Phone: 07817 746164 (Robin)
Exhibiting at a trade show is a big investment for any business in terms of time and financial resources, while brand awareness is an important factor we believe it is quality delegate engagement and effective follow-up that will generate a change in behaviour and sales.
We present below a few principles and a real life case study on exhibition stand best practice and our view from a marketer's perspective on what makes an integrated, effective part of the marketing budget and what is just a giant billboard with staff standing around it getting sore legs.
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Situation: A well known software company had invested in exhibitions for decades, they now had excellent brand awareness yet lately were looking for measurable outcomes to gauge their return from sponsorship and support continued investment in trade shows.
Task: We were hired by the client to help drive engagement and facilitate gathering delegate contact details at their next conference. We were also required to manage the various risk analyses and HACCP documentation (food hygiene) required for a coffee service at the venue.
Action: Upon registration at the conference delegates were presented with a token to redeem a free coffee at the client's exhibition stand and the opportunity to register their contact details to win a prize similar to an iPad.
We set up our mobile coffee bar adjacent to the client's exhibition stand, branded menus, branded cups and branded skirting on the coffee equipment were used to provide an integrated appearance with the rest of the exhibition stand. The coffee equipment faced outwards toward the entrance so delegates would be drawn into the theatre of the baristas and the queue then naturally flowed into the stand space.
Our baristas and the exhibition stand staff were briefed on the key messages for the day, with the priority objective as collecting delegates' details.
Result: In the 7 hours that we were running the coffee service we served over 400 coffees, collected over 380 unique contact details from the 800 delegates that attended the conference, hence we engaged close to 50% of all delegates attending the conference at our client's exhibition stand. At one point the queue stretched out the door, while other exhibititors remained unattended.
1) Have a clear objective or call to action linked to a measurable outcome. Measurable outcomes can be daunting as they put pressure on the stand staff, however a measurable outcome which supports your goals provides an objective gauge of success for the event and the next, as well as a measure of improvement from one event to another.
2) Well briefed baristas and stand staff. Once you have a clear objective and measurable outcome, ensure everyone involved with the stand understands it clearly. Best practice is to write it down on a small card or briefing note, it doesn't need to be really long, just clear and useful.
Start with your objective as a description and as numbers, no more than 2-3 key messages and what each persons' role is in achieving this goal ie: what is the process and the flow of delegates from attraction to engagement and key touch points through the stand space.
3) Effective follow up is essential to convert that lead or contact into business. Exhibitions and trade shows are a blur of handshakes and promises for delegates, while they may remember the positive emotion of that amazing coffee they had, they won't remember for long who gave it to them.
4) Giving stuff away works. Even a free 20p mechanical pencil communicates your proposition and gets delegates coming to your stand, coffee works even better as delegates are pretty much captive for the 1-2 minutes while their drink is being prepared, in receiving a coffee delegates become obligated to hear what you have to say and are very receptive to information at this point.
I believe this is because once a drink has been ordered a dialogue between the barista and the delegate has begun and it is straightforward to continue this engagement.
5) A queue attracts more people. It sounds cruel however a queue for amazing coffee at your exhibition stand is a good thing, the aroma, the steam and the theatre are irresistable, people can sense there is something special going on and they are drawn in.
While there is a certain prestige with being the busiest stand at the show, more practically one is more likely to access good leads when more people are engaged at their stand.