Trade shows are a fantastic opportunity for many industries, providing ample reasons for both brand and customer to attend. Although, often seen as a marketing investment, when it comes to cost – things can get a little pricey!
From space rental and exhibition stands, to travel and promotional costs – the checklist for any trade show attendance can be epic, so it’s important that when you commit to going – you do it well and make the most of your time!
Here’s your ultimate exhibition checklist.
Planning Exhibition Tips
Choose the right exhibition
With thousands of exhibitions taking place around the world, it’s very important to choose the right one. When considering your next show, make sure you do your homework and find out as much information as possible. Establish if the show fits into your existing marketing strategy and if it’s attractive to your target audience. Show organisers should be able to provide answers to these questions:
How established is the show?
How many visitors attended last year? (Ask for attendance records, and see if they fit into your target market).
How is the show promoted and which media will attend?
What exhibition packages are available? (Take time deciding which one is right for you, the main exhibition stands that organisers offer are space only and shell scheme package).
Check out your competition
Ask for a list of confirmed exhibitors and check out your competition before the show. Find out about their products, marketing and images they use. Use this information to refine your exhibition strategy. Avoid being close to them and know where they are located. Your competitors can help you, too. Their marketing efforts might attract more potential customers into the show.
Know your neighbours
Remember to established a solid relationship with your neighbours. Communicate with each other, find out their schedule and get information about their stand design. You can find more tips on how to be friends with your neighbour in our guide to being a good neighbour
Pick the right space
If you want to be in a highly-desirable location book your exhibition space as soon as possible. The biggest booth you can afford might not necessarily be the best option for your business, consider how much space you need carefully. Ask organisers for the floor plan and find a position that suits you best. Decide if you want to be close to the main attraction, entrance, centre of the exhibition or if you want a corner stand. Don’t forget to take into consideration your neighbours, the position of your competitors, any obstructing columns and dead-end aisles.
Create a plan
You should start planning for exhibition at least 4 to 6 months before the show. Together with your team set realistic objectives, create a schedule and plan all activities. Discuss your budget, transport, exhibition stand design and show details.
Establish your budget
For maximum cost-effectiveness, choose an exhibition stand design which you will be able to use over and over. When planning your budget, remember that you might have to leave some room for additional costs. These may include installation and dismantle services, on site management, travel, advertising and shipping charges. By planning carefully, you will be able to enjoy a successful exhibition within your budget.
Choose the right exhibition stand
The design of your stand is vital. Unique design, graphics and content are essential to making your stand as noticeable as possible. Instead of following design trends, you should always aim for individuality. Your custom exhibition stand should remain original and reflect your brand.
Book your parking
While you might be busy organising you stand location and design, it’s important to remember the small stuff: passes for your stuff, ID badges and parking.
Marketing Exhibition Tips
Promote before the show
Develop your pre-exhibition marketing
Develop your pre-exhibition marketing plan. Let your target audience know you will be at the show, what products you will be promoting and the location of your stand. Make sure they know the name of the venue and exact dates of the show. Exhibitions offer fantastic marketing opportunities. They give you a chance to catch up with your already existing customers and to make new ones. Use a number of different online and offline channels to promote your exhibition stand.
Use e-mail marketing
One week before the show use e-newsletter to let everyone know you’re attending the event. Provide all the details of the show and location of your stand. Include information about special stand features, interactive screens, competitions, special offers and prize draws.
Keep it consistent
All your promotional material, logo, brand colours, fonts and messages should be consistent. Everything you include should reflect your brand and remain the same look and feel.
Leverage social media
Use social media to drive visitors to your exhibition stand. Post photos of your stand, engage with attendees on Twitter and join online conversations. Social Media is a great place to let everyone know that you’re attending the show. If your stand includes any gadgets, interactive games or competitions, make sure everyone knows! Your Twitter feed should be regularly updated before, during and after the exhibition.
Create a hashtag
Create a hashtag for your stand. It’s a great way to promote your product or host a contest. Make sure the hashtag is unique and easy to remember. Include it on your banners, graphics and handouts. Many shows will have their own hashtag, for example Marketing Week Live 2014 uses #MWL14. Follow the official hashtag and use it before and during the show to keep updated with the latest news and to become part of the exhibition community.
Consider QR codes
If you want to cut the cost of printed material, you can offer visitors digital handouts. Your exhibition stand can include a QR code, which can be easily scanned by attendees and lead them to your website or a pdf presentation.
Exhibition stand design
Use the 3 second rule: You have only 3 seconds to make a great first impression and to grab the attention of the visitor. In those 3 seconds you need to communicate your message, what you do and what you have to offer. All this can be done through your branding, stand design, visuals and text. It’s important that your stand design is engaging and eye catching.
At exhibitions visitors receive a lot of gifts that will never be used or will land in the bin straight after the show. Make your giveaway is relevant and interesting. It should be something the visitor will use over and over again. Make sure all items you give away are branded with your logo.
It’s important to remember that the marketing doesn’t end after the exhibition. The sooner you follow up with your leads the better the chance of turning them into sales. You should stay in touch with your prospects and send follow up emails within one week.
