It’s the spring exhibition season, and even these days, when marketing thinking is dominated by all-things digital, many companies are still choosing to stake out their spot in the exhibition hall.
But do you know how to make the most of the opportunity – and does your company team actually know how to behave at an exhibition? It’s surprising how many companies get it wrong!
Here’s a handy checklist of 20 practical exhibition tips and tricks for companies to do (and avoid), in advance and at the event.
Plan well ahead. Put some thought into the stand, and try to be different and distinctive. An exhibition should be an experience for the visitor. You want to stand out, not be lost in a sea of identical pull-up banners
Make sure your graphic makes it clear who you are and what you do. Then layer the information on your graphics to draw the visitor in. But don’t put tiny technical details on your graphics – that’s what a specification sheet is for.
Find out what other events are happening in parallel to the exhibition – eg, a seminar programme. Put your company forward for opportunities to speak; and look out for after-show networking events.
Agree your dress code well in advance and ensure everyone sticks to it. Make sure staff wear name badges too.
Plan the staffing mix and rota carefully. Ensure all the staff on the stand are well versed in the product or service and key messages. Don’t leave junior or inexperienced staff on the stand alone; and make sure there’s always someone with technical knowledge on the stand.
Make sure the staff on the stand are properly briefed in how to gather leads and what data you need. Use a barcode reader if available, or a standard form. Make sure the data handling and consent terms & conditions are clear for visitors.
If you’re running a competition, make sure the terms & conditions are clear, and have a written copy available if anyone asks.
Don’t eat on the stand – it looks messy, and will make visitors feel they are interrupting your lunch.
Don’t sit down on the stand (unless you’re sitting with a visitor for a discussion). You’ll have to get up to talk to visitors, and that can make them feel like they have interrupted you.
Don’t look bored. Smile, and make eye contact. You’re a brand ambassador, and you’re on show!
Keep your stand meticulously clean and tidy. Nothing looks more unloved than a dusty display covered in yesterday’s fingerprints. Don’t leave coats or bags lying around on the stand – tuck them out of the way, in a storage unit or behind the graphics.
Make sure your stash of brochures, business cards, etc is easily accessible – you don’t want to run out in the middle of day.
Don’t pounce on visitors or thrust leaflets into their hands the moment they walk by – give them a moment to browse before starting a conversation.
If you have brought promotional items, then give them away. They won’t do you any good back in the office cupboard.
The point of an exhibition is to be interactive. Let people see and touch your products; don’t lock them away in a display case, or place them out of reach (unless for health and safety).
Prepare a list of open ended questions you can ask visitors. An exhibition is a great opportunity to learn about your market and understand customer perceptions of your company and industry.
Tweet! Most exhibitions now have a hashtag, and some have Twitter walls; so Tweet in advance and during the event, and monitor the hashtag for opportunities and questions from visitors. Or why not organise a tweet-up?
Take the opportunity to boost your content marketing with an on-the-spot video. Ask your staff to do their ‘elevator pitch’ to camera, and pick out key features and messages on the stand; or perhaps get some reactions from visitors.
Integrate your offline and online marketing. Make the most of the exhibition experience to drive traffic to your online channels to extend the marketing opportunities beyond the show days.
Get off the stand and walk around the show – see what other people are doing and collect ideas for the future. Talk to other exhibitors too. It’s a good chance to build your network of contacts, and gauge their thoughts on the event and the market.