Every good marketer worth their salt knows that the key to success of an exhibiting strategy is all in the preparation. Has the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ ever come back to haunt you?
The question is though, exactly when should marketers begin to think about things such as setting objectives and when to contact an exhibition stand designer? From 12 months out to the day of the show itself, here’s our quick guide to help you prepare for your next exhibition.
The sweet spot for booking an exhibition space is between 12 months to 6 months before the event.
If you’re looking at expanding your exhibiting portfolio into a new event or exhibition then start off by fact finding. Ask the event organisers if they have an information pack available on the demographics of their visitors for you to review to determine whether it’s the right fit for your business.
Before booking your stand space, think about your objectives and what you’d need to achieve to make it a successful exhibition. These objectives will form the basis for your exhibiting strategy!
If you’ve already exhibited at that event in the past and know that you want to go back, then think about whether you (and your budget) want to stretch for a bigger, more prominent stand, or in an alternative location. This will be an important conversation to have with the event organisers to make sure you can improve on your ROI year on year.
Remember, the best stand spaces are like gold dust, so this decision has to be quick but well considered if you’re after a prime location.
With 4 months to go until your exhibition, if you’re after a uniquely designed customised stand then now’s the time to put your stand design to tender, or to tell your preferred exhibition stand designer that you’ve got an exhibition coming up.
When briefing your exhibition stand contractor, make sure you clearly explain your objectives, stand space, budget and your needs – for example whether you need to demonstrate something in particular, either digitally or first-hand. In this process, also consider why visitors are coming to that exhibition in particular – this will help to determine how you can create positive and memorable experiences of value to visitors to help increase brand awareness. You can read more why people visit exhibitions and what exhibitors can learn from it here.
At 2 months out, you’ll need to think about creating and circulating any direct mailing, emails, social media campaigns and print coverage so they’re ready to go to start from 1 month to go. Don’t forget branded giveaways have a lead time too.
With 1 month to go, you’ll want to be focusing on shouting about your presence at the show using all relevant channels you have available to you and start booking in appointments with new clients using the exhibition as a platform to further forge these relationships. A dripping tap effect is good in the last 4 weeks but keep changing the emphasis of your messaging each time so as not to bore your recipients. Also I’m sure you’ll have a lot to say so say it! This is your only chance pre-show to make them want to come and see you.
This is also the right time to communicate about your exhibiting presence within your organisation. Show them the stand drawings and tell them the story. Also you may be able to invite key personnel to the show, or round up some helpers. It’s important that people are, at the very least aware and understand your strategy and objectives. Make sure you also write a comprehensive briefing pack for stand staffers, so they understand why you’re there. You want everyone to convey the same message and be professional. Think about the practicalities too, like the venue, dates, parking and rota. It may seem obvious but unless you’ve been living and breathing it for the past 5 months, its not.
This is what everything has been leading up to. Now the exhibition is finally here, put the cherry on the top of your organisation skills by asking your stand staff to arrive an hour earlier than open time, giving ample time for the stand briefing you already prepared yourself, so that they’re raring to go and following best practice.