With the economic downturn still rumbling on, one question small business owners are asking more often is ‘do trade shows still have value?’ Their continuing popularity suggests that they are indeed still worthwhile. But it’s more important than ever to see clear, value-based outcomes that will follow from your investment of time, effort and money.
Breaking down your efforts into 3 parts is a sensible way of starting the process. Think about your objectives from the trade show, your stand design, and your follow-up communication:
What will exhibiting deliver for you?
The end-goal, of course, is sales. But other objectives when exhibiting can include showcasing your company’s abilities to key customer groups, generating interest around the launch of a new product or service, or lead generation that could result in future business. There will of course be some overlap, but clearly thinking through your objectives at the start can increase the focus and efficiency of your efforts.
It’s a good idea to write your objectives down, and brainstorm how to achieve them. SMART objectives will help you focus your goals and may be a useful place to start. Talking to contacts with exhibition experience is also a good way to get ideas on how to achieve your goals.
The focus of your stand will be different depending on your objective.
Alison Jane’s objective (see photo) was to showcase the range of products that were available through her photography company. The combination of the table with physical examples of these products, and the branded stands either side of the table, creates a comprehensive and informative exhibition presence. It also gives visitors a talking-point when they meet Alison and the opportunity to interact with the products on offer.
A similar approach was used by arcade flowers (see second photo). The objective was not only to attract visitors’ attention and interest, it is also to showcase the range of candles and flowers that the company has to offer.
If you’re new to exhibiting, browsing the range of exhibition products available through such companies as Marler Haley is a good starting point. Representatives are often available to talk through your exhibition goals with you and make recommendations on which products might suit your needs.
Alternatively, you could speak to a professional designer, such as Fret Free.
The most important aspect of exhibiting is following up on leads. Sadly this is sometimes overlooked, drastically reducing the effectiveness of the exhibition. There are useful ways you can incorporate opportunities for ongoing contact into your exhibition efforts:
The age-old act of giving out a business card with your name and basic contact details should be followed. Though it can seem cliché, this is a great and succinct way of giving out the relevant info.
A more modern method is to incorporate QR codes into your stand’s design. QR codes are similar in concept to barcodes, and allow smartphone users to use a basic app to scan them for quick access to a range of other functions.
A good example is Alleyne’s High School banner: the three QR codes on the display banner below direct users to contact details, the school’s website, and an email message requesting more information about the school. This is a great way to give visitors a quick and easy way to keep in touch.
While exhibiting can seem daunting at first, the benefits can be wide-reaching. The most obvious benefit is the exposure of your products and services to a well-targeted audience. The UK government earns £2.5 billion in tax revenue from the exhibition industry, according to a report by Oxford Economics. Trade shows continue to thrive in the downturn because companies are generating value from them. Are you?
This article was written by Chris Lee