Running An Exhibition Stand A Guide By Media Plant
Running an exhibition stand can be a daunting prospect; indeed, however, all is not lost read our tips on making sure your exhibition stand stands out.
You have your product range be it physical, virtual or service driven, showcasing your company and making sure you stand out above the competition is not just about how pretty your exhibition stand looks from a design perspective.
It is essential to have a professional exhibition stand (apparently) and coupled with our tips below will ensure you get off to the right start and stand out from the competition.
Do Your Exhibition Research
Firstly do your research prior to be at the event, are your competitors exhibiting at the event? If so where are they on the exhibition floor planner?
Are your competitors attending?
It’s always wise to seek this information when planning your exhibition, the last thing you want is to be next door to your arch-rival!
Visit the event website.
What’s the footfall expected to at the event? Every exhibition website will list a range of info such as last years exhibition attendee figures and usually scheduled for this year as well.
In fairness event organisers usually send packs out with all the information in them. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the website, mainly as sites can be updated quicker than traditional print packs.
There may well be relevant new news about the event that could be of interest. Either visit the website or sign up for an email newsletter, keep one step ahead.
Accommodation For Your Exhibition
More important than you think. Dependent on your exhibition stand size this will, in turn, affect how many people will be operating it.
You need your staff to be bright eyed and bushy tailed, no one will visit your stand if all your team look tired from a long trip from a hotel outside of the area.
Ensure you book a hotel early, shop around but try to find something local within your budget, no one will want a long commute to a show.
Book Your Accommodation Early.
In fairness this may well upset some members of your team. Having to commute so far to be at an exhibition early in the morning could lead to dissent in the ranks! Book early, as you can bet everyone else will be trying to find something local a few weeks before the event to no avail, don’t be one of those!
Useful Links For Booking A Hotel For Your Exhibition
Essential Things To Take To Your Exhibition
This is vital, I personally have been to over 10 exhibitions where I have exhibited a range of products, so I am speaking from experience here. Do take the following items as they will be invaluable:
Sounds daft? Not really. Sellotape is your friend, things will need sticking or fastening. I used this for simple things such as a pop up banner stand as one of the magnets dropped off the back, a quick fix with some Sellotape round the end meant the pop up banner stand looked like it was supposed too. Take some, you just never know!
Double Sided Sticker Pads & Drawing Pins
Perhaps you have posters or a space on your stand; sticker pads are useful for putting up literature such as posters etc., dependent on the surface that is! If they don’t stick then drawing pins may well be a better option.
Again you may find that you will need to make a few adjustments to your stand etc. a pair of scissors to nip edges or to help tidy up will come in handy.
Keep your cabling tidy nobody likes wires everywhere; if you’re using a desktop PC, or laptop try and hide the wiring it just looks more professional. Also be aware that depending on where your power source comes from you may well need rubber matting to cover cables on the floor, again not only does it look professional it will ensure you, and more importantly your potential visitors do not trip over.
A Decent Camera
Taking pictures of your time on the stand and indeed the finished article etc is great content for your blog and social media. Take a decent camera or if you have a mobile phone with a decent camera, use it. A lot.
Give your stand the once over at the beginning of the show and of course at the end. A clean and shiny stand will mean you give a professional look. Just make sure you store them away properly nobody want’s to see a can of polish on display!
Take Your Refreshments
Remember when you’re at an exhibition refreshments etc. can be expensive. Stock up on drinks etc. before the event not only will it keep your costs down, it will keep your staff hydrated and full of energy and most of all happy.
The above have been lifesavers in more ways than one. Simple things they maybe, however, I cannot count the number of times the above have helped in some way. Things will go wrong at an exhibition, they invariably do. Be prepared.
Setting Up Your Exhibition Stand
Depending on the size of your exhibition stand space and who you have decided to run with in terms of exhibition stand providers this can mean a variety of factors.
If you’re using an exhibition stand designer/contractor, chances are they will offer building services pre-show building and post-show dismantling; some will even go as far as to stock your stand with refreshments!
If however, you have decided to elect for a relatively simple space and to set up yourself via Pop Up Banner stands, banners stand etc. then arriving early will be vital to setting up.
Do not leave it till the last minute; most event organisers will open their doors early for setting up your exhibition space, ensure you are there on time if not beforehand.
