Trade shows are yet another form of marketing for many businesses to increase brand awareness and attract more potential clients. While organising your own place at a business expo might seem easy piece of cake, making sure it all works, particularly for business with limited budget, is rather a challenge. Have you been there?
It certainly isn’t just about the most shiny and blinky stand with a fountain of freebies, promotional cards and sweets, and it definitely doesn’t end on the event itself. How to organise own expo stand right? What to do on the actual day? Is there anything you could do to boost your event efforts? Well there certainly is…
- Give your stand its own soul
Depending on the space available to your stand, there are some things you certainly don’t want to miss or get wrong when it comes to signage. You therefore might want to cooperate with some creative designers that will take care of your visuals. You might need materials such as: a banner, a poster, some leaflets, product guides etc. Remember, you want your exhibition stand to create curiosity, nice welcoming atmosphere and certainly not the impression of being packed with a lot of marketing materials. Whatever you decide, make sure all signage reflects your brand and its character.
Make sure that all communications represent your business’ soul and have a clear but not to overwhelming call to action (CTA). At the end, you want your stand visitors to take further steps rather than just pop in and leave – disappear for good. Welcome your stand visitors with some freebies; there is an absolute plethora of choices here all depending on your budget and might include pens with logo, eco-friendly reusable bags, sweets with company logo etc. Make sure to have enough business cards to give any potential stakeholder a solid base for relationship and if your business is of rather more complicated technological nature like cloud solutions providers, attracting visitors with right slogans and your products offerings details might actually be a good idea. Whatever you decide on doing, bear in mind that quality is more important than quantity!
If possible, visit the venue beforehand, check where your stand will be and make sure that everything will fit and won’t look too cluttered. If you can have a chat with expo organisers beforehand to make sure you are allocated the stand that will meet your requirements.
- Expo day, hurray! Ehmmm…. What do I actually do?
That’s a good question. You have your nice stand reflecting your brand values, perhaps even displaying unique selling point (USPs) for more impact, all marketing comms are where they supposed to be. What do you do next? First of all, you need to make sure you allocate right people to the venue. There is nothing worse on the stand than a bunch of representatives who give the impression “Gosh…. I soooo don’t want to be here”. I happen to be on Technology for Marketing and Advertising Expo in London this year and was shocked about how pushing off some representatives might be. I skip the part of being unfriendly but the actual conversation leading to a smart way of saying “Get lost because I want to carry on eating” is certainly not right. So make sure to allocate friendly, chatty and passionate about your brand and services representatives to make the most out of the venue itself. Once your team manages to attract the audience, make sure you have something interesting to say to them and show. Apart from freebies, some sweets, a prize draw an offers exclusive to venue attendees, having something that will demonstrate how you’re a particular product or service can actually benefit your visitor’s business might be a great catch. It might be a product demo, software simulation or a presentation. This again, all depends on your business nature and types of services you offer. Whatever you decide to do, try to trigger interest as much as you can and don’t let the person to leave without leaving some contact details. Why? Carry on reading…
- Expo finished, let’s go home.
Nothing worse than that! Make sure you don’t fall into a trap that many businesses in fact do – organising own small event that cost you, at the end not small amount of your budget, and then treat it as on off marketing activity with just photos being displayed in your business’ offices, banner in the corner and left overs of freebies kicked around desks.
Business Expo is just the sweet beginning. It is a nice, not necessarily easy, method of networking, meeting potential clients, generating interest, getting to know the needs of a particular segment, creating a demand, generating leads, and however else you want to call it. In overall, it is just the top of an iceberg and beginning of your marketing and nurturing funnel. Yes that is right – nurturing funnel! The whole point of you exhibiting is catching potential stakeholders, right? Well the chances are that you will actually close 1 or 2 deals straight after the event. But what about all those who have spoken to you and gave business details, signed up for your e-newsletter, put their business card into a fishbowl, pinned their card on to B2B wall? All attendees to which data you have access to and agreed to be contacted? Well guess what, don’t count on any return on investment if you decide not take explore opportunities further with information collected during an event.
Clearly there is a lot of opportunities for you to “pocket” significant amount of new business relationships and clients after the event so don’t make a business expo your destination. Make it one of the first points in your whole marketing campaign and create a decent follow up plan for everyone who showed an interest in your brand, products or services.
So, as you can see, there is a lot to think of before deciding on the business expo. You need to plan your marketing communications in advance, make sure that the venue meets its objectives and that you have a right follow up programme to eventually get some business out of it. Remember, however, that the trick doesn’t lie in spending huge amounts of your budget to organise a stand with a great pump. They key lies in offering a unique experience and something memorable. The rest depends on how you are going to steer your communications from then on.
Having said that, we hope we’ll get it right for you during Leigh Business Expo 2014 taking place on the 11th of July in Sports Village in Leigh. We hope to see you there for a chat.