Exhibitions are the best opportunity you have to sell your product, they are tailored to your target market meaning everybody in the exhibition hall is a potential customer for you, nobody is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter whether your business sells to the public or other businesses there will be people there to sell to, some companies have sales teams that are dedicated to just doing circuits of exhibition centres as their primary source of income, that is how profitable they can be. You will have to pay a fee to set up your stall at the exhibition and the better the your stall i.e. closer to the doors it is the more you will have to pay for your spot, once you have paid this fee however the rest is yours. This way you know when you walk in the door what your breakeven point is and you can create realistic projections on what you will achieve that day in sales.
The first step is to set up your stand to appeal to the public; the chances are you will have been to many exhibitions yourself in your chosen sector and will know on the whole what people tend to set their stands up like, it is then up to you whether you choose to follow the more successful set ups you have seen or to try something different. The general rule of thumb is that you want it to stand out, you want it to look professional with professional signage but also have something hands on to want to make customers come in and try it out. It is also essential to have your company’s social media accounts displayed on the signage, Twitter usernames and Facebook groups are a must for your stand, they are there for people to connect with you after the event is over. There are quite a few companies now that specialise in set ups for companies that are attending conferences or exhibitions, businesses like Phase 1 are the market leaders in this sector.
Once you are happy with your set up you need to think about how to attract people to your stand. Your set up and signage will catch the eyes of people but then you need to be able to get them over, as mentioned previously something hands on is very good for this, have a demonstration set up or do a small role play to discuss a product. Another good idea is to have very attractive prices or savings displayed, even if they have small print underneath it doesn’t matter, it is all about getting to the point of opening dialogue with the customer, this is the hardest but, once you are talking to them your sales people should be able to do a good job of closing some deals.
An exhibition isn’t just about sales but is also about networking, finding people you can connect with in future and potentially get future deals with. Just because they aren’t buying with you that day doesn’t mean they will never purchase anything from you. Make sure you take names and company names down and try and connect with them via phone or even LinkedIn a few days after the event. Giving away branded free gifts is a good way of staying in somebody’s mind. Don’t be skimpy and buy balls or stuffed toys, get USB memory sticks, pens or mobile phone cases, things that people will actually want to use in the future that will remind them of you. This way you are carrying future business away from the exhibition as well as current business.
A month or so after the exhibition get in touch with some of your contacts once again, this time offer them special deals that are only available to them and for a short period of time to try and get them on board, when a company see’s a good deal and a person that has been committed to getting business off them for months they are far more likely to give you a try. Exhibitions are packed with exciting opportunities and massive amounts of exposure for your company so make sure you maximise the potential whilst you are there.
Sarah Hewitt is an experienced writer about business and marketing, she has been in the industry for many years and now specialises in digital marketing.