How to Optimise your Exhibition Marketing
Exhibitions and trade shows are a great way for your potential customers to see, hear about, touch and experience your products or services firsthand.
Everyone is there to learn and it can be a very productive sales and marketing environment!
While exhibitions offer a massive range of benefits, they typically demand a significant time and financial commitment.
Which is why it’s so important to make sure you have a plan in place when it comes to exhibiting. You should have a plan for what you need to do before, during and after the event, to ensure opportunities are not missed and you gain a positive ROI from your investment.
The preparation for attending an exhibition or trade show can start up to a year in advance, when choosing and registering for events. (You may even be aiming to be a keynote speaker or run a webinar to raise your profile too.)
Here are some top tips for your pre, during and post show preparations to ensure it is all worthwhile…
Before the Event
Pick the right stand space –
- Book early to get a choice! Ideally, you want to be where most footfall is expected to pass through. Think about being in the central area of the exhibition, or opposite a cafe area, or by a stand you know is serving food or doing an activity that will attract people, or place yourself right by the entrance to a seminar hall
- Choosing a stand with more than one open side, often at the intersection of walkways, can really help to ensure you are visible to people walking from different directions
- Decide on the size and type of stand you want/need to suit your exhibition materials and activities, whether this is a shell scheme or space only (if there is a choice). Draw out a plan of your exhibition stand and all the elements you will have on it to check everything will fit. It is great to allow space for people to come onto your stand, but make sure key messages and materials are right at the front for people to access easily
- Do not have a desk and sit behind that on a laptop all day! (Yes, we’ve really seen that happen!)
Set objectives and goals – and think about the process to achieve them –
- You should set objectives and goals for what you want to achieve from the exhibition – try to make these as specific and measurable as possible
- Think about what are you trying to communicate and if this is coming across in your exhibitions panels/visuals/signage
- How will you get people engaged on your stand – eg video playing on a TV, a game, demonstration, prize draw, or free sample? And don’t forget that branded merchandise giveaways really help get conversations started, as well as keeping your company name visible long after the exhibition ends
- Decide how you will collect email addresses and contact details at the end of a conversation and/or a game or prize draw. Check if you are GDPR compliant and if you need a Fair Processing Notice
Prepare your stand –
- Ensure you have everything printed long enough in advance to have it reprinted if anything goes wrong, or delivery vans break down etc.! Test any QR codes that you may be using on marketing materials or signage for fast access to your game or a free download from your website for example
- Set up your stand a couple of weeks before the exhibition to check you have everything you need, and everyone knows how to put it together, so that you won’t have any problems on the day – as well as whether it fits in your car(s), or you have other transport ready to go
- Ensure you check the exhibition organisers checklist of requirements in advance too – everything from getting your exhibitor profile on their website, details for staff lanyards and technical and health and safety requirements.
Prepare your team –
- It’s crucial that all your staff on the exhibition stand are fully up to speed with your objectives, understand their role and how to engage passersby (what conversation starters/questions will they use, what benefits to highlight etc), as well as understanding how your game works and so on
Ensure they know they will be on their feet all day, at the front of the stand, engaging passersby with a smiley face!
- Make sure everyone knows how to get to the venue and any transport and accommodation is booked well in advance to get the best rates
Prepare a checklist –
- Prepare a checklist of all the items you need to bring with you – and devices that need charging prior to the day!
- A major part of preparing for an exhibition is spreading the word that you will be there as an exhibitor – and perhaps even as a speaker. This can be done through social posts, emails, networking, website notices etc. Make sure you start this several months prior to the event so people can get it in their diaries and book tickets
- You could also give people an incentive for visiting your stand, such as the first 50 people get 10% off or a free gift, or a free hot bacon sandwich!
- Ensure you tag the event organiser in posts since they may share it on their feed – and check if you can supply them with posts to put on their social accounts as part of your exhibitor package
You could also ask the event organiser for an exhibitors list and get in touch with all the exhibitors by email too
Prepare post-show communications –
- Prepare as much as you can of your post-show email and social media posts for after the show
- Have a plan for who and how you will communicate with leads after the event – and what your key messages and calls to action will be
- Test that anyone who downloads a free resource, for example, will be automatically added to an email series that you have prepared, if this is appropriate.
During the Event
Photography and video –
- Don’t forget to take pictures of your stand during the show. Photograph your stand when it’s busy, include different angles, key features and graphics. Capture visitors interacting with your team, having fun with your game, testing your products and winning prizes
- Share your photos and videos during the exhibition on your main social media platforms, don’t forget to use the official show hashtag and tag as many individuals and companies as possible to increase shares
- You can also use your photographs for post-show promotions, press releases, blog posts and email newsletters
Team goals –
- Check everyone on the team is up to speed with your goals for the day and their responsibilities
- Smile and engage with all the visitors
- Have fun … take turns to walk around the venue and meet other exhibitors, and even have a competition for your team members to keep the energy levels high on the day.
After the Event
Follow up –
- Ensure you contact your leads 1-2 days after the exhibition has ended, while they have a clear memory of meeting you. You can create a special offer for these leads to help convert them into clients perhaps
- Follow all your new contacts on social media, this will remind people who you are and they will then be more likely to follow you back and see your regular posts
- Announce your prize draw winners and thank organisers in social posts
- It’s also important to communicate the outcomes of the event with your team, celebrate successes and have a debrief about what you would do next time to make it even more successful.
- Evaluate results against objectives to see if you have achieved what you wanted to.