Exhibitions can require a big investment but, when planned and executed correctly, they can deliver huge returns. These returns can include generating direct sales, boosting new business leads, building new contacts and strengthening relationships with existing customers, conducting first-hand market research, reaffirming your company’s brand image as well as being an excellent platform to launch new products to market. There are not many kinds of marketing that can deliver all of these returns in one hit.
In a highly competitive and crowded exhibition environment, where all exhibitors are trying to achieve these returns, it’s vital to stand out from your competition. This is where Inhabit comes in. We’ve found that making the most of our clients’ investment and maximising their presence is about overcoming three main challenges:
We work closely with our clients to understand their objectives, get beneath the skin of their industry and truly understand their target audience, before we then apply this knowledge and understanding to a number of tactics to help our clients face these challenges head on.
1. Getting visitors to the stand
Designing and building an eye-catching stand involves creating a balance between communicating the right messages and making a visual impact to get people excited about visiting your stand. Every square meter of your stand needs to work hard to communicate your brand, but this doesn’t mean cramming every inch of your stand with copy-heavy graphics. Use of brand colours, interesting materials and innovative lighting, high level branding so visitors can spot your stand from a distance as well as strong graphics communicating a central theme can help grab people’s attention and deliver the ‘wow-factor’.
It’s not just about creating a big impact, however, as being too in your face can be off-putting for visitors. Crafting a welcoming, open and bright environment that guides visitors on a journey around the stand is crucial to delivering a great visitor experience. A hospitality area with comfortable seating and a selection of drinks on offer is always a draw for weary exhibition wanderers and provides an ideal place for informal business meetings and networking.
Stand attractors are a great tool for capturing visitors’ attention. Live social media walls are fantastic at generating buzz and encouraging visitor interaction, as well as communicating your messages beyond the walls of the exhibition hall. Competitions for high value prizes, promo staff and entertainers, interactive games and displays, free giveaways and clever use of technology all encourage interaction from your visitors and can help gather crowds. What’s more, once a crowd starts to form you’ll find that increasingly more people are drawn to your stand, as there’s obviously something worth seeing. Whatever tactics you choose, it’s always important to ensure that any activity is well thought through and relevant to your business messages or the products/services you provide.
2. Engaging with visitors
Once you’ve attracted visitors to your stand, it’s vital to engage with them in a memorable way. People don’t attend exhibitions to interact with social media walls, enter competitions or receive free giveaways - although these do help drive footfall to your stand – and these draws are not enough to keep them on your stand for long. Visitors take time out of their busy schedules to search for the latest solutions that will help solve their business problems and make their working lives easier. Once they have got past the initial draw, there needs to be substance behind the stand.
Now is your opportunity to delve deeper into your messaging. Having a clear understanding of what your potential customers need in advance of the exhibition allows us to adapt your on-stand messaging to answer their problems and anticipate any questions they may have. We frequently use examples or create stories to demonstrate our clients’ products/services in context for the visitor, and provide more detailed information for the visitor to take away and access after the exhibition via branded, pre-loaded USBs, an online link, or printed collateral.
Having the right balance of staff manning your stand is important. No one likes being pounced on by an over pushy sales person, but equally your staff need to appear confident approaching visitors and have excellent knowledge of the products/services your company is offering and how they are of use to your visitors. A thorough staff briefing going through messaging, targets and dos and don’ts before the exhibition doors are flung open is a must.
Exhibitions are extremely tiring for both visitors and exhibitors, so keeping your staff well fed and watered, with regular breaks, helps keep energy levels up and your staff engaged – tired and disinterested-looking staff makes for an unapproachable stand. Energised staff make for better company ambassadors and play a key role in the overall success of the exhibition.
3. Being remembered after the event
So much hard work and often budget goes into organising a successful exhibition, and it can all be in vain if the follow-up isn’t well planned and executed. Whilst all of the above goes a long way in creating a lasting impression of your company and products/services in the minds if your visitors, once they leave the exhibition hall it can be easily forgotten. Most exhibition organisers offer the hire of data capture devices that allow you to record your visitors’ contact details along with information relating to their specific enquiry. This intelligence is invaluable and should be used to contact your visitors shortly after the event with a tailored and highly relevant follow-up. Making the effort to personalise your communication is really worth it, as it demonstrates to your new contacts that you’ve really taken the time to understand their business pain and are committed to helping them find the best solutions for them.
The final and, arguably one of the most important aspects of organising an exhibition, is what can often get overlooked at the beginning of the whole planning process - evaluation. To determine the success of an event and learn from areas that could be improved next time involves clearly defining measurables at the start of the planning phase. These metrics could include feedback from visitors, the number of new business leads generated, the amount of direct sales taken, the level of interaction from visitors via social media etc. Without these in place, how can you measure the effectiveness of the activity and truly understand the return on investment that this kind of face to face customer engagement can generate?
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information regarding our exhibition offering and to understand how we can ensure that your exhibitions meet and exceed your objectives.