Sarah Halfpenny Events

Trade shows and Exhibitions – Attract, Communicate & Collect

by Sarah Halfpenny

Trade Shows and Exhibitions continue to offer businesses the opportunity to promote themselves to potential new clients, prospects and current customers alike. Done well, it can provide positive exposure and opportunity to communicate and connect with a desired audience.

As a marketing tactic, it is vital that both the combination of the stand and stand personnel achieve the key objectives set and provide a return on investment. For me there are three main components to the successful design and delivery of an exhibition stand, these are to Attract, Communicate and Collect. In this blog, I aim to tell you why.

Attract – By keeping it simple
When embarking upon the design of an exhibition stand, it is so important to create an environment which is both attractive and welcoming to your visitors. It is so easy to shoe horn every product, project and services you offer into the space you have. Having witnessed this approach, in reality delegates are often so bombarded with the different messages on display, that delegates can’t compute the information they need. With that in mind, I would definitely recommend the less is more approach. My top tips being:

• Display 3 or 4 key messages on your stand
• Stick to your corporate colours, a strong visual brand identity is important
• Don’t clutter your stand with lots of collateral
• Create a bespoke handout
• Plan some demos or short talks on specific products and services at various points of the day to help generate a small audience whom you can engage with
• Create a seating area which will both encourage more in-depth discussion and provide a relaxed place for people to sit
• Produce a short video highlighting relevant information for the audience. That way people can just watch and learn without engaging in conversation if they don’t wish to
• If budget allows, include food and drink like a barista bar as part as your stand offering

Communicate – Select your stand personnel carefully!

Your exhibition stand personnel can make or break your show. From overbearing sales pitches. The shy awkward initial conversation. To the ‘I’m busy doing other work on my laptop’ set-up, these can all contribute to reduced footfall onto your stand and indeed result in less engagement and poor lead generation.

From experience recruiting and selecting staff to ‘man the stand’ can be quite a tricky task. Your ideal candidate will be a people person, approachable, knowledgeable, experienced and available to attend. If this is achievable, then great. If not then at least try and cover the approachable and knowledgeable elements.

Once you have your on-site team recruited I would highly recommend that you hold a briefing session a week before. Not only will this help create a positive team environment but importantly it will ensure that all staff are aligned on the key objectives, messages and targets of the business. It is also valuable to run through the exhibition in detail including layout, stand position, competitors locations, delegate profile and staff rotas etc.

Coupled with this, it’s also valuable to utilise your existing social media channels to communicate what’s happening on your stand both before and during the show. Get your stand personnel to post pictures and make announcements regularly to engage those on-site and inform those who are not.

Collect – Do not forget!

For many businesses, attending a trade show or exhibition provides an opportunity to gather a significant amount of new leads. Most exhibitors go digital and collect data using a mobile or tablet devise. Hiring a data retrieval system isn’t expensive and well worth the small outlay. I would also recommend that you set a conversion rate to help you benchmark your success. For example, it could be that you want to convert 40% of leads within 3 months. Without this, it’s hard to measure if the investment has provided a return.

Once the data has been captured, it can be analysed and segmented and provide valuable insight into your audience. Marketing communications can then be created accordingly, follow up calls scheduled and meetings set.

These three words have helped me time and time again to remember what is at the heart of exhibiting. Attracting new prospects, communicating your brand and collecting data to convert real business opportunities.

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