Last year we assisted a number of our clients to do exhibitions and participated in a number of social housing, security and technology shows including both CC Expo and IP Expo.
Personally I was becoming cynical regarding the value of traditional exhibitions, but was well and truly proved wrong as all of our clients saw renewed value from this part of the marketing mix.
Whereas most shows are seeing smaller number of attendees, in general the quality and level of visitors seem to be higher, with fewer visitors simply on a day out with no specific requirement.
However, with fewer yet more serious visitors, it is no longer a case of just being there. If you are to maximise what is a major marketing expense, you need to be smart and put in the work.
It is fool-hardy to think you can just turn up on the day and people will flock to your stand. Making people aware you will be at a show is a must – it will ensure people look you up or at least recognise your name as they pass your stand. If you book your stand early, maximise the organisers – they invest a lot in promoting their event. Make sure you are being promoted as an exhibitor and your profile and information in on their website. It is a must to do a pre-show campaign – make your target audience aware you have a relevant solution for them and give them a reason to find you on the day.
Make Your Stand Work
A common mistake is for people to put too much or too little branding and information on their stand. Remember your stand is like an advert – you have around 10 seconds, sometimes a lot less, as someone walks past to capture their attention. You first need to look the part, your stand is your brand and it is important that you look well established and professional. If budget is tight I would always recommend having a smaller space with a professional stand than a larger space with an out of date pop-up. Second and very, very important is your messaging. In 10 seconds someone needs to see the headlines of what you do and decide they want to talk to you. It is like your web home page – be clear and bold: “we do this for this type of organisation”.
Have A Reason To Visit You
Your name alone is seldom enough – with limited time visitors will often ignore organisations they already know as they have nothing new to learn. Use the exhibition to launch a new module, version or service. Create mystique, and natural curiosity will draw people to your stand.
The duration of an exhibition is finite and unfortunately visitors are not evenly spread over the one or two days. It is important that you are organised – you know how you are engaging with visitors, you give them enough to whet their appetite but not too much to negate a follow-up. You should have a very slick process to engage, initially qualify and capture leads.
With the best will in the world sales people will not remember every conversation they have. It is important that you are highly disciplined in filling out lead sheets – this will enable you to efficiently and effectively follow-up on everyone met. Badge scanners are useful in building out your database but do not rely on them to capture leads – the information they provide tells you who visited, not what conversations took place.
It is simply criminal to invest so much on an exhibition and let the majority of contacts simply slip away. Categorise your leads and have planned follow-up, ranging from a sales call to qualified opportunities through to a post-show campaign to collected contacts. I would even email people in your database who did not attend with something along the lines of, “Sorry you could not make it, but thought you might be interested in what we were saying”.
There is always a buzz the day after the show and declaration of a success. However, success can only be defined by the amount of leads that turn into business. You will need to track results for 3-9 months to accurately analyse results. Ensure all leads are flagged and tracked and ensure the sales team are aware of the need to track results.
Exhibitions are a great way to generate a quick injection of leads, but just being there is not enough. By spending as little as 10-20% more on doing it right can produce significantly more results – it is simply a case of getting out what you put in.