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advice for exhibitors

In a recent interview by MODA, the UK’s largest trade fashion exhibition, I gave some tips for apparel exhibitors to bring visual merchandising to a tradeshow environment.

It may seem simple enough to move an apparel display from a retail environment to a trade show.

But exhibition stands are physically less captive than retail environments with the design being more about the interaction between your team and visitors than products and visitors. So careful considerations have to be made when exhibiting.

You can read the interview here, with three bonus questions below!

What is the key purpose of an exhibition stand?

Industry research tells us that only 12% of exhibitors say that they exhibit solely to gain more leads.

Other purposes include:

  • Launching or testing reaction to new products or markets
  • Increasing the value from existing clients with up/cross selling
  • Improving retention by hosting disparate clients who are all gathered in one place or running thought leadership presentations
  • Signing up new distribution partners
  • Repositioning what you’ll be famous for….

The list goes on and on and is normally a very individual mixture of several listed above.

Of course whatever you want needs to be balanced with consideration for what the visitor wants!

Whatever you decide, it must give visitors a positive and memorable experience.

Seeing it through their eyes and making sure that when they leave the busy, crowded exhibition hall, your brand is the one they were excited about. The one they remember and the one they’ll come back to time and time again.

Are there any common pitfalls to exhibiting?

Yes, there are many potential pitfalls and mistakes that can be made when exhibiting. Here’s five:

  1. Treating each show the same
  2. Not briefing and getting buy in from the team
  3. Not working closely enough with the organisers to exploit pre-show marketing opportunities, or other exposure opportunities at the show
  4. Not having a clear set of objectives resulting in a lack lustre approach trying to do a bit of everything
  5. Shying away from pinning a lead down to a “next step” at the show

Would you advise different designs for brands actively seeking new and unfamiliar clients?

Yes, the design approach for new client acquisition vs existing client nurture is very different.

The latter is about creating an environment to host, reinforce and facilitate meetings and education, the former is all about introducing the notion of change.

New business or activity for new brands have to give a compelling reason to come and find out why that brand may be relevant to the visitor and suggest how it may improve the visitor’s world.

People are like sheep so some common tricks are the use of case studies and well known existing client endorsement that suggest to the visitor the brands they aspire to be, may be benefiting from something they are not. If your clients brand is more famous than yours in a new market, then use it (with permission of course).

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