How to Exhibit Successfully
Set Goals - What is the objective? New lead generation, onsite sales, follow up appointments or product awareness?
Setting goals is crucial for the overall success of your exhibition experience. Spending a little time pre-planning before the Gift Fair will pay big dividends when it comes to Fair time.
Set solid objectives, and make sure that all stakeholders are aware of what those are to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Make sure that you can measure these goals. e.g. if it's about lead generation, make sure you have the necessary tools in place to record and qualify who the customer is and what they are interested in. If this is going to be a manual process ensure that one person oversees collating this information.
The best advice we can give you is plan, plan, plan!
- Spread the Word
- Database Marketing
- Social Media, Advertising
- Stand Design – What makes me stand out!
- Staffing your stand
- Training your staff
- Create an Exhibition Plan
The most important item is "spread the word" telling your existing customers is one of the best ways to generate visitors to your stand at the Gift Fair. The AGHA runs a pretty comprehensive marketing campaign in the lead up to the exhibition, this has a great reach, but history shows us that a large percentage of visitors that come to Gift Fairs attend because they have existing relationships with exhibitors who have invited them to come and visit them at the Fair.
Use our e-Marketing tools to help get the people to the stand. You can access your e-Marketing Tools via the Online Exhibitor Portal under the "Marketing" tab.
Using social media is probably one of the easiest ways to do this, i.e. "Come and visit us at the AGHA Sydney Gift Fair at Stand (number) at Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park".
Advertising or editorials in industry relevant publications are another great way to let people know that you will be at the Gift Fair.
Plan your stand layout and design: make sure you have allocated enough space to both display products and doing business face to face is important.
Staffing and Training: make sure that you have enough staff to cover the Gift Fair floor at any one time. Schedule breaks if you have enough staff to do so, and make sure all staff are up to speed with your latest products, pricing and Fair-specific specials. Make sure they are maximising their time with clients, to record information and create a profile to follow up post Fair. Remember you have a few seconds to attract attention from people walking passed your stand.
Create a simple Exhibition Plan
Your exhibition plan is a vital tool in monitoring services, budget and timelines. Your plan should also state your exhibition goals and strategies.
Some key components of the plan would be:
- Details within the Exhibitor Portal
- Products you wish to display – how will you merchandise these products
- Staff schedule, tasks and authority levels – don't give too much to one person
- Supplier contacts
- Literature and other materials needed
- Contingencies, where needed
Your plan should be updated regularly to monitor progress and ensuring staff are keeping up to date with tasks.
At the Gift Fair
- Your stand is polished, the lights are on, and the doors are open
- Your people, your brand, your pride and most importantly, your name is on show
- Daily pre-fair briefings
- Measure targets and reward staff
- How to qualify a potential customer
- Your body language, general hygiene
- Additional marketing material
The people on your stand make the difference between a good event, and a great event. A highly motivated, well informed team does more than any other factor to differentiate you from your competitors, and impact positively on your investment. Make sure your staff are clearly identified, and easy to spot (corporate branded shirts etc.) making it a lot easier for customers to approach the team.
A daily briefing will remind everyone of your goals and objectives for exhibiting, and remind people of their roles and responsibilities for the stand. Set daily targets, review these at the end of each day, and reward your team for their efforts.
Qualifying your customer is always the hardest thing to do, but remember if you spend enough quality time with a customer you will generate better leads, and in-turn sales. Never underestimate who your customer is. Conversely, spending too much time with people who aren't your target market means that potential buyers are simply walking passed your stand. Remember you have just a few seconds to engage with potential buyers.
Your body language will determine if people will approach you. Don't stand around with your arms crossed, and chatting to other staff on your stand, or worse, distracted by your mobile devices. Ask open-ended questions like "what product lines are you looking for?" instead of "can I help you?", as often that will scare people away. Don't eat or drink on your stand, it's an instant turn off.
Additional marketing material is super important, but it's expensive to produce. Make sure you qualify people before giving this information away, and place these items in an area where someone can control and see who is taking them. Make sure you have plenty of business cards.
- Debrief on the exhibition, while it's fresh in everyone's minds
- Analyse your results, and measure your effectiveness
- Categorise your leads, and set your sales strategy in place
- Follow up all leads using phone, face to face, e-mail or personalised letter with additional sales material
- Share your successes on social media
- Celebrate your wins with the teams
- Detail the process of what happens with the stand materials (stored and re-used, disposed of, etc)
- Most importantly, update the plan for use for the next event.
This is the most important time to work quickly and efficiently to follow up on all of those leads from the Fair! The longer you leave a lead cooling off, the less likely you are to convert that to a sale.
Organise a debrief with the team, get a clear understanding of what worked and what didn't, while it's still fresh on everyone's mind. The debrief should also include identifying any weaknesses, and aspects that were not identified in the plan. How closely was the timeline managed and what aspects of the budget were problems. Were the problems caused due to mis-management?
Working with your set of goals and objectives, analyse your results and measure how effective you were. This will also help you identify areas for improvement and areas that worked well can be expanded on next time.
Hopefully you could collect a large amount of leads, sales, and have systematically graded these into categories based on products, purchasing decisions, or even just as simple as hot, warm or cold leads.
In a world that's drowning in social media and endless e-mails, nothing beats a follow up phone call, or even a visit in person. Failing that, a personalised e-mail or letter inviting them to your showroom for a coffee, or an updated brochure is the best way to follow up.
Keep your social media going post exhibition to continue to remind your customer that you are always there. Even sharing some of the successes from people who have purchased your product is the best form of advertising. Nothing beats a testimonial from a happy customer.