Our last blog post on ‘Exhibition Evils‘ focused on the biggest mistakes exhibitors make before a marketing event. So, (assuming you’ve followed my expert advice!) and have prepared thoroughly for an event, how can you make sure the show itself runs smoothly?
This Blog post aims to help you avoid making common in-show mistakes so that you get the best possible ROI from an exhibition, trade show or other type of marketing event.
Evil#1: Having an Unappealing Exhibition Stand
A poorly-designed, faulty or uninviting exhibition stand is the best way to ensure your event won’t be a success. Whilst factors like updating your stand graphics, having unique product giveaways and maintaining consistent branding are obvious, you may overlook psychological barriers in your stand design which may deter attendees.
An interesting example of this ‘stand psychology’ is with the colour of your stand, which exhibitors often get wrong. With the high cost of exhibiting a key factor, most businesses are risk-averse to anything too bold: using blue, black, grey or white to try and fit in.
Whilst this conservative strategy is fine for more established brands, new or relatively unknown exhibitors should be a little more adventurous with their colour scheme: brighter colours are the best for attracting new business by being striking, energetic and creating a sense of urgency in the attendee.
Furthermore, including your pricing on your stands may be a barrier for people to visit; either because they see it as being overpriced or will take a view of your product as poor quality before understanding its key features. Price should be the last thing you discuss with the attendee, sell them on the (priceless) benefits of your product or service and hold back on costing until they enquire so as not too come across as desperate.
Evil#2: Poor Management of Staff
Any successful exhibitor will tell you that event staff are your number one resource, but what they probably won’t mention is how exactly you can put this idea into practice. A happy workforce means a positive image for your organisation and will be certain to attract and maintain sales leads for your business.
Keeping event staff fresh is the biggest challenge at any show: the ‘Zombified’ junior sales rep churning out the same tired old pitch again and again is a sure-fire way to repel inquisitive visitors. Organise the staff into 2-3 hour shifts and try and foster a competitive edge between the different sales teams, offering incentives for the most successful team at the end of each day.
You should also try and maintain a good mix of different types of sales reps on the stand at any one time, if possible mixing a blend of junior and senior staff so as to appeal to a wider range of clientele who may visit and have different needs.
Evil #3: Mismanaging Your Exhibition Leads
The best way to keep a prospect list depends on the preference of the exhibitor: some favour writing out prospects into a detailed list, whilst others like inputting the data straight into a computer or tablet. Either way, make sure your notes are comprehensive and include key details about the needs of the prospect so you can appear more helpful than any competitors they speak to.
The biggest mistake exhibitors make is treating all their leads from a specific show as uniform and sending out a mass email to them after the show. You need to carefully separate the people you meet into hot, warm and cold leads, contacting the ‘hot’ leads immediately, preferably in the evening after the show, and inputting the rest into a spreadsheet or CRM system.
Keeping a comprehensive prospect database from various shows will help you to manage each lead, tailoring specific marketing campaigns to each one to make sure they stay interested after the event (more on this in the next Blog post!).
Evil#4: Being Unwelcoming
There’s one hour to go on the final day of exhibiting and an attendee visits your stand. You’re tired and don’t recognise the company name on the visitors badge. You tell yourself, ‘I’ve spoken to a million people today, this guy is small-fry….he will ask a question if he’s interested anyway.’
Never neglect a visitor to your stand – no matter the time, how you’re feeling or the name on their badge. Many high-profile exhibitors will put an unknown company on their badge in order to find out the true nature of the staff on the stand they’re visiting, so making that supposedly ‘subtle’ dismissive look at an attendee’s name badge may be more damaging than you think.
In order to make sure you can spark up a good relationship with a visitor straight away, make your brand and event staff visible on the event’s Twitter feed so they feel instantly comfortable in your presence. We suggest using social media and event networking sites to connect with attendees before, during and after a show, posting regularly about common issues all attendees are facing in order to create a ‘tribe mentality’.
Evil#5: Panicking when Things Go Wrong
Murphy’s Law tells us that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong – and because of this exhibitions and trade shows, with a million-and-one things to think about (and forget!), are in many ways the perfect recipe for a costly disaster. The stressed-out exhibitor ranting at his team is a major repellent for any visitor – so you should try and appear calm and collected and work on any problems together as a team to build morale on your stand.
Therefore, when the inevitable happens: your stand doesn’t show up; one of your event staff gets ill (hungover); or a vital piece of equipment isn’t working, the most important thing is to stay clear-minded and have a Plan B to hand. Turn your misfortune into your opening gambit in your sales pitch, other exhibitors are sure to have had similar unfortunate experiences, and making light of your problems will give you a human quality that could lead to more authentic on-stand interactions.