As we approach summer, we hit the exhibitions and events season. Despite marketing – and the world in general – becoming more and more focussed on digital, for many businesses, exhibitions and trade shows still offer prime marketing opportunities.
In fact, your digital marketing efforts go hand in hand with the events and exhibitions you attend. Exhibitions present opportunities to create great visual and media rich content. And, through meeting people in ‘real life’, you can expand your digital networks by using social media to follow up informally with those you meet.
So, before you rush to book that stand you’ve been pondering for months, here’s a few things to think about:
What are your reasons for being there?
Who are you trying to reach and what action or result do you want to achieve? This might be to launch a new product, reach new markets or raise your profile. Does the event give you the opportunity to do this, in front of the right people? If so, go for it – just be clear from the start what your reason for being there is.
The early bird catches the…
Best spot. Don’t wait for your competitors to grab the best stands, get hold of the floor plan and booking forms early and secure a stand that is guaranteed to get you noticed. Stands close to the entrance, live speaker areas and catering areas tend to get lots of footfall, plus it is easier to direct people to your stand if you are ‘right outside the auditorium’ for example. Corner stands are great for catching people and offer more freedom in the layout of your stand.
Don’t be last minute with the admin. Complete your furniture and electrical forms early on. Book your transport and accommodation in plenty of time so you don’t have an hour’s commute across town before and after the event. It might feel OTT, but getting these things done early on allows you to focus your energy on the creative stuff.
Make yourself known
Don’t wait until the event to start promoting your presence. Look out for the event’s social media account and hashtag and include them in pre-event posts. Let people know what you will be doing at the event or keep it a secret and run a social media campaign of clues to drum up excitement. Share images of your giveaways or photos of the team that will be on the stand to ‘break the ice’ before the big event. Use the opportunity to amplify your brand beyond the exhibition floor and increase interest in your company before the event has even begun.
Go for best in show
Approach your stand design as if you were dressing a shop window on Oxford Street. Yes, it’s that important. You’ve probably invested a few thousand pounds to be there. Why would you settle for anything less than best in show when it comes to your stand’s appearance? Banners and posters are the first things delegates will see, so use eye-catching imagery, bold fonts and attractive colour palettes that communicate your brand clearly. Don’t hide your company name and logo at the bottom of roller banners. Nobody is looking at the floor. Keep the important details at eye level so visitors know who they are speaking to.
Placement is everything
Be strategic in where you place your stand literature. By putting your company brochures and giveaways behind the table, visitors need to enquire. This gives you the opportunity to strike up a conversation or ask for their business card in return. Keep your ‘conversation starters’ on the table – perhaps appointment booking cards if you are running free consultations at the event, or the latest issue of your newsletter with an eye-catching story or statistic on the front cover.
Recruit the A team
Whilst you’ve done a sterling job in booking the event and designing a show stopping stand, making the event a success on the day isn’t solely down to the marketing manager. To make a visit to your stand worthwhile, consider who from the business will deliver value. It might be your head of sales who is used to charming visitors to generate leads, or it could be somebody who works directly with the product or service and loves to have their brain picked.
It’s worth mentioning at this stage that you should always brief your stand team and give them some guidelines. You would be amazed how many people forget they are there to attract and welcome visitors, rather than staring at their mobiles or chatting to each other…
Convert visits to data
One of your goals for the event should be to gather contact information, so you can follow up with people that have visited your stand. Have data capture sheets (either printed or digitally) readily available to take names and email addresses. Remember that you must state on the forms what you will do with this data to ensure you are in line with the GDPR and to obtain the correct consents. You could also ask visitors to follow you on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn to enter a competition. Using novelty ‘selfie’ frames is a great way to do this and often encourages visitors to share images, thus extending the reach of your brand.
If you have a big exhibition in your marketing calendar, speak to us. With over 28 years’ experience we can help you to plan your presence, dress your stand and make a real impact, that delivers real return on your investment.