According to The Centre for Exhibition Industry Research, 83% of exhibition attendees have buying authority and 79% use these events to make big purchase decisions about their business.
As well as significant financial investments, exhibiting requires more strategy and organization than ever before to ensure you stand out from the crowd in the busy exhibition hall. With so much pressure to get every detail right, it can be easy to overlook those final essential things that could potentially harm your chances of going home with a good ROI for the show.
Once you’ve booked your space and found the right company to create your eye-catching exhibition stand, what are the other crucial elements of exhibiting that you need to consider? These details that might seem small but can make a huge impact on the success of your ROI.
1. Create a buzz on social media
Pre-show marketing really should be one of the very first things you do, but it’s surprising the number of businesses who think they just have to turn up and the rest will take care of itself. According to Trade Show News Network, over 70% of visitors arrive at an exhibition with a list of exhibitors they plan to visit.
Social media is one of the easiest ways to promote your exhibition presence, so make sure you create a buzz to build momentum several weeks before your show. If you haven’t already, create a hashtag campaign that is consistent with your sales message at the show, and be sure to use the same hashtag across all your social media.
But what kind of content should you be posting on social to promote your event? “Behind the scenes” content leading up to your show can be highly effective as it makes your followers feel like they’re part of your story.
2. Finalize the logistics of your exhibition stand
If your exhibition stand provider isn’t going to be managing your project, and we highly recommend using one that does, then you need to arrange logistics. How are you going to transport the stand to the show? Are you going to use professional installers to build and dismantle it? If you’re going to be doing repeat exhibitions, where will you store the stand?
All of these logistic details are time-consuming, and in many cases, expensive. Choosing an exhibition company that can provide logistical support is - by far - the most stress-free and cost effective way to exhibit.
Any good exhibition company will take care of all aspects of your exhibition stand process, without any risky sub-contracting to outsiders.
This not only means you don’t get charged an unexpected mark up on prices, but also guarantees quality control for your exhibition.
TOP TIP: use an exhibition company that will pre-build your stand before your event. This necessary quality control check will make sure any potential issues are fully resolved and everything is in order well before your stand is installed at the exhibition.
3. Send out a press release
In this social media age, it can be easy to neglect other more traditional forms of public relations, but disregarding media coverage would be a wasted opportunity to gain free publicity for your event.
Produce a list of media publications you want to contact about your exhibition, then create a press release to send out to them. A press releases should be written in basic layman’s English and no more than 500 words. In fact the fewer words, the better. A press release needs to get straight to the point and communicate who you are, what you’re doing, when, where and - most importantly - why.
Also, if you can find an engaging story angle to throw in the mix (such as your business has won awards for its products) this will increase your chances of getting published.
4. Begin your email campaign
Your email list has the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of people, so use it to tell them know about your upcoming show.
You can also ask the exhibition show organizers for an email list for all the attendees. Once you this, you can create an email schedule. Plan your message first and what information you want to provide, then leave sufficient time between emails to avoid overwhelming your audience with information as this will prove counter-productive.
5. Pull together your exhibition team and sales pitch
With so much planning to consider, it’s important not to overlook one of the most important details for your show: your exhibition team.
Choose which members of your staff will be representing your business at the event and what their role will be.
Of course, you want to pick people who are knowledgeable about your services or products. But expertise doesn’t always equate to customer service skills. Walk around any trade show and chances are, you’ll come across exhibition salespeople playing on phones, eating sandwiches or engaged in conversation with their colleagues.
Many businesses who exhibit forget that most trade show visitors aren’t going to be confident enough to approach staff on the stand and will simply linger as they try to work out what each business does. This is the time to engage them, and to do this you need to have a team of friendly people who can make attendees feel comfortable.
Come up with a welcoming sales pitch for your staff to use when approaching visitors and make sure they rehearse this to perfection.
6. Make the necessary travel arrangements
Although you can book your hotels early, you should wait until you know exactly which staff are going to the event before making travel arrangements. Is it going to be more cost-effective for your group to travel by train, plane or car?
As soon as you have your team in place, book transport, or - if you’re going by car - work out the best route. If your team aren’t going to be travelling to the show together, make sure you have everyone’s phone number so they can be contacted if they get lost or encounter any problems.
7. Complete your lead follow-up plan
One of the primary reasons you exhibit is to generate leads. If your exhibition has gone according to plan, you’ll have a long list of strong leads at the end of it. But this isn’t the time to get complacent.
Surprisingly, most businesses don’t have a lead follow-up plan for trade shows. They leave it too late to make contact, then can’t work out why they lose so much interest from individuals that seemed so keen.
Don’t be that business. Plan in advance how you’re going to reach out to your leads after your event. Decide what you are going to say to them and how you are going to say it (e.g. a phone call, email etc.), then allocate the people who will have the responsibility for following up, so you can start this process as soon as your show has finished.