IFSEC 2017 Fastlane stand with personnel

Exhibition survival guide

Our calendar is always packed with exhibitions. In fact, we’ve got quite a few over the coming months, detailed here. If you’re planning to exhibit at or attend one of these exhibitions, firstly, we’d love to see you so please pop along to our stand to say hello and secondly, we thought we’d share a few tips on how to make them as successful and enjoyable as possible.

1. Agree objectives

Whether you’re an exhibitor or an attendee, knowing what you want to achieve from attending the show is critical to making it a productive use of time and budget. As an exhibitor, you will be looking to open up sales opportunities with new or existing customers but, there can also be opportunities to assess competitors, identify new technologies, develop relationships with complementary companies and show potential employees why they should want to work for you.

Attendees should be maximising their time by using any learning opportunities presented, both through seminars and on-stand, reconnecting with contacts, researching new products and getting a sense of broader industry changes.

2. Know your audience

Every show is different, so bringing the same strategy to each one just isn’t going to pay off. Take the time to consider what sort of people will be attending the show, what products and technologies they might already be familiar with and what would be totally unknown, and what they are going to need to be convinced of in order to consider your products in the mix.

3. Agree key messages and review them with stand staff

Being clear on the audience(s) you are looking to attract will define the elements that will be important to stand visitors. Making sure that every member of staff on-stand is clear about these will ensure that enquiries are dealt with confidently and effectively and that visitors get what they need. Over selling to people is a big no-no, especially if you haven’t bothered to find out what their problems are.  Understanding what their needs are and helping them to find a solution is a much more effective approach.

4. Grab attention

In a hall with 500 stands you need to give people a reason to visit you. Our products are designed with aesthetics top of mind and that really helps to create a visually appealing stand.  This year, we again opted for stand designs which incorporate height so that we can be seen above the crowds.  On our travels we have seen some big budgets at play with interactive robots, competitions and freebies galore, but it is always important to ensure that these are closely aligned to your objectives so that you don’t spend money attracting the wrong audience.

5. Capture data

A critical part of an exhibition is ensuring that all of your new contacts can be captured. If someone has visited your stand and requested a follow-up, you need to ensure that their business card doesn’t get lost in amongst those that are less vital.  Taking a photo with your phone and emailing it to the office with a note covering what needs to be done next can be all it takes.  Alternatively, upload a comment to your diary or Evernote calendar, or make use of one of the lead capture systems offered by most exhibition organisers.  Add all relevant contacts to your newsletter database so they can be kept up to date with news.

6. Comfort

Exhibitions equal long hours and a lot of time standing. Now isn’t the time to break in new shoes.

7. Really get to know your audience

Bond with people, host drinks, go to drinks, be friendly – it’s a lot better to do business that way and it certainly makes being away from home a lot more pleasant. Most organisers can point you in the direction of a networking event but, if not, the on-site bar is as good a place as any.

8. Keep in touch with family, and the office

With the technology on offer, there’s no reason not to be able to keep in touch. Free calls via Skype or Facetime and instant messaging make keeping in touch, wherever you are in the world, simple.

9. Review

When it’s all done, you’ve taken down the stand and left the exhibition hall, don’t just be grateful it’s all over. Take the time to review as a team – what worked, what didn’t, what were other people doing that was attracting stand visitors etc.  Consider having an on-stand feedback form or creating a Surveymonkey follow-up which you can email out by way of a follow up.  Learn from what was done and look for ways to improve.