How to maximise your exhibition attendance

Now the face to face exhibition season is thankfully back upon us, I thought it would be a good time to recap on how to maximise your attendance at your (generally quite expensive) exhibition stand.

 

The thing to remember is, it’s not just about the day of the exhibition, it’s all about making the most of the before, during and after the event to squeeze every ounce of PR out of your time and money.

 

Now, enough of the chat, let’s get on with the useful stuff!

exhibitions

Before the event

Once you’ve chosen your event and your stand (I always like to be beside the tea/drinks table as you get a lot of footfall) it’s time to decide what you’re going to take with you, think of:

 

Banners – do you need to redesign and print new banners depending on the industry of the expo you’re going to?

 

What are you going to take along on the day?  I’m not a big fan of giveaways such as pens, notepads etc, your services and your personality should be enough to get people to your stand but think of taking examples of your products (if you can).

Obviously due to the Covid situation, many people may not be too keen on taking things or touching every table in sight so think of creating a selection of case studies, uploading these to your website and creating QR codes so delegates can view them this way.

 

Are you going to be showing a video?  Make sure your IT equipment is all working correctly and it fits on your stand too.

 

Who is going to attend?  I would always recommend at least two people attend on the day, remember, you’re going to want to have a lunch, drinks and toilet breaks and you don’t want to leave your stand unattended (it doesn’t look good to passing delegates!).  If two or more employees are going along, you can also take it in turns to have a wander round the exhibition yourself, it’s not always the delegates you can network with, your fellow exhibitors can be just as influential or be potential leads.

 

Who do you want to meet?  Many exhibitions have online portals which you can access prior to the event, check out the attendees and why not send them a message or connect with them on LinkedIn and see if you can get a meeting on the day if you can.

 

Business cards – in the Covid world, many people don’t want to be handing out germ ridden business cards, why not invest in a digital card which delegates can scan on their phone and simply add your details to their contacts.  They really are amazing and not only a great alternative to ‘old style’ business cards but will make you look professional and an up to date technie!

 

PR – create a press release to tell everyone the good news that you’ll be attending the event and send to the local press or industry related outlets, if you can, upload to your website too. Start to share on your social media channels that you’ll be at the event, include your stand number and any offers you might be giving away on the day and also the exhibitions hashtag (most of them will have these).  Make sure it’s not just one post either, remember to post maybe one month before the event and then regularly before the day (maybe one or two per week, highlighting your stand number too!).

Why not also add the exhibition logo (most of the organisers will give you these) to your email signature too, every email you send will be spreading the good news too – remember to remove this after the event though.

 

Email campaign – if you have an approved list of client emails, why not send them an email telling them you’re exhibiting and asking them to attend, you could also include the link to register as a delegate.

 

 

On the day

You’re excited the day is finally here, yippee!  Now don’t forget the basics:

 

Smile at everyone – I’m not saying like a maniac smile but just a nice relaxed smile at every person as they approach your table.

 

Look interested – we’ve all been there, you’re walking round an exhibition and there’s a person behind their stand looking totally uninterested, looking at their phone – you just walk past don’t you, nothing looks worse!  Remember to smile at all delegates, say ‘morning’ or ‘afternoon’ when they pass and I mean EVERY person.

 

Smile – I really can’t say this enough!

 

Don’t stand behind the table – with Covid this may be a bit trickier, however if you can, don’t stand behind your table.  If you do this, your table is acting as a barrier to any potential clients, stand either at the side or near the front of your table so you can easily connect and speak to delegates as they pass by, you can then show them the items on your table and start a conversation.

 

Don’t eat at your table – this may sound as though I’m stating the bleeding obvious but seriously, I’ve been to so many exhibitions where I’ve seen people do this, somebody sitting there ramming a sandwich in their mouth trying not to drop lettuce on their feet, yup, it’s a total turn off.

 

Triage your contacts – you speak to so many people at an exhibition you can be forgiven at the end of the day to forget which one was a warm lead, what did they ask you, what do they do, did they want to set up a meeting!  If you’re receiving business cards from interested delegates (this may be a bit different due to Covid), write on the back of the card the number 1, 2 or 3.  1 – a hot lead, 2 – warmish lead, 3 – cold but contact after the event anyway just in case.  This way it should quickly remind you what the person was after.  If people aren’t giving out business cards, simply go back to basics and get a notepad and pen and write down their name, company, email and also their triage number.  (Obviously if you have time to write down a longer description, that’s great but realistically, exhibitions can be busy and fast paced and the last thing you want really is loads of time on your hands, it means you’re not utilising the delegates enough!).

 

PR – take images throughout the day and share on social media using the exhibitions hashtag, it’s amazing how much interaction you will get!

 

Smile – did I mention this before?  Seriously, it’s so important though!

 

 

After the event

Collate all your contacts – with your triage system it should be easy to get together your most important leads and contact these as soon as possible after the event, don’t leave it until two weeks later, you’ve seriously hacked them off and missed the boat by then.

 

Contact your leads – make sure you’ve contacted the leads you’ve collected but in the right way.  Use your common sense with regards to hot, warm and cold leads, obviously the hot leads should be contacted as soon as possible after the event and in relation to what you have discussed, the same with warm leads but do these after the hot, with regards to your cold leads, a simple email would do telling them it was nice meeting them, your details etc for future reference.

Connect with your leads on social media too, follow their companies on Twitter, LinkedIn and connect directly with the contact too.

 

PR – As with before the event, write a press release telling everyone how well your day went etc etc and distribute to local press.

 

Email campaign – again, send an email campaign to your contact list telling them how the day went.

 

Social Media – share images of the day and tell everyone how it went using the exhibitions hashtag every time.

 

 

The above tips should make sure you squeeze every ounce of PR out of your exhibition attendance but if you need any further advice feel free to contact me (I also attend exhibitions for my clients if they need an extra body by the way – yes, shameless plug), all joking aside, I don’t charge anything for a chat or to pick my brains, I’ll be happy to help.