Your exhibition stand is one of the most important parts of your trade show presence. It’s your store window for the duration of the show, and will be what sets you apart from other companies exhibiting at the show. Making your stand a success requires 3 key elements: planning, design and marketing.
Take the time to get these elements right before the doors to the exhibition open.
1. Planning your exhibition stand
Planning is the most important element to any stand’s success. Even the best ideas won’t work if the stand or experience isn’t ready.
With any exhibition make sure you give yourself plenty of time to plan and act. Speak to suppliers about timescales and ensure they have enough time to deliver and test every element of your design.
To really make sure your stand works make sure you:
- Understand the deadlines: When can you get access to the site? How long will your exhibition stand design take to build? How long will it take to transport and set up?
- Choose the right suppliers: You need a build supplier who fully understands what you are trying to achieve. Have they worked at the event before? Do they offer end-to-end project management? What are their capabilities and facilities? Look at their previous projects. You need to know they can understand your concept and bring it to life.
- Prepare staff: Make sure your staff are fully prepared. They need to be able to answer any questions and to know what the lead targets and objectives are for the show.
- Look at the data: What data do you have about the show or your audience? If you’ve been before, look at what did and didn’t work last time.
- Set a realistic budget: If you have a specific concept for your exhibition stand, you need to know if your budget will be enough to achieve this. Your suppliers will be able to help you understand how you can best maximise your budget.
2. Stand design
The concept and design of your stand will determine what your marketing will focus on. The way your stand looks will help create all the interest in your company before the show.
So how do you get the stand’s design right?
- Create something truly engaging: Your stand needs to tell your brand’s story in a way that draws people in. This could be anything from performance to games to tech experiences. Make sure the concept is aligned with your brand so that people remember both together.
- Play with perceptions: Simply demonstrating what a product can do is fine, but is there a more interesting way to do that? Can you transport people somewhere unexpected? Can your product do things they might never have realised?
- Tech or not? Many exhibition stands these days involve elements of technology as a way to entice people to your stand. However, before you invest in the tech take time to make sure it’s right for your audience – and that it will work as expected.
- Experience is king: Whether your stand is tech-driven or not make sure you focus on the experience. This will make people more likely to respond to and remember your brand.
3. Pre-event marketing.
The final element necessary for success is marketing. Pre-event marketing is the key to your stand’s success at any exhibition. I’ve listed nine items below – you don’t need to do all of these, but here are some ideas to kick-start your pre-event marketing.
- Research: Know everything you can about the show and who it attracts. Use any data you can find about the show: what does the show specialise in? Who else attends? What did your competitors do last time?
- Audience targeting and profiling: Once you know who attends the show you need to know what they are looking for at the event. Most trade shows provide attendee profiling information to help with this.
- General purpose email: Starting with your current contacts, send out an email to let them know you are going to be at the show. Give them the opportunity to come along and have a chat. Ticket offers and other incentives can also help to engage them.
- Event landing page: Create a dedicated landing page for the event. This can be used on all collateral, promotions and communications as a way for people to quickly and conveniently access details of the show and get in touch with you.
- Full email campaign: As well as a general email you can also build a more detailed email campaign. This would use a series of emails over a longer period of time, to get your contacts excited about your presence at the show. Perhaps you’re launching a new product, or running a seminar. These ‘added extras’ will help generate interest in your business ahead of the exhibition.
- Social media: Social media can be another great tool for creating interest in your stand before the event. Use it to share details of the show, sneak peeks of the stand and experience, offers for those attending and more.
- Targeted outreach: Look for key leads and partners who you would like to engage with at the show and market directly to them. For this, you can do anything from picking up the phone, to setting up targeted social media campaigns, to sending them direct mailers and offers.
- Engage press or specialist publications: If you’re launching new products, you may be able to secure press coverage in industry publications. Alternatively, simple ads on relevant sites and in industry publications can help generate interest in your presence at a show. Keep these short and simple with information about the brand. Include a link to your landing page, so people can easily find out more.
- Offers and competitions: Incentives and offers are a great way to create interest before the show. Many companies offer discounts on ticket prices or product deals, or opportunities to win products or other prizes to generate interest in your stand at an event.
This is a guest post by Mark Lamont, Managing Director for DMN Design Build. He has experience of the technical aspects of the job covering draughtsmanship, surveying, estimating, workshop production and site installations. He has run projects all over the world and ensures on time and on budget practice is a prerequisite for all projects.
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