Trade shows and exhibitions can be a highly cost-effective way for your business to increase exposure and reach out to new audiences. You may make great sales at the events on the spot. However, some of these shows can be a waste of time, energy and money. Understandably, you want to enjoy the best results possible as you prepare to attend one or more shows this year. Your selection of events and how you prepare for the events can play a major role in the results you enjoy, and these steps can help you to maximise your benefits from hosting a booth at trade shows this year.
List the Shows / Exhibition Possibilities
Before you can make any firm decisions about which trade shows to attend, you need to carefully examine all of the possibilities through extensive research. Think about major organisations and associations for your industry as well as for affiliated industries. While you can visit these associations’ websites directly, you can also look at websites that allow you to search for trade shows by industry or location. For example, a home insurance company may benefit from attending a trade show about home decorating. You likely will be able to eliminate some of these options based on their dates. For example, you may already have a personal commitment that you cannot break on the date of one event. Your list of possibilities should work well with your schedule on both a personal and professional level, and the dates should not conflict with the schedules of team members you want to attend the event with you.
Analyze the Target Audience
The next step to take when trying to decide which trade show or exhibition to host a booth at requires more extensive research. Most trade show websites contain extensive details about who the target audience is based on past attendance or based on who has already registered to attend. While it may seem ideal to attend the trade show with the largest number of attendees, this is not always the case. It is better to choose a show that has attendees that are more relevant to your business. For example, if your niche consumer is a 45-year old male, attending a trade show that will mostly include 30-year old mothers is likely not a good idea. All aspects of the demographics should be carefully analyzed, and the more detailed information you can gather about the attendees, the better. Remember that if many other booths are hosted by your competitors, a fair portion of the attendees will be competitors rather than your target audience. Generally, you can estimate that four to 10 people per booth based on its size, and you can browse through a list of booth hosts to determine which of your competitors will be in attendance.
Determine the Traffic Flow
Trade shows and exhibitions can be very crowded environments. When they are too crowded, many attendees may simply pass by your booth altogether because their interest is drawn in different directions. On the other hand, if there are not enough visitors at the event, you will simply not have a chance of benefiting from hosting your trade show booth as well as you are hoping to. Average traffic density of around 2.4 to 2.7 is a good number to aim for. Traffic density is determined by comparing the number of attendees by the square footage of the event space.
Research Past Events
You also want to ensure that past events were properly marketed and promoted and that attendees benefited from full exposure. Research last year’s event online as a starting point to see who attended and what the attendance demographics were. A basic Internet search will reveal articles, press releases and other marketing efforts used to promote the event. You may also be able to see photos of videos of the event, and this can give you a better idea about what traffic volume may look like. Post-event marketing material, such as news articles, press releases and more should also be located online if you want to ensure maximum exposure from your attendance.
Ask About Booth Availability
Once you have located a few top trade shows or exhibitions that you want to attend, your next step is to determine if there is a desirable space available on the trade show floor. It is sometimes best to be one of the first companies to sign up for a booth, but that is not always the case. For example, if you rent a small booth in a highly desirable area and your competition rents a much larger booth across the walkway, this can create a negative result for your company. It is also not ideal to be the last company to select a booth as you will likely only have access to the most undesirable locations. Size options may also be limited as the event date approaches. The booth you rent should be ideally located in a prime traffic area and close to affiliated businesses rather than competitors. In addition, ensure that you have access to the electrical hookups and wireless Internet capabilities you may need to properly host your booth. Some trade shows have limits on booth design related to volume control, lighting and more. Always ensure that the rules are acceptable to you before reserving your booth.
Plan your Exhibition Stand
Before you pay the fee to reserve your booth space at a trade show or exhibition, think through what you plan to do with the space. You may not need to plan your entire booth right now, but you need to have a concept in mind so that you can properly budget for it. This is critical if you want to estimate your overall return on investment. Will you have TV screens, an interactive feature, products that attendees can sample or something else? Your booth should be visually appealing and should be designed to draw the attention of attendees in a crowded marketplace. Lighting, sound, samples and hands-on activities are often great teasers that can bring traffic to your website. You also need to plan for the costs related to marketing materials, promotional items or giveaways and post-event marketing if you want to maximize the full benefit of attending the event. There may also be marketing costs associated with telling your customers that you will host a booth at the event, such as by updating your website or running an email blast campaign a few weeks before the event date.
Analyze Exhibition Costs
A final step to take before you reserve your trade show booth is to analyze the costs. The best trade show to attend will be the most cost-effective one. This means that you likely need to analyze costs for multiple options to find the best ROI. Consider the return that you expect to receive by attending different events based on demographics and attendance numbers. Then, analyze the costs associated with all aspects of hosting the booth as well as travel arrangements, such as hotel, rental car and airfare. When you analyze these figures closely, you will be able to estimate your return on investment for each option available. You can better determine which trade show is best for you to attend.
Plan for Ample Manpower
As soon as you book your event, you need to begin making arrangements. The first step to take is to determine how many people you need to man your booth. Remember that you will need at least one person to give a sales pitch and one person to hand out freebies and gather contact information. Your team will need to take restroom and meal breaks, so you may need additional people on staff as well. In some cases, you may need members of your own team to attend the event so that they can speak intelligently about your products or services. In other cases, you may simply need to hire an actor or day worker to wear your mascot costume and to drive traffic to your booth. Make travel arrangements for you and your team, and begin locating the right local talent to help you with more general booth needs.
Consider Hiring a Stand Design Consultant
Your booth design will play a major role in how successful this event is for you. A boring booth that has a table and a few flyers laying on it will barely attract any attention in most cases. A more high-tech display will draw considerably more interest. Hiring a stand design consultant may be a great option to consider if you want to create an eye-catching design. In some cases, this can be far more cost-effective to do if you plan to use the same design at multiple events. However, remember that many of the same attendees may visit multiple events as well. Therefore, you should not plan to use the same design for more than a few events each year.
Hire Exhibition Furniture
If you plan to have a large or elaborate exhibition stand design, it may be more cost-effective for you to hire exhibition furniture rather than to buy your own tables and chairs and ship it to the event location. Some companies specialize specifically in this type of furniture hire service.
Aluminium (Poseur) High Table Hire£14.60 exc. VAT per week
Partition Screen Hire£28.10 exc. VAT per week
Amber Umbria Chair Hire£4.75 exc. VAT per week
Clear Umbria Chair Hire£4.75 exc. VAT per week
Stretch Barriers Hire – Blue Webbing£9.90 exc. VAT per week
Green Stacking Weatherproof Lisbon Chair Hire£4.65 exc. VAT per week
Order Your Marketing Materials
A final and important step to take when preparing for your special event is to order marketing materials. Your materials should be educational or informative. For example, flyers or brochures are ideal ways to pass along information about your company to attendees. Many people love to gather freebies or promotional items at these events as well, so plan to pass out pens, plastic cups, koozies, stress balls and other items with your company’s name and logo or website address on it. These items may initially seem like a waste of money. However, some attendees will keep these items on a desk at the office or at home, and they will look at the item for months or even years. Some will also pass the items along to other people so that your marketing has far-reaching effects.
Some companies are able to pull together a last-minute trade show plan within a week or less, but this is most often only accomplished when they have a booth already designed, marketing materials on hand and staff members who are able to quickly fly out of town on a moment’s notice. In most cases, however, you will need to plan these events several months ahead of time. This is particularly true if you need to prepare a new stand design or hire furnishings. With this in mind, there is no better time to start researching trade shows that you and your team can attend in the next few months.
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