Having attended many exhibitions as well as running some during my time at the Chamber of Commerce I thought I would share some thoughts on getting the most out of them.
Next week Astrality Business Services will be exhibiting for the first time at the Torbay Business Growth Festival. That's easy I hear you say just book a stand and turn up.
However to get the maximum benefit out of the experience requires careful thought and planning.
Before the event
Firstly carefully pick which event you exhibit at. Some questions to ask:
Once you have decided the event is for you have a think about the impression your stand will give - after all first impressions always count so make sure you have a table that looks tidy, inviting and interesting.
The objective is to be able to follow up conversations so running business card draw is well worthwhile. We will be doing this as well as having some of our photography on display with a caption competition. A basket of sweets may be a good draw too! Don't assume your table will come dressed so always have a tablecloth with you just in case.
Remember people will want to take away information so make sure you have plenty of brochures/flyers and business cards available. They will be gathering a multitude of information so need to be able to digest it at leisure and be able to contact you later.
Banner stands - pull up banners are easy to transport and put up but be aware that depending on space sometimes the bottom section is hidden behind a table so always put the most important information at the top. Remember a picture speaks a thousand words - you are trying to attract visitors from across a room so don't waste too much space on words as these can be put on other materials on your table.
Ask the organisers if there are social media hashtags or the event so that you can share to help attract more visitors.
At the event
Turn up early and make sure you are all set up well before the first visitors arrive. Scrabbling around when the show has already opened doesn't say much about your ability to meet deadlines.
Be friendly and approachable but don't pounce on visitors before they have had a chance to see what your stand is about. I always find sitting down is less intimidating and encourages conversation rather than standing up. It can be a long day so do take breaks and bring back drinks but don't allow your stand to look like the used coffee table in the cafe - keep things behind the table and out of sight.
If there are two or more of you at the event take it in turns to benefit from any seminars - it can give you a talking point with later visitors to your stand as well as being informative for your business. You will also find that you often do business with fellow exhibitors so don't forget to allow time to have a look round the exhibition yourself.
After the event
Follow up the contact details you have obtained with an email or phone call - if they have given you a business card you are entitled to do this providing they are given the opportunity to opt out of any further contact from you.
If they have entered a prize draw or competition on your stand share who won the prize so that they know it was genuine and ask if there is anything you can help them with.
Thank the organisers and, if not given one on the day, ask if it is possible to have an attendance and exhibitors list.
Review what leads and business you have gained from the event and whether it has worked for you as this will help you to decide on future events.
Maureen Frost has spent the last 21 years working within Chambers of Commerce helping businesses of all shapes and sizes. Now taking the opportunity to branch out into self employment and recently moved to Devon with her partner.