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How to Exhibit: Our Tips on Exhibiting at Business Expos
TOP TIPS FOR EXHIBITORS #2
Reasons NOT to exhibit at a business Expo
There might be some reasons, perfectly legitimate, that might give you cause to pause before registering to exhibit your business at a regional SME business expo or business show. Here we take a look at what might concern you, and give you our view on these. Hope it helps.
"I have no idea what to do."
Well, you don’t have to do that much. If you ‘boil down’ to what an SME business Expo is all about, it really comes to having the opportunity to talk with people about their businesses/ situations, and then explaining how you can help them solve their problems. As it is face to face, there is nothing more important than an initial first smile and show some genuine interest in that person – why they are here, what they do, how you can help.
You really don’t need much in way of preparation, but a little preparation goes a long way. At a typical sme expo you might be offered a table and chairs as part of your stand space. First thing – forget the chairs, as you want to talk to people at their level, showing an interest. You might want leaflets or business cards, but when it comes down to it you could easily have a very successful event without anything visual or without any take-home material. What’s important is to make contact with a set of people who you can do business with (if not now then later, and stay in contact) or who can help you in some way, eg as someone you could work together to achieve your goals such as an accountant who could introduce your services to their clients. You might want to list potential business types who you’re particularly interested in meeting/working with.
Some people want to make their stand look really attractive and professional, which is great, but nothing is more important than simply showing an interest in the visitor.
"I might prefer to be a ‘free agent’ and come as a visitor"
Great, there’s a lot of value to coming as a visitor. However a stand will give you a platform to work from. It forces you to prepare a little more beforehand, prepping your ‘angle’ and unique proposition. Visitors tend to go around an expo fairly methodically so you’re unlikely to be ‘missed’ if you have a stand. It’s easy for visitors to visit stands, but not so easy to begin conversations with each other as there isn’t that excuse to start the conversation. A Stand holder is there to talk, and it’s expected that they’ll start conversations as people come around. And that’s aside from any visual impact the Exhibitor can bring to the stand.
"It might cost a lot"
Aside from the cost of the stand (ask how many visitors are expected, how many years the event has been running, who’s already involved to question value for money), you could potentially end up spending a small fortune on extra materials for your stand. These might include a bespoke graphics Expo stand itself, flyers and booklets, pop-up banners, promotional product giveaways, raffle prizes, large format printing. These can all help to position your business, explain what you do, make you look good, and you can create a budget for this. BUT be clear before you order these things that the budget allows for it because it would be easy to overspend. Remember that the personal interaction, how that happens, how you follow it up, is much more important than the stand itself.
"I might not meet potential clients"
To get a sale you need the interest and it needs to be the right time. FACT: 80% of the time it won’t be the right time. Work on the basis that you try the identify the 20% who’ll buy now, and the 80% who might buy later. If you make sales on the day, great, but the reality is that the biggest pot of potentials will NOT buy from you now. If you get this point and use it wisely, it will reap many benefits later. So by following up with the 80% properly after the event, staying in touch, building credibility, over time it can lead to many more sales than made on the day itself. But this does require conscious, diligent effort afterwards with your prospects - but it can be worth it in spades. You can see an Expo as filling your ‘pipeline’ or ‘prospect funnel’.
"I’m just not sure, I haven’t done it before"
Nothing happens unless you make it happen. Is there anything much more important in business than filling your prospect pipeline?
TOP TIPS FOR EXHIBITORS #1
Before the event
• Before you go, flick through the exhibitor list to scan for potential customers, partners and referral givers to make contact.
• Let your list of prospects and customers know that you’re exhibiting beforehand – via newsletters, email, or direct mail, email signature or social media. It's a great excuse to get in touch with them and demonstrates keenness to do business.
• Send news of any offers, promotions or prizes that you’ll have on your stand to the event organisers so that they can promote it to prospective visitors in the build up to the event. (and don’t forget to use this yourself)
• Make a list of business types that would make great referral partners
• Check for competitors and be clear about your points of difference – Your unique selling points, and how you’re going to help people understand and remember them: Keep the message extremely simple and focussed – decide what you want to be remembered for or it will be lost amidst the busyness
• Be thoughtful on ordering marketing materials for the event to keep efficiency. For example, can brochures or flyers or pop up banners be used following the event either for further events or in other marketing efforts - a deadline or offer printed on them may prevent this and can be delivered in another form.
• Collect prospect data to use in marketing campaigns
• Promote brand awareness
• To make contact with key referrers
• To get networked
• To demonstrate a product or service
• To take orders on the day
We hope that you found this information useful? Please do give us your feedback or send your own best Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll send you some goodies for our favourite tip of the month. If you'd like to talk to us, please call 0800 0126 751 as we love talking about anything to do with Expos