A commercial exhibition can be a very effective way to build contacts and attract potential new customers. But it can also feel like a huge waste of time and money, if you don’t approach it correctly.
We’ve put together these tips, based on our experience, for getting the most from these events.
Tips for exhibiting at a business show
1.Know who will be there. The more you know about your potential audience, the better prepared you’ll be. Exhibiting at a county fair could see your stand being visited by very different people from those who’ll be at a dedicated business to business show. Understanding your audience is the key to connecting with them.
2.Make people stop and stare. A stand offering rows of leaflets looks boring. Put something unusual on it — a fish tank, a giant model of your product, or a mountain of sweets — to catch the eye. Keep the layout open, so people can wander in for a closer look.
3.Offer freebies. If you have small trinkets to give away, such as pens and key rings, be proactive in handing them out. It’s false economy to force visitors to ask for them, or to only give them to people who seem genuinely interested.
4.Be welcoming without being overbearing. A well-designed stand will draw people in and, once they’re looking, you can engage them in conversation. Open with general questions because if they want to talk to you about your products, they’ll soon be asking you.
5.Visit the other stands. Being at a show is a great chance to talk to other businesses and sound out the competition. Aim for the quieter stands which are having difficulty attracting people; they’ll be keener to talk and more likely to listen to what you have to say about your business.
Tips for visiting a business show
6.Know why you’re there. If you don’t have an objective, it’ll make it harder to engage. This could be as simple as talking to a certain number of exhibitors. If you go without a clear purpose, you’re likely to leave having achieved very little.
7.Be prepared to talk. Don’t be intimidated by exhibitors who try to initiate conversations by catching your eye as you pass by. Be prepared to spend a moment with them — you may discover something you didn’t know and which could be of value to your business.
8. Be open to new ideas. Business events can spark your creativity, helping you to discover ways of making your operation more competitive.
9. Don’t expect to sell. Most exhibitors will be represented by their sales and marketing teams, not their buyers. Attending as a visitor in a bid to promote yourself to the firms who’ve paid to exhibit is unlikely to go down well and won’t bring much reward.
10.Review the results afterwards. You’ll leave the show with a bag full of flyers and assorted give-aways. Don’t put it under your desk and forget about it. Take some time to go through it, deciding what’s rubbish and what’s worth following up.