Remember some exhibition stand equipment can and will be relatively heavy so ensuring you arrive early will be the difference in the length of distance to your exhibition stand space.
How Do You Look? Exhibition Stand Uniform Or Informal?
Uniform or not? The decision is yours. This is down to you. Your brand is important; however you need to be approachable. Wearing a business suit to an exhibition may well look professional however it can come across as too sales person like or too ‘stuffy’.
Remember attendees are looking to connect and know more about your services, of all the exhibitions I have been to the consensus for attire has been a corporate shirt and jeans or trousers or skirt etc.
You need to promote professionalism; however, you also need to remain approachable. From a staff perspective making staff wear a suit all day will no doubt breed contempt, as you will find out some exhibitions can be well, really quite warm.
You need your staff to feel relaxed, if they feel comfortable so will your potential customers.
A corporate shirt can ensure your brand is identifiable and present not only on your exhibition stand but through walking around the event itself. An eye-catching design can be the difference being noticed and getting ignored.
Marketing before The Exhibition – Create Some Buzz
You want your exhibition stand to be buzzing. Some pre-exhibition marketing can do wonders for you.
Are you on Facebook do you have a company Facebook page, a Twitter account a Linkedin account? As a business you really should be. So I will assume you do. Start to make some headway and promote your exhibition stand number and the event itself.
Remember most event organisers will have a Facebook page, Twitter account and so on. Try and get involved with those. Follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook.
Send a tweet to the event organisers twitter account it will more than likely get retweeted, event organisers are after all promoting the event and will be keen to push exhibitors.
“@(event name) stating something like ‘really looking forward to (event name) this year show should be fantastic. We are on ‘stand number’ stop by & visit! (insert your website here)”
Remember: It’s not just exhibitors who will be monitoring an events social media presence; attendees will be following them as well.
- Take a look at your exhibition organisers followers, sift out the competition and use it (potentially) as a prospect list. They are following for either one of two reasons, they are exhibiting themselves, or they are attending to find a product/service.
- Careful following and being selective can help increase your brand awareness and make them potentially be aware of you before the event.
- Post regular updates. Without being overbearing about the event. Don’t send a barrage of tweets! It will make you look like a spammer.
- Check the organiser’s twitter page they will have # hashtags associated with the event itself. Try and drop one of these every now and again with details of your stand number etc. A great way to get noticed by potential visitors.
It costs nothing to you as a company but time. It’s the little things that get attendees attention, build your social media network and gear it towards the event.
Pre-Exhibition Marketing – Promotion On Your Company Facebook Page
Announce what stand number you will be at, let your Facebook fans join in and stimulate debate. A simple posts such as:
Exhibiting at this years ‘exhibition show’ look out for us on stand number XYZ. What are you looking forward to most about the ‘exhibition show’ this year?
- Engage with your fans and try and get their attention, again this is no cost to you as a company and a great way to get your fans onside and geared up to the event!
- Remember to keep up with engaging your users about the event itself and post regular updates (within reason) don’t swamp them with pointless updates.
- Add value with every post and ask questions.
Exhibiting at the ‘exhibition show’ this year on stand number XYZ, can anyone recommend a decent hotel?
Simple posts to bring up some interactivity will help ensure your brand gets remembered. Facebook fans that are interactive with your brand and answer questions or chip in with tips are gold dust, connect with them.
Pre-Exhibition Marketing Leverage Your Company Website
I am assuming (again) you have a website! If you have an in-house web content manager or you use a web design company make sure you have a page for the event your attending.
If you run a blog on your corporate site, then create a post 3-4 months before the event to give Google time to index your page.
Add content and updates, if you’re using a blog such as WordPress create a category entitled news or exhibitions and post updates with value for potential visitors.
“Quick Tip – Titles For Your Blog Post.”
(name of exhibition – Year of exhibition – Company Name) or (We Are Exhibiting at ‘name of exhibition’ – ‘year of exhibition’) or (Company Name – Name of Exhibition – Year Of exhibition)
Variations are fine but remember key things here: You will need to push the event name, the year of the event your brand. Again if you’re not able to or are unsure speak to your web company.
- Why the year? Well attendees don’t always put ‘name of show’ in Google, they often put in ‘ name of show 2012’ etc. This way just means your covering yourself for eventualities.
