Exhibiting at an event can lead to either a tonne of new business or tumbleweed, depending on how you approach it.
To help you out, here’s our top tips for getting the most out of exhibiting at any event – before, during and after the big day.
Before the event
Do your homework. The businesses that get the most from the events they exhibit at research who is going to be there and make a hit list of who they’re going to talk to.
Hop onto social media a few days before the event to see which companies have posted about attending the event by using its hashtag.
It’s also well worth asking the event organisers if they can share the list of exhibitors and attendees with you in advance. Shy bairns get nowt, after all!
If you have any old leads that have gone cold, give them a call and ask if they’ll be at the event (and invite them along if they’re not). This will give you the chance to pick up your conversation where it dropped off without it being as formal as trying to set up a meeting.
Stalk your competition’s social media accounts to see what their stands have looked like at previous events, too. You don’t want to look like the ugly stepsister in front of all your potential customers, so make sure you’re not getting outshone by the competition (and ideally go bigger and better than them if your budget allows).
During the event, you’re hopefully going to be too busy to be post to social media. So, use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule social media posts advertising what stand people can find you on. Make sure to give people a reason to come and say hi – whether it’s for some free advice or to test out your product or software.
It’s also a good idea to pull together a blog post promoting your involvement in the event. Share this on social media with the event’s hashtag and you’re sure to get a share from the organisation running it, which will help get you on potential clients’ radars.
During the event
Make sure people can get hands-on with your product or service. That means plenty of your products for people to have a go with or samples people can taste or smell.
If you’re a software company, bring laptops or tablets you can use to run people through a demo of your software. A big interactive screen can work even better, as it can help grab the attention of people from across the hall.
And if you provide a service, bring along a physical or digital portfolio of your work full of glowing client testimonials you can show off.
There’s simply no better way to sell people on your business than letting them get hands-on with your product or service.
Come up with a way to bring in quality leads. We’ve seen people doing circuits of an exhibition literally dropping their cards into every vase to win a bottle of champagne. These aren’t necessarily good leads – they’re not qualified.
How about offering a free review or audit? Get people to sign up for something they perceive as added value rather than just a ‘prize’ – that way you’re capturing leads that want what you’re selling and could actually become customers or clients.
Think about what you’re offering – use VR headsets if you’ve got something cool for people to look at. Show video footage on a screen if you have an animated video to show off.
Try thinking outside the box to really catch the attention of potential customers and clients as they walk past. And once you’ve got their attention, make sure to focus the conversation around the problems in their business that you can solve.
If you can, take at least two members of staff along to the event. That way one person can occupy the stand and the other can make their way around the event and start up conversations with the people on your hit list.
Keep all the business cards you receive in one place so they don’t get misplaced, and write notes on them once a conversation is over. This will help you make your follow up email or call more personal and effective.
After the event
Add everyone you met at the event on LinkedIn as soon as you can (it can be good to hop on your phone during any downtime at the event for this).
You should then contact all your warm leads within two working days. If you struck up a really good conversation with them, give them a call. If it’s a bit of a colder lead, send them an email.
Make sure to write personalised emails to every person as well, not just copy and paste a generic message. Focus it on how you can help solve a one of their problems you discussed at the event, and try to get them into a meeting.
When you’re asking to meet with them to continue your conversation, don’t phrase the question to lead to a yes or no reply. Instead, say something like “when would be a good time to chat more about how we could help you out?”.
Lastly, make sure to measure your return on investment.
Exhibiting at events costs. Whether it’s a hefty exhibitor fee or time away from the office – it all comes off the bottom line.
Remember: one conversation might start a relationship that pays for your time and exhibiting fee ten times over. Putting metrics in place to measure your return on investment on each event will make it a lot easier to decide what to invest in the following year.
Follow these top tips to get the most out of every event you exhibit at.
And if you’ve got a big industry event on the horizon you’d like our help getting the most out of (or you’d like to chat to us about anything else marketing), get in touch today.