Getting the Most from Exhibitions

How to Get More Leads and Sales From Your Attendance

Exhibitions and Trade Fairs are special in that they bring buyers and sellers together in one place for a short period of time for a specific purpose – to get closer to each other. Getting it right can be very profitable, but the wrong choice can lead to a very boring, lonely and expensive mistake.

There are lots of opportunities for micro-businesses to attend exhibitions and trade fairs, including:

  • Local trade fairs, often run by Chambers of Commerce or local authorities.
  • Specific events such as Wedding Fayres.
  • Industry-specific events, e.g. the direct marketing industry gets together for the annual International Direct Marketing Fair.
  • Local events, e.g. county fairs, shows and craft exhibitions.

If you do decide to attend one of these as an exhibitor you’ll need to create some kind of presence, i.e. a stand or stall. The ‘stand’ might actually only be a table, or even just stood beside a banner, or a bay with lots of space and the opportunity to set up hospitality facilities or display your products. Whatever it is, it has to attract the attention of passers-by within a few seconds.

It has been suggested that attendees visit, on average, a maximum of 13 stands regardless of the size of the exhibition, with the exhibitor having only 5 seconds to attract someone’s attention as they walk past. Keep those two statistics at the front of your mind when you’re creating the presence.

Creating an Exhibition Stand

First of all, look at how much space you have and why you are there. If it’s to attract new leads, the stand needs to be welcoming and indicate why people might want to talk to you. For networking and relationship building, the stand still needs to be welcoming but it might also have hospitality facilities or a seating area. If you’re selling produce, you need display space plus storage for packaging and extra stock.

Think also about how you’re going to decorate it. You may need posters and banners running alongside the table but also decorating the back of the bay and the area around it.

What are the staff going to do whilst on the stand? Should they be encouraging people to enter a competition so you can build your database or do they need to get into technical conversations with people? Consider this aspect when deciding who is best representing your micro-business at the exhibition. As a minimum, they need to like talking to people and have a friendly air about them – find someone who smiles a lot.

Considering these areas will also determine the amount of creative production you need to do, e.g. whether you need new posters or a leaflet designed specifically for the event.

Planning for an Exhibition or Fair

Start as early as you can. It’s only when you start thinking about the type of presence needed that you will start to realise what really needs to be produced for it. It’s no good deciding the week beforehand that an extra leaflet would be useful.

When assessing costs, don’t just budget for renting the space, remember also:

  • Graphic designer fees
  • Printing and production costs for the materials
  • Transporting display equipment and samples to the venue
  • Staff costs – who is going to look after their work whilst they are at the exhibition?
  • Follow up marketing activity – any leads generated need to be contacted afterwards and that needs to be paid for.

Preparing for an exhibition is no easy task and if you get it wrong it can be a frustrating and boring mistake.

If you’re not sure whether exhibitions would be worthwhile for your business, read Customer Purchasing Processes and see where they might fit in a prospective customer’s buying process. If you’re ready to attend an exhibition and will be working with a graphic designer, read Briefing a Design Agency.