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The best tips for exhibitors

Tip 1: Set Your Goals

Choose the right trade fair!

With thousands of trade fairs taking place all over the world, it is very important to choose the right one. When thinking about your next trade fair, make sure you get as much information as possible. Determine whether the trade fair fits your existing marketing strategy and is attractive to your target customer. Organizers should be able to provide answers to these questions:

  • Positioning and consolidation of the trade fair?

  • Number of visitors last edition? (Ask for attendance records and see if they fit your target market);

  • How is the event promoted and what media will participate?

  • What exhibition packages are available? (take your time to decide which one is best for you, the main exhibition packages that the organisers offer are only "naked area" and "shell scheme package").

As an exhibitor, what do you want to achieve with your stand?

  • o Increase sales?

  • o Build reputation/brand value?

  • o Increase awareness of the industry?

  • o Educate customers?

  • o Create new relationships?

Once you have defined your goals, implement an action plan to achieve them.

Take a look at your competitors!

  • Ask for a list of confirmed exhibitors and check your competitors before the trade fair.

  • Discover their products, marketing and the images they use. Use this information to refine your exhibition strategy. Avoid being near them if you know where they are. Your competitors can also help you. Their marketing efforts could attract more potential customers to the show.

Get to know the exhibitors near you.

Remember to establish a strong relationship with your neighbours. If you can communicate with each other, find out about their programme and find out about their stand design.

If possible choose the best location on the exhibition layout

If you want to be located in a highly desirable location, book your exhibition space as soon as possible. The largest stand you can afford may not necessarily be the best option for your business, consider carefully how much space you need. Ask the organisers for the floor plan and find the most suitable location for you. Decide if you want to be close to the entrance, the centre of the fair or if you want a corner stand. Don't forget to take into consideration your neighbours, the position of your competitors, any columns obstructing the passageway and dead-end aisles.

Tip 2: Exhibitor planning
Create a plan

You should start planning the exhibition at least 4-6 months before the exhibition. Together with your team set realistic goals, create a schedule and plan all activities. Discuss your budget, transportation, stand design and exhibition details.

Set your budget

For maximum economy, opt for a reusable stand. When planning your budget, remember that you may have to leave some space for additional costs. By planning carefully, you can enjoy a successful trade show that respects your budget.

Suggestion 3: carefully review the website and the rules of the trade fair
Most trade fairs will provide you with a regulation with the fair's guidelines. It is very important that you read the regulations carefully, because at each fair it may be different, especially in different countries.

  • Note important information

  • Note the expiry dates for order forms

  • Complete all mandatory forms

  • Send a copy of the rules and regulations to your trusted fitter

  • Search for promotional opportunities for visibility within the exhibition centre

Tip 4: Stand design and graphics
The design of your stand is crucial. Design, graphics and unique content are essential to make your stand as visible as possible. Instead of following design trends, you should always aim for individuality. Your individual exhibition stand should remain original and reflect your brand.

Keep the following points in mind when asking your consultant to let you design the stand:

  • Concept related to your goal

  • Make it visual - colours catch the eye

  • Think about technology

  • Use the space

  • Use interactivity

  • Pay attention to lighting

Tip 5: Promotional activities - marketing
Time to spread the word - tell everyone! You should consider using the following channels to let people know that you will be attending the fair:

  • Social media

  • Corporate Website

  • Brochure/flyer

  • Personal Letters / Invitations

  • Magazines/newspapers

  • E-mail/Internet

  • Signature e-mail

Develop your pre-event marketing plan: Let your target audience know that you will be present at the fair, which products you will promote and the location of your stand. Make sure they know the name of the exhibition centre and the exact dates of the trade fair. Trade shows offer fantastic marketing opportunities. They give you the opportunity to reach your existing customers and create new ones. Use various online and offline channels to promote your stand.

Use e-mail marketing: one week before the trade fair, use the e-newsletter to let everyone know that you are participating in the event. Provide all the details of the fair and the location of your stand. Include information on special stand features, interactive screens, contests, special offers and prize draws...

Maintain consistency: all promotional material, logo, brand colors, fonts and messages must be consistent. Everything you include should reflect your brand and remain the same look and feel.

Take advantage of social media: Use social media to accompany visitors to your stand. Post photos of your stand, contact participants on Twitter and engage in online conversations. Social media is the ideal place to let everyone know that you are attending the fair. If your stand includes gadgets, interactive games or competitions, make sure everyone knows! Your Twitter feed should be regularly updated before, during and after the fair.

