Exhibiting is not only hard work, and time consuming but can be financially expensive as well.
So if you are considering exhibiting at an event for your business, you MUST be prepared going into it and be prepared to do the work BEFORE, DURING and AFTER.
Here’s 14 tips to help you get the most from your decision to exhibit.
Before the Exhibit
1. Identify and prioritize the top three reasons why you’re exhibiting.
You may be exhibiting to:
Gather qualified sales leads
Promote new products
Enhance your corporate brand
Educate your audience
Perform competitive/market research
Attend educational sessions
Focus on these reasons when making your strategic and spending decisions.
2. Set strategic, measurable show goals.
Establish realistic goals based on your target market as a percentage of anticipated show attendance, the number of exhibiting hours, exhibit size, staffing and budget. Predetermine how you will measure success when the show’s over.
3. Identify the products or services you’ll showcase.
“New” is the most powerful word on the show floor. New products and services are attendee magnets!
4. Design an attractive, functional, uncluttered exhibit.
Keep your exhibit open and inviting. Use color, light and movement to attract attendees. Then keep them in your booth using engaging presentations, hands-on demos, “info-tainment” and a professional staff.
5. Prepare your exhibit staff for “show business.”
Exhibiting is a different model of sales opportunity with unique challenges. Just like you wouldn’t send an actor on stage without a script, a rehearsal with other actors and props, don’t expect your exhibit staff to perform unprepared in your exhibit.
During the Exhibit
6. Have a clear concise message and stick to it
When someone walks past your booth you need to let them know very quickly, what problem you can solve for them and why they should choose you.
Invest in pop-up banners that say exactly that and nothing more, the results will be outstanding when it’s a clear message that you convey
7. Use high-impact graphics focusing on your prospects’ needs.
Plan your graphics as large, colorful visual speed bumps to attract attendees’ attention and communicate your message. Effective graphics create an interest in your product or service by telling potential prospects what your product can do for them in about 3-1/2 seconds, the time it takes to walk past your stand.
8. Record all critical follow-up information on a lead form.
Plan ahead with whomever will follow up on your show leads to decide what relevant information they will need, including contact info, interest, and requested follow-up.
You must must must record and classify all your leads.
9. Talk to strangers.
As children we were told not to talk to strangers, but when exhibiting it’s quite the opposite! Speak to everyone!
DON’T ASK – Can I help you? Why? Because the answer is almost always NO. Ask open questions that require more than a one word answer. Really ENGAGE with attendees.
Motivate your staff to steer clear of hiding behind iPads and laptops at the conference, they are there to promote your brand, and nothing is more engaging than having a chat. The investment to purchase the space on the floor plus all the other associated costs mean that you need people working hard to promote your brand and services and get the most out of the opportunity.
10. Remember to be present!
Don’t use a mobile, eat on the stand, sit down, have your back to the aisle, have a messy stand or have cheap tacky giveaways.
11. Talk to other exhibitors
While the delegates are listening to the latest discussion on how you’re not using social media correctly, go and talk to the other exhibitors. Chat to your competitors and find out what they have coming up, chat to your neighbours and find out if they could be interested in the services or products that you provide. There’s opportunities everywhere and assuming you are at the right conference, this should be a gold mine for you.
12. Leave the selling for the office and network while you can
Don’t try and close deals while you are there, that’s best for the office. Delegates and exhibitors want to be at a conference to learn. They don’t want to be sold to. Exchange business cards and have a chat about how the day went and what they learnt. Build rapport and then set up a meeting once they are in the working frame of mind.
13. Have fun
The most important part! Enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and learn about how your industry is evolving. Relax and don’t worry about what is waiting for you back at the office. The less you stress and the more fun you have, the more approachable you will be to the attendees.
After the Exhibit
14. Provide promised follow-up within 48 hours of show close (if not sooner).
Industry statistics say that no follow-up is done on 80% of show leads! Prepare your post-show follow-up process before you even attend the show.
Stand out by contacting your prospects by the agreed-to method – and no later than a week after show close.
If you don’t follow-up your leads why on earth would you bother to spend all that money to go to the exhibition in the first place?
Make sure you follow-up all your leads at least six times after the show, remembering the amount of touch points your prospects need to lead to a sale.