Marketing is changing; there is no doubt about that. Gone are the days when the only way to promote your business was sending out 100,000 leaflets and waiting for a response, or spending hours cold calling and hoping to catch somebody at the right time. Now you can instantly speak to a huge audience and analytically track how, why, when and where your customers are finding you, and adjust your marketing accordingly.
However, there is still a lot to be said for putting yourself in front of people and having a real-life, face-to-face conversation. This is where exhibitions come in. They are a great way to get out there and speak to potential customers, particularly for B2B organisations.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT EXHIBITION
This part is absolutely crucial. The most important factor is really doing your research and finding out who’ll be attending. This is always a case of quality over quantity. Usually, it’s the owners, general managers and key decision makers that you need to get to speak to as these are the people that have the authority to place orders, allocate budget or commission your services. Ensure you speak to the event organisers, as they will hold in-depth data on the type of people that have visited in previous years.
There’s no doubting that exhibitions can be costly. Firstly, you have the expense of the space and the physical stand. Next, you need to be able to fill it with products, marketing material and staff. However, there are ways in which you can keep your costs down and these will make the exhibition much more viable.
Firstly, think about how many members of staff you need – we would recommend that where possible there are at least two people exhibiting, managing a stand on your own is not only exhausting but means that whilst you are talking to one customer another potential could be walking past. However, don’t feel you need to take everyone; you will need people back in the office to carry on business as usual.
You will often need overnight accommodation and to provide staff with a food allowance for each day. Be sensible when choosing a hotel, it really will just be a place to sleep for the night and as long as it’s clean, safe and close to the exhibition, it will do just fine.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend thousands of pounds on an exhibition stand – sometimes it’s the smaller, more carefully thought out ones that attract more attention. Small details such as a vase of fresh flowers, some delicious looking cupcakes and friendly, approachable staff is all it takes to entice people in.
It’s important to be pro-active in getting people to visit your stand. Don’t just expect that they will come to you. We’re not saying chase them down the aisle, shoving free pens and cupcakes in their face - a simple “hello” and a smile can be all it takes to spark up a conversation.
Try running a competition - get people to drop their business card into a jar to enter. This way you have their contact details and it gives a starting point to your initial conversation
Talk to other stallholders during the quiet periods. You can often pick up business from each other and it helps pass the time through those inevitable quiet slumps.
So, in answer to our original question – yes, they really do still work. Even in this fast-paced world that seems to be evermore moving online, people do still enjoy having a conversation with someone when it comes to making decisions in business.
Our final words: choose wisely, take measures to keep your costs down and always be enthusiastic!
If you need any assistance planning an exhibition or would like us to develop a complete marketing strategy, get in touch today.