Create a hashtag: create a hashtag for your booth. It's a great way to promote your product or host a competition. Make sure the hashtag is unique and easy to remember. Include it in banners, graphics and handouts. Many events will have their own hashtag. Follow the official hashtag and use it before and during the show to keep up to date with the latest news and to join the fair community.

Consider QR codes: if you want to reduce the cost of printed material, you can offer visitors digital handouts. Your stand can include a QR code, which can be easily scanned by participants and taken to your website or a pdf presentation.

Exhibition stand design: use the 3 second rule: you only have 3 seconds to make a first impression and capture the visitor's attention. In these 3 seconds you have to communicate your message, what you do and what you have to offer. All this can be done through your brand, stand design, images and text. It is important that your stand design is attractive.

Improve your gadgets: at exhibitions, visitors receive many gifts that will never be used or will end up in the basket right after the exhibition. Make sure that all the items you give are marked with your logo.

Dress to impress: your staff represents the company and must make a good first impression. If your staff don't usually wear uniforms, don't feel the need to invest in them just for the event. Instead, you can choose to wear branded shirts or accessories. If your stand has a specific theme, it might be a good idea to contribute to this theme with your staff uniform. Staff clothing will become part of your advertising, people will identify it and link it to your stand.

Tip 6: Staff
Does your team know what you want to achieve and how you expect them to do it? Everyone needs to be on the same wavelength and have a clear idea of what you are working for. The staff who man the stand must be informed about the objectives. If the staff are not clear about your goals, they cannot help you achieve them. Instruct your staff on the following:

  • Body language

  • Opening lines

  • Avoid the 20 questions game

  • Don't rush to prove

  • Professional appearance/behaviour and interested in the business

Don't exaggerate with the staff: the overcrowded stand will seem crowded and will discourage people to visit it. It could also be intimidating. If you have arrived at the fair and it turns out that you have too many people at your stand, you can always send them to check out competitors or to approach customers outside your stand.

Motivation: You need to keep your staff motivated. Maintain a fun environment and reward your team for good performance. Make your goals clear and let your staff know how the company will benefit from the fair. Your staff will be much more motivated by knowing the importance of the fair and how much you are investing. Give your staff some free time to have lunch and explore the exhibition.

Body language: Warmly greet visitors and encourage them to visit your stand and products. If you need to sit down, choose a tall stool that creates eye contact at eye level. Remember that facial expressions are important, make sure your team smiles and responds to what the visitor says.

Tip 7: Book and collect your badge, pass and parking card
Although you may be busy organizing your location and stand design, it is important to remember the little things: your participation pass, ID badge and parking card.

Tip 8: Arrive early on the first day of the trade fair
When you arrive at the trade fair, make sure that your stand is properly set up and ready to go. If your stand includes special features and technology, make sure everything works. Take some time for troubleshooting, finishing touches and preparing your staff. Make sure all materials, gifts, notepads, pens and price lists are in the right place. Arriving at the trade fair early will allow you to start the day without panic.

Tip 9: Confirm the arrival of your staff
Confirm that everyone has arrived on time and that they are ready for the trade fair. Remind them of their individual goals and activities for the day. Have a quick meeting with your team and have a dress rehearsal just before the start of the trade fair.

Tip 10: Photograph your stand
Don't forget to photograph your booth during the trade fair. Photograph your stand when it is busy, including different angles, key features and graphics. Capture visitors interacting with your staff and products. Share your photos during the show on your major social media platforms, don't forget to use the official show hashtag when you tweet. You can also use your photos for post-show promotions, press releases, blog posts or e-newsletters.

Tip 11: Save and archive data
Before speaking to another visitor, make sure you write down all the details of the person you just spoke to. Including the objects or services they were interested in. What did they like about your products? Which company do they work for? And how did you promise to contact them? It might be a good idea to prepare a quick application form and have it filled out. It could be a paper form or a digital application.

Tip 12: Choose between paper and digital
Think about how you will capture the details of the visitor. You have several options, paper forms or a digital application. If you think your staff will easily lose or lose paper forms, it might be a good idea to choose a digital solution.

Tip 13: Register each visitor
Even when your stand is very crowded, be sure to register every visitor who makes a request for information about your products. Have a strategy ready to deal with visitors at peak times, know where your request forms or iPad are and have them ready. If there is another person waiting to talk to you, introduce the visitor to one of your colleagues and explain to take and note all their details.

