Booking an exhibition venue and renting out the stands is the easy part of running a successful trade show, with a lot of planning, focus and attention needing to be paid for each exhibitor to make the most of their show.
However, whilst it is a lot of hard work and preparation, the results are very much worth it and meeting potential customers in the flesh can increase the chance of conversion, meet fellow industry leaders and create long-term partnerships and contacts.
Here are some top tips to run a successful exhibition of your product.
Start With SMART Goals
Before you are even close to the event venue, it is important to know what you want to get out of it.
As with most goal-setting exercises, one of the best systems to use is SMART:
Whilst “having a good time” and “meeting some customers” are laudable goals, it is best to see exhibitions as part of your marketing and networking, and with that, you should set KPIs in the same way you would an advertising campaign.
Set a target number of potential leads, new partners or contacts you want to meet, and leaflets/other paraphernalia you want to distribute, and set up an action plan to help draw their attention.
Know Where You Stand
If you think of the trade shows and exhibitions you have been to, the ones that stand out the most have unique stands that express your brand’s values, goals and objectives.
There are only three limits to your stand; the amount of space you have at the show, your budget and your imagination, so be sure that planning your stand is one of the first and highest priority tasks.
Tactility is the reason why exhibitions are such an effective marketing tool in the first place, to take full advantage of different senses with your stand.
Break The Ice
The hardest part of telling people about your business is introducing yourself. Exhibitions are often very busy affairs with delegates spending precious little time glancing at each stand, especially ones they are less familiar with.
Have a relevant, but unique demonstration that creates curiosity and gets people to ask questions related to your brand.
One of the best examples of this was Elisha Otis, inventor of the safety lift, who demonstrated its ability in the most visceral way possible by getting an assistant to cut the cable supporting his lift, activating the emergency lock automatically and eliciting gasps from the audience.
Fortune favours the brave, and getting noticed requires imagination and guts.
Open The Floor
Never ask a question with a simple answer, because that answer will be short and the conversation will end with it.
Open questions, especially ones which generate a sense of fascination and interest, are a great way to get a potential client to start to open up about what their needs are and open up the longer discussions that will give you a chance to show what you can really do.
Even if you do not give the full pitch during this conversation, it still opens the door to continue a discussion and leaves the delegate with a positive impression of you.