Important: If you have the ability to (if not then ask your web development company) add an email sign up form on this page, invite users to connect and subscribe to it.
Make it sound enticing with ‘sign up for our ‘name of show’ newsletter, announcements, competitions, giveaways, freebies etc.
Give people a reason to subscribe to the newsletter, tweet about it promote it on Linkedin, Facebook or whichever is your platform of choice.
Pre-Exhibition Marketing: The Power Of Competitions.
This can be an excellent way to generate some buzz prior to the event. Factor in this from a cost perspective. Promote a competition and build some interactivity into your time at the show. Tweet your followers and include a link to a page on your company website promoting the giveaway. This can go one of two ways.
|Non-related prizes such as iPad’s etc. In fairness, a lot of exhibitors will run these types of competition, but not pre-event most of this is at the show.||OR||Brand-driven if you have something tangible whether it’s a service or a physical product run a giveaway for the first 50 visitors on your stand number XYZ will win a year’s worth of consultation, or win money off etc.|
*I would recommend a service or product driven competition, win an iPad competition etc. is not brand-centric, and in fairness, you will get entries from people who do not care about your company.
You may well be surprised at the response in fairness; some may well tweet or comment on Facebook that they can’t make it. In turn, can lead to new opportunities for dialogue with potential customers and your chance to capitalise on their lack of attendance and give them another offer.
Exhibition Stand Marketing Products
Your at the exhibition for a number of reasons to increase sales through lead generation, making connections and forging relationships. Marketing materials are essential. Selecting the right products for your stand is of paramount importance.
There are quite literally hundreds of different types of promotional products you can utilise for your exhibition stand, we have selected some of the more popular products used at exhibitions for giveaways and promotions:
The above products are a snap shot of what we offer if you’re looking for exhibition stand carrier bags and other related giveaways suitable for an exhibition then.
Your Staff Taking The Right People To The Exhibition
Now this can be a tricky one. Your staff is everything without them your company most certainly would not exist. So how do you choose the right people for the job?
Just because John is a fantastic sales person on the phone, it doesn’t mean that he will be any good at the event. Mary may well be a good source of fun in the office and works hard but is not so good at talking over the phone. However, she is an excellent face to face.
It’s a dilemma; picking the right people for your exhibition stand is of paramount importance. You need to select staff that are knowledgeable about your service(s)/product(s) and be approachable.
The best way and this may seem daft is to take them all out for a drink or monitor them at a corporate event. Choose those that engage well with others, be wary of anyone who sits there all night in their shell (these are the ones to avoid taking). You know your staff better than anyone get to know them better and create a checklist of strengths and weakness and make the right choice.
Quick Tip: If your products are technical of nature take a tech support person as a source of information. Your exhibition team may well need to dip into this resource if asked questions they may well not know the answers.
*Remember: You need knowledgeable & approachable staff.
Real-Time Marketing At The Exhibition
With the dawn of the digital age and indeed mobile media devices such as iPhones, etc. attendees will almost certainly be plugged into the show itself. Via the usual services such as Twitter, Facebook etc.
It’s a real opportunity for you to push your brand and indeed your exhibition stand. Allocate a member of your staff or do this yourself make sure you choose someone who is savvy with social media.
Real-time tweeting and posts to Facebook make your stand look busy. It’s a great way to post positive messages about the show and your brand itself.
Remember when tweeting incorporates the # hashtag of the event or the @ name of the show itself, they will retweet to their followers that is a given.
Some attendees may well have alerts on their mobile devices when they get a tweet so make the most of tweeting about the show, be positive and have fun. Another great way to engage Twitter followers and Facebook fans are to post pictures of your stand being busy and post them as updates with positive messages.
Quick Twitter Tip:
Again factor this in as a cost element. Another great way to get visitors to your stand is to send a tweet such as:
‘@eventname #eventname we are giving away free cakes on stand number XYZ, the only cost is a conversation stop by, say hi’
‘@eventname #eventname we have free coffee on stand number XYZ, I probably shouldn’t say that my boss will kill me!
If you read earlier about essential things to take with you for your exhibition stand, you will have noted a camera. Take plenty of pictures of your exhibition stand looking busy and again post them on Twitter on Facebook etc.
