DBS Managed Offices made an investment of time and money in exhibiting for the first time. Whilst the stands themselves are moderately priced, the initial ‘start up’ costs for the collateral and dressings needed bumps the cost up considerably.
So from our first experience (which I’m happy to say thus far appears to be a successful one) here’s our dos and don’ts
- Research your fellow exhibitors, know who’s in the room and plan who you want to talk to in advance
- Plan your stand in advance, give yourself time to tweak and amend your stand – this is your chance to show off your business, it has to be right
- Get quality banners/cloths/marketing collateral. The cheapest price may end up costing you much more in the long run, good quality well printed items will last over time and make your business look established
- Make it fun! Visitors and exhibitors are there primarily for business, but exhibitions are long days and can become a tad monotonous and sometimes tedious. Make yourself stand out. Many businesses do the ‘put your business card in here for a chance to win XY&Z’ (usually a bottle of champagne) think outside the box. DBS used a Wii and good old Mario Cart racing! Other good examples were a basketball competition and an entire work force dressed as Alice in Wonderland outfits dishing out rose cakes.
- Think about what you are leaving your visitors with. If you’re handing out branded pens, they are likely to sit in a desk tidy with a host of other branded pens. If you’re giving out branded sweets, they are unlikely to last long! We chose stress balls with our logo on, suitable for our business as we ‘take the stress out of office space’. These were well received and are hopefully sat on the desk of potential customers right now. Other good examples were a keyboard brush/screen wipe combination and a large notepad – if you are going to invest in stationery as a promotional item, make sure it’s substantial or it will just get lost/end up in a drawer.
- Write notes on the business cards you collect. You don’t want to be sat there the next day with a pile of 500 business cards trying to remember who were the key people wanting more information on a particular product/service.
- Panic about meeting everyone, plan your time and pick out the key fellow exhibitors you would like to speak to
- If avoidable, don’t have a single member of staff on the stand. Opportunities are missed when that person is already talking to someone, having lunch or, for whatever reason, are away from the stand. They also cannot network effectively with other exhibitors
- Just pick anyone to represent your business. Walking around and networking with exhibitors, it was shocking to see so many exhibitors sat, looking bored, not engaging with visitors and in some instances, playing candycrush on their phones! They were representing well-known companies and not presenting a very good image.
- Rely on travel times, plan ahead for possible delays, it’s extremely stressful sitting in traffic knowing your stand is empty but not being able to get there.
- Stress, panic or put yourself down. Exhibiting can be daunting, especially if you are new to it. In actual fact it can be a fun, informative and productive day. If you still feel uncomfortable, look at the other stands around you, who’s attracting the most attention and having the most one to one chats? Observe what they are doing and incorporate it into your verbal and nonverbal language
Lastly, and I’m including this point separate from the ‘dos’ because this is the most important point. Follow up your new contacts! You may have met hundreds of people that day, but your visitor who was really keen on your product/service may have specifically remembered you; if you don’t follow through with your promise to contact them on a given day, that say’s you’re an unreliable business. Even those who are not in need of your services/products, send them an email, remind them who you are and what you do. You never know who they might know and it’s a great way to build up contacts and strategic partnerships.
Finally, enjoy yourself (and check what time the bar closes after)