Exhibiting at an Event? How Careful Planning can Separate you from the Noise
When it comes to event planning, quite frankly there are just some businesses that do it better than others. If like me, you’ve either attended an event or exhibited at one, you’ve probably witnessed the businesses that show up, but seem to have no apparent plan. These stands are characterised by staff who give out one leaflet after another, but don’t appear to engage with anyone interested in the stand. There’s no form of data capture, no offers or incentives to attract, and staff look like spare parts, unsure as to their roles. These businesses aren’t taking the opportunity to elevate their status, to present themselves as the expert in their field – they’ve shown up for the sake of showing up…
Because they think that somehow, they’re helping their business.
We’ve all been there – every so often an event opportunity arises, and there’s a mad rush to get the marketing collateral created, available staff to man the stand and in general, planning is either last minute, or even a complete afterthought. The problem with this ‘strategy’ of course, is that when you’re competing with hundreds of other stands also exhibiting their products and services, you’re at risk of becoming a faceless business, lost in the sea of freebies and branded pens.
Which makes the whole event not worth your time.
Now, you can have a few of your most approachable staff on your stand, but in order to really utilise the opportunity, you need to carry out some careful planning before the event. Showing your face at an event simply won’t cut it. If you haven’t got a strategy to get those all-important leads, and your stand looks unprofessional because half your staff are engaged with their phones, then your presence could be having the reverse effect on your business.
First and foremost, think of what your strength is – what sets you apart from the crowd? For example, here at Elite rooms, we know that ours is speaking. We also know that giving out brochures (which will either end up in the bin or digging deep into your marketing budget) isn’t the answer. We’ve recently been exhibiting at Olympia, and our strategy is to speak throughout the day on our stand, and collect data and bookings to our events.
You need to give people a good reason to stop at your stand. Competition at events is high, and people are impatient. Speaking is a great way of attracting leads because if you’re good at it (and everyone has the potential to be), a magnetic speech will drive trust and curiosity, leaving people more open to filling in their details or entering that free prize draw. At Olympia, we’re sharing a theatre with one of our friends, and using it to speak frequently throughout the day. The aim of the speaking slots is to get people to enter a free draw into our 3 day, Expert Elevator intensive course.This is a great way of standing out from the crowd, and let’s face it, that should be the crucial point of exhibiting at an event – to be remembered.
In just one day we attracted 180 leads.
Every business can experience success at an event – it’s all about careful planning and working to your strengths. If you’ve got a product to promote that’s a leader in the industry, that might be the central focus on your stand – exhibiting it and highlighting what it can offer. If you’re promoting a paid course or workshop, centre your efforts on a lead-generating tactic to get people to enter a free prize draw, or even to enter their details to be eligible for an incredible discount.
Throughout my years in business, I’ve seen far too many event stands that just haven’t made the cut. Staff that looked bored or restless, a lack of teamwork or effort, and sometimes even empty stands, where staff have left for a bathroom break without considering how it could harm their lead capture.
It is not enough to just show up at an event. If you’re going to invest in an event, make sure that you have a plan. If you don’t you’ll be not only throwing away good money, but you’ll also be taking your staff away from their day job, for no reason. If you’re not offering an incentive for lead capture, or your stand artwork or marketing collateral looks like it was last updated years back, then you’re missing a trick.
When you’re exhibiting at an event you’re pushing your brand right into the public eye – so make it count.