It is important that you prepare as much as possible before you arrive. Planning to attend an exhibition is stressful at the best of times but leaving everything to the last minute will even make the experts go crazy!
- Work out what your objectives are for attending the exhibition and put in place realistic targets.
- Ensure that you have enough staff to work on your stand and be mindful of how many can physically work comfortably within your space allocation. Remember not to overcrowd your stand with staff - 10 members of staff on a 6sqm stand will never work!
- Make the most of pre-show marketing. A lot of exhibition organisers offer a certain level of free advertising such as entry in the show catalogue and website, visitor invites and email signature banners. Make sure you make the most out of the free opportunities.
- Book your stand space early. Look for available locations on main aisles; next to coffee stations etc where traffic levels will be higher.
- Practice your pitch and find a hook. Work out your initial approach to a potential customer - you will literally have few seconds to capture a passer-by and hook them in. Pouncing on a customer with a big welsh cwtch DOES NOT count!
- Ensure you bring enough collateral, leaflets, business cards, lead sheets, order forms etc - it’s not great if you run out and printing onsite can be very expensive.
- If you are exhibiting abroad, make sure you brush up on traditions / customs and dress code when conducting business.
- Make sure that you organise travel and accommodation well in advance. Hotels can get full and expensive if a large exhibition is taking place therefore booking early is essential.
2. Plan your stand
Planning your stand is key - not only will a good stand design layout attract passers-by, but it will also set out the type of company you are.
- The very first thing you need to do when planning your stand is to read your technical manual from the organisers - it’s been written to make your life earlier! This will detail your do's and don’ts in respect to exhibiting and contains valuable information and checklists.
- When designing your stand your product must be the focal point. Be mindful of overcrowding your stand with huge amounts of products - less is most definitely more! Find interesting ways of displaying your product that catch the eye.
- Design your stand to your companies personality and objectives. If you are highly creative, show this through your design etc.
- Do a bit of research into what other companies do on their stand for inspiration and to learn latest trends - Pinterest is always a good place to start for inspiration!
- Place all exhibition orders early to avoid surcharges. Remember to order lighting & electricity.
- Always make sure you submit your Stand Drawings & H&S Documentation to the organisers by the required deadlines.
3. Bring a tool kit
An essential, small 'get out of jail' tool kit can help wonders in those little emergencies onsite! Things to include:
- First Aid Kit
- Gel pads for feet
- Stationary (pens, Post Its, cellotape, bluetack, scissors, hole punch, stapler)
- Parcel tape and Sharpies for packing up
- Cable ties
- Small multitool
4. Conducting business on you stand - Do’s & Don’ts
- Arrive early and ensure all staff are briefed
- Do not eat on the stand
- Don’t huddle – nobody like to break up a private party!
- Wear comfortable shoes – it’s going to be a long day
- Put that phone away!
- Remember to ask a customer’s details – don’t let them walk away without their details if they are interested
- If you make a new lead make sure you write as much detail as you can on the enquiry sheet. It may be helpful to write something about the person who approached you to help remind you of who they are – such as that woman had gorgeous red shoes!
- Make friends with your neighbours and tell them about your product – you never know a potential customer may approach them and your product is better suited
- Don’t pounce on exhibitors
- Don’t ask closed questions
- And finally, smile and be mindful of your body language
5. The end
- If you are able to it is worthwhile following up on leads at the end of each trading day. It will make life a lot simpler and easier to remember conversations
- Remember to work out how your product and stand are leaving the exhibition. If you are using a courier it is important you wait with your product until they arrive - exhibition halls can be mayhem on the pull out and things may end up going walkies!
- Don’t leave your trollies and ladders lying about – if we had a pound for every time somebody nabbed ours we’d be millionaires!