Staffing Exhibition Tips
Pick your team
You can’t predict trade show traffic, so always be prepared! Arm yourself with the best in the industry, and lots of ’em! You can only talk to one person at once, so if you’re tied up in conversation, you really won’t want to lose that poor guy’s attention whose been waiting for you for the last 10 minutes. For smaller events, we recommend at least 2 or 3 staff, and for larger events – opt for a dream team of 5 or more! After all, too much preparation is never as harmful to a brand’s reputation as not enough.
Prepare your team
Brief your staff before the show. Make sure everyone is clear on what they’re doing. Explain your objectives and why you are exhibiting at this particular show. Remind them of simple rules like no eating, chewing gum or mobile phones. Ask engaging, open ended questions.
Dress to impress
Your staff represent the company and need to make a good first impression. If your staff don’t usually wear uniforms, don’t feel that you need to invest in them just for the show. You can instead choose to wear brand-coloured shirts or accessories. If your stand has a specific theme, it might be a good idea to contribute to that theme with your staff uniform. Staff attire will become part of your advertisement, people will identify it and link it to you exhibition stand.
Remember body language
Greet visitors warmly and encourage them to explore your booth and products. If you have to sit down, choose a high stool which will create an eye level contact. Remember that facial expressions are important, make sure your team is smiling and responding to what the visitor is saying.
Train your staff
Exhibitions put you in front of potential customers, so training your staff before the show is essential. Don’t do it one hour before the exhibition, dedicate one day to share your ideas and train your staff. Let them know your objectives and how you are planning to achieve them. Make sure everyone knows their individual goals. Train your staff in sales, customer service, spotting prospects and competitors. Your team needs to believe in your product and know everything about it. How much it costs? What are the main features? And who’s likely to buy it? It’s a good idea to introduce role play exercise. Practice product demonstrations and ways to engage with visitors. It will make your team feel confident and ready for the show.
Overstaffed stand will look crowded and discourage people from visiting. It might also be intimidating. If you arrived at the show and it turns out you have too many people at the stand, you can always send them to check out the competitors or to approach customers outside of your stand.
Consider stand maintenance staff
Depending on your stand design, you might have to consider hiring people to install and maintain your stand at the show. This will guarantee that your exhibition time is stress-free and everything runs smoothly. Our Install & Dismantle Team offers convenient services.
Motivate your staff
Keeping your staff motivated is necessary. Maintain a fun environment and reward your team for good performance. Make your objectives clear and let your staff know how the company will benefit from the exhibition. Your staff will be much more motivated knowing the importance of the show and how much you’re investing. Give your staff some time off to have lunch and explore the exhibition.
Final Exhibition Checklist
When you get to the show make sure your stand is set up properly and it’s ready to go. If your booth includes any special features and technology, make sure everything is working. Allow some time for troubleshooting, finishing touches and getting your staff ready. Make sure all your literature, giveaways, notepads, pens and price lists are in the right place. Arriving at the show early will let you start the day panic-free.
Confirm arrival of your staff
Confirm everyone arrived on time and is ready for the show. Remind them about their individual goals and day’s activities. Have a quick meeting with your team and conduct a dry run just before the show starts.
Photograph your stand
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 staff and your products. Share your photos during the exhibition on your main social media platforms, don’t forget to use the official show hashtag when tweeting. You can also use your photographs for post-show promotions, press releases, blog posts or e-newsletters.
Exhibitions usually last a whole day, so it’s very important that you and your staff take breaks. In addition to the usual lunch break, allow your staff to have some time to explore the exhibition. This way your team will get bored less easily and will be kept motivated.
Before you turn to another visitor, make sure you note down all the details of the person you just spoke to. Including which items or services they were interested in? What they liked about your products? What company they work for? And how you promised to contact them? It might be a good idea to prepare a quick enquiry form and have it ready to be filled out. It could be a paper form or a digital application.
Choose between paper and digital
Consider how you are going to capture lead details. You have two options, paper forms or a digital application on iPad or computer. If you think your staff will easily lose or misplace paper forms, it might be a good idea to go with a digital solution. If you do, make sure your staff know exactly how to use the system and that they can type fast, without keeping the prospects waiting.
Record every person
Even when your stand is very busy, make sure you record every person that makes an enquiry about your products. Have a strategy ready for dealing with visitors at peak hours, know where your enquiry forms or iPads are and have them ready. If there is another person waiting to speak to you, introduce your prospect to one of your colleagues and explain that they will take all their details.
Listen to visitors
When exhibiting it’s important to remember that’s it’s not just about talking, listen to what you’re visitors are saying and asking for. Make everyone welcome and comfortable.
We hope you’ve found this checklist useful. Bookmark this checklist for whenever you exhibit.
Here at Skyline Whitespace, we’re passionate about your brand, and are proud to have created bespoke exhibition stands for some of the biggest brand names in the world. So, for more information, or to speak to one of our creative team – please do not hesitate to contact us!
Would you like to discuss your exhibition requirements with our friendly team?
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