Exhibiting at trade shows and Expos can be a very effective way of marketing your brand and getting new clients. But it’s not just about budgeting for bespoke exhibition stands or fun branding merchandise – both of these will get you a lot of attention, but if you’re looking for an effective ROI, there are other factors you also need to take into consideration. Here are what we think are the most important elements for trade show success:
Do your research
Attending a trade show or exhibition can be a significant investment for your company, so you need to spend time researching the kind of people who will be going to it, in order to make sure they are your target audience.
Get a good location
You don’t need Phil and Kirsty to tell you that getting a good location is important, so book your space early to ensure you get a good spot. Sadly, there’s no winning formula about what this is, and being in a crowded area like the exhibition entrance isn’t necessarily a good thing. The good news is that you won’t have to spend huge amounts of money on a large stand, as it’s the impression you create that will attract people, not the amount of space you have. Size doesn’t matter, but style does!
A stylish stand
What your exhibition stand looks like is hugely important. A stylish stand will attract attention and encourage visitors to come over to find out more about you. Cost is a deciding factor for most businesses attending trade shows, and many will opt for a shell-scheme from the exhibition organisers – the cheapest option which leaves limited options, many of shell-scheme stands leave brands blending in with other exhibitors.
If you want your brand to stand out, you really need a bespoke exhibition stand. The extra investment could pay dividends in terms of visitors’ perceptions of your brand and the quality of leads it’ll attract. And if you’re planning to attend a number of trade shows, it makes even more sense to create a stand that’s original and eye-catching and can be reused at other shows. Need advice on what will work best for you? Contact local exhibition stand specialists MxL – they are super helpful and their stand builds are amazing.
Sweets, giveaways and activities
Many companies put bowls of sweets or promotional merchandise on their stands to attract people. Whilst the attention is good, the problem with this is that you could just be attracting people who want a sugar rush or a freebie, and they may not be your target client. An additional downside is that virtually every other stand in the hall will be giving away sweets and promotional goodies, rendering them somewhat null and void in terms of attractiveness.
A better solution is to couple your promotional gifts with a way of engaging people’s attention with some kind of product demonstration, or an activity that’s related to your service. If you can make it fun, so much the better. Keep in mind the reason you’re there: to raise brand awareness and gain leads. Whatever activity you choose, make it appealing primarily for your target audience.
Marketing before, during and after the event is crucial in terms of spreading your message. You can create a landing page on your website to provide further information about the event, so when you promote your attendance on social media, people have somewhere to visit to learn more.
Using social media marketing creates ‘buzz’. Before the trade show, talk about how excited you are about attending, share any new products or services that you may be launching and/or special offers and promotions, and don’t forget to include the hall that you are exhibiting in, along with your stand number, so visitors can find you. You can also let people know which staff members they can expect to meet and talk to by posting photos. Make sure you post at the start of the first day, and during the event including lots of photos of your stand so people know what they’re looking for … you may even wish to ‘go live’.
Offline marketing suite
Offline marketing is important for the day of the trade show itself. Make sure you have high quality, up-to-date company brochures, and that any staff attending have more than enough business cards to hand out at the event, and are well trained on the products and services you are promoting.
Capture data and follow up quickly
It’s vital that whenever staff talk to someone, they collect their contact details and send a follow up email, as soon as possible after the event, thanking them for their interest in your company. Visitors to trade fairs will meet a lot of people, all trying to sell them goods or services, and generally leave the event with a carrier bag full of brochures, leaflets, business cards and promotional gifts … most of which will go straight into the recycling bin when they get back to the office. A nice, friendly (short!) email will not only remind them of your chat, it will ensure they have your contact details.
For staff at the trade show, it’s going to be a very long, tiring day. How many exhibitions have you been to and have been put off approaching a stand because the people on it look sullen and bored, or are hunched over their mobile phone, oblivious to what’s going on around them? That’s not a good first impression for your brand! Make sure they take breaks away from your stand, so they can stretch their legs or go outside for some fresh air to recharge their batteries. They need to look friendly and approachable whenever they’re on the stand, so they don’t miss opportunities. And don’t forget to brief your staff on wearing comfy shoes!
If you’re investing in exhibiting at trade shows or Expos and would like help with raising awareness through social media, call us on 01992 582 824 to see how we can help, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and book an appointment.