Complete Exhibitions has participated in various exhibitions such as Meetings Africa and Markex.
These two exhibitions have been developed for the MICE industry, but with different opportunities for participants. Being both exhibitions organisers and exhibitors themselves, Complete Exhibitions has learned how to maximise the opportunities presented by participation in these shows and Robert Walker, Business Development Manager at Complete Exhibitions has put together his top tips for maximising your ROI through exhibitions.
- The objectives need to be clearly defined once this is done to ensure that the correct personnel are manning the stand. If the objective is to sell, such as at a consumer show, then the best salesmen need to be on the roster. If the objective is brand awareness or relationship management, then it is important to have the marketing personnel and some senior management on the stand. The objectives should also be in line with the expected audience at the show. Understanding of the audience is a key factor to a successful show.
- Create a manning roster for the duration of the exhibition, which should be distributed to all staff involved. The roster should be agreed to long in advance to ensure that there are no conflicts.
- It is critical to have the correct number of personnel on the stand which will be determined by the show. Too many people and the stand can be crowded, too few and potential leads will be lost as there is no one to handle requests. At Meetings Africa we found the ideal number to be three - two people used the diary system and the additional person to handle the walk past requests. This system served us very well.
- It is very difficult to man a stand for eight hours a day three days in a row, while maintaining energy levels and enthusiasm. Allow personnel short regular breaks. It also creates impromptu interactions with visitors and other exhibitors. However, this must be managed as an empty stand is a very poor reflection on not just the stand, but your company as a whole.
- Stand layout needs to be in line with the objectives. Should you be showcasing and selling a product this must be clearly on display without creating clutter. If the objective is discussions on the stand, an open inviting stand with a comfortable table and chairs is ideal. Many exhibitors make the fatal mistake of either overloading the stand with products or with furniture and both lead to an uninviting stand that will have a negative effect on the stand's effectiveness. If it is affordable, the use of a stand builder is highly recommended as these professionals will help ensure your stand layout is appropriate and unique. A good company should be able to do this even within tight budgets.
- A cardinal sin many exhibitors make is waiting on the stand and expecting visitors to come to them. Visitors see many stands in a day and unless your product or stand is truly revolutionary they will simply walk by. The solution is to be engaging by greeting visitors as they walk past. Be active on the stand, the visitors are there to participate and people respond to people, therefore most will respond positively to you making the initial contact.
- Interaction management is a skill that most successful exhibitors use well. It is the difference between knowing when a lead is simply a walk past visitor who may have a fleeting interest in your product, and those who have genuine need for your company's offering. The skill is identifying the difference and knowing how to handle both effectively and efficiently.
- Should you require collateral make sure it is concise and interesting, visitors experience alot of clutter at a show and you need to stand out to stay relevant. It is important to note that in today's green conscious environment it is advisable to look into electronic options like emailing brochures, not only does it save the environment but will also save you direct costs.
- It is vital to track leads after the show, as you cannot measure ROI without real data such as contracts signed post show. It also helps to motivate personnel next time by being able to refer to previous successful shows which have led to real business.
- The most important thing to remember is that the exhibiting experience can only be as good as you make it. With a little bit of effort and forethought the experience will be both enjoyable and worthwhile.
Walker concludes, "By understanding your audience and fundamentally - your objective, you can ensure that any costs required to participate within an exhibition can return to your bottom line time and again."