How to REALLY stand out at your next trade show!
Posted by Tom Oakes
There is a lot of information online about how to stand out with your next exhibition stand design. An exhibition hall or trade show is a cacophony of people and businesses vying for attention. The trick is being able to cut through the chaos and attract the attention of not just the maximum number of people but the right people.
You are aware your stand needs to look nice and attractive and clean and tidy and match your branding etc. so, in this blog, I will be discussing other ways in which you can help your stand… stand out.
Songbirds living in UK towns and cities have been studied adapting their song calls to attract a mate to better be heard over ever increasing noise from cars and motor vehicles. On reading this, I could not help but draw parallels to how we act and react to ever competitive markets, a concept polarised during trade shows and exhibitions where an arena is created in which only the most attractive brands and stands are successful. Being heard does not mean being the loudest. The loudest song bird is not the most successful; the song bird with the most original voice is the one that gets heard. When investing in an exhibition stand originality always sits high on the list of priorities when discussions start with a designer but how sure can you be that you are getting an original design?
The key to any successful exhibition stand is you. If you are aware of your competition, the latest exhibition trends and what to expect when you exhibit at your next show the conversations with your designer will be better informed. Walk a show or 2, take some photos of stands you like or that attract you, if multiple shows form part of your marketing strategy then make sure you take the time to walk the shows you are exhibiting at and don’t be afraid to adapt and adjust your design to better serve your purpose and compete with other businesses.
Originality does not start and stop with your design. To think originally about your approach to your next show can have a huge effect on its success. What space do you want to create? Should your stand be an island of tranquility or a buzzing metropolis? Does the message your stand is sending match your branding and product? Thinking outside the box is difficult as we all know, but understanding what is in the box in the first place should be the first step on your journey to creating the exhibition stand you need. Speaking to an exhibition stand designer early in your process will help greatly in this endeavor and they can help guide you in writing your brief.
First impressions are LASTING impressions
80% of a stands success is down to its staff. Train them!
How many times have you approached a sales person looking for some help, advice or just to engage only to be left disappointed by the interaction? The person you approached is dressed right, they have a name tag, they are stood looking like they would like to talk to you but alas, they aren’t able to give you the information you need or know enough about the product you are interested in to take the conversation further without asking for help from another member of staff. It is vital, we cannot stress this enough, vital that everybody you have manning your stand is fully briefed and up to date with all your latest products, branding and information. In addition, having a clear strategy for the show is crucial and again, everyone on your stand needs to know precisely what it is and how you intend to achieve it. If you want to stand out at your next show your people have to stand out through each of the dozens of first impressions they will be making daily during the show. Your exhibition stand design is crucial but what will really help you stand out in the minds of your visitors is the welcome and service they get from the people you have manning your stand.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing the right location for your stand is essential in helping you to stand out. The best way to make sure you get the pick of the best stand locations is to BOOK EARLY! Choosing to exhibit is a big financial and time commitment and as such many, many companies tend to dip their toe as opposed to jumping right in. Once you have decided to exhibit the best way to make sure you get the best return on your investment is to jump in with both feet and go for it. Get that stand space booked, talk to a designer and invest early. The best locations at a show are typically at the entrance but these spaces are often priced at a premium. If you have decided that you would like a tall stand with potentially a hanging banner then a central location could be ideal. If you want to attract a lot of footfall for selling product then an island stand maybe right for you. Again think outside the box, stand spaces opposite public restrooms or a show attraction can attract gatherings and placing your stand opposite can work to attract visitors.
Let people know you’re there!
If you have chosen the right stand space, ensured you have created an original and engaging exhibition stand design and trained your staff properly you have given yourself a great chance of standing out at your next show. The next thing to do is advertise and advertise properly. A co-ordinated and well run social media campaign is essential but more traditional methods of advertising can still have a major role to play in ensuring you stand out amongst your competitors. First things first, get in touch with the show organisers and find out who is managing their PR. Shows offer many advertising opportunities and you should take them. Many companies mistakenly see additional advertising at a show to be a cost too far but by fully committing to your next exhibition or trade show and investing that little bit more than the rest you will automatically be in a better position to stand out. Most show visitors on average visit 12-14 stands within a 4-5 hour time period and you need to do everything you can to make sure you are one of those stands. Think about running a competition, Advertising and offering a free drink or better still pay for advertising space around the show directing people to your stand.
Pre-book sales meetings
Start standing out even before the show starts. Research attendees and delegates and contact them to let them know you will be there and welcome a visit from them. Arrange sales meetings and potentially offer a free lunch. If your strategy is to talk to potential buyers in length make sure your stand has dedicated meeting space and is located potentially in a quieter corner of the show. Again this ties in with the commitment you are willing to put in to your next show. By expecting attendees to gravitate to you just because you are attending the show is setting yourself up for failure. By laying the right ground work you can really stand out from your competitors in the minds of those you are looking to attract.
What help is out there?
We seem to live in an age of never ending technological advancement. The technology available to us today than there was only 5 years ago is nothing short of staggering and in an industry that thrives on utilising the latest in technology to undertake a multitude of different tasks from visitor tracking to social media marketing and engagement it is vital that you are up to date with all the latest event tech start-ups out there. Being the first to the party is always advantageous when looking to attract an audience at your next exhibition.
Event manager blog have delivered a great review of the latest event tech start-up companies for 2016. Some of our favourites include the Q-ball and throwable wireless microphone, Duel a platform for hosting photo competitions via your website or social media pages streamed live you your stand and SurveyAnyplace which takes the drudgery out of taking a survey with unique creative ways to engage your attendees.
If you want to truly stand out and be remembered at your next show a complimentary mint and a free pen just won’t cut it anymore. In order to truly stand out from the crowd you need to create a unique experience for your attendees and there is plenty of tech out there to help you do so.
Hit google for a multitude of blogs hints and tips regards the basics of standing out at your next exhibition. I think it has been written about enough. What I have tried to convey in this blog is your mentality towards exhibiting is the most important thing to get right. If you are fully committed and willing to invest time and money in great design and take the PR and advertising opportunities available to you, fully train your staff to man your stand and commit and book early you will be in the best possible place to stand out at your next show.