Attending exhibitions and trade shows can be hugely beneficial for your business – but only if you plan effectively beforehand, execute effectively on the day and follow up effectively afterwards!
Based on our experience, we’ve pulled together five top tips for doing all of this really well so that your investment is money (and time) well spent.
1. Analyse why you are exhibiting
Before you even consider going to an event, think carefully about why you are attending and how your company will benefit from the considerable investment involved. Set some specific goals based on key metrics, eg. number of new leads, revenue on the day or quantity of samples distributed. Measuring your results against these goals will enable you to determine how successful the event was.
2. Assess your budget for the event
This should go without saying, but it’s surprising how many exhibitors don’t give a thought to budgets prior to planning for an event. If exhibitions and trade shows are a key part of your marketing plan then they must be budgeted for like any other campaign. How else will you be able to determine ROI?
Once you’ve settled on your overall budget, it’s then time to apportion it between the various priorities. A recognised formula is:
- 30% on promotional merchandise. Remember this is the most powerful way to leave a part of your company in their hands. According to research, a useful promotional item can increase the likelihood of a prospect coming back to you by a massive 25%!
- 40% on stand decor. Remember, you are in direct competition with other stands around you. Exhibition visitors will subconsciously scan all the stands before deciding to turn to you or someone else so what is it about your stand that will attract them?
- 20% on clothing for your team. If you’re not in a matching uniform, visitors will struggle to identify your team from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to pick eye-catching coloured clothing for your staff – people will be much more likely to remember you!
- 10% on posters and leaflets. Well-designed printed literature will complement and support your promotional merchandise, to help leave visitors with a lasting impression of your company.
3. Plan your stand carefully
If you’ve ever attended an exhibition or trade show as a visitor, you’ll know that there are always a few stands that really grab your attention and stick in your memory. What was it about these exhibitors that made them stand out from the crowd? Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor to the event and think carefully about how to make your stand the one they remember for months afterwards.
4. Have a strategy to implement on the day
What can you do to engage with your target audience at the event? Consider running a competition, raffle or quiz to give your sales team an opportunity to engage with attendees. The prize offered doesn’t need to cost the earth in order to attract attention – gift vouchers or free samples of your product work well. Create a fun challenge and you’ll have no problem attracting people to your exhibition stand. If you can also collect prospects’ business cards or contact details these can be used for following up leads after the event.
5. Have a post-event plan
Without a doubt, this is the most crucial step because failing to follow up hot leads after an event can counteract all the time and money invested beforehand. Effective follow-up, however, will increase your ROI dramatically. It’s all too easy to get back to your desk and jump straight back into the daily whirlwind, but this must be resisted. Make sure you allocate a few hours each day for the next couple of weeks to follow up every lead forensically – it’s essential!