How To Avoid Wasting Thousands Of Pounds At Exhibitions

(Whilst Still Attending Them And Maximising Your Return On Investment)

I’ve been in business for longer than I’d care to admit.

And in that time, I’ve been involved in A LOT of exhibitions, for my own business and for my clients. 

Whatever anyone says, and however popular online marketing has become, exhibitions still have their place – there’s nothing quite like talking face-to-face with your prospects, and there most likely never will be.

But having said all that, there is a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to do exhibitions.

Each year, when I go to Excel or Olympia, I see hundreds of businesses throwing thousands of pounds out of the window because they just aren’t maximising their investment.

With that in mind, I thought I’d just put a quick article together that ‘peels back the curtain’, and gives you six of the most important things to consider when it comes to exhibiting at trade shows and exhibitions:

Have A Clear Goal

I’ll start with the most important: have a clear goal of what you want to achieve.

Are you there to generate leads, or are you there to make sales?

Most businesses either just try and make sales, or they’ll kind of do a ‘halfway house’ of both, and generally speaking, the results are pretty mediocre.

For most businesses – particularly those in the B2B space – lead generation is the name of the game, which is why it’s vital to leave the show having added a considerable amount of data to your list, which you can follow up on post show.

Work out a compelling ‘lead bait’ that compels your prospects to hand over their information, and make sure your team is focused on getting as many names as possible.

But remember, data’s just data unless it’s the right data, which is why it’s worth spending some time thinking about who your ideal customer is and then choosing a lead bait that is highly likely to appeal to them.

Make Your Stand Inviting And Eyecatching

 An expo is a pretty unique opportunity to have real-life, face-to-face conversations with people who can buy your product, so it’s vital that you have as many conversations as possible.

But you can’t have those conversations if no one visits your stand, which is why your stand has to be the honey that attracts the bees (your prospects).

What does your stand look like?  Does it stand out?  Does it have a clear headline, and display benefits?

Most businesses don’t give this any thought, and they just use their logo as a headline, which – in my view – is downright criminal.

Remember – no one cares about your logo.  They care about what you can do for them, which is why you’ve got to communicate a powerful benefit as early on in the attraction process as possible.

Network, Network, Network.  And Then Network Some More.

One of the things I wish I’d realised sooner is that there is often as much value in walking around the show and talking to other exhibitors as there is in talking to prospects at your stand.

In other words, you need to do both.

The more relationships you can build with businesses that also target your audience, the more potential there is for joint ventures, reciprocal marketing opportunities and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Remember: you’re there to build the list, but if you can make friends with people who’ve already got the list, then that’s a very smart use of time.

Plan Your Follow Up In Advance

What’s going to happen to all the leads you get at the show?  Are they going to sit, gathering dust in your office?  Or can you put them into a pre-prepared follow up sequence, or allocate time to give them a call?

The only way you’ll know if the show has been a success is by measuring your return on investment, and you can’t do that unless you’re organised.

One word of caution here though: leads don’t always convert straight away, so just because they haven’t bought in 90 days, it doesn’t mean that the show’s been a waste of time.

That’s why it’s crucial to have an organised CRM or database, that helps you track where new business has come from, even if the initial contact was at that trade show 12 months ago.

Get Something In Their Hands

Shows are all about attention, and it’s pretty much the scarcest resource.

Even if you tick all the right boxes with your lead bait and stand design, the truth is that you won’t get a monopoly on your prospects’ time.

That’s why you need to make sure you give them something physical to take away – a brochure, a leaflet, a promotional giveaway or something else printed – that they can reference when they’re back in the office.

It’s All About Activity At Exhibitions

The more you do at a show, the better return you’re likely to get.

Are you sitting shyly at your stand, hoping for the best?  Or are you out in the main walkway, handing out flyers and asking people to come in and enter your competition?

Define the amount of leads you want to generate before the show starts, and then work towards that target, doing the activity necessary to help you get to that figure.

Business owners that don’t have good shows are often the ones who just don’t do anything, and then moan that no one came and bought off them.

Right, that’s it – if you’d like any more help with getting your exhibitions right, don’t hesitate to get in touch by by dropping us a message, and if you’d like us to help you get your print sorted ahead of the event, then we’d be delighted – call us on 01603 397704 and get the ball rolling.

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