It can be like a 'Game of Thrones' battle for supremacy, but putting dragon fire aside, these 12 proven tips can ensure your stand attracts plenty of interest – and the right type of visitor:
1. Look and Feel. Ever stood in front of a shop and gone "Nope, not going in there". The signs were faded or peeling, the floor wasn't the cleanest, it looked tired... or something stopped you from entering.Your stand is the same - it is your shop window – a direct invitation to “Come on in!” It is essential that you create a professional and inviting display and to draw attention to your stand – professionally. Simply, you can’t land a quality or life long client using home print outs for your signs and posters and cheap business cards. It is a misalignment of your message to your market. Use professional signage, posters and products to cut through the noise of all the other displays in the area. Make sure the designs are professional and consistent throughout all of the elements at your exhibition stand. If you get the look and feel right, you will attract the right visitor, and you won't get that "Nope, not going in there" response from visitors.
2. Small is Beautiful Too. We know - we're all about being big, bold and beautiful with your branding, but exhibiting is about having great ambitions, not huge budgets. You've heard the saying "It's not the size, but what you do with it that counts", and that applies to exhibition space too. Don't get carried away with the idea that bigger is better. Small stands can work well if they are focused and professionally branded. No matter the size - go for instant brand recognition by displaying your logo or branding that attendees are most familiar with. If a particular product line is more well-known than your business name, put that front and centre.
3. Less is more. Consider the space you have and create a display that works and caters to that amount of space. Most exhibitors fall into the mistake of trying to over decorate and over stimulate their audience with lots of different elements, leaving their stand looking very busy and over the top. Express your vision with clarity and consistency as it will be more successful and pull focus on you and your services.
4. Budget. Be careful with your budget and don’t blow it all on furnishing your stand with new or expensive materials that can only be used once. The extra money you save can be put towards quality marketing material that keeps you in front of your visitors long after the trade show has ended.
5. Be Flexible. Been doing those stretches at the gym right, because Pete your PT guy tells you flexibility is the key to fitness and a long life. Same, same for exhibition stands. Different venues will offer a variety of partitions, side walls and back walls, so flexibile and reusability are key to making your money work the best for you. Stands can be custom built. Fixed or portable stand solutions are available in the marketplace, but custom build stands typically cost more to built, pack, ship and store. Portable solutions such as expo packs, pull up banners, collapsible expo walls and media walls can be used with lower costs and in most cases designs can be updated if you hold onto the hardware. This means your investment can be used over and over.
6. Location. Location. Location. Have a chat with your event organiser and see if you can negotiate the best possible location of your stand as the placement of your display can determine the success of exhibiting. If the stand location is offered on a first in best dressed basis, don’t delay with your booking. Be sure to grab the best area, at a price you can afford. There are some tricks too... use pull up banners to form side walls, turn them to face oncoming traffic or the entrance, and make sure your table is covered and branded so when people are looking down an aisle, your branding can be seen from a distance.
7. Be creative. Clever and visually aesthetic displays are proven to be more successful than bland or over the top stands. You do want to be big and bold, but it must be on brand for you and consistent throughout all your materials. People remember colours. Experiment with lighting, print and digital designs without over stimulating your audience. Be mindful of distance as well and make your displays ‘billboard’ snapshots with more visuals and minimal text to grab your viewer’s attention. Follow through with more detail in your marketing brochures.
8. Communication. This is a great opportunity for you to advertise your services to a crowd and also the other stand holders, so your objective has to be clear to your audience. Are you wanting them to sign up, give your their information, buy on the day, give them a brochure to consider later. Make sure your directional signage, marketing material and devices are clearly available and easy to find as well as understand the call to action. Sometimes people are shy. Sometimes you are busy. For those that are passing through, but don’t want to wait, or don't want to talk to you, make it easy for them to either give you their information or take information with them. Sometimes buying decisions are a long process and you want them to keep something from you that is well designed and professional.
9. Give a demo. Customers love a good demonstration. It pulls a small crowd and allows your audience to understand what you’re trying to sell by showing them how it can be useful to them. Keep in mind about those passing may not stop at a demo, and you don’t want to lose them, so keep space clear for them to grab your material.
10. Beware Giveaways. Yes of course we would love to sell you a heap of promotional products. But, we're honest and unless it is of benefit to you, your client and your purpose, we don't want to see you waste your money. Generosity is a great way to attract visitors to your stand, but often a lot of money is spent on promotional gifts that don’t relate to the message or brand. These often end up on the floor or the exhibition, forgotten in a desk drawer or worse, in a bin. Your money can literally be wasted. If you decide to offer giveaways, make them relevant and useful - items that will continue long after the event to jog the person’s memory later on.
11. Pick the right people. You need a team, but John from IT only comes to life at a Geek Expo. Choose your team on the day carefully. High energy, enthusiasm, product knowledge and friendliness are key qualities to look for when choosing the right representatives for your stand. Don’t choose team members that want to sit behind the desk all day. They need to be active in engaging others and willing to talk with people. Choose the right number of people to cover the stand and think about shifts, so your team can have breaks that keep them fresh. If you're a sole trader or doing it alone... think about someone who can come in and relieve you for a lunch break and have a strategy on how you handle that. The best thing possible you can offer on the day is your smile.
12. Get Connected. Before, during and after. Whether you hold a small competition that can be promoted on your business social media pages or just collect business cards, exhibitions are a great place to generate new leads for the business. Don’t miss the opportunity to make as many connections as possible. If you are a business-to-business provider, chat with your fellow stand holders as they may be interested in what you are offering. Don’t forget to invite people about your participation at a trade show. Upload content on your website and social media accounts. Informing people will increase publicity and will bring more visitors to the event – not only for the event, but also your own credibility and visibility.