Thursday, October 30, 2008

Six things to remember when you have a stand at a trade exhibition

Yesterday I went to the Interbuild exhibition at the NEC. I'm not a builder but was there because several of my agencies clients where exhibiting. Walking around the massive hanger that is the NEC I was amazed by the amount of money, time and energy companies waste at exhibitions.

I've done exhibitions myself before and they are very expensive and are really hard to quantify the success of. There are a few things that should be considered before booking your companies expensive slot. Here we go.

  1. Have a clear goal. Most of the exhibiting companies had done all the work, complex stand, loads of staff, shiny brochures, boxes full of pens, widgets and competition entries - you know the score. Thing is their company hadn't given the staff a reason to be there. There they stood not really knowing what to do. Am I collecting names, ensuring I get rid of all the pens/brochures/widgets etc, am I pushing a new product. Hardly anyone knew.
  2. Look interested. Most people on stands were bored, twiddling their thumbs, texting, picking their nose etc. Look, if you're bored and un-interested then why the hell should a slightly nervous visitor come to your stand? Would you approach someone who looked like they had an ASBO but what wearing a suit? No, so why are you doing it at a very expensive exhibition?
  3. Get people on the stand. You're there to speak to people that's the whole point to ensure you do it. If things are quiet leave your stand and venture into the isles if they're really quiet wander around the exhibition yourself. Engage people, pull then into your stand. The more you get on to the stand the more passers by will want to come to the stand too. People are nosey to see what others find so interesting.
  4. Don't waste money on a flashy stand unless it was a purpose. Lots of the stands looked like they were designed by Norman Foster! Lovely to look at but they had no tie back to the product, brand or exhibition. They were cold and uninviting and the staff, yes them again looked bewildered and lost. Save cash on the stand but ensure you have a well thought out reason for people to come to speak to you.
  5. Have knowledgeable staff on the exhibition stand. So many stands had, sorry to say this, "Dolly birds" on the stand. At Interbuild I can see how this tactic works after all the place is full of male builders. But once people have been to the stand, ogled the girls and left a business card to win a bottle of Champers, have really got a good lead? The answers probably not. Save the cash and save the poor girls dignity too. Have people who know what they are talking about who can finish the lead and ensure that when you follow-up that lead they'll remember you for your knowledge and great products, rather than the eye-candy.
  6. You are going to follow-up those leads aren't you?! So many get put in a drawer when you drag yourself back to the office after a hard few days at the show. What a waste of time and money. Ensure you follow -up all the relevant leads and lose all the time wasters. That includes all the bag/pen/widget/competition entries. You don't need or want millions of leads if each day you get 10 good leads and convert 2 into orders later then you'll have an amazing conversion rate.

1 comment:

  1. Cliff Walton10:28 am

    All valid points. Companies historically plough large portions of their marketing budgets into attending these events primarily because they always have, and a misplaced belief they will generate quality leads.

    Attended a seminar yesterday where JCB's marketing director explained they're pulling out of this activity completely in the current crunch. Instead, they're hosting events at their factory and inviting press/customers/prospects to visit. Result: total immersion in the brand and no competitors for miles.