An exhibition stand is a great way to aid your marketing goals and generate sales, but they must be well planned and appropriately managed in order to leave a good lasting impression in the minds of your visitors. This means that you need to make sure every single element in your stand is to the best standard it can be.
Take look below to find out our top tips for running a successful exhibition stand…
Make sure your team are thoroughly briefed
Employees are the face of your brand and their behaviour and actions will have an impact on your customers’ perceptions.
It’s important that your event team fully understands your goals and is briefed on how to present your company and interact with prospects. A well-briefed team will feel more confident and prepared in approaching, engaging and selling your product or service, and will be able to decide which leads are best to follow up on.
Even though your team will already be well-trained, know how to deal with leads and be aware of key facts about your company’s offering, it’s important to freshen up their minds and identify experts for specialist topics, so that a visitor can be handed over to the most appropriate member of staff for more specialist enquiries.
Keep your stand well-staffed
Your stand should never be left unattended, as every minute it’s left alone will cost the company money and reduce your return on investment.
However, you must of course get some breaks in over what will most likely be a long couple of days. So, no matter the size of your business, make sure you are not alone and take someone with you. Ideally, you will want to rotate team members throughout the day, in order to ensure they are kept fresh and motivated to engage with prospects.
If you are a solo-trader, take with you a partner, family member or even a student from the local college looking for some work experience – but make sure you brief and train them on your offering, company values and how to approach customers!
Make sure your stand is welcoming
Your exhibition stand is the first thing a visitor will see about your company when arriving at a trade show, so it is important to take the time to design and plan it.
For your exhibition stand to be a success, you must ensure it stands out from the crowd and is welcoming to the people you are trying to attract – you’d be surprised at what a difference a simple thing can make!
Your exhibition stand needs to be kept clean and uncluttered, as this will make it easier for visitors to approach you. Too much on display can become meaningless noise, but too little may look like you didn’t make an effort, so it’s important to find a happy medium and ensure your stand has information about your offering, whilst still looking organised. You should aim to have well-labelled displays and, if you have different product ranges, you should group related items.
Freebies are also a great way to drive more traffic to your stand and make sure prospects take away something to remember you by. You can give these away to passers-by or have your audience engage to win them over a competition.
Be the sort of stand you would approach
One of the best ways to ensure people approach your stand is to have great body language – politeness, eye contact and a smile really do go a long way.
An exhibitor who is on the phone, speaking to a colleague or eating looks unapproachable and unprofessional, and gives off the impression they are not happy to help.
It’s essential for you to stay engaged and approachable throughout the entire exhibit, as this will make people more inclined to come and speak to you.
Qualify your visitors
Every visitor could be a potential sale, so make sure you initially treat everyone with equal attention.
However, you need to focus your time on the people who are most likely to convert. As soon as you’ve engaged and started a conversation, it’s important to qualify your visitors and establish the ones who are prospects. To do, you can ask questions such as:
- “Does your organisation use (product/service you provide)?”
- “Do you currently use outside suppliers for (product/service you provide)? How is that working for you at the moment?”
- “Which aspects of (product/service you provide) are you most keen to improve?”
You must remember to always remain polite no matter how interested the visitor is, as you are representing the business as a whole.
Since the secret to a successful event is to meet as many good prospects as possible in the time available, you will also need to develop an exit strategy so you can politely move on to the next visitor.
Listen to your customers
People love to feel like they are understood. While your inclination may be to simply talk about your company and its offering, it’s important to look at trade shows as an opportunity to listen to what your customers have to say and fill in the gaps in your understanding about their challenges, preferences and needs.
It’s imperative that you ensure you are creating an environment that allows for conversation and encourages an exchange of ideas. Doing this will allow you to better understand how to serve that particular person and will enable you to better demonstrate how your product or service could benefit them.
Keep a note
Trade shows are about looking for immediate buyers but also finding well-qualified prospects to follow up in the future.
One of your main goals should be to capture the details of those you meet and show an interest of any sort, so you can focus your post-event marketing and promotions on them. You can do this by collecting business cards or scanning badges, but it’s important to take notes and categorise the warmth of the lead.
This will require discipline when your stand is busy, so you can make your life easier by pre-designing an enquiry sheet where you can record every lead and categorise it (e.g. hot, warm and cold). This will ensure the sales team knows who to follow up first, but you must ensure everyone involved understands and adheres to the same definitions of hot warm and cold.
After an event, it’s crucial to follow up all the leads you generate in order to maximise the return on your investment of exhibiting.
From phone calls, to emails and booking meetings, it’s likely that you’ll experience a busy few weeks after the exhibition. In order to best prepare for this, it’s a good idea to plan your follow-up procedure before the event takes place.
You will want to contact all your prospects as soon as possible, but ensure you prioritise the most valuable ones. Most hot leads will need to be followed up within three or four days of the event to prevent any competitors from stealing the deal. Warm and cold leads can wait longer, however it’s important to still acknowledge their attendance and commit to the next step within those post-event days.
The month after the exhibition is prime time for converting warm leads into a sale. However, patience is key when following-up both warm and cold leads, so it’s important to ensure regular communication in the form of marketing emails and newsletters as a reminder of what your business can offer.