With a career spanning event planning, sales and marketing, I have both organised and attended many exhibitions over the years, from wedding fairs to large 3-day exhibitions at large national exhibition halls. I am fully aware of the huge investment in time and budget that goes into a successful exhibition, from the stand, marketing collateral and staff attendance, so it got me thinking about what makes a successful exhibition and how best to maximise the opportunity to network and drive new business.
Exhibition stand & marketing collateral
Decide on an exhibition which offers the best opportunity to get in front of your target audience. Do your main competitors also tend to exhibit? What has the footfall been in previous years? Does it meet your budget? Are there any opportunities to speak or sponsor?
Seems simple, but check the stand dimensions; if you need power supplies, consider if you need additional space to hold stock or display products.
How are you going to draw people over? Work on creating eye-catching banners which are on-brand; consider producing video content quite often animation can be best as any sound may not be heard. What promotional information is required, such as brochures, leaflets, and business cards.
Staff training and your USPs
Consider how many of your team will attend. Do they need any training beforehand to ensure they are up to speed with your company or products’ USP?
A stand with smiling staff is more approachable than one where the staff are sat behind a table on their laptops or phones.
Be ready to have conversations with people and not always to ‘sell’ being able to listen is a vital skill that many people forget. Don’t underestimate how tiring an exhibition can be – look after your team by making sure you have water available and ensure they take breaks.
Promoting: geo-targeting, social content & email marketing
Once you’re at your event, the next stage is to get people to visit your stand. A technique we’ve had success with at Capsule and for our clients is using geo-targeted ads on Facebook to target people attending the event. Using the ‘Drop pin’ feature, you can set up a radius around the event centre, for example, NEC Birmingham or the Excel in London and show your ads to everyone within the area. In your ad copy and creative, you can then let visitors know where your stand is located and why they should come and visit, such as the swag you’re giving away or the offer you’re running.
Another good way to attract people to your stand as well as capture their details so you can follow up after the event is a competition or a giveaway. We would recommend quite a high-value prize, such as an iPad, rather than the usual event swag, as this will help you stand out and get people talking. When combined with geo-targeted ads, you can quickly draw a steady stream of relevant leads to your stand.
A tip for event competitions and giveaways is that the prize should be relevant to your target audience, so as you’re taking people’s details, you’re only collecting info from your target audience.
Send an email to your database or ask your sales team to make contact with warm leads to let them know you will be attending and provide details of your stand number.
Exhibiting at events provides a stream of content for your social channels. Promote on social channels before, during and after the event. It’s also helpful to encourage team members to share or like posts on their own LinkedIn.
Lead capture and follow up
Will you run a promotion or offer a discount to anyone who buys or signs up for a demo on the day. A promo code may be a good way of being able to track and monitor any leads generated from attending the show.
How will you capture leads? Some large shows hire scanners so you can scan the name badge barcodes of the people you speak with.
Exhibiting at an event can sometimes feel overwhelming, and it’s hard to measure your return on investment. Following our tips above, such as event stand design, promoting your attendance at the event and generating leads, as well as giving yourself time to plan, means your next event can be a success without the fear of wasting your time and marketing budget. If you’re looking to get the most out of exhibiting at an event, then chat with our team. We’re more than happy to provide you with some extra tips as well as take some of the stress away from you.