You get a general idea, have some fun with the social media side of things be exciting and add value. Hey if you get three people turning up for a coffee or a cake then great, engage them! Real-time marketing at an exhibition can be an excellent way to attract potential customers and of course promote your brand, be active, be engaging, be social.
Post Exhibition Following Up Leads Generated
Your team have done a sterling effort. Keep this one back. Save the best till last. Make no reference to this at the exhibition itself. None whatsoever.
Upon arrival at your desk in the morning after/day after the event. Run an internal office competition, again factor this into your overall cost. Run an internal giveaway for the most leads converted, you will be invariably surprised at the success of this.
The reason I would recommend you doing this is twofold:
|They will be excited about the leads generated (if you have followed this guide that is!). However they will be exhausted.||&||As a way to snap them out of this post-event feeling of tiredness and ensure your leads generated are given the care and attention they deserve.|
It’s essential, imperative even. Don’t hand leads out to office members that did not attend.
Your staff have generated leads by striking up a rapport with the potential customer, let THEM be the ones to chase them. Why?
They have the synergy and the experience of the show to engage them again. Your team has worked hard on securing details for follow up and should be rewarded with a new account; after all, they did all the hard work. Plus if you have read this guide correctly, they will be remembered, for the right reasons.
I have seen this happen first hand, leads being passed over to a sales force for follow up. The actual ROI this way is negligible at best.
Also when calling the fresh leads, it’s always nice to refer to the event and share experiences to smooth the process and reintroduce your company. Remember they will not have just been talking to you at the event so be memorable on the first meeting at the show, and refer back this meeting and refresh their memories.
Remember: They gave you their contact details as they were interested in your staff and your product/service.
Call A Meeting Before The Exhibition & At The End Of The Day
Calling a meeting before your exhibition commences is an excellent time to set out your day’s agenda. Sort out who will be responsible for meeting and greeting, the technical specialist and set a target for leads generated, try and make it fun.
Quick Tip: Try and make lead generation fun, run a mini competition at the event for whoever gets the most leads etc., wins a meal at the hotel and some drinks, use your imagination!
Calling a meeting at the end of the exhibition day is a great way to assess what happened, what went wrong and what went right. Try and adapt your exhibition stand strategy and focus on the positives. Staff input here can be invaluable as fostering and nurturing ideas for your stand can make the difference to being successful and failing.
Dealing With Giveaway Junkies
You will experience this first hand. Things to look out for. Watch for anyone carry a multitude of bags, they are technically known as giveaway junkies, these types of individuals are not really interested in your company they just want to know what you have to giveaway. They are not potential customers and are a waste of your time.
“You will realise this as some will just take from your stand without engaging you in any way.”
When engaging them you will be able to assess them within an instant, half the time they got a ticket from a friend or a friend of a friend and are only attending as there was nothing on at the local cinema. However, you can turn this on its head and make them brand advertisements.
This is a pretty good trick and I have used it on more than one occasion. It works this as follows:
They approach you with a range of bags, now if you have been reading the guide we have already talked about giveaway bags. The trick is this, greet them as usual (assess them) and offer them a giveaway bag.
What? But I’m giving something away for free! Their freebie hounds! I will not rise to it!
Relax, this is where you have separated your goody bags. Save the best goodies for the REAL potential customers then have a separate section for handing out to giveaway junkies. Do not ask them If they need a bag, in turn take some of the bags off of them and stuff them into your well designed and brand covered bag. Then simply let them walk off showing your bag to all passers-by!
If you have chosen an impressive design with details of a giveaway on your stand or features of your website make sure the message is clear and when handing the bag back to them ensure your brand is facing out.
That way you’re not fobbing them off, you’re giving them something of value, they are happy, and you have a walking advertisement. That’ll teach them.
We hope you enjoyed our free exhibition stand guide
Of course, we can’t promise you will have thousands of visitors to your exhibition stand, if you have followed some of the advice from our exhibition guide then it will put you in good stead for a successful show.
Well, that’s the end of our Ultimate Exhibition Guide, we do hope you have found something of value or interest. If there is a tip above that you have implemented, or indeed want to add your thoughts, please do so with a comment below.
Don’t forget if you are exhibiting and need to source giveaway products or marketing materials drop us a line on 01793 498040.