Your Checklist for Maximising the Effectiveness of Exhibitions….

Exhibitions offer an excellent opportunity to raise awareness, generate leads, sell products and check out new trends. With so many exhibitions and events to choose from, it’s essential that you research the options, plan your events calendar carefully and make the most out of your attendance through effective planning and follow up.

We’ve put together a step-by-step checklist for planning, attending and following up after exhibitions….

Choosing the right exhibitions

With a huge number of events and exhibitions to choose from, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your objectives and target market when reviewing the options available. Having an insight into your typical customer profile (industry sector, location, size etc), their buying behaviour (decision makers, publications read, events attended, professional memberships and networks) and an understanding of the success of previous events, can help you to shortlist the list of events and exhibitions for consideration.

There is often an opportunity to book different packages with editorial or advertising deals at the time of selecting your stand space. If positioning yourselves as thought leaders is an objective, you may wish to have a speaker slot to demonstrate your expertise in a specialist area. Or if building brand awareness is key, you may wish to explore sponsorship opportunities which are often available for the entire event, lecture theatre, champagne reception or networking area.

Exhibition stand

When booking your stand space, you’ll want to find out who else is exhibiting and you will probably want to choose a stand space away from your competitors. Event organisers can advise on footfall and choosing a stand space next to lecture theatres, networking areas or coffee shops are popular locations as they are generally the busiest spots.

You’ll need to consider the technical requirements for your stand space such as socket and lighting locations, plumbing, whether you need a meeting area, if you are going to hire a badge scanner for capturing leads and if you need a system for taking cash or card payments at consumer shows.

Furniture can be hired for exhibitions to help you create lounge areas or meeting zones. You’ll need to consider your lighting and audio-visual requirements too and whether you need a storage area for literature and stock.

Finally, you’ll need to consider the design and type of exhibition stand. Exhibition graphics are key as they maximise the impact of your attendance, promote your brand and grab the interest of visitors when they walk by. A wide range of exhibition stand formats are available from fabric stands to banners and fabric display systems. You can really wow your visitors with flags, counters and other forms of signage to promote your brand and get noticed.

Find out more about different display options…

Products and Promotion

You’ll need to think about the profile of visitors and which products or services would be most relevant to their needs. Are you launching new products or offering any sales promotions at the show? Or are you promoting specific undergraduate programmes or training courses? Focusing your product offering in the planning phase can enable you to add impact to your pre-event campaigns and focus your efforts. Your pre-event marketing activities may include email marketing, advertising, direct mail, PR, editorials in key publications, creating email footers for your sales team and/or social media activities.

Before the show you’ll want to find out which marketing opportunities are available to exhibitors. You may be able to submit a press release promoting key products/services or courses. You can usually provide a company profile for inclusion in the show guide and you may be able to use event hashtags or groups to promote your attendance in your social media activities.

Marketing materials and merchandise

At the planning stage, you will need to think about the sales process and your target audience. Would brochures, flyers or postcards be most suitable?  What types of promotional merchandise would be the most effective for your brand and target audience, and how many people do you anticipate visiting your stand throughout the show? You may consider whether your target customers are likely to expect recycled stock for printed literature and eco-friendly merchandise.

As part of your brand planning, you may choose to source branded clothing for your sales team. If you’re targeting students then branded t-shirts or hoodies may be appropriate, or for more of a corporate offering you may choose branded polo shirts or formal shirts with embroidered logos.

You will need to check that the staff attending have name badges and register their attendance with the event organisers.

Find out more about corporate print, merchandise and clothing.

Logistics and housekeeping

Before the event, you’ll need to agree who’s attending and get the event in diaries early.  You’ll also need to consider the logistics of transporting the stand and literature, plan travel for staff and book hotel accommodation as it often books up early for large exhibitions.

You’ll need to consider housekeeping at the event and send things like a dustpan and brush, bin bags, spare notepads and pens, stapler, hole punch, double sided tape, extension leads, post-its, scissors, a camera, a first aid kit, and a tool kit with hammer, screwdriver and pliers.

A few days before the event, you may choose to have a pre-event briefing meeting to go over responsibilities and plan work for the day.  You’ll need to prepare a final information pack for each staff member attending with details such as date, location, opening times, accommodation arrangements, transport arrangements, telephone numbers of all staff attending, show passes and parking permits.

Logistics and housekeeping

Before the event, you’ll need to agree who’s attending and get the event in diaries early. You’ll also need to consider the logistics of transporting the stand and literature, plan travel for staff and book hotel accommodation as it often books up early for large exhibitions.

You’ll need to consider housekeeping at the event and send things like a dustpan and brush, bin bags, spare notepads and pens, stapler, hole punch, double sided tape, extension leads, post-its, scissors, a camera, a first aid kit, and a tool kit with hammer, screwdriver and pliers.

A few days before the event, you may choose to have a pre-event briefing meeting to go over responsibilities and plan work for the day. You’ll need to prepare a final information pack for each staff member attending with details such as date, location, opening times, accommodation arrangements, transport arrangements, telephone numbers of all staff attending, show passes and parking permits.

On the Day

When planning, you’ll have considered whether you will be scheduling one-to-one appointments, whether you’ll be offering refreshments on your stand and whether you’ll be running a business card draw to increase traffic and engagement.

Think about what will get a visitor to stop on your stand and what opening lines you could use, avoid ‘Can I help you?’ and try to use open questions.  Be friendly, do not pounce, don’t hover and have fun! From initial conversations with the visitor you should be able to establish their level of interest, their business, their level in the organisation and whether they are genuinely interested, could be persuaded, or are not interested.

Use social media on the day to promote your attendance through your own social media channels and event groups, use the event hashtag and include stand number to invite visitors to grab a goody bag etc.

Follow Up and Evaluation

If you’re using a badge scanner to capture leads, you’ll have an electronic printout of contacts for follow up after the show. This can speed up the process as you can focus on following up rather than data entry. Think about the most appropriate staged follow up process which may include a combination of email and telephone contact.

After the show make sure you take time to evaluate expenditure and the number of enquiries and orders that have been generated.  Conducting a thorough evaluation can help to measure success and identify improvements for the future before you start planning future events. Good Luck!

Planning an exhibition? Give us a call on 024 7667 3415 and our experienced team would be delighted to help with your preparations. With many years of experience working with clients who are attending events, we have specific insights and can help with exhibition stands, printed literature, promotional merchandise, branded clothing and lots more….

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