Exhibiting is an extremely effective way of generating new business, although the initial cost outlay can be offputting to some companies. Therefore, it’s important to make the most of your time at an exhibition in order to reap the benefits.
In my previous post, I discussed the mistakes that businesses often make when exhibiting. So how can you ensure that you maximise your return on investment when attending a show?
1. Broadcast your attendance on social media:
There’s no point in exhibiting at a show if nobody knows you’re going to be there! By utilising social media, you can publicise your attendance quickly and easily to both existing customers and prospects alike. Make sure to use the correct hashtags, so that your post will appear in searches directly related to the event at which you’re exhibiting.
2. Plan in advance:
Planning an exhibition is not simple. It’s also surprising how quickly the time flies in between booking your stand and the show itself. To avoid the last-minute rush, make sure to start planning from the second you commit and have a clear idea of what needs to be done before signing on the dotted line. As well as securing a place at the show of your choice, it is important to consider factors such as travel and expenses, preshow marketing campaigns and your sales and marketing strategy during the event.
3. Exhibitor portal:
When you register to exhibit at a show, you are often provided with access to an online portal. It’s extremely important that you interact with this portal, as it serves as a hub through which you can access all of the applicable information. There is roughly half a day’s work involved in checking off all of the tasks asked of you by the portal – for example, you may be required to upload a company logo and description for the show guide, log your marketing, or complete safety forms. Many people procrastinate and end up missing deadlines for these important jobs, so it’s well worth devoting the time to it early on and getting ahead of the game. These portals often hold a wealth of information and tips for exhibitors too, which may inspire you at other stages of the planning process.
4. Be approachable and proactive:
If you want prospects to approach you at a show, then it’s important to be approachable. Plenty of companies make the mistake of assuming that their attendance at an event alone is enough to draw people to their stands; many will sit at the very back with their arms crossed, waiting for visitors to come to them. However, if you want to get the most out of the exhibition, then you need to do something different. Stand up, smile at passers-by and engage with them proactively.
5. Hold a prize draw:
Remember – the value of an exhibition is not only measured in terms of short-term sales. The data you glean can also be just as valuable, resulting in new business further down the line. A great way to collect this data is to hold a prize draw, in which prospects drop their business cards into a bowl for a chance to win. What you decide to offer as a prize is totally up to you. At our last Subcon show, we offered visitors the chance to win a year’s free membership, but there are countless other options – for example, a weekend away or a bottle of Champagne. Get creative!
6. Use scanner pens:
Equip yourself with a scanner pen if you want to harvest exhibition data with ease. By ensuring that you scan the badges of every visitor to your stand, you gain a whole new database of prospects that will be worth its weight in gold when it comes to post-show marketing.
7. Hand out flyers:
The beauty of exhibiting is that it allows you to reach a vast expanse of prospects at once. Whilst you should be talking to as many people as possible, you will not be able to converse with everyone – some people may be in a rush to attend a seminar, whilst others may be closed by nature and unwilling to give you any time. However, by handing out flyers, you are maximising your engagement and reaching as many visitors as possible – plus, who knows how many prospects will contact you after the show wanting to find out more?
8. Network with other exhibitors:
Your next big customer could always be the company on the stand next to you – especially in the world of subcontract engineering, where overload work is commonplace. Alternatively, the power of word-of-mouth should never be underestimated and getting familiar with your neighbours could prove to be beneficial to all parties.
9. Make sure your stand is always occupied:
An unoccupied stand is tantamount to missed opportunities. Make sure that you have enough staff in attendance so that coffee breaks and lunches can be covered, at no detriment to your business. There have been plenty of occasions where I have tried to introduce buyers to suppliers, only to find that their stands are empty. Although the buyers have often promised to return in five minutes, this has rarely ever happened.
10. Make sure to follow up with all of your prospects:
This is the most important point of all. If you do not follow up with your opportunities, then plenty will fall through the cracks. If this occurs then your return on investment will drop dramatically and this could render the whole exhibition fruitless. A very small amount of business is actually secured at the show itself; it will be in the weeks and months that follow in which most of your prospects become clients. Therefore, it’s crucial that you contact everybody that you spoke to at the exhibition – whether this is to discuss next steps, or just to qualify the opportunity and establish potential timelines. If you’ve been using a scanner pen then you should also have a shiny new database to use for your email marketing as well!
If you would like to discuss your exhibition strategy, then I’m more than happy to help. Give me a call on 01256 394 500, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.