is a pretty simple way to encourage engagement in a way that your visitors want to engage, rather than forcing them to fill out questionnaires before you let them go.

Involve Technology

If your stand is full of iPads, then getting your visitors to engage and respond to questionnaires or surveys you might have prepared will be much easier than if you expect them to stand and fill them out with a much-chewed biro. There is software available that can instantly collate any contact details you collect and send them directly to your sales team in the office. This sort of technology will not only encourage people to engage, it will also help you to be the first to make follow-up contact.

Following up

Ensure you do plenty of pre-event promotion to let your existing customers, Twitter followers and prospects from any other medium know you’re going to be there.

And after the event; the single most important element of a successful exhibition is to follow up on your leads.

The main reason to go to one of these events is often to create new business. Whether by continued brand awareness, actual sales from the event or simply because you’ve become such a fixture at a particular trade show that you’d be noticeable in your absence.

So make sure that when following up on leads gained you do so within, at most, seven days of returning to the office. And if you can, make your follow-up communiques personal, people are far more likely to open and read personalised emails, even if they are sent using mass mailing software.

And finally…

Never go to these things alone, you’ll regret it and won’t be able to deal with all of the visitors you get. Make sure you and your team are dressed appropriately; it helps to be recognisable and fairly smart – don’t go to a motorsport event in pinstriped suits – but not so smart that you become staid and out of place.

Make sure whatever you do to, or with your stand, that it not only draws attention, but it also remains consistent with the image of your brand. Regardless of your event or sector, it can really help your business to generate warm leads, reinforce your brand or even launch a new product.

Your stand design should focus on a strategy that is fundamental to what you want to achieve. There’s no right answer to which of the ideas we’ve mentioned will work for you.

Some things will work for some companies at any event. While the same things will only work at certain events for others. So make sure you research your event and your audience.

If this is something that you’re struggling with and you think you could use some help and guidance, why not give us a call and let us help to make your exhibition a truly successful one.