Whether you’re exhibiting at a local business expo or a national event, making your business stand out from the crowd is key to maximising your opportunities for success.
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘think outside the box’, but when faced with an impending deadline, it can be difficult to decide which direction to go in.
The key is to focus on what you’re good at and what makes your business unique. If you’ve just developed a new product, consider launching it at the show and take along some examples for people to see.
If you’ve recently won an award, display your certificate or trophy on your stand – it will be a great conversation starter and shows that you’ve been recognised for your work.
Visually, use simply branded items to create one clear message and think about the hierarchy of content – what will be seen by a passer-by?
Banners are great but if they are overcrowded with text or you use a mix of old and new banners with different designs then the message is easily lost.
A couple of simply designed banners which get across your key messages in a clear and succinct manner will help create a good brand impression.
But think about where the information is placed on your banners – anything in the bottom half could be hidden by a table!
Remember that people buy from people so having the right personalities representing the business is key.
If you have a business development manager then they will hopefully already have experience in talking to potential new clients, so making use of their time during the event would be beneficial.
If you don’t have a dedicated person in-house, then enlist the help of confident, friendly and enthusiastic members of your team to ensure a good quality visitor experience.
Engage with people who are planning to attend the exhibition before, during and after the event.
Ruddocks’ Head of Client Strategy Andy Clayton advises:
"If the event is making use of a hashtag on Twitter, then follow people who are using the hashtag and strike up an informal conversation in the run up to the event."
A quick ‘We’re exhibiting at #eventname – hope to see you there’ can start a dialogue with visitors and if you start casual conversations with them ahead of the day you stand more of a chance of them dropping by to say hello.
During the event, don’t let your stand act as a barrier, get out in front of it and talk to as many people as you can. Until you speak to visitors, you won’t know if they’re potential suppliers, clients or peers.
It’s also important to record the names and contact information of everyone you speak to so you can follow up with any potential leads afterwards and add them to your mailing list.
Think of creative ways of collecting usable data such as running a business card prize draw. Having a system in place to record specific interests or conversations can also help to build bespoke, impactful insights to help you market more effectively to individuals and businesses.
Sending a post-event mailshot or arranging a follow-up call will give the impression that you’re a proactive business to work with and will help keep up the momentum created by the event.
If you don’t follow up warm leads within a few days, then contacts can quickly turn cold.
Finally, be in it for the long haul – don’t be a one-hit wonder. Attending one exhibition and expecting a flood of new clients is unrealistic, but building a good reputation with visitors over several events will pay dividends in the long term.