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Lessons in exhibiting

September 3, 2014 |

New notebooks, a fresh uniform and nervous parents waving off their offspring. Oh, and the back-to-normal morning traffic for the rest of us. Yes, it’s term time again.

Our classroom days may be long behind us thank goodness, but you’re never too old to learn something new. So here are our top lessons for new exhibitors starting this term.

We hope you are paying attention at the back there …this may appear in the exam. Well, that’s if there was a diploma in exhibiting!

Lesson one: Get the right equipment

Two school children, ready for first day of school

There’s a reason school kids trot off on their first day with a new bag, new pencil case and new pens.

Because there’s nothing like something new to make you feel hopeful for the future and prepared for the challenge ahead.

If your stand isn’t inspiring and it’s looking a little worse for wear, why not consider making a few new changes to the messaging, content or physical space?

Hiring new elements such as a counter, a hanging structure or a kiosk to run digital content could be the up-grade equivalent of that first blank page of the exercise book.

Lesson two: Do a practice run

Just like mums (and dads) across the nation have been jumping into their cars/dragging offspring on scooters to see how long the school run will take and repeatedly talking about the structure of the school day, so should exhibitors get prepared.

Check out the floor plan and make sure you know who’s around you, especially with regard to where your competitors are positioned in the hall. Research your audience and sense check your exhibiting strategy before the big day.

Introduce yourself to people via social media before you go so you’ve some friends to talk into in the playground, sorry exhibition hall.

Lesson three: Buy an apple for the teacher

Apple with message of "I hope you like your apple" with a drawn heart and smiley face.Or, well make sure you’ve some good giveaways to entice visitors to your stand.

And don’t just think any freebies will do, make them work for you and tie them into your campaign.

Be clever with them by linking them to an information source, or use them as a thank you for imparting with data on the stand.

Alternatively if you have a large stand you could create a bar or hospitality area. The smell of coffee, the waft of popcorn, and some branded cup cakes …the way to someone’s heart is often through their tummy.

Lesson four: No talking at the back

But lots of talking front of stand please! As long as it’s to visitors and not endless nattering with your colleagues.

And the same rule goes for mobile phones; they should not be seen on your stand at any time. Channel all that adrenalin and energy for engaging with your target audience, not checking your emails or surfing the internet. That face to face conversation is gold dust. You’ve been waiting for this moment for months, sometime years!

So don’t waste it.

Listen and understand, be interested and extend that dialogue so you can build a rapport on stand. That visitor could be your next customer, so…stand at the front, be proud, and be that brand ambassador!

Lesson five: Know the rules of the playground

Make sure your playmates, sorry colleagues, know the rules.

Get organised and run a staff briefing the morning of the show, leaving enough time before the doors open and the punters flood in.

Make sure everyone knows why they’re there and what’s expected of them. Explain the stand content and strategy and don’t forget the practicalities – break time, lunch time and at what time the bell goes!

Why not incentivise your team and offer a prize to the staffer who has the most conversations, creates the most leads or generates the most appointments. We all know the perils of cramming for exams so be an A student and not only ensure you are organised, but help encourage the bigger team to succeed.

For your homework, why not check out Accenture’s latest survey. With statistics highlighting that 78% of marketers believe that marketing will undergo a fundamental change in five years, with more focus on digital and mobile, the next set of lessons will be how to maximise digital technologies within your exhibition strategy. Coming to a screen near you soon!

Photo credits:
1. Barney Moss on Flickr “First Day of School, September 2012 1“. CC2.0.
2. S G on Flickr. “Sweet“, CC2.0