by Reno Macri, Director of Enigma Visual Solutions
Exhibition marketing presents a superb opportunity to make direct contact with potential customers, generate media exposure, network and increase overall brand awareness. However, if you fail to prepare sufficiently, your exhibition is significantly less likely to produce the results you are hoping for.
To help, we have provided an essential checklist to guarantee trade show success:
1. Before you start the planning process, consider exactly what you are hoping to achieve and set clear aims.
These targets should all be achievable and measurable, as it is impossible to measure your ROI if you have abstract goals. Do you want to achieve a certain number of leads? Do you hope to generate a set number of sales? Be specific.
2. Think about whether or not you will need to use the stand again in future.
Speak to professional exhibition stand builders and choose the type of display stand that best suits your needs. For instance, a custom stand might make a more dramatic one-off impact, but a modular exhibition stand can be re-used and will have lower transportation costs.
3. Design your stand based on the objectives you have set for the project.
Consider contacting a company that specialises in exhibition stands design and work with them to make sure your stand is attractive, reflects your company values and is consistent with your branding strategy.
4. Promote your appearance in advance.
Research from the Trade Show Bureau shows that 45 percent of attendees are drawn to a particular stand after receiving a direct invite, while 75 percent of attendees know which stands they want to visit ahead of time, according to Inc.com. Advertise in trade publications, use social media and send invitations to potential clients.
5. Your trade show staff are an essential component.
In fact, according to Marketing Donut, staff are the main reason for 80 percent of exhibition successes. Train them in trade show etiquette, make sure they are knowledgeable about your products and services and encourage them to dress appropriately.
6. Create a system for taking down contact information from prospects and stay consistent throughout the exhibition.
This will make the follow up process easier. Each staff member working at the exhibition must follow the same system and they should all do their utmost to take down information accurately.
7. Try to make sure your exhibition stimulates all five senses.
If this is not possible, try to stimulate as many of the senses as you can. Industry research shows that multi-sensory experiences generate better results. At the bare minimum, you should aim for visual, audio and touch-based elements, so that visitors are immersed in your display.
It is not enough to attend an exhibition and only speak to people who come to your stand. Leave your own exhibition and talk to people at others. You may meet potential business partners or suppliers. You may find that the person operating the stand next to you knows someone they can refer to you. Put yourself out there.
9. After the trade show is over, it is time to focus on follow up.
The leads you generate are only half of the job and contacting them again is the key to success. Remember, these people may have been contacted by multiple businesses, so be persistent. The OTSA advises contacting all prospects at least six times.
10. Carry out a post-show evaluation.
The ultimate goal here should be to compare your aims and objectives to your results, but you should also identify what things you did well and what aspects can be improved upon. This stage is overlooked by many businesses, but those businesses are doomed to repeat their mistakes.
Reno Macri is a Director of Enigma Visual Solutions, a leading exhibition and event company, specialising in exhibition stand design, retail designs, office fit out & refurbishments, graphic productions, signage systems, event branding, conference set design and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. You can follow him on Twitter.