Posted: Fri 16th Jun 2017
Exhibiting at trade shows, exhibitions and events can be a successful tactic to raise your business profile, generate leads and reach new audiences. With over 17 years experience organising events and exhibitions, Lindsey Fish, founder and CEO of Mums Enterprise, shares her top tips for making sure you get the most from your investment.
Exhibitions are a fantastic opportunity for you to get out there in front of your audience.
You can be creative, you can have fun and being on the ground and actually speaking face to face with your customers and potential customers can have a really positive impact on your business.
But of course there are things you can do to increase your chances of success and these are my top tips.
It is easy to get carried away on promotional items, gimmicks and branding your stand but don;t get carried away. You should focus instead on choosing the right event, with the right audience and nothing will make your attendance more of a success than the people manning your stand.
Where you can, always try to have a helping hand and avoid having one person all day on your stand as you don't want to miss people if you are held up in a conversation. They don't have to be an expert in your business, but just somebody to catch those who take an interest whilst your tied up and if needs be to simply take details.
Setting a budget and sticking to it should be just one of your objectives for the stand and all costs involved. But you also need to have clear goals and objectives thought about and set before you arrive on the day.
As yourself why are you exhibiting? What will make the event a success for you? How are you going to measure it and what can you do to ensure you maximise your chances of meeting those goals?
For example these could be:
50 people signed up to your newsletters
Two new clients
Five hot leads
10 warm leads
Within six months you want to have won three further clients
To get give yourself the best chances of meeting these goals there are various things you can do.
Take template lead sheets, create exclusive offers, run a competition, make appointments with existing leads and customers on the day.
It's also always a good idea to know what is going on at the event before you arrive, make time to circulate, meet other exhibitors and if suitable take part in networking or other activities going on at the event.
Make the best use of your time and max it out. If it's a busy show time will fly.
So the aim of the game is to have as many meaningful conversations as possible.
Now it may sound a bit mean but you don't want to have a 15 minute conversation with somebody who turns out not to be a target customer for you at all however enjoyable it may be.
So you need to have some qualifying questions in place before so you can easily identify early on in a conversation if a person you are talking to is your target customer, supplier or potentially somebody to collaborate with.
For example, if I was offering a B2B service I would ask:
About the company and what it does
Who they are and what job role they hold at that company
If they currently work with or have ever worked with a company similar to myself
Then you know whether it's worth chatting for longer. If not have a get out of conversation tactic such as, to take their details or their card so you can get details to them after the show.
So you have qualified the person you are talking to but the same goes for you.
The person looking for your product or service needs to also have faith and trust that you can deliver what you say you will but also have a clear understanding of what it is you do.
Events are a great way to try things out but you must go armed with clear pricing, packages and information to help move the interest from enquiry to further down the sales pipeline.
People should leave your stand thinking about making a decision not left wanting to know more about how you can help them.
If you are thinking 'but I offer a more bespoke consultative service' that is fabulous but that doesn't help the person make a decision. In that case have maybe an example customer and case study with their scenario, how you helped them, what it cost and the results.
A smile really does go a long way. You should also stand up, have open body language, be inviting, warm to approach, make eye contact and say hello to people as they pass by.
Post show plan
Events can be an instant hit but often, in particular business to business, exhibitions can be a longer lead time from enquiry to customer.
This is why you need to capture contact details on the day, make clear notes for yourself on conversations had so you don't forget and have a plan of action for after the show day.
Follow up with a personal email which is much better than a blanket email. Deliver what you promised on the day whether that was a call or more information don't let them down.
Follow and add people on social media and connect on linked-in. Events can be the start of amazing, long lasting relationships so stay connected and stay in tune. Somebody you spoke to at a show can end up being your best customer a year down the line.
Mums Enterprise run free, child-friendly work and business exhibitions across the UK showcasing know-how, tools and opportunities for mums wanting to retrain, find flexible work, start or grow a business.