Having a stand at an exhibition can be a great, cost-effective way of marketing your offering. Richard Edwards gives some tips on how to do it right.
If you have ever exhibited on behalf of your company you will know that exhibitions have the potential to offer a good return on investment, but only if you know how to grab the interest of the passing footfall.
Making the most of your exhibition investment involves focusing on two key things; attracting visitors to your stand and interacting with them once they are there. If you get it right you can expect new connections, increased conversions and plenty of new business leads.
However, every stand at the exhibition will be trying to do the same. So, how can you be sure to stand out?
Attracting visitors to your stand
Successful engagement has to start with getting visitors to your stand. With so many stands fighting over each visitor, the competition is tough.
Here are four tried-and-tested attention-grabbers:
1) Entertainment. It could be a Scalextric track, a juggler or even Frank Bruno. Entertaining your visitors is a sure-fire way of gaining initial attention.
2) Spectacular stand design. It is an obvious, yet frequently overlooked, way to attract attention to your stand; use the stand design itself to catch the visitors’ eye. A stand with spectacular design features can be more attractive than any gimmick on your stand.
3) Technology. Whether it is a game, simulators, or office technology, this approach can do a wonderful job of attracting people to your stand. One of the most popular piece of tech we ever saw was an F1 simulator, which had visitors queuing across rows of stands. Everyone passing by wanted to see what the fuss was about, so it gained the stand even more attention!
4) Seminars. Most exhibition attendees are there to learn, so offer a seminar or workshop on an intriguing and well-researched topic that will excite your target audience and demonstrate that you have solutions to some of your industry’s challenges. If you can also show thought-leadership – so much the better.
Engaging visitors at your stand
Once you have attracted visitors to your stand, you then need to engage them. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this, instead it’s best to combine a few techniques.
Here are five ideas that we have used successfully on exhibition stands;
1) Coffee. It may sound obvious, but it does work, for a couple of reasons:
a) It can be quite hard to come by good (and inexpensive) tea or coffee at events, so you’re offering something many people are looking for
b) A nice hot drink gives you time to engage the visitor in conversation while they wait for it to cool.
2) Engaging staff. Well-trained, highly engaging staff can make all the difference. We’ve all visited stands where the staff seem friendly and knowledgeable yet lack that extra edge which makes you want to stop and chat further about the brand.
3) Videos. With staff only available to engage with a limited number of visitors, video can be a great way of capturing and maintaining attention as well as giving an overview of your product or service. Be sure to include a call-to-action such as ‘take one of our leaflets’ or ‘scan this QR-code to send us an email’ to increase follow-up contacts.
4) Live Tweets. Add an extra connection with visitors by displaying a live Twitter feed. Visitors can follow you on Twitter, use your #hashtag and ask questions to your offsite sales team, helping to engage and inform your visitors even when all your on-site staff are busy.
5) Get your iPad out. People are far more likely to leave their contact details, complete a survey or view a demonstration on an iPad or tablet than a long paper form. Also, with clever software like qbit, contact details can be collated instantly off-site via Wi-Fi or 3G, allowing your sales team to get a head start on your lead nurturing process
However you decide to attract and engage visitors to your stand, it is always important to follow up your new leads within a few days of the exhibition. Research shows that making contact within three days delivers the best results. If possible, make the contact personal – this is so much more memorable and will do wonders for the perception of you and your brand.
Exhibitions are a big investment, but done right they can deliver huge rewards. So be sure to think carefully about how you are going to attract visitors, engage them and follow-up with them afterwards. By considering these areas at the planning stage you can expect to considerably increase your return on investment.