Top Tips

15 ways to become an expert exhibitor

Here are some quick tips to get more out of your exhibition stand:

1. Book into the right show
Make sure the show has some history and that your target market are coming along. Talk to previous participants. Remember smaller focused events can be better than big general shows. Check the credibility of the organiser with a quick online search.

2. Book early and start planning
Many of us book a show and forget about it, or book late. We then have to rush at the last minute to get organised. Book early and get a copy of the exhibitor manual. Set up a file for the show and start planning. Book hotels and flights early to get the best rates and lock it in.

3. Set some objectives
Have a chat with your sales and marketing people and set some objectives. They should be practical and realistic. They might include generating a specific number of leads, meetings or sales. It might be to generate goodwill or media attention. You might want to do all these things, but think about the key priorities and how to measure them.

4. Engage in pre-show promotion
The organiser will run a promotion campaign to attract industry buyers, but research has shown a huge advantage for exhibitors who promote their own presence at the show. It helps to generate stand traffic and show how active you are in the market. Consider mailing a personal letter and ticket to all your current and potential contacts. Provide links on your website and social media sites. Tweet and blog about your participation. Get your franchisees to hand out tickets to customers. Be enthusiastic - it works!

5. Use social media
Social media and live events go together beautifully. Make sure you are talking about the event in your tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram. If nothing else just follow the show on Twitter or Facebook and simply resend the messages put out by the organiser. At the event you can take photos with your phone and post straight to your account. It's free and easy.

6. Train your show team
Staff are often thrown into a show. It is not their natural environment so a little bit of training can make a big difference. Bring everyone together before the show and talk about your objectives, talk about the advantages of your system and suggest some good ways to start and end conversations with buyers. The main points can be reinforced with a brief meeting each morning of the show.

7. Motivate your team
Working at a show can be hard work. Motivate your team by offering rewards for meeting your objectives. Give them regular breaks outside the building to recharge. Promise them a big dinner after the show rather than a late night right in the middle.

8. Be professional
Your company is literally on show. Make sure your stand is properly put together and your people are well presented and attentive. Instead of posters or pop-ups think about digital prints attached directly to the walls or benches. Hire good quality furniture. Organise storage to hide away files and personal items. Tuck power leads under the carpet. Try not to eat or sit on the stand. Don't pack up early.

9. Dress right
You want to look professional but approachable. We suggest you dress the same or slightly better than the audience. A company uniform such as a quality printed polo shirt is great. If you don't have one them perhaps head out and buy some matching ties and scarves. If in doubt wear a suit.

10. Be obvious
Visitors will walk past your stand in five seconds. Make sure it is obvious what you do. You might try to recreate the look and feel of a store. This could be through a product display or wall size photo. If you have specific territories then you might want to put up a sign that says exactly that.

11. Be positive
Smile and the world smiles with you - cry and you cry alone. Greet every visitor with a smile and get them excited about what you are doing. If you look grumpy and complain about the show then guess what - you will have a bad show.

12. Ask open ended questions

Train your salespeople to ask intelligent open ended questions. These generally begin with how, why, where or when.

For example:

  • What sort of work have you been doing?
  • When are you planning to get into a franchise?
  • How much are you looking to invest?
  • Where do you want to work?

People generally like to talk about themselves. Once you know something about them you can explain how your system can work for them

13. Think about sampling
If you are a food company then have a think about sampling. It is a great way to stop traffic and engage with people. You will need to fill out some forms and follow the local health rules.

14. Get rid of visitors!
Be careful not to spend too much time with individual visitors. You only have so much time to spend with each prospect and don't want to get caught with timewasters. A great way to get rid of visitors is to give them a card and confirm a follow up call. Then move to the next prospect.

15. Follow up
One of the biggest complaints from visitors is that exhibitors do not follow them up. Can you believe that people would let hot leads go to waste? Make sure you capture details accurately and send something within a week of the show. The only way to work this quickly is to prepare before the show. Have packs ready to go and someone in the office to make it happen. Then pick up the phone and start calling.