With the Insight Show 2012 behind us, there are clearly mixed views on the value that such trade exhibitions can have. Some found the two day exhibition to be a resounding success, while others weren’t so sure. This piece looks to discuss how to stand out and make such exhibitions pay. How did your show go? What did you do differently? Will you be returning, and how?
Firstly I would suggest that there is nothing inherently wrong with a well-run and organised exhibition (unless the air-con fails, wow it was hot at the Insight Show!). You can make any show a successful one, but it’s all about your approach fitting your aims and your brand ethos.
Here’s the gist
Whatever your thoughts on the trade exhibition, there’ll be a multitude of personal and professional reasons that lead you to love them or hate them. The main hinge being good old ROI (Return of Interest)!
So how can you make your exhibit a success. The key is to stand out amongst all of the other exhibitors, but how? I believe that the key to achieving your aims lies in finding that oh-so-important balance between style and substance. Stand out, but remain useful to those you wish to attract!
Style – Stand Out
The show presented a parade of immaculately dressed almost exclusively pop-up stands. While each was unique and professionally done, there was often a similar style. So the answer for many was to do something interactive. And I mean more than just handing out freebies. For instance, our chums the Research Bods, led by Robin and Jonathan set up the ultimate MR game, Family Fortunes and gave away mini-bottles of champagne to winners.
While Rob Wallis and his Visions Live team had people coming in for a jaunt on the Wii. Either way the effect was the same; they won people’s attention! Our choice was to do something different, and also to look entirely different. While each stand had it’s own unique identity the majority at the show were pop-ups and many people fed back that they all started to blur into one as they traipsed around the show arena.
So we hand built and ran a quirky Face Facts tea shop. The picture should say it all! Our stand grabbed people’s attention and our gentle and friendly approach once they were in maintained their interest to a point that they actually asked to be sold to. For us, the Bods and Visions Live, I imagine that in terms of ‘being memorable’ we more than met our objectives.
Substance- The Man Maketh The Stand(eth)
You can have the finest stand money can buy (or that your marketing team can construct!) but ultimately all of these are human acts; making sales, generating leads, relationship building, raising brand awareness, all rely on the people manning the stand. The unique look or range of activities at your stand, or ‘the hook’ can only ever be a platform. A platform that leads to people wanting you to sell to them.
And then you have to sell well, not hard or soft, but well.
Sell in a way that best reflects the style of your business and the needs of your customers. Our most frequently asked questions came from people wandering in pleasantly surprised asking; “what do you do?” or “what … what is this? Who are Face Facts?”. Was this a problem? No of course not, because they asked it out loud , to us! Not in their head or to their friend as they wandered past. But of course, we can improve.
It was a successful debut all things considered, but we might have sold a bit more actively. But we took a leap of faith, and gambled on inspiring a bit of curiosity. And so far it seems to be paying off! Should you find that right balance, there’s no reason why an exhibition can’t be truly valuable.
How did you do things differently this year? What will you do next time around?