Exhibitions can cause business owners undue panic and stress. But what if we told you there's a way to exhibit like a pro without the need for a 4-day migraine afterwards? Having a somewhat disastrous or hugely stressful first exhibition is a rite of passage in a way and if you're sitting here thinking "yep, been there, done that" then you're certainly not alone. If you're not? Lucky you. You've managed to escape this common hurdle and if you implement the tips in this blog, it's likely you'll never have to. So, let's get to it shall we, as we've all got exhibitions to prepare for!
Being late can cause problems but being early means you’ll always be prepared and when it comes to being an exhibitor, you certainly need to be everything but unprepared! Like bees to honey, your competitors will rush to secure the best spot at the chosen venue, so don’t slack with booking your stand. You want to get the best location so that you have the best chance of success on your big day. After all, no one puts baby in the corner!
Also, booking early comes with another cushty little benefit too – early bird rates! So, to avoid showcasing your services or products in the worst spot possible, book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment and save money.
2. Leave It to The Experts
Are you a stand designer and builder? No? Cool. We aren’t either, which is why we turned to the experts a few years back. It’s important to know what you can bring to the party (or event) and what you most definitely can’t. We had our custom exhibition stand made by Quadrant2Design for a previous event and each time we need to use it, we get in touch with their team who update/redesign panels for our stand and help us build it on the day.
You can choose between self-build and pro-build, but if you really want a stress-free experience, we recommend paying that little bit extra and leaving it in their expert hands. Trust us when we say this – those things really are more complicated to put together than they look.
3. Not All Freebies Were Made Equal
No, really. After a lengthy amount of time locked inside, we’ve all no doubt received every corporate freebie in the book – mugs, tote bags, magnets, USB sticks… seriously, who even uses those things since the cloud was invented years ago?
If you want to wow potential customers, the reality is that a branded water bottle or notepad just isn’t gonna cut it. We’ve all been yearning to get out and interact with each other, given that’s what we as humans do best, so why not work that into your thinking to provide a more interactive incentive to pull visitors in.
We’re exhibiting this Thursday at the NEC Birmingham for the forthcoming NACFB Commercial Finance Expo and there won’t be a branded lanyard in sight at our stand! We know that the key to most hearts is a) food, b) alcohol or c) both! We’ve gone all out and ordered the most shockingly delicious treats from Planet Doughnut, followed by a fully stocked bar serving beers, cocktails, and other tasty tipples.
The idea is that we’ll be able to chat with our introducer partners and gauge what’s working for the market and of course, what isn’t so that we can create better solutions for our valued customers. What better way to do it than over a few drinks or doughnuts.
We don’t think our stand is going to be quiet at any point throughout the day – well, maybe once the doughnuts are gone, but that’s why you always order more than you think you’ll need as no one wants the embarrassment of turning visitors away due to running out! (Pro tip – this may or may not mean that you, as the organiser, get to leave with copious amounts of irresistibly good leftovers).
4. Scream and Shout and Let It All Out
Seriously, everyone remembers that iconic will.i.am ft. Britney tune because it was all anyone could talk about for months. It was a commercial success and topped the UK charts and arguably became a song that no one could forget, even if they wanted to.
You should want the same for your stand at each and every exhibition you attend. You want people to remember exactly why yours was so popular on the day but to do that, you have to get the swarms of visitors stopping by first.
How do you do that? Well, we’re glad you asked. The first and most important step is by spreading the word. As we already said, you need to scream and shout to attract the attention of the hordes attending each event your business is exhibiting at and social media is your first port of call. Get the word out that you’ll be attending and most importantly, where visitors can find you – and it definitely won’t be in the dingy corner that nobody wanted as you’ll have already referred to our first tip, right?
But the buck doesn’t stop there. You need to formulate emails that will entice visitors to your stand, as well as eye-catching website banners and email signatures. If you want to go all out, throw in a newsletter so you’re sure you’re covering all bases.
5. Market The Hell Out of Your Business
Ok, so I know we already said that branded magnets etc aren’t going to blow the minds of anyone, but you still need to think of creative ways to be remembered. You also need to make sure you have all of the standard marketing gear your business uses from day to day. Yep, we’re talking brochures, business cards, leaflets and any other sales enablement materials – and in abundance. There’s no point creating a truly memorable experience at your stand if your business has no way of marketing itself at the end of it.
6. Everyone Likes to Win, So Give Them the Chance to Walk Away a Winner
One of the fail-proof ways to create a buzz around your stand is by running a competition that everyone can enter. You can make it as complicated or simple as you like. If you want to keep things straightforward, try giving each visitor a raffle ticket that enters them into the prize draw - though make it worth your while too. It’s a trade-off remember, as nothing in life is truly free, so to enter the draw visitors should provide contact details or purchase something from your stand… make it a lead generation exercise and you’ll be happy you invested the money in an attention-grabbing prize giveaway. Each business will have its own budgetary constraints, but holidays, tech prizes such as ipads/smartwatches and family days out always work a treat for us at Nucleus.
7. Choose Your People Wisely
There’s no point making all of this effort, spending all of this money, if you’re going to fall at the last hurdle due to having the wrong people representing your company on the big day. For example, if you’re at a large sale's event with customers eager to get a great deal, you might want to rethink having your IT personnel attend and instead choose members of your confident sales team. Equally, if you’re a company offering a tech-based product that many aren’t familiar with, bring the brains behind the concept to share your company’s passion and vision with stand visitors, rather than those working in the finance department. In many ways, your people are your brand, so carefully consider who you want to represent your business at public events.
With these tips to look to, you should smash your next exhibition and every single one that follows afterwards. Investing money into events like this might sometimes seem futile, but creating a memorable experience for potential customers and partners is actually one of the smartest things your business can do. Good luck, be prepared and enjoy the inevitable leftover goodies as that’s all part of the fun!