Missing trade shows and their leads? Read: 18 Ways to be productive when you can't exhibit

My quick stand management preparation checklist when a client has a show approaching

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Posted by , 14th September 2018

A stand management preparation checklist is the subject of this post by David O'Beirne. Use it to help you prepare for your next trade exhibition.

I loved these bright and colourful graphics seen on the Bomb Cosmetics stand at this year’s Autumn Fair – they really helped to make the stand visible and attractive to the eye

Is this show still working for my client?

This is the first question I ask both myself and my client.

Is this event still relevant for them? Is it still producing results that justify the cost of exhibiting and make participation worthwhile?

Will being in this event really help achieve them the growth objectives of their business?

Answers to these questions have prompted the upsizing of stands, the downsizing of space and associated stand build costs and, every now again, the removal of an event from a client’s show marketing list.

Have I spoken to the organiser? Can they help my client achieve their objectives?

You’d be surprised at what you can learn from a talk with your show organiser.

I have obtained details of the attending habits of particular companies that I know my client wanted to meet.

Information about the job titles of the people that attend from those businesses and their locations has been massively helpful.

The total number of people attending the last event from each target business has also been disclosed.

Of course, I have also discovered which competing companies are participating and where they were located in the show.

We, that’s me and a member of the show marketing team, have discussed the themes of the upcoming event and the ways in which my client could get involved.

Can I get my client on the seminar programme?

When discussing things with a member of the show’s marketing team, I always ask about involvement in the seminar or conference programme. It’s too valuable a promotional opportunity to be ignored.

I know that if my client gets to speak about a topical subject, they will for sure have people coming to their stand after their talk.

They don’t have to be great orators, but they do need to speak about something of interest and relevance to the audience.

How can I make their stand more visible? 

How can I help my client’s stand be more visible on a crowded show floor? Height. Colour. Noise.

Can we make their stand taller? Or appear so? This could be via the stand structure, rules and regulations permitting….

We might use a hanging banner or depending on the budget, we could use a large-scale digital screen.

Colour? Look for high impact graphics.

Graphics that will not just make their stand highly visible but also very clear in the message that’s presented.

Will visitors understand what the client offers in just a few seconds? Will they be intrigued enough to want to find out more?

That’s the job that stand graphics must do.

Noise. Not necessarily volume, but on-stand activity. That’s the noise we want to try and create. What on-stand attractions can we use to create a buzz with visitors? How can we get people to stop? How can we get them to engage?

That’s an important question because one of the many things that I have learned about events is that groups of people on stands attract other people too. Curiosity works both with cats and event visitors.

Do the graphics need updating?

A straightforward question but an important one. Exhibitors who take part in two or three shows a year will often use the same graphic design on their stands.

It doesn’t hurt to check that the messaging is current and clear. It also doesn’t hurt to check and see if branding guidelines for the business have changed.

It’s not unknown for last minute re-brands to be announced and printed graphics to be scrapped.

Who is the stand team going to be?

This is so important. Having the right people on the stand can make or break show success. As can having someone strong to manage and motivate them.

I like to know who each member of the team is. What they do for the company in their “day job” and what assignment they have been given for the show.

Does each person know the objectives for the event and crucially, are they on board with those goals?

Tactfully, I suggest the re-assignment or removal of people that could scupper success. This is too big a sales opportunity to mess-up.

Does anyone need training?

One way to improve the skills of a stand team is to provide some training before the event.

As you’ve probably read many times before, exhibition stands are not the usual working space for most people.

A key part of any training should be the sharing of objectives and providing background information on the event.

It’s no wonder that some stands are occupied by demotivated or disinterested staff.

They may have received very late notice about their “call-up.” They may also have received only the scantiest briefing on why they are there and what it is they are supposed to do.

Remove this risk with careful team selection and advance preparation.

Where are the exhibits right now?

Finding out that the product that you were counting on to be the main exhibit on your stand is unavailable, is, to say the least, inconvenient. It can also be the cause of some extreme angst for a stand manager.

Never assume. 

I’ve had clients who have had their planned exhibit sold without their knowledge.

You can’t have the KVX13, it’s been sold to a client in Nigeria and will be en-route by sea on the opening day of the show.

Track down your exhibits. Nab them firmly for the event. Don’t always believe launch dates.

Organise pre-show marketing 

Event participation offers a huge opportunity to make new sales connections with companies that you really do hope to win business with.

Exhibitions and conferences also offer an opportunity to reconnect with current clients. And, with past ones too.

So, I need to check that my clients are on the case when it comes to establishing contact and getting invitations out pre-show.

Goals are set. Incentives are thought about and promoted. I encourage my clients to get busy.

Book filming

Not just filming of the stand. The show will be a chance to create some great content based around video shorts that can be used in the months ahead.

These videos will form part of an ongoing sales campaign in the market the show serves. I always try to position my clients as thought leaders and film linked to other forms of content marketing helps to achieve this.

Are you ready for your next event? It’s never too soon to get busy.

Posted in Small business marketing  /  Staffing  /  Stand graphics  /  Stand Management  /  Trade show advice

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