How to engage prospects at a trade show


Five ways to make your next trade show the best ever

Exhibitions are expensive investments for technology firms. But many fail to capitalise on the opportunity because they don’t engage prospects intelligently. Here’s five ways to improve your impact

  1. Think like a retailer

    Many retail services businesses rely on walk-in business. They design their exterior and interior layouts to make it easy for strangers to come in and engage with them. So should you. The layout of the interior is critically important to attract people in and make them feel comfortable as is the exterior signage and how it ‘speaks’ to people from afar. This is how you maximise walk-in business. NB: I’ve yet to come across a stand designer who understands this.

  2. Come up with a powerful theme

    Our new software brand was the easiest one to use in the market. So we focused on that differentiator and came up with a theme around the idea of  “it’s a piece of cake”. The stand was branded as such and we gave away cup cakes to visitors, both helping us stand out from the crowd. We frequently heard visitors in other parts of the show talking about the cup cakes.

  3.  Start marketing well before the event

    Most of the hard work should happen months before the event. Understanding your stand location and the footfall around it (see point 1) means you know how hard it will be to get people to it. Advertising, leafleting and other media opportunities at the venue  are tools to do this. But as they are also available to the competition, its hard to get noticed. For the new software firm, we handed out cup cakes with the stand number and a leaflet as people arrived at the show. This drove visitors to stand and for an unknown brand we were remarkably busy. There are a host of other techniques to think about but I’ll leave them to another post.

  4. Run a disciplined ship

    At the show, you’ll have teams of people working long hours, sometimes in shifts and often several days. Ensuring they are well briefed, well trained, well dressed, well behaved and well looked after is essential. Just like a retailer does (see point 1).

  5. Follow up opportunities

    You know that as soon as everyone gets back to the office, they soon settle into the day job. That’s why opportunities don’t get followed up and you don’t fulfil your potential. But if you know this will happen, put in place measures to ensure it doesn’t like holding follow up sessions and holding people accountable.

Francis Wyburd 

whereyoustand is my London based insight and advisory firm. The combination of my ‘hidden voice of the customer’ research and marketing advisory services helps tech entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

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Francis Wyburd

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