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Trade shows – how to ‘Stand’ out from the crowd!

Trade shows can give your business a real boost in brand awareness and customer acquisition – if you know how to present yourself. Here are some tips in a guest blog by Jo Bayne of Oyster Studios on how to make a right display of yourself and ‘stand out’ from the crowd!

The first step in attending any trade show is to evaluate which ones are worthwhile. Ensure the visitor types are in line with your target audience and will be in the market for your product or service. Don’t be afraid to quiz the organiser on the visitor demographics and ask how many of your competitors will be there. Picking the right stand location is very important, look for high-footfall walkways, central areas where people congregate and linger for example outside conference rooms or refreshment stands.

The actual event stand should have real impact, with a design that stands out from a distance. It should clearly promote your brand values, showcase your products or communicate the benefits of your service. Ensure it adheres to your brand guidelines and is inline with both your on- and offline media. When sourcing your stand you need to consider whether you want a simple pop up, a modular solution or a bespoke event stand design and build service, project managed by an agency. You need to clarify if the stand will be re-used and needs to be flexible and adaptable to changing footprints at each exhibition. You also need to think about what facilities are required for example storage space, water supply or Wi-Fi?

In advance of the show review your marketing literature or hand outs – are they interesting, concise and is it easy to identify what you do, why you are different and how to contact you. If not invest in a new brochure, don’t DIY – you only have one chance to make a good first impression! Perhaps you need some quirky marketing merchandise to make you stand out. Brandz have a great selection of customised marketing merchandise you can add your logo to and increase your brand awareness.

Don’t forget to start your marketing campaign well in advance of the show. Create a teaser campaign and send direct mail or e-shots to your prospects and customers to drive footfall to your stand and ensure your brand is front of mind. Consider developing a competition or giveaways to attract visitors. Look into advertising in the trade press, in the show directory and on the show website, a great tool to drive brand-awareness.  Equally important is to maximize the potential of social media and promote the event to your followers. The show is likely to have its own twitter hashtag – so join the conversation and engage with your prospects. If you have a hot new product or service to launch make sure you make the most of any PR opportunities.

Do take time to set specific goals in advance of each show. Your objectives should be clearly defined and measurable. For example you might set out to get 100 people to sign up to your newsletter or to get 10 new customers by the end of the show.

Develop a concise, engaging sales pitch and ensure all the team are well practised.  Every one manning the stand is acting as an ambassador for your business and needs to confidently articulate your key marketing messages and generate qualified leads. It’s important everyone stays as positive and energetic as possible, so give your staff regular breaks and keep them well hydrated. Don’t let your team sit behind their laptops or check their mobiles on the stand.

Capturing visitor data is very important. Ensure you have printed forms, pens and a stapler to collect additional notes with each business card. At larger shows you can purchase badge barcode readers that save you losing business cards or making errors in writing people’s contacts. You can import the data into your database and action it immediately.

Above all else make sure you have the resource in place to execute a prompt, comprehensive show follow up campaign. It’s a sad fact that many trade show leads are never re-contacted or activated, which is such a waste of the time and money. Ideally all leads should be contacted the following week and in a sustained cross channel sales and marketing campaign thereafter. With well-constructed phone calls and targeted mail outs you can ensure your business is front of mind and convert a warm lead into a sale.

In summary a well-managed trade show or consumer exhibition will deliver profitable sales lead generation and positive, stronger customer relationships-but much of the success is in the preparation and follow up!

If you need outsourced support to design and build your event stand contact Jo Bayne at Oyster Studios for a free consultation.