There is a huge amount of planning which goes into exhibiting at a trade show, but most business owners will agree that the individual touches are what makes their organisation truly stand out. If you can make the visitor’s experience personal, your entire presence at a trade show will be more effective and successful. At any trade show, the level of footfall your exhibition receives is important and plays a critical role in the success of the show for your company. In fact, studies have shown that as many as 83% of exhibitors cited meeting potential customers as the key advantage of a trade show, proving that experiential marketing must be at the heart of your trade show attendance.
Why does engagement matter?
Experiential marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy, creating an engaging experience for your target audience. As far as a trade show is concerned, your audience members become much more than spectators; they form part of your brand, which ultimately helps turn them into prospects. The more engaging you can make your exhibition, the more likely you are to turn an otherwise passing customer into a prospect. A high proportion of attendees state that visiting trade shows gives them a greater understanding of a business’ service or product, compared to simply viewing an advert online or on TV. No matter how vast the size of a trade show might be, you can create a personal experience that makes your visitors feel welcome and valued.
Every interaction you make at a trade show can be valuable to your business. If you stand at the show looking bored and uninterested, you’re sending out a message to your customers that they don’t matter. And it’s not just new prospects that you could be pushing away! Meeting existing customers is also an advantage of trade shows, as you can build on the relationships you have with them. While the main reason for exhibiting at a trade show is to sell and drum up interest, selling should not be the sole focus of your activities. You should focus primarily on the experience you’re providing to visitors. Think about making your visitors feel comfortable, engaged and valued, rather than simply the profit they could provide.
Top tips for personalising your presence at a trade show
Prior to the show
Providing a personal experience begins long before the actual day of the show. Before the trade show takes place, you need to consider your prospective customers and how your business can assist them with achieving their goals and expectations. Once you’ve determined how your business can help your target audience, you can create the right messages and promotional materials to really stand out and to set the tone for your visitors’ experience.
Work on your greetings
As anyone who has attended a trade show will know, it can be all too easy to let people pass on by without actually engaging with them. But this results in a missed opportunity! Work on being as personable as possible and engage with people on a one-to-one basis. How you greet them is the first step to achieving this and really sets the tone for the rest of the conversation.
However, be sincere! Don’t rehearse to the point where you come across as scripted; instead try to be natural, relaxed yet also professional. Body language plays a big part in creating a positive first impression, so make eye contact with people, smile and ensure that you’re friendly when you greet passers-by. If they stop to engage with you, provide plenty of interesting and relevant information as well as opportunities for them to pose questions to you. Once you’ve developed a dialogue, you can then find out more about what they’re looking for and offer appropriate help and advice.
Set up your stand appropriately
It doesn’t matter which industry you’re in, any business can liven up their exhibition stand to set themselves apart from the competition. Your stand doesn’t need to be dry, even if the industry you’re in may not be the most exciting! Find ways to be creative to make your stand an exciting and interesting place to visit. From competitions to interactive features, to branded promotional giveaways, work hard and creatively to ensure those visitors engage with your brand. A visually striking, fun and interactive stand is critical to increasing footfall.
The best way to view your exhibition stand is to set it up as a window display. You’re trying to entice people to visit your business and the more tailored you can make your space, the more likely it is that your target demographic will be interested.
Don’t forget to follow-up
If you don’t follow up with prospects after a trade show, you’re missing a huge opportunity and your marketing efforts will have gone to waste. In following up, customers will appreciate that the conversations you had at the trade show weren’t a waste of time and it will help them feel valued. There’s no point in personalising the trade show experience, only to have the follow up be a generic and pushy sales call, so consider the tone of your follow-up conversation.
When you take details from people at the show, make a detailed note about the person, the needs and pain points they have, and any important information you find out during your conversation. This means you can make more specific recommendations when you speak to them again and the prospective customer will know that you have listened. This is guaranteed to be more impressive to the individual than a standard sales call and will improve the chances of them becoming a customer in the future.