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How to successfully exhibit at an industry show part 2

This is part 2 of the 'How to successfully exhibit at an industry show' guide. Read part one here

Decide what your exhibit will be like

An exhibit at an industry show.
© Design Conversation - licence

The exhibit stand is where you will be showcasing your company to all of the attendees of the industry show, so it is essential that you get it right. You will need to put on exhibit that is eye-catching while being practically designed to allow your staff to speak to as many people as possible.

Stand space is often priced per square metre, so you will have to have some idea of how large or small your stand will be when you book and pay for your attendance at the show. Remember, if you plan on demonstrating machinery or large products, these will have a bearing on how big your exhibition area needs to be.

Stands near locations with high foot traffic are desirable, as are corner stands that can seem more open with two entrances than those confined between others. It isn’t always possible to reserve one of these areas, so don’t be too disheartened if you don’t get one — you can make up for it with an attractive stand and excellent products and services.

If the industry show has an exhibitor’s manual, make sure that you read it. It is likely to contain most of the vital information that you need to know, including prices and deadlines for on-site services, regulations for exhibiting, show dates, and event opening and closing times.

Stand layout and branding

There are a number of aspects to consider when it comes to choosing the layout and branding for your exhibition stand:

·         Make sure your entrance/exit is clear: Unless you have a corner stand with two entrances/exits, you will need to make sure there is plenty of space for people to get into and get out of your stand at the same time. Although you want people to spend their time at your stand, ideally it shouldn’t be when they are waiting to get in or out.

·         Don’t clog your stand up with too many fixtures: If you have a large exhibition area, you may be able to fit a lot of literature stands, displays, and surfaces full of promotional products. If you don’t have a lot of room to work with, keep the middle of your stand clear to avoid bottlenecks. You can still use extra fixtures, just try to keep them around the edges.

·         Consider seats and tables: If your business offers a product or service that requires your staff to explain a lot of material to potential customers or to take their details, it may be wise to equip your stand with some seats and tables to make this easier. Bar-style stools are useful because they don’t take up a lot of space.

·         Use original images for your branding graphics: The last thing you want is your stand to look the same as everyone else’s, so avoid using images that you have purchased from stock photo libraries and instead try to use your own original images.

·         Communicate your key messages clearly: Your key messages should be communicated clearly through your branding — potential customers should know immediately what you are offering and how you can assist them.

·         Make sure you have a strong call to action: Throughout the day you will likely have more visitors to your stand than you can speak to one-to-one. If someone is interested in your product or services, you should communicate what the next step for them would be through your stand graphics. 

·         Use clearly visible contact information: Some people will not have enough time or will be too shy to come and speak to you at your exhibit. They might take some of your literature, but you should also prominently display your company’s contact details so that they can get in touch at a later date.

Investing in stand re-usability

If you are aiming to attend exhibitions in the future, it might be a good idea to invest in a high-quality stand or fixtures that have the potential to be used again in the future. Banners that can be folded up and stored away and roller banners that can be compacted back into themselves are two great fixture products that have a strong re-usability factor.

At Custom Planet, we stock a range of banners that can be completely customised to your business’s branding requirements. These banners are portable and can be used for as many events as you need, making them a great investment for your company.

Make sure your staff are ready to exhibit

Team meeting ahead of an exhibit at an industry show
© USAID - licence

While putting together a great stand is very important, so is making sure your exhibiting staff are ready to push your brand to new levels. There are two main areas that need considering with regards to the staff you have chosen to attend the exhibit: whether they will need training and what they will wear during the show.

Staff training

The people that you select to run your exhibition stand will be the ambassadors for your brand throughout the event. Therefore, it is essential that they know how to represent your brand in the best possible manner.

You should choose staff you know are outgoing and are quite comfortable when talking to people about your services and products. When you have settled on a team, you should brief them beforehand, making sure that they know exactly why you have chosen to exhibit at this particular event, what you want them to exhibit, and the high standards that you expect from them.

Consult each and every one of the team and find out if they need any specific product or service training. They may also feel that they need more specialist training in sales, which is an important consideration as you don’t want them overselling and putting potential customers off your brand.

They also need to be aware that, as much as they want to, they should not spend too much time with one visitor, as there may be five more left waiting to be approached. Any extra sales training should also cover closing, as they should aim to finish every positive exchange with a commitment to follow up the interaction.

Staff uniforms

Staff who are dressed smartly in uniform will portray your brand in a professional light to any visitors to your stand. Visitors will also be able to tell immediately who they should speak to when all of your stand staff are wearing your brand. Uniforms don’t have to be seen as stuffy or unfashionable: you can invest in clothing that is both flattering and comfortable while still carrying your branding.

At Custom Planet, we specialise in providing customised clothing that will reflect well on your exhibiting staff. Our range of clothing is suitable for many kinds of event, and we can cater for any level of formality. If you are looking for a more casual look for your staff, our T-shirts and hoodies are perfect for a dress-down uniform — ideal for events like careers fairs or university showcases. We also stock polo shirts and shirts that are perfect if you are looking for something a little more smart-casual. These are just some of the examples of our wider range of custom clothing, all of which can be branded with your company’s name and logo.

