Have you ever considered exhibiting as part of your business’ marketing mix?

If not, you could be missing some great opportunities.  Exhibitions and trade shows give you the opportunity to not only meet new and existing customers, but to network with other businesses and build new contacts.

After attending a fantastic training session provided by The Exhibition Guy, Stephan Murtagh, it opened our eyes to a whole new world of opportunities.

Exhibitions and trade shows can be attended for a number of business reasons, including market research, testing or launching a new product, finding new staff (!), building brand awareness and the list goes on.  

Do your research

If you’re going to invest time and money attending an exhibition, then do your research.  You want to know that it’s the best possible investment for your business.  Draft a list of potential exhibitions that you might attend in the next 12 months.  Then narrow the list down by doing some research.  

Find out:

  1. How many normally attend the exhibition?
  2. What sort of person attends (i.e. are they your target customer)?
  3. Are your competitors there (this can have its pros and cons!)?
  4. How much it will cost to take a stand?
  5. What stand space is still available?

Remember all the costs involved

Keep in mind that it’s not just the cost of the stand space that you’re investing in.  You may need to decorate the stand, rent some decent lighting for the stand and invest in promotional material to give to attendees of the exhibition.  Stephan Murtagh suggests that the cost of the show is probably 3 times that cost of the stand (e.g. if the stand costs €2k, then you’ll more than likely spend about €6k by the end of the exhibition).  There’s no point in investing in just the stand space and then not being able to afford to entice new and existing customers to your stand!

Planning is key

Planning in advance of attending an exhibition is key.  You need to set some clear objectives as to what you want your business to achieve from the exhibition.  Stephan recommends setting just THREE clear objectives.  Obviously everybody thinks just in terms of sales, but it’s not all about that!  The objectives need to be clear and measurable.  

Have a sales plan, an operations plan and a marketing plan for the exhibition. The sales plan might include concentrating on one main product, not a full suite of products.  Keep in mind your space might be restricted. The operations plan might include logistics, staffing, rota to man the stand, etc.  Then the marketing plan might include your budget, which channels to use to promote the exhibition, etc.

Remember to promote in advance

Don’t forget to promote the fact that you’ll be at the exhibition.  It’s worth spending some time on this in advance of the event.  Think of 5 ways you might market your business prior to exhibiting, for example:

  1. Send invites to existing customers
  2. Post about the exhibition on social media
  3. Take out an ad in a trade magazine
  4. Update your website with a banner or landing page about the event
  5. Prepare promotional materials.

Pitch

Make sure that the staff at the exhibition know why they are there.  Prepare a pitch in advance with your staff.  Make sure the pitch message is clear and concise.

Follow up

There’s nothing worse than giving your contact details to an exhibitor only to never hear from them again.  If you’re collecting contact details, be sure to follow up.  It’s bad customer experience to either not contact them or to contact them when the exhibition is long forgotten about.  Be sure to make some form of contact with the potential customer.

 

Food for thought

Now that you have some food for thought, don’t forget exhibitions and trade shows as part of your marketing strategy.  If you want to talk more about Marketing Strategy then we’re here to help.  


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