1. Choosing the right exhibition
There are numerous exhibitions around the world bringing different target audiences together and aiming to achieve different goals. It is getting increasingly difficult to choose and prioritise exhibitions aligned to your strategy.
Key points: Market research – know where your target audience is for you to make the biggest impact; Exhibition reputation – choose exhibitions with good ratings and long term presence; Location is key – choose a show where you are already present in the market or aim for a location where you plan to expand.
Going to exhibition can be expensive and stressful. It is important to have a strategy in place that will allow you to maximise your return on investment.
The key here is to plan ahead and prepare your strategy long before the actual exhibition start date. If you want to invite your clients or invite potential partners, take into consideration that their diary might already be busy at this time. Also make sure that they are informed well in advance. The most efficient way is to send them a “save the date” invitation.
Decide whether you want to use your exhibition stand as a carefully designed meeting space and book your time at the exhibition to meet with clients. This also gives you an opportunity to discuss next year’s plans with them, strengthen your partnership and obtain important feedback on previous engagements. Notify them in advance about potential topics for discussion to optimise results from the meeting.
There are other possible strategies to maximise the use of your exhibition stand: launch new products, prepare interactive demonstrations, provide information about your services, pamper your existing clients and target audience, etc.. Brief your exhibition build partners about what you want to achieve. That is the first step to success.
3. Head count
Strategy will not work if your team is not educated and informed about your tactical elements and given clear guidance. Provide clear instructions to make sure they understand what they need to do, including timelines and measurable progress steps.
Exhibitions are usually all day or even weekly events and a lot of people are on their feet for the whole day. Make sure enough people are assigned to one stand to allow for resting and preparation time for their next meeting.
When designing your stand ensure there is a seating area for your clients (remember they might be tired as well) and your team members. It is more likely your clients will devote undivided attention to you if they have a quiet comfortable area and access to refreshments. If your stand size restricts you having a refreshments area ask advice from your exhibition stand builders as they might have a solution for you.
Brief your staff at the start and end of each day to provide instructions and collect insights. Your staff should feel they are important contributing members of the team.
4. Budget planning
Stand size is not the only price determinant, albeit being one of the key factors you need to consider.
Planning an exhibition stand is a dynamic process so count on potential design adaptations if required. You might need more audio visuals e.g. screens and video walls or a need for more printed materials might arise depending on what you want to achieve.
When exhibiting abroad take into consideration transportation and shipping costs for the stand, as well as accommodation and subsistence for your team. Your team has to eat and drink so expenses are a must to consider as meals can be expensive at exhibition centres.
Travel costs for your team might be unavoidable however you don’t always have to transfer stands across borders. That is seldom a cost effective option.
Make sure to ask you exhibition stand builders for their help and advice on transport logistics and make use of localised partners.
5. Partnering with the best exhibition builders for your needs
Choosing the appropriate exhibition builder or an exhibition agency is as important as any other business decision.
Make sure you choose someone you can trust. They need to deliver what you agreed upon and more importantly they need to be capable to guide and educate you to reach your goals. Your exhibition builder should help you bring your strategy to life and advise on prioritised budget investments.
Partnering with the exhibition stand builder on a long term contract will allow you to get better rates and save you more money then choosing a different supplier each year. Storing and re-using your exhibition stand on your next show might be a viable option. If you are not familiar with materials and AV equipment your exhibition partner should be able to provide clear differential options for you to choose from. Some exhibition stand builders will be able to provide you with logistics support for your staff and clients as well as hospitality services at the exhibition since they might have better rates with exhibition centres.
Partnering with the right trustworthy exhibition stand builder is key.
6. Contracting/terms and conditions
Long term contracts with your exhibition builders will save you money. It is important to know where reducing costs is sensible and where you will compromise quality with spending less. Decide if it sensible to make a long term investment so you don’t compromise on stand size or use outdated equipment. Showcasing your company at an exhibition is a statement to your competitors as well. Your exhibition stand builder should be able to offer different options when building your exhibition stand and often you will be able to get the same results for a lower cost. That all depends on your exhibition builder capabilities, knowledge and innovative thinking.
7. Choosing Stand size
Choosing stand size is the first step when thinking about your stand design.
Based on the your strategy think about the things you really need on your stand. What are the costs per square meter at exhibition area? Will you need screens? Would you be presenting content in printed form or using multiple electronic devices? Will you need tables and seating areas? If you consider all of this in advance it will help influence you decision on what stand size works for you.
8. Stand design
A trustworthy and transparent relationship with your stand builder is a common theme throughout all stages of planning. Having someone that understands your brand and your goals will help you create an impactful stand. They should be able to create practical, appealing, well prepared designs.
Remember to keep your stand clean and inviting. Stand visitors should feel welcome and drawn to your space. Designing exhibition stands can be challenging so make sure your designer knows what they are doing.
9. Exhibition build
Rules and regulations at exhibitions are strict and can cost you a lot of money. Your exhibition stand builder should be familiar with these requirements and all applicable milestones and deadlines.
Exhibition stand builders should make sure you don’t pay any unnecessary fines for late design submission or from using the wrong materials.
There should also be no hidden costs, ask your exhibition stand builder about potential additional costs before signing off the project. Exhibition halls charge extra for high speed internet, for rigging and for electrics. Make sure your exhibition stand builder is able to provide all of the above, or to advise you on what these additional service charges will be.
10. Follow up
This is a crucial step people often forget.
Follow up is as important as execution. Make sure you follow up at least a week after the exhibition when all is still fresh in everyones minds and everybody is enthusiastic about your last meeting. Remember to arrange a debrief with your team to collect insights and potential challenges they faced during the course of the exhibition. This should guide your future planning.
This is also a great time to invite your visitors to your next event.
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