You and your business team have made an executive decision that trade shows are the route you want to go down in order to launch a new initiative, promote a new product or simply raise brand awareness for your business. So what next? How do you go about putting together your first trade show, smash your targets and set yourselves on the road to becoming exhibition veterans?
One of the fastest ways to learn is to integrate yourself into the exhibition world as quickly as possible. If your first exhibition date is still months away, source some local exhibitions and trade shows that are coming up soon, take a notebook or your tablet computer, and get researching.
Tim Fuller, Managing Director of Discount Displays, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of display stands for trade shows, says, “Getting in amongst those who are already experts at exhibiting is one of the best ways to learn. There are a lot of techniques and ideas on display at exhibitions, from a mass of businesses which all have different targets to achieve. In the run up to your own event, try to attend a few exhibitions in your own area and see how things are done; it could give you some great ideas about the designs and the sales techniques you want to employ in your own show.”
One of the first things to look at is the design of many of the stands. Trends in exhibition show displays come and go, so it is important to see what is the flavour of the month with regards to banner stands, pop-up stands, integrated media stands, and so on. Make notes of the exhibition displays you particularly liked, then compare them and see what was similar about them. Also make a note of the ones that didn’t initially catch your eye, and the ones which made you switch off altogether; they will provide a fine blueprint for ‘what not to do’.
Next, examine how the staff interact with the visitors. Have a chat to a few of them, posing as an interested party. See what kind of language they employ and what sort of questions they ask their visitors to keep them talking. Staff training is very important when it comes to exhibiting at a trade show; they will be faced with people who really do know their stuff, so they need to be equipped with the knowledge to answer whatever questions are thrown at them, as well as catering for those with a more basic knowledge of a product or service.
Finally, look at the supplementary materials that each exhibitioner is using. Some will be utilising flyers and leaflets, while some will be passing out business cards and the like. Gift bags and giveaways are very popular at many exhibitions, as they give attendees a reason to think back on the brands they encountered. Think about the type of gifts you might give away, in accordance with brand message and with available budgets.
You should come away from one of these events with a stack of useful notes and bullet points that will help you in the planning of your own display. Learn from the best, and you will become the best yourself.