Our expert staff will be happy to help you out with your event uniform needs, and you can take advantage of our digital printingscreen printingembroidery, and garment finishing services to ensure your staff uniforms look the part.

On the day of the event

Once the event is underway, all of your hard work towards preparing can finally begin to pay off. If you are attending the event yourself, don’t be afraid to hang around your exhibit early on to check that your staff are doing a great job — it’s easier to point out any adjustments to the stand or your staff’s style at the earliest opportunity to prevent them from getting into a bad routine.

Be careful not to be too overbearing though, as there is nothing worse than having to perform under pressure then to be harangued at every spare moment by your boss. Have faith in your staff; if you have made sure they have had the proper training they won’t let you down.

Get all of your team to practise a lead ranking system, where they assign a letter or number to indicate a category of follow-up priority that they fall into. For example, a number 1 could represent someone who has expressed a firm interest in your product or service and requires following up immediately after the event with a personal sales call. You might be able to make a slightly more complex system, but be wary of making it too difficult for your team to remember on the fly.

If they are demonstrating some of your electronic products to visitors, remember that no matter how much preparation you did back at the office, there is always a chance that things will go wrong with technology in the environment of the industry show. Always make sure you have a backup plan to take care of any technical hiccups you suffer.

Give someone on the team responsibility for capturing the event with engaging social media. Encourage them to take pictures of the stand and your team in action, and seize on any Twitter hashtags for the event to get more exposure for your stand. You can also use networks like Facebook and Instagram to share the location of your stand with any potential visitors. Be sure to keep up to date with any events going on within the show to retweet or share, and don’t be afraid to target any high-profile industry figures or influencers who are attending with your social media — the chance of your update being liked or shared by them could significantly increase your exposure.

Use the opportunity of attending the show to wander around and take a look at the way other companies have set up their stalls, especially your rivals. If this is your first time exhibiting, you may want to carry a notepad to jot down some essential observations for next time, or you can even snap a few pictures if you see something that you think is very effective.

If you are attending a trade show, use the opportunity to network with partners or other industry contemporaries. Trade shows are useful opportunities to see what the rest of the sector is up to. Likewise, if you have the time, don’t be afraid to step onto the stand for a while yourself — the opportunity to speak to one of the senior figures in a brand can often make a positive impression, showing your company is down to earth and willing to have a conversation about your products and services.

A day spent exhibiting can be long and tiresome, so you should also make sure that your staff stay motivated throughout the show’s open hours. Ensure that they regularly take breaks, as a moment to regroup and collect their thoughts can be a welcome refresher during an intense day of selling.

If you have a balance of staff that are great at sales and staff that are adept at explaining the technical side of things, consider splitting them into small teams or pairs so that one can always rely on the other for assistance if they find themselves in a tough spot. Encouraging a bit of healthy competition is also an option — offer a prize or other incentive for the team member that secures the most leads or makes the most sales.

After the show

Once the stand is packed up and you’ve headed back to the office, it’s time to follow up your leads and evaluate the importance of the exhibit. Use the ranking system that you had your staff use to prioritise your best leads and have them work through each category with a measured response that matches the person’s level of interest in your company. While you may employ firmer sales tactics with higher-category leads, people who provided you with details just to enter a giveaway contest should not be followed up with the same level of attention. This level of interest probably only warrants being added to your company’s database or mailing list for marketing materials.

After you have had time to get some feedback on the leads that you gained at the event, you should get everyone who took part in into a debriefing and evaluation meeting to decide whether the show could be considered a success. Consider the following discussion points:


·         Refer back to the goals that you set out in your first planning meeting for the event. Do you and your team feel like they were met?

·         What setbacks or challenges did you run into in the planning and on the day of the show? How did you overcome them?

·         Did the layout and graphics of your stand prove to be effective? Can you suggest any improvements that could be made for any future exhibitions?

·         Did the event team perform effectively? What could be done to improve performance?

·         Was the right type of visitor attracted to your stand during the show?

·         How many of your leads have proven to be solid? Have you had many conversions so far?

·         Did the show meet your needs as a company? Were you left wanting in any department during the event by event staff?

·         Is it worth exhibiting at the event next time? If not, can you suggest another alternative?

After considering all of these points, you may want to sit down with your financial team a week or so later to evaluate the ROI that the show has given you. This will give you a solid indicator on whether the exhibit has been useful for increasing sales or not.

Following the advice in this guide should give you a real head start when planning, organising, and executing an exhibit at an industry show. Like many complex projects, the key to success is most definitely in the planning stage, as a timely and well-laid event plan is much more likely to prove successful than one put together at the last moment. Handle everything in plenty of time and in a way that is right for your brand, and your company can look forward to a successful exhibiting experience.

Custom Planet are here to help with your exhibiting needs

At Custom Planet, we can take care of many of your business’s essential requirements in planning your show, from promotional products for giveaways to staff uniforms and stand graphics. Our expert team are on hand to discuss any exhibits that you are thinking of putting together, so get in touch through our website or give us a call on 0191 270 8181.



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