One of the purposes or benefits of being on an exhibition stand is the amount of present and potential clients you interact with, and the potential to find out what is important to clients is immense!
Research is a great tool if you are at the point where you would like to gauge your audience response to a product, opinion about a service or find out more about them as a target audience. Digital surveys are great for this as they allow the visitor to complete this quickly and efficiently while you are answering questions, qualifying leads and trying to sell on your stand. It can even attract visitors on the stand if there is something up for grabs for this.
There is another benefit of course to conducting a bit of research on the stand The second and potentially more powerful benefit of doing research on an exhibition stand is that you can use this information for PR purposes. Structuring the research in a useful and topical way gives a bit of bang to your credibility as an expert in the field, so use it to your advantage! Imagine a brochure in your reception area or an article in your industry journal quoting you or your company as a source. Those are the type of press releases that get exposure without the cash! You could even do an email campaign after the show to the participants – its the kind of email that does not land up in the trash as much as the “dear valued client..” type of emails. If you have chosen the right kind of topical, controversial or interesting questions (not only for your research but for general and specific interest to your target audience then you have a winner!)
And how to practically implement this in a user friendly way? Well letting technology help you out can be wonders for multi tasking on a stand and using one of the most user friendly interfaces around of course is the 1st prize – the iPad is I would say one of the best prize here. It is easy to flip pages, slide things and of course of the most, if not the most user friendly interfaces there are around! And, oh yes, tends to draw a crowd when on display!
Give us a shout if you are interested in producing something similar for your exhibition stand / event.
After being at Nimlok UK for at least 6 months I was amazed to see this year at Euroshop, that they were no interactive tools on the exhibition! I took for granted the “exhibition games” and digital engagement that we offer!
The most interactive element I found was an iPad integrated on the Burkhardt Lietner Stand, allowing the visitor to flick through some of their pictures! No surveys, quizzes or interactive games that were branded or had to do with the client themselves!
The only “exhibition game” or digital engagement I found was this car racing game, that was a stock standard Grand Tourisma game plonked on to the stand, without even the remotest reason why they connected racing to the brand! I see a lot of exhibition stands using the “normal” games, like a
playstation connected to a plasma with all the guts hanging out the back, and I also think that that is only half way too – not exactly the way to interact with the brand is it!
So why am I going on about interactive tools? I have worked on two exhibition stands with them and provided many clients now with them and they are no doubt an eye-catcher, lead gatherer and can either be a fun or informative way for visitors to interact with your brand, the stand and your message. It works on a couple of levels and I have seen the effect that it has on people and they tend to take a bit more away from them than some bumf and a pen if you know what I mean. It also helps the follow up with clients easier, as I do not think I have followed up one client that has not remembered our stand, even if it’s following up with them a couple of months after the exhibition!
Getting someone’s business card is one thing, but making them laugh, competitive and capturing their interest or even better, their imagination is totally another!
In the next couple of posts I will show some examples of interactive tools out there, like exhibition games, interactive surveys and digital brochures and more importantly how to use them on an exhibition stand!
Someone once asked me, do promotional gifts work? I was stumped at first as I did not have a quick answer to it, and I guess because there is not. Does the fact that you choose an arbitrary gift and give it away willy-nilly to anyone a good thing? Certainly not! I would not do it as a must have, but I think using it properly can be a good thing! It has been said that corporate gifts are great to give a prospect when they have spent some time on your stand and is a way of thanking them and that this should something they could use and is there to remind them of your company, a courteous gesture. I agree with this, but they can be certainly used in more ways too!
There is an expression I once heard, “Yoking the Universe”, and what I understood from it was to take opportunity of using some of some universal truths of human nature to your benefit. One of these truths is the principle that we do not get anything for free and where there is action there is an equal and opposite reaction, in the right situation of course. I use gifts as exactly this on stands.
In some situations I use the promotional item or business gift as it were in exchange for 2 min of someone’s time, a small price to pay for a prospect not intending to stop by our stand. For this to work the gift needs to be one of two things, something useful or something oddly interesting. I would approach a prospect and present it them, if it is interesting it can spark up a conversation and eventually a conversation, and thus I would qualify and create interest with the prospect about our company. From receiving the gift, the prospect I find does not mind answering a couple of questions and engaging for a while. The second additional purpose of the corporate gift I find interesting is connecting the gift subtly to your company’s main message. Now this seems easy and matter of course, but few companies manage to get it right in my opinion!
Furthermore gimmicks sometime refer to a game / activity you can have on the stand to attract attention and allow the audience to interact with the brand, and take away only an “experience” with them, now this can be powerful, and will be the topic of discussion in next couple of weeks as I chat about interactive tools for exhibitions ….
