Exhibitions allow your company to communicate with your target group face to face in a very specific environment. how do you differentiate yourself? What’s more, how do you get the best return on your marketing spend by exhibiting, or is it just a PR exercise?
Exhibition marketing strategy
While you cannot guarantee the quality of any exhibition, you can, like all marketing activities, control how you choose to take advantage of the opportunity.
With proper planning and goal setting, you’ll not only set specific goals, but you’ll be able to identify your potential customers, sell relevant benefits, and increase your ROI.
Set specific goals for yourself
By analyzing your target group, you will know how to inform your stand and who to reach before, during and after your exhibition. The more specific and realistic your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. However, when identifying your leads, make sure you dig deeper:
Do- Want to generate 200 leads? Or more specifically; – 50 sales offers of people who want to spend in the next six months? Or; – Meet 25 qualified new leads at the IT senior purchasing level for companies with 500+ locations?
Attract your target market
The theme of your display campaign should be focused on your specific target market. Messaging in this is very important ie. CFOs will have different priorities than a sales director when evaluating your product or service.
You have your brand and brand guidelines, but the theme of your exhibition must appeal to your specific audience. This includes the design of your exhibition stand, the images and words you use and your leaflets; even the type of person manning your booth and their sales positions will need to be appropriate.
Once you’ve established your target market, you can begin to understand what interests them.
You can leverage your current sales process. What questions and credentials do they ask you when you make a sales pitch? Can they be created as collateral to be forwarded, pre-qualifying your company as a potential customer?
Instructions for production time
Concept design, development and artwork are as easy as you make it. With a clear brief, your design agency has a better chance of delivering concepts that focus on your requirements.
Allow at least two weeks for initial creative. Then you’ll also need time to develop and create artwork – anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks depending on how you manage the project, on the client side, and how your agency responds. Then there are the production times:
– The stand takes about 2-3 weeks to build, depending on the complexity. – Please allow 2 weeks for the rollout stand or banner stand to be made. – Simple brochures or flyers can be produced in a few days, a more complex piece can take weeks to print and produce. – The same applies to promotional gifts and clothing. Please allow 2-4 weeks for production.
Organize backwards and allow yourself extra time. You reserve your stand well in advance, why not start production early?
Prepare your exhibition staff
People like people being people and exhibitions are a great way to connect directly with a potential customer. The staff manning your booth must understand the specific objectives of the event, the potential questions that may arise from the visitor, and who to target.
Maximize the effectiveness of results by identifying your team’s strengths and weaknesses and applying roles to the process. If you motivate your employees, do it in a way that promotes teamwork, rather than an aggressive, competitive salesperson. It’s about company performance, not individual commissions.
Market your traffic
Use your existing marketing databases to let contacts know you are attending the event. Contact local and trade press with information about your appearance. Is there something you can use to add extra appeal, such as a new product launch?
Can you create a reason to motivate people to visit your exhibition stand? Contests or prize draws can achieve this, but does it align with your brand values and target market? Is there a better way to achieve the same thing?
Stock up and organize
Make sure you are prepared for different events. Do you have enough supplies? Stock up on carry-ons, snacks and other items you may need, including spare cables and batteries… what’s the worst that can happen? Plan it.
You can also welcome places to rest, away from the glare of delegates on your stand, for most of the day on your feet. How will it be planned? You don’t want rest staff sitting with their feet up eating a chocolate bar when a top prospect can walk by at any time.
The day has come and you have a great exhibition stand that should attract the right prospects. The marketing message is on point, your sales goals are clear; your employees know their goals and are motivated. Now it’s up to the people at your booth.
Get the most out of your people
You have to maintain the initial positive feeling as the day goes on. You can get tired, take a few hits, but you have to provide support for the whole team. A highly motivated and knowledgeable team will set you apart from other exhibitors. Regular briefings and teamwork are a must. Share goal progress and interaction feedback to improve your sales process. Maintain energy and positive attitudes.
Optimize your focus
You need to ensure that you maximize sales opportunities. To do this, you will need to identify your prospects and spend the appropriate amount of time filtering them as genuine leads.
Attract and captivate
Your appropriate marketing messages should filter out random visitors and attract relevant people, but you have to attract people yourself.
You can use a departing member of your team to leave your booth and reach out to people throughout the show. Leverage your team’s strengths and bring people into your space.
Don’t be afraid to reject visitors if they are not relevant. You are there to sell, not to advise people who do what you do. Politely filter out inappropriate visitors: They still have the power of word of mouth and you don’t want them to do it negatively.
Focus on the benefits your product or service offers the prospect directly. You should have samples and marketing material that answers your prospect’s questions based on your targeted sales. If you end up with an interested prospect, gently approach them and take the appropriate contact information.
Make sure you take good notes to remember when you get back to the office. Remember a few off-topic details to make your follow-up more personal. If you need to ask something again to make sure you have the correct information, do so. It shows that you are interested when you focus on your prospects.
People like people
First you need to make sure you are accessible. If your team is talking negatively about a recent visitor to your booth, your booth won’t be very inviting.
Also remember that not everyone will click in person and that rapport during the sale is essential. Determine among your team who works best with what type of people. If you make contact with a potential customer at your booth and your discussion is not going well, don’t be afraid to invite a more relevant colleague.
Get media coverage
Invite key journalists to visit your stand in advance and encourage your marketing team to the event to help promote your company on site. Keep a good supply of your literature in the exhibition press office and work with the exhibition organizer to improve your profile. And when the press visit your site, make sure there is someone available to talk to them.
Leave it all to business
A friendly environment at your exhibition stand can encourage people to stop and stay for a chat. Do you really want this?
Current customers can expect your undivided attention if they show up, but if they’re not the main reason for your visit, try to set aside specific times for them, ideally in the hospitality area of the stand or outside.
Networking with existing contacts is part of the appeal of the show, but you’ll want to keep it under control.
Focus on your key goals
Remember that you are at the show to achieve specific business goals and not every visitor is right. Watch the price, focus on your strategy and connect with the right people.
After the exhibition
Away from the lights and noise of the exhibition, it’s back to work. Now it’s time to track all the new sales opportunities you’ve created. This is where some companies squander the advantages they have worked so hard to achieve, while others take them and turn them into profits.
De-brief the team
When you get back to the office, sit down with the booth staff, marketing team, and key executives. Evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Discuss suggestions for improving performance at future exhibitions.
Measure your results
Now is the time to measure your success against specific measurable goals that you set before the event. Break down the event in terms of effectiveness to help plan future events and determine the future development of your techniques.
Successful sales teams track leads up to a year later to follow new contacts through to the bottom line. Only then can you determine the value of the exhibition to your company and whether your marketing budget was well spent.
Track all contacts
Every visitor to your trade show booth should receive a timely follow-up, from a simple thank-you note to a visit, phone call, or information package, depending on the quality of the sales lead. For your potential customers, the days and weeks after the show define who wants their business the most.
Send a general email to all show visitors
You may not meet every visitor at the exhibition, but you can contact them afterwards. Most event organizers make visitor lists available for free or for a one-time rental. A short “We’re sorry we missed you, but did you know…” can generate a few new leads and at the very least provide an additional profile of your business to an industry audience.
Follow the press releases
Call all the editors to whom you sent your press releases or who visited you at your trade show booth. Ask if there is any additional information they might need.
A phone call at the right time could mean a solid mention in a post-exhibition review in the trade press.
Making the most of exhibitions
Trade shows can be effective, and by planning a few simple activities before, during and after each event, they will work even harder for you and your marketing budget. Being able to meet face-to-face with prospects in an industrial environment can they act as a fast track to a real sale.