11 Mar 2019 | by Lucy Saxton

Want to kill it with your exhibition game and come home with masses of new business and pockets full of business cards? Read on to find out how to ace it at your next exhibition…

Sharing is caring

According to Shane Hannam, Portfolio Director at IBTM events (the huge trade show which takes place every November in Barcelona for the meetings and events industry), it’s a great idea to share a stand when exhibiting. This can be a cost-effective option that maximises limited budgets. Hannam reckons that sharing is indeed caring and this is a popular way for smaller suppliers or businesses to band together and present a unified offering under one banner. When you share a stand, you’re already sharing resources with the other exhibitors, so why not take this a step further and create joint initiatives to promote the stand? By working together on leaflet production, advertising, giveaways and other promotions you share the cost and benefit from the power of having multiple compelling points of interest.

READ ALL ABOUT IT! - PR and media bulletins

Media resources are available to all exhibitors at trade shows and exhibitions and these are designed to help you attract visitors to your stand. Issue a press release if there’s  a ‘Show Daily’ at the exhibition. Find a good and unique hook or sell and then submit a story to the show’s daily newsletter or send the press guys a blog piece – these are all seen by the thousands of buyers that attend the show and you have every chance of being included. Sell yourself.

Show sponsorship

Always consider show sponsorship. According to Hannam, there are many sponsorship opportunities around trade shows which are all designed to help you attract buyers to your stand. Sponsorship packages include pre show, onsite and post show branding, lead generation and thought leadership opportunities – it’s an effective platform to raise your profile as an individual exhibitor, or club together with your stand partners to deliver a unified message to your target market.

Be strategic

Strategy is where it all begins. Treat your exhibition stand like you would any other piece of brand communication. Be clear on what you want to achieve and ensure the different elements of your stand - the design, the features and attractions, the promotion and the personnel - are all on brand and positioned to do their bit in communicating your message. If you’re running a marketing campaign, integrating your stand into that campaign can be effective.

Make your stand outstanding

The same goes with stand design. Your brand should be your guide when creating your stand’s look. What’s your brand image and does it create the right impression? Get your thinking cap on and think about how you’ll use your space; visitors are more likely to enter your stand if there is a clear exit, ever been to Vegas and struggled to find a way out of anywhere… frustrating right? Take note, no one wants to feel trapped, so make it relaxed and inviting and include space for discussions and break out meetings if possible.

It’s good to talk…

How do you grab the attention of visitors? What’s the secret? Good news is it’s simple… all you have to do is look like you want to talk, which should be the aim of your stand personnel (*cue happy smiling faces) In a nutshell, this means no standing around looking bored- even if it is only 20 minutes to lunch time and the sound of your stomach groaning is deafening. Create a visitor engagement plan for stand personnel to follow, so they know your stand rules. Hannam reckons this should cover how to greet visitors, how to make the stand look lively when there are no visitors, how to convey your key messages, the information you want them to extract from the people they speak to and how to do it. Basically, make sure your personnel live and breathe your brand.

Features and attractions

You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression so careful consideration should be given to your stand features and attractions. Hannam’s advice is that only you will know what will work for your company’s products and services, but there are some sensible questions any exhibitor should ask before committing to features and attractions: does it relate to your target audience? Is it a good fit with your brand? Does it help convey the core message? This is the perspective from which visitors will gain most value from your stand entertainment, giveaways, presentations and competitions.

Network til you drop

We chatted to past attendees of The Mobile World Congress- the annual event for an ever-growing and rapidly changing mobile industry which takes place every year in Barcelona (* clearly THE place to be) With over 107,000 attendees, from 205 countries in attendance at the Congress, the takeaway advice is that finding the right audience that you want to engage with can be like finding a polar bear in a snow storm. Chance meetings can happen but do you really want to count on chance? Crossing your fingers that the right people drop by your stand is a waste of time. According to the experts at MWC, you need to make sure you carefully define, profile, and prioritise your most important target audience and design a quick qualifications screener to qualify the potential lead and avoid wasting valuable event time on the wrong audience.

Up your hashtag game

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere for the last 5 years, you’ll understand the power of the hashtag and it’s not just the Kardashians using them to hone in on mega hits. Creating a hashtag for your stand is a brilliant way to promote and market your product and message and get people to your stand on other days of the show. If you can, make your hashtag catchy or humorous so people remember it amongst competitors and make sure to include it on all marketing material including banners, hand-outs and your stand as a whole. In other words, hashtag the hell out of it.

 Like our tips? Check out how we worked with a national retailer to achieve exhibition success.

Lucy Saxton

By Lucy Saxton

Lucy Saxton is a journalist, content creator, social media advisor and broadcaster. Studying Criminology at Leicester Uni and completing an MA In print Journalism at The University of Sheffield, she began her career as Features Editor of the popular teen girls magazine, MIZZ Mag. More recently, Lucy has worked for Cosmopolitan Magazine and Seventeen Magazine. Lucy was previously a Journalist at M&IT Magazine which saw her travelling around the world and launching several social media channels for CAT MEDIA. Lucy is a regular travel correspondent on BBC radio.More articles by Lucy Saxton