Last week I exhibited at a business exhibition. It was a novel event for me as I haven’t attended an exhibition as an exhibitor in nearly 10 years.
Of course I’m not a total exhibition novice. I’ve managed hundreds of such stands at national events like Crufts, Badminton, Gatcombe, the Royal Show, various events at Olympia, the NEC, RDS in Dublin and exhibition centres in Paris and Geneva. But I’ve never exhibited my own business. I learnt a lot.
So what did I learn this time. Well I re-learnt several crucial points.
The first is that you need to do something different to stand out. Most stands look the same and you have 5-8 seconds to attract a punter’s attention as they wander by. I put a large screen on my stand and streamed a series of YouTube videos. We had no sound .. just a hand writing text. People were entranced and we told them it was done with mirrors and a small child under the table. I don’t think anyone believed us but it created a talking point and you need that if you are going to engage with punters.
The second thing that was obvious to me was that most exhibitors didn’t have much clue about why they were there. When asked they gave reasons like we saw it advertised and it looked like a good idea. I think you need a firm objective. It might be to create leads, initiate meetings, meet existing customers .. but every event needs a strong objective.
I didn’t meet one exhibitor that could tell me about their pre-event marketing. They didn’t seem to have emailed existing clients or prospects, hadn’t sent any media releases, hadn’t … well the list is long. The only thing most had done was write some copy for the event catalogue … and we all know virtually no one reads them and it is too late by the time they have. One had added it to their website and sent out some Tweets and and a mention in their newslettter ….. but they were the exception (and had attended one of my marketing courses)
So my conclusions for organisers is that you owe it to the exhibitors to help them market their presence far better. That way you get more visitors. A marketing pack sent out at the outset would be ideal. Maybe some media release templates, some advice on a video, audio or on paper.
Without help these people will not make a great success of your event!