So generally – what do you think – do they work or not? Tell uswhat you think …
- Stefan Buss
I once had a client years ago who when I asked what their strategy was after the exhibition to follow up, he told me they get the secretary to phone all the contacts on the business cards they collected to see if they all got their brochures and if not they mailed it to them. Now what an expensive direct mailing exercise that seems to me, and worse yet, the clients who took a brochure who were seemingly interested got off Scott-free!
To me exhibitions, bar a couple of exceptions, are all about face time, and done correctly should result in more face time with the clients. This should result in even more face time until the face time results in a handshake, resulting in face time with other people they and then handshake time and so one and so on!
So many times this is substituted by brochure time which ultimately converts to nowhere near the amount of handshakes, but rather bin time or sleep time! Ask yourself when the last time you went to an exhibition and collected a bunch of brochures, like we all do, and then went meticulously through each one, phoning them up for a follow up appointment – never? Or better yet, how many people land up throwing away most of it as they have had to slim down their baggage for the plane.
If anything brochure should only be handed out only when the next face time has been organised, if anything and this can be a tool for them to prepare for the face time, so even if it gets bin time you still have the face time to get that handshake time!
Obviously this applies more for the B2B service industry where most sales are done through meetings and with a sales consultant compared to that of a catalogue retail environment, or other situations where a direct relationship with the client does not feature.
So next exhibition, try with no brochures, get an appointment instead, failing which a contact to phone them later and “take them one” for some face time!
- Stefan Buss
I have come across this choice quite a bit lately with clients and there are a couple of situations where renting is better than purchasing a stand that I have across;
- First Time Exhibitors
- When Exhibiting once / twice a year
- When Rebranding Soon
- Keeping a Fresh Look
- When Travelling Abroad
1.When you are unsure if exhibitions are the right marketing tool for your company
If you are trying it out for the first time, and not too sure if you should book all those shows and invest in an exhibition stand, this option is great! It gives the flexibility of calling it quits if it does not work and to change the design or functionality if it is for you and you decide to go ahead with exhibiting in the future. Just don’t fall into the trap in trying half heartedly with a couple of pull-ups and wondering why you didn’t get a good response, exhibition stand design is all about first impressions, so don’t let your first exhibition experience give you the wrong one either!
2. When exhibiting only once or twice a year.
This can be in the form of size too, I know many clients who are exhibiting at only one large exhibition each year and 2 or 3 or more smaller conferences. In this case renting the large stand each year and owning a small kit to build yourselves is a balanced and cost effective solution.
3. When rebranding is on the horizon
Many of my clients seem to have just rebranded or are about to rebranding this year, and if you dont have exhibition kit, but still need to target a sector, hiring an exhibition stand would be best.
4. Keeping a fresh look
Even if you are exhibiting 2 / 3 times a year it would be best to hire your exhibition kit. It might be that you are targeting totally different markets each show that dictate the different graphics, functionality of the stand, and so I would suggest the exhibition stand rental being fit for purpose. When trying out new exhibition strategy, look or campaign would fall in this category
5. When Exhibiting Abroad
Depending where you go of course, this can be the most cost effective solution, using an overseas partner company of your provider locally, can be cheaper and more reliable than shipping your own stand, sourcing a new supplier (or more expensively send your local provider over to build it).
- Stefan Buss
I was made aware of this for the first time a while back in an exhibition training session and just came across it with a potential client of mine the other day.
I guess I can understand it, and as we know some fears can really be irrational! It came about when I suggested to this certain client that they use their exhibition stand as a cocktail event at the end of on e of the days of their exhibition. They are spending the money to create such a great environment, and some people try to slip in their visit to the exhibition at the end of the day anyway, so why don’t they invite their most highly rated potential clients to a short exclusive cocktail party on their stand. Send them great invites as teasers prior to the event, order them VIP ticket if available from the organisers, and most importantly ask for RSVP’s, creates a great buzz and makes them feel special – make sense doesn’t it?
Not to the client it didn’t? “What happens if they see the other exhibition stands, we are taking the effort in getting them there, and they might see what the competition is doing!” Well what can I say. Unless by some magic wand you can isolate your clients or potential leads from the outside world, no internet, no journals and certainly no telephones or even word of mouth, they are going to see the competition. Most companies even require purchases over a certain amount have two or three alternative quotes, and here’s another one – YOU WANT THEM TO SEE THE COMEPETITON! Clients do not think they are getting a good deal by only seeing one supplier, they have nothing to compare to, they do not feel like they have earned the good contact either.
The pure act of inviting your present business and potential pipeline is saying that you are confident that you have what it takes to be better, if there is a hesitation perhaps there is more work in your strategy and product, and if that cannot be fixed before the exhibition, I would ask the question why are you attending? Competition is as sure as death and taxes, how you handle it on your exhibition though is another story!