Exhibiting at a trade show is always a significant investment. On top of the stand space itself, there’s often travel, accommodation and staffing costs… and that’s before thinking about marketing materials, collateral and gifts. It’s therefore essential to ensure the maximum possible return.
The problem is, many marketers struggle to find the “sweet spot” between needlessly overspending and failing to give their event presence enough support to make an impact.
At Outsourced Events, we’ve managed dozens of trade show appearances throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and throughout that time we’ve noticed five basic errors that separate exhibitors who don’t make a great return from those that do…
Mistake 1: Not having a clear objective
From the outset, it’s essential to be very clear what you want to achieve by taking part in the event. Having smart targets to aim for makes it much easier to plan each aspect of your presence, and how you want your visitors’ experience on your stand to be.
If you know your main priority is to provoke a reaction, to encourage in-depth conversations or to collect as many detail scans as possible, you can ensure your stand location, design – in fact, everything down to the kinds of gifts you choose to give away – is tailored to help that outcome happen.
Mistake 2: Following the crowd
Whatever you do, be memorable. Visitors to an exhibition will have had dozens of conversations and seen hundreds of stands by the end of their day. Simply doing what everyone else does is not going to help you to stand out as a highlight, so ask yourself: what will you do that’s different? Why will the contacts remember you in particular?
Mistake 3: Booking the standard Shell Scheme
So many exhibitors make the mistake of just assuming that paying for the organiser’s supplied shell scheme stand is cheaper and less hassle than booking space only, and building your own – without even checking. That’s a pity, because stand design is something that can really set you apart from the crowd, and underline your status as a serious contender.
In fact, by the time you’ve factored show contractors’ costs for lighting, furniture and the rest, it’s often possible to design and build an entirely bespoke exhibition stand for less than the cost of the shell scheme – and, if you use an agency, it’s all managed for you so it’s quicker and easier, too.
Mistake 4: Forgetting follow-up until after the event
As soon as you know your objective, your post-show follow-up should be the first thing you plan. There’s no point in collecting all that lovely data unless you’re going to use it well – and that means making contact while conversations are fresh in people’s minds.
It’s too late to decide your follow-up strategy, write your emails and create your assets after the event: they should be ready to send before you even arrive. That way you can respond quickly, create a good impression and ultimately see better results. As an added bonus, you’ll also be able to confidently promise new contacts that they’ll hear from you shortly after the show, so your follow-up is expected when it arrives.
Mistake 5: DIY event management
Today’s marketers have more strategic things to do than blow up balloons, order branded bags and print out name badges. Having the practical aspects handled professionally frees up more time to set the overall strategy and direction, and release key colleagues, such as sales, to maximise the overall effectiveness of your presence.
What’s more, an agency has the experience to know what will really help you achieve your objectives, will probably already know your venue and its idiosyncrasies, and can usually command excellent rates from contractors and contacts. It’s not unusual for an event management agent to return an overall budget saving – even including its fee – so there’s really no good reason not to have some help on board.
Getting it right: SevOne at TM Forum Management World
With a focused approach, it’s entirely possible to achieve great results on a limited budget.
For this year’s TM Forum Management World event in Nice, we helped SevOne to implement a motorsport theme that would both attract attention and convey the key message of performance.
We sourced designs and competitive quotes for a bespoke stand from our contacts throughout Europe. Ultimately, the stand was created by an exhibitions specialist from Milan – all for less than the cost of the equivalent shell scheme.
Replica sports car giveaways were very effective in starting conversations – which could then be continued in the seated, booth areas built into the stand design.
The integrated approach worked: SevOne exceeded its target for new contacts from the event by 190%.
Want some help?
If you’d like support, management or ideas for a forthcoming exhibition or trade show, we’d be delighted to talk. Contact Denise Sharpe on 0208 995 9495 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.