Making the most out of exhibitions

The autumn and spring are the busiest times for exhibitions, giving plenty of opportunities to promote your business by having a stand or attending as a visitor. Each year the potential to reach a wider section of your customer base increases through specific industry events or more general business ones. But are you making the most of these opportunities?

Exhibiting at a show is not usually cheap. Once you’ve paid for your stand you often need to consider the additional items such as lighting, furniture as well as how you plan to decorate the stand to promote your business in the best light. Don’t forget staff to man the stand plus accommodation if the event is away from where you are based. The costs all add up.

But exhibiting undertaken correctly brings you in front of a huge variety of people. Some may be existing customers, others will be new to your business. It’s a time to have a proper conversation to find out how you can help customers with the products or services you offer. Some of the best contacts are made when you meet people face to face and start engaging with them.

To get the most out of your presence at an exhibition block out time to develop your strategy for the weeks running up to the event, during the show and how you will exploit all the new contacts you’ll make. An exhibition may be a one or two-day event but if you wish to generate the best return on your investment you will spend many days on it, incorporating it into your business and marketing plans.

wooden sign

What kind of marketing collateral will you produce to promote your business?

Photo credit: Olgach – Free Stock Images

Developing the right message is crucial. This could be expanding on what you already have or if you’re planning a new product or service launch will likely need a fresh focus. Once you’ve decided on the story you’re going to tell this can easily be incorporated across all your marketing collateral, such as brochures or leaflets, posters, social media updates and regular postings on your website. Publications and websites often support exhibitions and can be an ideal way to further spread your message to potential customers by sending them a press release about your business and its products or offering to write an opinion article discussing pertinent issues relevant to your industry sector. A good starting point here is looking to see who the media partners are to the event.

During the event interacting with visitors is essential. Don’t sit at the back of your exhibition stand and wait for people to come to you. (Yes, I have seen plenty do this over the years.) Stand at the edge and start engaging with people as they walk past. Ask something about them is a good conversation starter and see where the chat takes you. And don’t have too many giveaways without getting their details in return. Today’s visitors to your stand are tomorrow’s customers so you need to acquire as much information about them that will help build a relationship and future sales.

The work doesn’t end once the show has finished. If successful there should be plenty of follow-up communication as well as potential new business coming through the order books. And take the time to evaluate how the exhibition went; what worked and what didn’t. This is always a useful exercise to undertake so you can improve on the next event.

Top tips

  1. Always start with a strategy – what do you wish to achieve?
  2. Work on your messaging – be consistent throughout all your marketing collateral
  3. Identify potential publications –  send a press releases or offer to write an opinion article
  4. Think about the best way to capture the details of visitors to your stand
  5. Have fun – exhibitions are great places to meet new people





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