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So, you’re thinking about taking part in an exhibition? Good move; research shows that, done right, exhibitions can deliver the hottest, fastest, and most easily converted leads of any marketing medium.

But the key is in the words “when done right”, and so there are a number of things we need to address right from the start.1 why exhibit ( how does it compare to other promotions)

1. Be Clear About Why You are Going

That means setting clear, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, realistic and Time bound) objectives. You can assess your results at the end if you didn’t know what you were hoping to achieve at the beginning.

2. Set Realistic Timeframes

To exploit the opportunities exhibitions offer, expect to put in some considerable time and energy. You’ll need to think about your stand, of course, but also about other possible activities you can get involved with at the show.

You’ll also want to exploit all the pre-show opportunities which will allow you to tell the world you’re going to be there.

3. Treat An Exhibition As You Would Any other Project

Remember the strong links between the 3 factors of quality, cost and time (e.g. allowing less time WILL mean higher costs). Plan it using project management tools, such as a Gantt chart (they are named after Henry Gantt, who managed to build the Hoover Dam with them, so they’ll certainly work for you.

4. Have a Small Management Team

Just one person in charge – that way expensive last minute ideas or essential administrative details can be dealt with accordingly.

The Impeccable Planner by Mark Perl5. Give Considered Thought to What You Are Looking to Achieve

For example, you won’t get to see everyone at a show, but setting your sights on 50 top buyers is feasible.

Your objectives could involve meeting potential customers, or existing clients, or the Press, or agents, or distributors, or a mixture of all of these, in a relaxed but fast moving environment.

6. Exhibitions Are a Great Way of Launching New Products and Services

Visitors and the media will be hungry to see “what’s new”. New companies – or divisions – can also expect to see the benefit of being “fresh faces”

7. Concentrate on Thinking How You can Bring Your Product or Service to Life

Show visitors what your product or service will do for them. Regard your space as a “three-dimensional” sales opportunity: what other form of marketing allows you to promote to all five senses of a visitor?

Use the exhibition stand to bring alive the features that the glossiest of brochures can only hint at – and be as creative as possible to “sell to all five senses”.

8. Don’t be Constrained in Setting Objectives for your Exhibition Presence

Other opportunities at the event will include the ability to show products that may normally be difficult to take to people’s homes or offices; secure valuable research from an audience who are the people you need to talk to; recruit staff or agents; and, depending on the show, use an exhibition to very cost-effectively test the market in a new country.

9. Be Creative

Think about creating a customer “experience”; judicious use of lighting, sun lamps, massage oils, sand and freshly squeezed oranges can recreate a Spanish lifestyle in the most unusual places!

10. And remember This Staggering Statistic

54 percent of exhibition sales leads sales are closed without a sales call: think about that staggering statistic; a well-designed and executed exhibition strategy will get across the services you can offer a visitor.

If the rest of your marketing strategy is in place, sales can then be achieved with effective direct mail, e-mail and telemarketing, without the expense of further meetings.

See Also

Tips to Make the Most of your Exhibiting Time

The Top Ten Unbreakable Rules of Exhibiting

Richard John is Managing Director of RJA (GB) Ltd, based in the UK. Richard is recognised as a leading authority in the field of event management, training and consultancy. He lectures on event management at numerous universities in the UK and overseas, and his presentations have been well-received on 4 continents. His articles on all aspects of face to face communication have appeared in more than 50 magazines and he is a regular columnist in a number of MICE magazines.
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