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The commitment to having a stand at a tradeshow can be daunting. Do you have enough stock, who is going to be at the stand, and will the equipment turn up on time are some of the big questions, as well as deciding on the design and fitout of the stand itself. Trade Show Training GM, Russell McIntosh, shares his top five tips for maximising the trade show experience.

 1. Set clear goals for what you want to achieve at the show.

Why? Too many exhibitors reach the end of the show and are scratching their heads when deciding whether it was successful or not. Anecdotal evidence is too subjective, and you require some firm goals to help guide you on your success.

How? SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) is always a good basis but please add an ‘H’ for Harmony. This is my word for ensuring that the goal means the same thing to all members of your team. Be clear what needs to happen to achieve the goal.

Excuse me? The goal “To achieve 100 leads by the end of the trade show” is not clear in that the term ‘leads’ is not defined. Frank may count a lead as someone with a pulse. Katie thinks a lead is someone that has a 30-minute conversation at the stand and takes a brochure. Be very clear as to what constitutes a lead, so all staff are on the same page.

2. Free Marketing/PR Opportunities

Either when you book the stand and/or in the lead up to the show, get in touch with the organisers and tap into any marketing and PR they are doing. This is especially important if you have something new and interesting to promote. This helps to get in the magazines and pre-show promotion and helps you become a must-see exhibitor at the show.

Also, most B2B shows have exhibitor listings on the show website and you can have quite a bit of company information here. Sadly, many exhibitors ignore or aren’t aware of this free opportunity and then get missed as the visitor plans their day at the show.

3. Stand stocktake

Know what is included with your floor space/stand. Many exhibitors have received the nasty shock at the show to find no walls, no power and then on review, these things were never part of the booking. Be in contact with the organiser to get the lowdown on what is included. They will generally have sent this to you when you booked so be sure to flick through any confirmations first.

Quick tip. On the smaller stands, you tend to have fascia and a company sign above your stand. You can be clever with this name, especially if your business name isn’t clear on what you do. As an example, let’s take a business in the packaging industry with the business name ‘ABC Pty Ltd’. A name like this may mean very little but having ‘Your Packaging Needs Solved!’ may be a far better use of that space above your stand.

You have two to three seconds to capture a visitors attention. This simple change may just be what does it.

4. Who should be part of the stand team?

This decision sits at or near the top of any decision you will make. The general stats reveal that 85 per cent of the effectiveness of a trade show stand comes from the interactions between staff and the visitors. This is not the place to bring your greatest introvert. So here are a few points on how to select the best people:

  • The staff member wants to be there – ask them before making them go;
  • their attitude which includes the ability to think quickly on their feet – flexibility and adaptability are important traits; and
  • they can perform one of the pre-defined roles you have for the stand. That’s right, each person needs to be selected to fulfil a role. It is not a free for all.

5. Select a lead captain

Sounds a bit like primary school, but stay with me. The biggest failure of exhibitors by a long way is their inability to follow up trade show leads. This can be poor follow up (e.g., going the wrong way about it) or not following up at all!!

A lead captain, ideally a trusted member of your team, takes on the role of distributing the leads at the end of the show to the appropriate people and then holding those staff members to account. This performs two main functions:

  • Staff feel a bit of pressure and actually follow the leads up, which is largely the purpose of why you did the trade show; and
  • you get to track what business came from the trade show to help you make the decision on whether to do this trade how again in the future.

Trade Show Training runs webinars to help exhibitors get the most from trade shows and works directly with exhibitors to plan their trade shows, including training their show teams, to be better on the trade show floor.

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