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Trade shows – Five top tips to making a trade show splash: Marketing

Five top tips to making a trade show splash

By Matty Soccio
Thursday, 01 November 2012

feature-expo-thumbWith an increasing number of exhibitions cropping up in Australia’s capital cities, spanning areas such as tech, franchising and exporting, many new businesses wrestle with the decision of paying for a stand at a trade show.

 

While it could reap rewards through exposure to potential clients and investors, having a solid attack plan and organised stand that will get you the benefits you seek is extremely important.

 

Here are five tips from trade show experts that could bring in the results you’re aiming for.

 

 

1. Set pre-show goals

 

Helen Mantellato, director of sales – exhibitions, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre:

 

“Setting pre-show, achievable targets for your tradeshow presence is essential for success and for future business.

 

“It’s important to consider who you’d like to do business with and think about inviting those prospective clients along – this is a great chance for some face-to-face time with clients in a more relaxed environment.

 

“Sending formal invitations with a small gift prior to an event can really boost attendance rates.

 

“Keep your tradeshow team motivated by setting some realistic goals, such as collecting a certain number of email addresses, approaching a certain number of delegates, or handing out a certain number of brochures.

 

“Although it’s important to remember that if your objectives are set too high, staff could become demotivated. A good way to avoid this is to rank your objectives in order of importance and don’t try to achieve too much.”

 

 

2. Attract attendees to your booth

 

Tim Stuart-Harris, general manager, ad:tech and iMedia, dmg Events:

 

“Think how you can engage the visitor using all five senses.

 

“To start with, visualise the feeling you want to deliver to attendees when they step into your booth space.

 

“Keep your area clean, open and inviting. Book a large enough space to properly display your information or ensure you design your booth and produce signage with your stand dimensions in mind.

 

“If space permits, create a casual area to sit down and have deeper conversations. Don’t overstaff, as attendees can get intimidated if they have to approach more than three staff.

 

“Create eye-catching signage with simple text and/or illustrations. Don’t provide a long list of what your company does in your signage – this more detailed information can be provided in your promotional collateral.

 

“Strategically place lighting within your trade show booth space to highlight logos and graphics or create fading motion.

 

“Ask yourself: Does your design communicate (1) Who you are (2) What you do and (3) How you can help.

 

“It’s good to have a fantastic looking stand, but attendees won’t engage with your staff if they don’t know if you’re relevant to their business.

 

“Audio-visual clips are a great way to engage, draw in attendees and provide information around the benefits of your products.

 

“Have upbeat engaging music to match the video that will not drive people mad. Ensure that any audio (music or video) is not intrusive to other exhibitors or attendees or it will have the opposite effect.

 

“Use interactive technology and have products on hand that the customers and touch, feel and sample.

 

“Appeal to the other senses (smell and taste) by providing a complementary barista coffee or fresh snacks that will attract extra attendees.

 

“Consider innovative ways of incorporating activity on your stand. Competitions, branded gifts, movement and presentations all get the visitor’s attention and provide an opportunity for engagement.

 

“If you do any live presentations ensure your presenter is professional and entertaining – remember they are a reflection on your company.”

 

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3. Once you've got someone to your booth, know what to do with them

 

Greg Rowell, director of The Woo (Growdon Group), project event manager of the National Small Business Summit:

 

“Firstly and importantly you need to have the best people in the stand to achieve your objectives.

 

“You need people that can easily communicate with delegates, who can quickly assess if the delegate is a hot, warm or cold lead, and decide whether they have the power to make a decision to purchase your product or service.

 

“Have a system that can record this: use the back of their business cards, or have some exhibitors take a business card, use the email address and send an email to the delegate from the booth immediately after they leave the booth.

 

“Train your staff on how to connect with people, ask the right questions and then quickly disconnect with the delegate and move on if that person will waste their time.”

 

 

4. Make your stand an experience to remember

 

Travis Stanton, editor at EXHIBITOR & Corporate EVENT magazines:

 

“This could encompass any combination of the following in-booth activities: live presentations, video presentations, hands-on demonstrations, games and activities, informational touchscreens, contests or drawings, etc.

 

“The idea here is threefold: First, it gives attendees something to do when they visit your booth.

 

“This encourages them to stay longer in your space (as opposed to skipping off to your competitor's booth) and hopefully have more meaningful conversations with your staffers.

 

“Second, it provides an experience they can't get at a retail store. For example, if you sell computers, your booth should offer an experience beyond what they could get standing in front of a Best Buy display.

 

“Finally, people tend to remember experiences much longer than they remember casual conversations or static product displays.

 

“And that memorability is gold if attendees can recall your company and its offering long after the show is over.”

 

 

5. Your work isn’t done when the show finishes

 

Helen Mantellato, director of sales – exhibitions, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre:

 

“Having talked to many people throughout the day, you and your team will probably have picked up a good number of business leads – make sure you have a meeting with your team at the end of the day to gather this information.

 

“Follow up with your delegates by arranging a meeting at their convenience; send your information to them by way of an ‘icebreaker’ email and follow this up with a phone call.

 

“Social media is playing an increasingly bigger role in exhibitions and trade shows.

 

“Think about sharing some thoughts both before and after the event. It’s also a great way to learn from others, and to build new contacts.

 

“Blogs and sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are important event marketing and communications tools, so why not create your own blog and company or personal profile in these social networks to communicate with potential clients and new contacts before, during and after an event?”

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I would suggest another:
Think carefully about your collateral and giveaways at your exhibit, and how they align with your overall goals for the event.
Some exhibitors use events merely as branding exercises. In this case a distinctive and 'long-lasting' give-away gadget or toy is called for (the 0.80c pen just won't cut it!).
If you're trying to tell a compelling story to sales prospects, make sure you don't over-do the sales brochures and other collateral. Have them on standby for the occasional visitor that genuinely wants the deep dive, but in general less is more. Your collateral should be just enough to convince prospects you have something of value to them, but also leave a little space to prompt some questions. Remember that the overwhelming majority of brochureware ends up in the recycling bin as soon as the delegates get back to their office.
A giveaway will help visitors remember you when you follow through on those post-event calls, but make sure it is distinctive (see point above about 0.80c pens!). Exhibitor gifts don't have to be too expensive, otherwise you'll obviously just attract the wrong type of visitors to your stand! You should make them visible, but position them so that people have to engage with your staff in order to get them.
[email protected]
Paul M. , November 02, 2012
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