Tip 14: Listen to visitors
When exhibiting, it is important to remember that it is not only about talking, but also about listening to what visitors say and ask. Make everyone welcoming and comfortable.

Tip 15: Post-Exhibition
Post-Exhibition: it is important to remember that promotion and marketing activities do not end after the exhibition. The sooner you proceed with your leads, the greater the chances of turning them into sales. You should stay in touch with your potential customers and send follow-up emails within a week.

It is important to pay attention to the following:

  • Measure return on investment (ROI)

  • Analyze all potential customers who have come to the stand

  • Give thanks and send a presentation to all visitors who came to the stand

  • Send any quotes to customers who have requested it

  • Communicate feedback results to the whole team

  • Improve with a view to participation in future fairs

  • Define the budget for your next trade show

  • Search for new exhibition opportunities

Cost per contact

How to optimize investments in exhibitions by increasing visibility and useful contacts?

The exhibition market has become over the last decade so heterogeneous and full of proposals that for the companies it is very difficult to choose and identify events that respond to their needs, often resulting in errors of evaluation and therefore unprofitable experiences or poorly significant if you consider commitment lavished.

We are always a bit hesitant when it comes to exhibit at a trade show or participate as a sponsor at an event. It is money well spent? How to calculate it?

Often these events are super advertised with generic contents that increase visitors but blur the opportunities for relevant contacts with new leads and customers. This means poor returns on investment and a loss of confidence towards mechanisms that are an important part of our marketing budget. It would not be a bad idea to assess whether a trade show has brought enough new business to continue to justify the costs of participation. This information allows us to decide how to optimize the budget dedicated to these expensive activities. To understand whether it makes sense to participate in a trade show, you have to verify the cost per contact, the return on investment (ROI) and traceability. Of course, in addition to the facts&figures, and other considerations, such as the maintenance of a leadership, creation of distribution networks, upgrading, branding, etc. .. but honestly, with the current climate we feel it is not beneficial to underestimate the importance of ROI and Cost-contact.

How to Calculate Cost-Contact?

The cost per contact of a trade show is obtained by dividing the direct and indirect costsincurred for the realisation and issuance of an act of communication (exhibition space, fittings stand, communication tools, time spent by employees, board and lodging, etc..) with the number of useful contacts (addressees) exposed to such communication.

Estimate cost per contact generic = Event Total cost / number of total visitors

Estimate cost per contact useful = Event Total cost / number of visitors useful-target

How to calculate the ROI?

The best way to track the ROI is:

ROI = (Gross Margin – Total cost of event) / Total cost of event

The result of the calculation will not be final until the cycle of the sale data is finalised at the end of the event. When we have this final figure, we can look back and assess whether the investment was valid, setting a parameter for comparison with other activities. As long as the gross margin is superior than the total investment, you will have a positive ROI. Another task will be then to establish if the result is enough (or not) to justify future participation in the event. After having fixed the total costs, we need to establish how many leads and how many sales came through the participation. The best way, is to fix immediately a convention name to all leads generated, regardless of their source (badge, scanners, business cards, e-mail addresses collected, etc.)., Labeling them with the name of the event within the business contacts management system. If this is done through the use of a CRM, you can trace, periodically, the sales development based on the tags of each event, and once the sales cycle is closed, you can calculate the exact ROI for every activity. Although the sales cycle takes a long time, it is advisable to share with your sales team the partial results at different levels of the commercial pipeline and determine if it is worth or not worth attending. The partial results, compared with the previous analysis, will suggest us the trend quickly and the possible final result of our investment.

Checklist in pills

Preparation

  • Demand information about the exhibition to the organizer.
  • Make sure it is a trade show appropriate to your business needs.
  • Once you have decided to participate, send your registration form to the event.
  • Designate an internal coordinator of the "Project Show".
  • Call a meeting with all business sectors, informing on "Project Show" and clarifying what the activities will be, the time limit, the responsibilities. The ideal would be to establish a working group.
  • Define who will be present at the show.
  • Develop the design of the stand (committing specialized companies) and wait for the approval of the organizer.
  • Select products/samples to bring to the show and arrange a timetable for the preparation.
  • Plan the support material, such as technical documentation, "display", "poster", etc.
  • Book hotels and travel tickets in advance.
  • Outline a communication plan to attract more visitors.
  • Send a message to potential interested to visit the stand.
  • Check if you can insert oneself as speaker in conferences, meetings that will be held during the fair in order to intensify the promotion of the company.
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