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How to align your business and exhibiting objectives

April 5, 2016 | Laura Baines

exhibiting objectives
All too often we come across exhibitors who take the same approach to every exhibition they attend and have unclear exhibiting objectives. They tell us they’re exhibiting “Because our competitors are”, “it’s good for business” or “because we always have”.

But keeping up with the Jones’ won’t make you money, increase loyalty from your customers or position your brand as the thought leader of the industry. Most likely it’ll give you a half-hearted exhibition stand without clear goals, unmotivated stand staff and an underwhelming exhibiting performance.

It’s vital to start with a mission that clearly aligns your presence at the show with your broader business plan and your scope for growth.

Align your exhibiting objectives to the business plan

The starting point is looking at your business plan and answering the following.

To what extent are we?

  • Looking for new clients in our current market to buy our existing range of products.
  • Looking to sell a new product to new clients in our existing market
  • Looking for new clients in a new market to buy our new product
  • Looking to retain, upsell or cross sell to existing clients

Of course it could be a mixture of all of these. Splitting 100% of your focus across them will help you prioritise your exhibiting objectives.

The exhibition’s audience

Now with a clear outline of your business priorities in mind, consider how closely the audience of the show you are attending matches them.

By assessing the Organiser’s visitor profile and reviewing your previous experience of the show you can consider to what extent the exhibition fits the following categories:

  • It’s a show in which we are a very established player with a high existing market share. There is little scope for finding new customers.
  • It’s a show in which we are established but with low market share and a chance to find new customers.
  • It’s a show that represents a new market for us where we’ve no established clients or reputation.

By looking at your answers to both questions about your business priorities and the exhibition’s profile, you should be now be able to devise an exhibiting strategy and set of objectives enhanced by considering the alignment between both.

Considering scope for growth

Another common mistake we often see is stand space/focus utilised in direct proportion to where the company currently obtains its revenue.

For example, your company manufactures car engines. 90% of your revenue comes from selling engines and 90% of your exhibition stand space showcases engines. The show is full of existing clients and very few new prospects.

On the other hand 10% of your business comes from selling training on servicing and maintenance of the engines, but training has only been taken up by 20% of your customers.

The issue here is that “Scope for Growth” may have been overlooked.

Looking at scope for growth might challenge the status quo and cause you to flip the stand focus to be 90% about training and could help you deliver much greater ROI from the show.

Here’s our example in a simple table that may help you evaluate your approach:

FINAL blog table

In this example, the engine displays would be scaled back and replaced by a training seminar for example. The current open sales-lead stand design might become a more exclusive environment for existing clients with a seminar theatre and the new business sales people might give way to account managers and training technicians.

What this means

Whatever your business and market, by aligning your business plan, the exhibition’s profile and scope for growth, you should have a clearer understanding of what you want to and can achieve at the show. Use these objectives to formulate an exhibiting strategy, you’re on stand activity, team structure and stand design which will deliver them. Why not take a look at our latest download ‘How to create a great exhibition brief’ for more information on how to do this.

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