Can you justify taking that exhibition space?18 Apr 2013
In this day and age, money is tight and a strong digital presence can make your physical presence seem less critical: but face-to-face meeting still has that special edge when building trust - and face-to-face meeting is what exhibitions and conferences are all about, writes Clive Lewis ICAEW Head of Enterprise
Here we give 6 top tips for making that exhibition space really work for you:
1. Choose your exhibition carefully
To get the most out of your investment, you need to choose the right exhibitions and conferences. Research thoroughly before you just throw your hat in the ring. Check the conference programme has a cool line-up of speakers. Ask the organisers how they market the event. Check they’re managing to draw your actual decision makers.
2. Plan ahead
Once you’ve committed to an exhibition don’t just sit back on your heels and wait for it to happen. The more work you put in up-front the more you’ll get from the experience. Read the exhibitor manual carefully and plan ahead: you don’t want to waste half your day behind a screen fiddling with loose wiring when you could be out-front talking to customers. Set a careful schedule and get all your material ready well in advance of the exhibition date.
3. Get your story straight
Get your messages crystal clear. Nothing worse than having loads of people to talk to, then garbling your communication. Make sure you’re saying the same things across all media – and plan an ‘elevator pitch’ carefully.
4. Make sure people know you’re there
Once you’ve settled on a particular exhibition, work hard to publicise your presence in advance. Use direct mail, e-newsletters and PR to raise your profile. Check the event website, and contact any media partners. Share with journalists your clear message: they’ll be grateful for a lucid story! Be prepared to produce press packs – make everybody’s life easier, and you’re more likely to get good coverage.
5. Build relationships
That business exhibition could provide the perfect platform for you to meet the contacts of your dreams. Make sure you’re up for that when the day finally dawns. Talk to as many people as possible, take time to learn about their businesses, ask for their cards. Remember, this is live research in action: ask for feedback on your brand, and listen carefully to it. You could be surprised by how much you glean from a couple of days’ face-to-face marketing.
6. Follow up after the event
Don’t get home on the night after the exhibition, heave a huge sigh of relief, and put your feet up! Arguably, now is when the real work starts. Follow up on the contacts you made over those few days. Don’t hassle them, but make warm easy contact. It might just be that critical moment you clinch a contact into a loyal customer. Be sure to follow up all leads – the event organiser may well provide you with a spreadsheet showing visitors to your stand. There may be people you didn’t get to speak to you yourself you could fruitfully contact after the event.
Good luck, making that exhibition-spend worth every penny!
For more on this, see How to make business exhibitions work for you. For further advice on running a successful business, download a free 16 page PDF from the Business Advice Service Facebook page. And, for a free business advice session with an ICAEW accredited accountant in your area, search our database.