exhibitionHaving spent considerable time and money on planning attendance at an industry trade show, it is crucial that businesses ensure they make the most of the three or four days of the event.

There are numerous points to consider – many just common sense – that if addressed well, will significantly increase the return on what is a usually a significant investment.

The media is your mouthpiece!

The trade press attend shows and exhibitions in significant numbers and this is a rare chance to get some face-to-face time with them. If you have a technology or strategy to discuss or are launching products then press meetings are a must. If the news is of major significance then a press conference may even be worthy of consideration to get you serious column inches and build your standing in the market.

Your PR company should be able to develop an appropriate strategy, and then plan and facilitate press meetings.

Don’t undermine all that planning and upfront expense!

Spending anything from a few to many tens of thousands on an impressive booth counts for little if some basic, common sense principles are not applied to the running of your booth during a show. Take a walk around any large tradeshow and you will see some companies getting it right and others getting it horribly wrong!

Doing it well doesn’t necessarily cost money, it’s just about putting yourself in the shoes of the potential customer, journalist or casual visitor and considering what kind of experience you would like or expect.

Smart, happy and welcoming

Contrast well presented, upstanding, smiling, engaging stand personnel with those you see letting the boredom of four days’ stand duty show through, slouched on a rented plastic chair in the corner; who would you sooner discuss your new application with?

For sure, shows can be tedious for those manning the booth but a good rota that allows staff time away from the stand, a professional pre-show briefing and occasional strong coffee with an extra shot should ensure stand duty does not become too much of an obvious chore!

Knowledge and information gathering

If you divide the cost of attending an exhibition by the number of leads gathered, then you get a crude but valuable idea of the cost of each lead. This cost can be alarming so it’s crucial to treat every stand visitor politely and gather and record all the relevant information accurately.

In-depth technical knowledge coupled with an engaging but not overly pushy demeanour will help build the relationship with the potential customer and advance the enquiry as far as possible in the initial discussion. Prompt – meaning within 24 or 48 hours – post show contact with the lead to provide data, pricing and outline next steps is vital. Remember, he or she may have also sought a solution from your competitor just after leaving your booth!

Keep it tidy

There is no excuse for a messy stand. With frequent ‘quiet times’ when footfall subsides, there is always time to clear coffee cups and half-eaten sandwiches. Literature displays should be kept tidy and stocked and demos and displays should be clean and working.

Ready for business

If you have ever arrived at a show immediately after opening, I can guarantee a quick walk around will reveal numerous stands completely deserted where staff have failed to get to the venue on time, and others manned by suited execs frantically putting the finishing touches to a display or wrestling with a poster that won’t stay on the wall. Both of these are unforgivable and give a very bad impression of the business regardless of its size or reputation in a market sector.

So in summary, when exhibiting at trade shows don’t ever think the job is done when the stand is built and the doors open on the first day. Plan all aspects of your time at the show, maximise activities with press, ensure everyone is briefed, prepared and understands the effective cost of those precious leads!

For a list of trade show dos and don’ts and a series of ideas for getting the most from your significant exhibition investment download our exhibition checklist template.