Neil Bromage has run his own small business and is a freelance business writer working on a range of newspapers including The Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Financial Mail on Sunday. This book is based on a wide range of columns and Q&As written and answered by Neil for Business Link over a number of years. He is based near Preston, Lancs.
A stand at a good show attracting the right prospects can be extremely effective for generating leads. However, exhibitions can be expensive in money, time and materials.
Before diving in there is a range of information that you need to find out such as who and how many are expected to attend, whether they are mostly your target prospects and decision-makers. Who are the other exhibitors? Are your competitors and other complementary businesses there? This is a very good indicator of whether or not this is the right event for you, remembering that being right next to your main competitor can be a good thing.
When the decision to attend has been made it’s necessary to consider the practicalities. Who will design and build the stand? A poorly-designed, untidy, badly-managed stand implies a badly-run business. Some things, like power sockets, are expensive but worth paying for.
Consider who will man the stand when you’re actually at the exhibition. Can you cope alone or do you need to hire help? Ensure that sales literature is ready on time, and that it is clearly displayed. It’s not always necessary to splash out on expensive brochures as too many people just collect them; initially, cheaper, outline brochures will suffice. You can send full information packs later to visitors whom you qualify at the show. That gives you a useful reason to follow up, too.
Don’t assume visitors know who you are or what you offer. Too often, people walk by a stand without getting a clue as to why they should stop and talk. So be sure that strollers can grab your main marketing messages (i.e., what you can do for them) in 10 seconds.
Pictures and graphics are generally easier to display than products. Keep graphics and lettering large, colourful, attractive and easy to read from a distance.