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Seven deadly exhibiting sins (and how to be virtuous)

Following best practice when you exhibit isn’t just about polishing your halo and knowing you’re doing things the right way. Being a virtuous exhibitor can have a huge impact on achieving your objectives and delivering a great ROI.

Find out about the top 7 exhibiting sins you should stay away from when you exhibit to leave your strategy squeaky clean.

7 Deadly Sins of exhibiting (4)

1. Ignoring success

You could just exhibit for the sake of it. Turn up, exhibit, shrug your shoulders and leave at the end of the day without a second glance back to know whether it was successful.

But if you want to enter those pearly gates, you’ll need to know what ‘good’ looks like. What is a successful exhibition for you? Is it as simple as more sales? Or do you want to raise awareness of a new product or service to an existing audience?

Whatever your aims, make sure you think about them before you even start planning your stand. If executed well, your stand should work as hard as your stand staff and give you a greater chance for success.

To be extra Saintly, make sure your goals complement your corporate objectives to help drive the business forward.

2. Failing to prepare

We’ve all heard the infamous saying by Benjamin Franklin:

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

This couldn’t be truer when it comes to exhibiting.

The event itself is the small but very visual part of event planning. But what people can’t see is the hard work that makes your event a success – a mountainous volume of work that’s landed on your desk.

The trick is to meticulously plan your exhibition well in advance.

In order to make tradeshows a powerful part of your company’s overall marketing efforts, there must be total alignment between the strategic marketing and your exhibition marketing plan. How does your exhibition campaign fit in? Should it refer to an existing campaign? Will it connect visually with your brand campaign or will it be a stand-alone entity to deliver a specific message?

What pre-show promotions will you run? How will you be engaging with your audience in the event hall? What will you be communicating during the show and how will you follow up after the show has finished to both visitors and your wider audience?

Every detail needs to be addressed in order to maximise the short time you have at the show. There are no second chances.

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3. Not engaging your audience

On the show floor your exhibition stand makes a strong statement about who your company is, what you do and how you do it. You’re vying for attention with your competitors and must stand out from the crowd.

In addition to a beautiful stand, there needs to be a hook or a focal point and a strong key message that communicates a significant benefit to your visitor.

Why should they stop by your stand and not the one next door?

Create an engaging experience that allows visitors to use as many of their senses as possible. This will attract visitors to your stand and also help to enhance memorability.

4. Not using FOMO

With a hall overflowing with fascinating products and services, combined with time constraints, people need an incentive to stop at your stand.

First and foremost their primary interest is in all things new. The shiner the better. Are they going to miss out by not visiting you? Make sure you use their ingrained fear of missing out – FOMO – to make them stop and pay attention.

They are eager to learn about the latest technologies, new applications, or anything that will help save them time and/or money. Heaven forbid they miss out on that!

Even if you don’t have a new product/service to introduce, think about a new angle to promote your offerings to drive urgency.

5. Being forgettable

Tied into giving visitors an incentive to visit your exhibition stand is the opportunity to offer a promotional item that will entice them to stop.

Your giveaway items should be designed to increase your memorability, communicate, motivate, promote or increase recognition of your company.

Developing a dynamite giveaway takes thought and creativity.

Consider what your target audience wants, what will help them do their job better, what they can’t get elsewhere, what is product/service related and educational.

Think about having different gifts for different types of visitors. Maybe use your website to make an offer for visitors to collect important information, such as an executive report, when they visit your stand.

Giveaways should be used as a reward or token for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation or contest, or as a thank-you for qualifying information about specific needs, etc.

6. Having an unprepared team

The people chosen to represent the entire image of the organisation are often left to fend for themselves. They are just told to show up and perform.

But your people are your ambassadors.

They represent everything your company stands for, so choose them well.

Brief them beforehand and make sure they know:

  • Why you are exhibiting
  • What you are exhibiting
  • What you expect from them.

Exhibition stand staff training is essential for a unified and professional image. This means making sure that they follow best practice by:

  • Being customer or sales focused
  • Taking regular breaks to feel refreshed
  • Understanding visitor needs
  • Spending an appropriate amount of time with visitors
  • Knowing how to close the interaction with a commitment to follow-up.

7 – S.L.O.W follow up

There’s nothing more frustrating than a missed opportunity.

What you don’t want to hear is that those leads were stolen by your competitors who were just a ‘bit’ quicker at following up than you.

This is the biggest exhibiting sin of all and it happens far too often.

The key to your tradeshow success is wrapped up in the lead-management process and you can optimise your results.

Show leads often take second place to other management activities that occur after being out of the office for several days. The longer leads are left unattended, the colder and more mediocre they become.

It’s to your advantage to develop an organised, systematic approach to follow-up.

Establish a lead handling system, set time lines for follow-up, use a database for tracking, make sales representatives accountable for leads given to them and then measure your results.

It may seem tedious, but following up quickly is the difference between a good ROI and a great one.

 

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