Are you wondering whether it's worth your while attending trade shows or exhibitions this year? It may seem these events are being swallowed up by digital alternatives to advertising your business or that people are more inclined to attend virtual exhibitions and events.
Taking part in these events can be costly, financially as well as in terms of precious time, so can you really expect a reasonable return on investment?And are people still interested in attending exhibitions and trade shows in the same numbers as years gone by?
Are exhibitions still popular?
According to Eventbrite the UK events industry is thriving. One of the largest sectors of this industry incorporates Exhibitions and Trade Shows which generates an annual total spend of over £19.9 billion. Industry members are confident of an increase in visitor numbers due to organisers creating events that fall more into line with the needs of those attending and not according to what suppliers impose. As a result the number of business events organised for the coming year is expected to rise, as will the corresponding budget for corporate event planners.
The UK is one of the best places to host a business event thanks to the numerous exceptional venues, top class hotels and a cultural heritage that draws interested ones from every corner of the globe. Consequently the trade show and exhibitions calendar is full of events to suit every commercial entity and to satisfy the need of the numerous guests who attend. (For more information on UK venues read our Exhibition Blogs.)
With such confidence coming from within the industry itself, it appears these events are set to continue in popularity which is great news for businesses wanting to claim their piece of brand awareness and notoriety from those who attend.
But whilst most communication with customers takes place online, why do people still like to go to exhibitions?
Why people attend exhibitions
When it comes to the motivation behind attending exhibitions, many people will relate to the expression of Annette Haarpham of SharpEdge Marketing:
" You can't beat getting out of the office, feeling the vibe of an exhibition and meeting people face to face."
The mere fact that we spend so much time sedentry, online at home or in the office the opportunity for a day out making contact with other human beings is a refreshing change. And these events are exciting places to be with the buzz of business experts and unknown ideas and concepts to experience and learn.
With this in mind, attendees to exhibitions and trade fairs are motivated by one of more of the following:
To find out about the products, services and brands on offer in a certain market
- To link up with like-minded people
- To connect with the local and global community
- To learn more about the product, sector, or industry through guest speakers and workshops
- To experience the unexpected in the form of celebrities and industry experts, new technologies and first time experiences
- To be wowed by the quality, design and creativity of the stands on show
- To avail themselves of freebies, trial products and discount vouchers on offer
We all know how good it is to pick up something for free which is why so many visitors to exhibitions return home laden with bags full of souvenirs, gadgets, samples and gizmos. In amongst this regalia there is hope that they have subconsciously noted your brand name or at least that they have unwittingly picked up your company brochure or contact card.
Any business wanting to exhibit at a trade show needs to come up with a plan to successfully draw in the right type of visitors who have the potential to become longterm customers.
How to reach out to your customers at an exhibition
Prepare to meet your ideal customer
To attract the right customer to your stand in the hope of initiating conversation you need to be clear first of all which visitors you are focusing on. Are they from a particular demographic group? What products will they be interested in and why?
It is also essential to calculate an appropriate budget (see our blog 'How to budget for a trade fair') and to plan a social media schedule and marketing plan to advertise the fact you will be present at the show. Keep visitors informed as to what they can look forward to at your stand by posting regular snippets in the lead up to the event.
Since trade shows essentially appeal to the senses whilst planning the look of your stand (or booth) think how to draw attention from passers by in the first instance and then how you can encourage them to stay to discuss their commercial needs. One of the driving forces behind the decision to switch off devices and visit an exhibition is to awaken and refresh the senses by touching the products; observing how they are put together and how they could be of benefit to the purchaser. A vibrant and colourful stand composed of larger than life images, effective lighting and samples of the products on offer would appeal to those wanting a sensory overload. This is a rewarding and invigorating change from looking at 2D graphics and text on a screen which people tend to do most of the time.
There are so many impressive ways to dress up your stand using backdrops, counters, advertising banners and flags which needn't blow the budget. Consider the multi-functional exhibition display kits that provide everything you need to look professional and to tell your story visually. Pop up banners and other vinyl display stands make great accessories to announce special show incentives or to inform about the unique characteristics of a new product. Feather flags direct visitors to the entrance or announce the location of your stand from a distance.
Anticipate how many visitors you expect to your stand to ensure you order the right supply of literature (brochures, booklets & leaflets), as well as business cards and then calculate how many contacts you need to convert into customers in order to gain a good financial return for your efforts.
When choosing staff to represent your business at the trade show make sure they all bring something, in terms of assets, to the exhibition floor. Choose charismatic personalities who have the knack of drawing in the punters; others who are good at communicating and selling to clinch the deal; enrol more organised staff members to keep the stand tidy, literature supplies topped up and refreshments for customers on the go. (For more tips read our blog 'How to create your exhibition dream team!')
Even more important than individual expertise is their ability to perform well as a team. Only then will your encounter with each potential customer be smooth running, flawless and impressive.
Make the most of your presence
The big day has finally arrived and you're about to find out if all your hard work and planning will pay off. You've chosen the right show and venue to participate in. Your stand is looking top notch. The staff are suited, booted and well rehearsed. So what can you do now so you don't blow it at the last hurdle?
The following tips will ensure your exhibition is a screaming success:
- All staff need to be open and ready to talk to anyone who visits your stand
- Have a strategy in place of how to deal with each type of customer and relay this to each member of staff
- Make every minute count. During quiet periods enlist your most outgoing staff to go and chat to people about the show, products or other businesses
- Make sure your team always come across as passionate about what you offer, genuinely interested in people and proud to be a part of it all
- Ensure that all contacts are carefully logged and sorted into categories so that emails to further the connection can be sent out immediately after the show
- Work hard but have fun! Exhibitions are great for rebuilding business relationships old and new!
For some face to face assistance in planning your first exhibition, choosing the best types of display for your business or designing print media for your show call on the guys at Eazy Print.