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on Thursday, 09 June 2016

More top tips for surviving exhibitions (part 1 of 2)

The Anglia Business Exhibition is almost upon us again (find us at Stand 34 at the Ipswich Hotel on 10th May). In 2013 I wrote a blog called “Tips for surviving exhibitions” and it gained a ridiculous volume of hits! Clearly lots of people are out there, stroking chins and thinking through the best ways to maximise their own experiences at exhibitions and expos. So here is the first of two blogs on making the most of exhibitions and conferences!

Comfortable shoes are hip

The last exhibition we attended as a delegate, we covered about 5 miles per day. Not jogging. Just moving around the exhibition hall and travelling between car park and venue. You’re going to be on your feet for several hours, so do wear shoes and clothing that are comfortable as well as presentable. It’s not hip to be seen barefoot after one hour of breaking in new shoes, or wobbling around on high heels.

You can tell the most seasoned exhibitions staff. They plan ahead, armed with everything from cushioned insoles to support tights/socks, and they’re the ones guaranteed to have plasters and blister packs in their bags on the day, just in case.

Tiredness kills

Exhaustion is the death knoll of lively, focused conversation and an alert mind is vital when representing a firm. You’ll need bags of energy to get the most from every interaction with visitors or fellow delegates.

So if you’re exhibiting, take along a couple of folding bar stools, which means you can perch while talking, giving the impression you are standing. There are loads of “perching stools” you can choose from online (yup, it’s a whole industry and a real product name!).

Find an exhibition buddy

Running an exhibition stand alone isn’t a good idea. Having at least two people means that if you are tied up with talking to someone, there is someone else who can answer questions, restock your leaflets (maybe even get you a cup of tea!).

If you’re a new or start-up business and have no other staff, maybe you have a good friend you could rope in to help you? Unless you’re running a family business, having a family member to help isn’t an ideal solution. Who wants their parent to stop exhibition traffic by showing photos of you aged 7? Even if you were a “sweet little thing”, it won’t do much for your professional credibility in front of your peers!

If you do have an exhibitions buddy, make sure that you spend time with them before the exhibition. Have a structured meeting, with tips and notes for them to take away, to acquaint them with the business, how you expect them to represent you, the kind of questions people might ask and some standard answers, and of course what to do with leads or enquiries gathered, or if they don't know the answer to anything.

Invite your clients and prospective clients

An exhibition is a great way to showcase everything that you do well, so don’t forget to alert and invite your clients and target customers. Offer them a reason to come to your stand (such as a limited edition goodie bag of products/services information). A good looking stand with professional, well trained staff interacting well, says they’ve made the right decision in choosing your team to serve them.

Picking up the phone to give a personal invitation to a special “happening” (such as pre-event breakfast or post-event drinks) is always popular with VIP guests.

Check the exhibition kit bag

How do you know you have everything you are likely to need? Start with a checklist, then gather in each item and invest time to mock up your stand before the exhibition. Mark out the space, set up your promotional material, check the new pop up banners actually work and they show the correct message/contact details (you’d be surprised how many old addresses only become apparent to you when something is printed onto a massive banner). Make sure everything fits in your allocated area, looks attractive and conveys exactly the right message for this particular audience (and if you can’t afford multiple pop ups for different target audiences, save money by printing bespoke promotional postcards or flyers instead).

There are lots of things that busy people tend to forget. These include plenty of pens and a proper system for recording visitors, enquiries and hot leads, blutack, sticky tape, brochure stands, pre-printed event entry passes and an attractive incentive for people to engage with you and give you permission to stay in touch.

The latest must-have piece of exhibitions kit is a selfie-stick. In our next blog, coming soon, we’ll tell you why it’s become so important.

Want to read the second part of this series?  Head over here to More top tips for surviving exhibitions!


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