3 questions to ask before planning your first trade show

By Wednesday, May 11, 2016 0 No tags Permalink

When planning to exhibit at a trade show, especially for the first time, there are a few simple questions you can ask to help steer your stand design. Competition at any event like this, be in b2b or b2c, is high and you need to be presenting your business in the best way for you – not just the way popular trends tell you to.

These three key questions will help you to tailor your stand design, strategy and create the most effective display for your business at the next trade show.

Are you trying to show, tell or sell?

This is the most important question. You can vastly improve exhibitor experience at your display stand by creating the right environment for your business or product. But how can you showcase that if you don’t know what your overall aim is? While the ultimate goal for any business is sales, that isn’t always how they want visitors to perceive them at trade shows.

If your prime goal is to convey information; getting your brand name out there and talking to attendees, so that you can pass them leaflets or get sign-ups for your newsletter, then your stand design needs to reflect that. Create open spaces, seating areas and most importantly include plenty of leaflet stands.

Are you trying to show a new product? Perhaps you’ve innovated a new version of your software or product and want to give people a chance to try it out. At events like the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), the prime objective for brands is to get noticed by the show’s attendees and allow them to see demos of the product in action. Of course, in 2016, exhibitors did decide to start selling off their prototypes, but that wasn’t their initial aim but having demos allowed them to make a few sales and gain media exposure too.

Sales is the end goal. But if it’s also your exhibition goal then you need to be ready. Well signposted sales points, plenty of tester products or videos to showcase them, as well as enough on hand staff to answer questions is key. You’re goal is to sell but not everyone is there to buy. Build a good reputation by informing non-buyers and then might come back to buy later.

How much space do you actually have?

While reviewing a 2016 wine trade show, Reka Haros noted that: a more personal approach in the least hectic environment was the best way to level the playing field between big and small businesses at trade shows. Thus, creating your own space, away from the hundreds of attendees is key.

Regardless of the size of your business, and therefore stand space, there are clear ways to make it work for you.

Look at the space that you actually have. If you’re only working with a small space but are looking to sell products, consider high shelves and Point-Of-Sale (POS) units that double as storage. Stand walls with branding not only gives your name and logo visual space but, when positioned around POS stations, can alleviate background chatter.

Don’t try to cram too much into a small space, don’t overfill or you’ll look overcrowded and attendees will walk by. Equally, don’t pay more for a larger space to try and accommodate the swathers of visitors you want, because if they don’t come you’ll end up looking empty. People attract people, inspiring intrigue. A smaller, busy stand suggests you have something worth looking at, but a big empty stand suggests you don’t have anything interesting to offer.

Can you afford to integrate technology?

Lastly, but not leastly, are you going to get tech-savvy? iPads display stands to register for your newsletter, interactive TV screens to let visitors browse your website, or QR codes that when scanned link to your website. All great ways to create a new level of interaction with your business and trade show attendees and all reasonably affordable.

But what about something more flashy and new? Some visitors will be wowed by integrated technology. Some won’t. Bear in mind that popular marketing trends, like virtual reality, are amazing. However, their inclusion could cost you lots of money with very little return. If your product or business is only starting out, you need it to stand out for the right reasons. Don’t over complicate it by trying to compete with showy brands and big business – unless you have the disposable income to make it amazing.

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