Love them or loath them, trade shows are an essential part of the marketing mix for most brands. They provide a fantastic opportunity for you to talk directly with your clients, keep in touch with your peers and stay abreast of changes in your market. Moreover, they are a chance for you to present your brand in the best possible light to everyone in your industry, all under one roof! How you physically represent your brand at an exhibition says a huge amount about your brand offering and your company in general. Therefore, it’s really important to carefully consider all the messages that you are sending out, be they through your stand design or through the cheerfulness of your staff.
When organising your exhibition space there are so many things to consider that it can be a little overwhelming, if you allow it to be. However, you can help to alleviate some of the potential stress involved by starting your planning nice and early. I would apply the old adage – ‘fail to plan, then plan to fail’ when it comes to planning trade shows! I have organised a fair few trade shows over the years and I am keen to share some of the most poignant tricks of the trade that I have learnt along the way…
- Create a project plan
Before you embark on the planning and execution of your exhibition space, draw up a project plan of all the tasks that will need to be done, allocate each of these to an appropriate person within your event team and ensure each task has a completion date allotted. This planning document can take the form of an excel spreadsheet with all the tasks plotted out. This should be your go-to crib sheet to keep the project on track. Be sure to share it with all who are involved so you are all singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of deadlines and who is doing what.
- Stand layout
Establish the key products/services you want to promote at the exhibition and the level of priority they each have. Then work with a designer to create a floor plan that gives your priority items the best position on the stand. It’s good practice to envisage walking through your stand to help you establish the flow of people and where to position your products and signage.
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When it comes to signage, consider in advance what your key messaging is and where you will place it so it has maximum impact. What have other brands done in previous years and how will you make your brand stand out from the crowd? What colours, images and fonts will you use? Will you be offering a show exclusive or a free sample? Or will you be driving your audience to your social channels to be entered into a competition?
You should also consider where you will hold meetings with your clients. Will this be on the stand or off it? Is there space for a separate meeting room on your stand, or will you be holding informal chats on sofas in the reception area? These are important questions to try and answer in these early stages of planning, so you can create your stand according to your business needs.
- Tactile aspects
Shows can be long and tiresome, so show your clients that you have considered their needs. Offer them some kind of sensory treat to reward themselves for making it to your stand! Ideas range from offering individually wrapped sweets or a fruit smoothie, to providing guests with somewhere welcoming to sit where they can take in your brand offerings. Will you have audio/visual devises running and if so, make sure you plan the branded content well in advance so that you have time to produce a reel of your best content!
The reception that you are given when arriving at a stand makes a big difference! Make sure that all visitors are welcomed warmly! We all know that working at a show can take its toll on your mood. There’s usually considerable evening entertainment to attend in addition to a long day on your feet. It’s almost inevitable that your staff’s energy levels will reduce as the show continues, so plan for this. Take supplies of high energy snacks and where possible ensure you have enough staff on to give each of them a proper lunch break to recharge. The last thing you want is grumpy staff on the stand as this reflects very badly on potential clients. You also don’t want a stand that is littered with snacks/ rubbish so set some strict ground rules around this during your pre-event briefing.
I hope this has given you some useful food for thought. If you find yourself implementing any of these tricks of the trade at your next show, we would love to hear from you on how it helped you to create a smoother trade show experience.
Tricks of the Trade (Show)