Despite every traditional part of our lives slowly being replaced with a digital alternative, when it comes to showcasing your business offerings, sometimes going back to basics still proves successful. I’m talking about trade shows; across all industries and sectors there will be an exhibition or trade show that will attract vast crowds. These shows are not exclusive when it comes to the size and stature of businesses that exhibit, and they can be an extremely proactive way of putting your brand out there, networking and ultimately gaining leads that are already qualified. Being face to face with prospects means that you have the opportunity to make a valuable impression and begin a relationship.
The down side? Chances are you will be competing against a large number of other businesses for the attention of the crowd, their time is precious and you must use every resource available to you to give your stand and business the edge….but how?
Don’t underestimate the power of research. When it comes down to it, you may not need to use any of the information that you have gained, but the confidence it will instil is invaluable and come across to those that you speak to, leaving a lasting impression.
These business events generate big business and with it, high capital. Unfortunately, evaluation on the statistics aren’t conducted regularly, however, in 2010 it was reported that exhibition events in the UK generated over £10 million and 81% of the attendees at these events are those with the buying power.
With this in mind, it supports the case for researching attendees and connect with them using social media. Their posts will provide excellent insights into their thoughts, values and interests on both a personal and professional level. Whether they will end up being a client is uncertain, but they could be end up being a great brand advocate.
Don’t Opt For the Trestle Table & Chairs
The outdated 6ft table with 2 plastic chairs comes as standard with your booth, but it can depreciate the value the exhibition will have on your business. People will either think one of 2 negative things;
- A) You are new to this
- B) You didn’t take the time to plan your stand
The table will also act as a barrier to crowd engagement, enabling you to retreat into safety and preventing attendees from stepping inside the space. Make sure that you act in an assertive and confident manner by ditching the plywood, around 51% of attendees at trade shows reported that they truly value the face to face meetings they experience at exhibitions, this is the time to step outside the stand, and your comfort zone.
Take a Stand
It is worth taking the time to plan your exhibition space or stand in the most innovative and creative way that you can. As previously mentioned, only opting for the items that you are provided with will work against you.
Be relevant by using digital applications wherever possible; interactive presentations and quizzes on handheld tablets are a fun way to capture both the attention and data of those who may ordinarily just pass your stand. Making use of image, sound and lighting and an extra dimension and allows you to cement your branding through the use of colour especially.
If you still feel that a seating area would be appropriate, choose furniture that is modern and appealing – don’t make the mistake of thinking you must be ultra-corporate in order to appear professional.
Tell Your Story?
Whilst the initial elements such as colour, font and logo are great when it comes to brand recognition, it’s time to stop thinking that its enough.
You have a limited window to capture the crowd’s attention so opt for communication on a deeper level. 2016 is the year to ditch self-promotion with nothing to under pin it and use your time at the exhibition to tell the attendees who you are, where you came from, and the reason for the birth of your business.
People are attracted to personality, by communicating your values and visions and how you live these day to day is an effective way to gain trust and build relationships.
Steer Clear of the Branded Stress ball
And the nail file. And the cardboard coaster; these items have been done to death and at best will be put into a desk drawer before the monthly clear out when it will wind up in the bin.
With all parts the exhibition, think VALUE. Again, look to the digital revolution and any items you can be branded that are in keeping with it. Customised objects such as USB sticks, smart phone chargers, high quality pens that double as a stylus- even a moleskin notebook have longevity.
If you are launching a new business offering at the event, embracing a ‘giveaway’ opportunity in exchange for a testimonial or case study can help gain a customer whilst providing you with content worth promoting.
The last and perhaps most important strategy when attending these events is to implement a solid follow up strategy. This will ensure that any time and money spent with relation to the event isn’t wasted and your business is kept at the forefront of attendees minds, resulting in return on investment.