Most exhibitors think they are only a very little piece of a really big puzzle, and look at their exhibit based on a bird’s eye view in the larger space. Really, you should think of your exhibit as an anchor point to a whole experience. So, what are the first steps to take for a great exhibiting experience? Here are a few tips:
- Develop your strategy
What is your goal for both your attendee experience and your business results?
- Refine messaging
Is it targeted? Is it engaging?
- Establish touchpoints
A smaller exhibit requires three times more touchpoints to achieve the same result as a larger, more well-known player. Think pre-show outreach, in-city connections, at-show engagement and post-show follow-up. Or risk the opposite: you will be sitting idly by waiting for people to randomly stop by.
- What are the team and training needs
Do you have the right people and are they trained appropriately? Are they committed to being at the show and in the booth? Can they adapt to meeting new people regularly or are they going to be distracted by phone calls and emails? We don’t take calls and emails in meetings; same at the show. If they can’t put the device down, don’t allow them to show up.
- How do you measure success
What kind of reporting is necessary? Do you have the right tracking in place to ensure accurate measurement? I am a big believer in measuring business outcomes – anticipated business, brand impact, customer loyalty and quality of experience.
What’s the Objective?
Is it to deliver a memorable and meaningful experience? Break down the objectives between your audience and your business, because they are clearly different for each.
- Learn what’s new
- Meet new partners
- Expand relationships
Top Exhibitor Objectives
- Reach targeted audiences
- Obtain new leads
- Strengthen brand perceptions
Planning is Everything
The tradeshow is your 24-hour “pop-up” store. Think about all those key questions
- How will they find you?
- How will you greet them?
- What questions will you use to get them to express their interests/needs?
- How will you make them FEEL? (not what will you tell them – so passé)
- What will they remember about you?
- What will you learn about them that DRIVES BUSINESS OUTCOMES?
Pre-show engagement is imperative. How do you get your attendees interested before they even arrive at the event? What tools do you need to set up for success? How about:
- Organizer tools – listings? Passes? Social posts? Speaker/Panelist suggestions?
- Free engagement – blog posts? Videos? Promotion?
- Paid engagement – direct mail or email? Advertisements? Sponsorships?
Truly, the most important factor is your team. Their training, comfort level, engagement and approach will make or break your event. Make sure you take the time to invest in the team, so your investment in the event is worth it.
Walk Softly but Carry a Big Stick
You can create big impact from a small presence. Keep these things in mind:
- Your backwall matters – Attendees will take 2.5 seconds to look at your backwall and decide to step in. Make it simple, convey something unique – don’t overload with lots of pictures of text.
- Make sure staff engage at the aisle. No tables and chairs at the aisle. Not a lot of clutter (these days you don’t need printed materials!). Engage in conversation. Memorize the 2-3 criteria of a qualified lead. Help your targeted attendee understand:
- What’s new
- How it helps them be successful
- How you are uniquely positioned to help them
- What are next steps
- Once the attendee has left, then write down the information – don’t let the let machine or other technology get in the way!!
According to CEIR, our industry’s leading research center, 80% of leads are not followed up!! Our best advice, WAIT 8-10 days, then drop an email or phone call – I know, delays don’t seem sensible, but given our hectic lives, people need time to decompress. Send the email, follow-up with a call and then go close that prospective opportunity!!
A small booth can have BIG results.
What else have you done? Would love to hear your success story!