I was recently asked to provide some advice to a friend who was considering taking a stand at an event and potentially speaking at a seminar. I have been at a number of these events – large and small, heavy duty and lightweight, successful and less so! I responded with the following list of thoughts:
Location, Location, Location
So far as I can see, it is luck of the draw in terms of the numbers attending your stand. This can depend on to weather, time of week/month/year, what the draw of other stands are and where you are placed in the venue. Being near the loos, restaurant or seminar theatre can affect your visitor numbers positively, whereas being behind larger stands or tucked into the corner can leave you at a disadvantage. Some of these you can try to manage, others you cannot.
Get the word out
Before the event, make sure you alert people that you will be there. Perhaps you have a list of possibly interested people that you could send an invite to, mentioning which stand you are on or what time you will be speaking. Another good idea is to ask past clients if they would stop by. If others overhear them rhapsodising your skills and services, it may peak their interest.
If you fail to prepare…
Set up your stand in good time in case you need to get additional work done. Perhaps you forgot to ask for electricity to be provided, perhaps you find there is a leak above your stand and it is soaking wet. Hopefully, this won’t happen, but it is always best to be prepared to deal with such situations. It also allows you make friends with your neighbours, some of whom may be interested in your services, you probably won’t have time to talk to them later!
Get your message across
You need to be seen. Make it plainly clear on your stand who you are, what you sell and why someone should stop and talk to you. Silly gimmicks may work but they might not draw in the right people. Remember, quality over quantity!
You need to be able to engage passers-by in order to draw their attention and get them talking. Even if you only ask someone about how they are finding the event and whether they enjoyed a seminar. Such questions usually precipitate counter question of a similar type which, in turn, gives you an opening.
The more energy you exude on the day, the more likely people will be to stop and talk. Don’t try and be a comedian, rather you should demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for your subject.
One of the best draws is to have people buzzing around your stand, even if they are friends and relations (who’s going to know?). A busy stand implies there must be something worth seeing, but make sure they are talking about your business and not when you all last met at Great Aunt Flo’s 80th birthday bash!
Everyone loves free stuff
Have something to hand out that would be useful to your visitors, something that they can actually use. DON’T give aware another biro or notepad. If you offer a freebie on your website, have them on your stand to give out. Events are also a great opportunity to gather contact details so try and collect business cards. You can end up with lots of new contacts for your mailing list and a new list of leads for you to follow up on.
Be in two places at once
Speaking at a seminar is a good exercise in raising awareness (an extra tip is to write a blog about your presentation, doubling its value). You must make sure you have someone minding your stall while you are gone, especially immediately after your talk. Some interested parties will go to your stand to talk to you while others will jump on you as soon as you come off stage. With someone covering for you won’t miss those waiting at your stand, and you can still speak to those who mob you straight after your talk.
I hope you find these tips useful. Look out for part two where I will give you even more tips to ensure your exhibition stand goes is a great success.
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