With a little over 4 weeks to go until the doors open at Ecobuild the construction industry is gearing up for the showcase event on sustainable construction. Ecobuild is the UK’s largest construction event and with this is mind we have written the following hits and tips.

When exhibiting at a trade show it is important to spend time focussing on who will staff your stand, after all they will be the face of your company for the duration of the show. No matter how stunning your stand design it will all be lost unless you have the engagement and support of your stand team.

Train your staff – do they know why the company is exhibiting at the show? And what is expected of them? Are they aware of the goals and objectives for your attendance?

Hold a meeting with your team to relay this information to them, as part of this meeting explain the design of the stand, the literature/incentives/giveaways available and the lead handling process. Importantly include some role play to help your teams focus and boost confidence. Finally leave them with a written document they can refer to giving them an appraise of the information covered, as well as key details such as show times and staff rota.

First impressions count –  Make sure your stand staff are presentable, perhaps wearing company ties or polo shirts, so they can be easily identified by visitors. Do not allow the use of mobile phones while on the stand. Make sure your staff face the aisles, rather than gather in the centre of the stand to chat with colleagues. Encourage them to approach people with a warm smile and use open questioning that is non-threatening – How have you found the exhibition so far? What is your favourite part of the show this year? Do you feel the show is better than last year? From this a sales conversation may begin, at which point encourage your team to listen more than talk! And finally a busy stand attracts visitors, so your staff should not be seen to be idle.

Engage with the right people – Visitors to your stand will expect your staff to have impeccable product knowledge and more importantly be able to convey what’s new. They will also want to know how your products compare or differ from your competitors. So it is important your stand team, between them, has strong technical knowledge. Equally it is important your staff focus on the right visitors, the potential customer, and politely move on ‘window shoppers’. They need to be able to establish which visitors are serious about doing business with you, by asking open questions to gauge interest, learn of timelines and budgets and who, if not the visitor, is the key decision maker.

Capture information – You put a lot of time, effort and a sizeable slice of your budget into attending the show, so it is important you focus on getting the lead handling process correct. Ensure you have what you need on the stand to capture the data needed, whether this be a light-pen or simple pen and paper, or business card drop-box. Think about what information you wish to record – simply contact details to grow your database and/or more in-depth information for potential sales. Allow stand staff to take ownership of a lead. Categorise your leads so they can be prioritised. On a regular basis, not least at the end of each day, collate your leads and act on the hot ones, perhaps passing to office based staff to act on immediately.

Keep it fresh – The exhibition hall can be a draining place, so it is important to keep your staff motivated. Nominate a team leader, draft a staff rota with regular breaks factored in. Advise your staff to wear comfortable footwear, provide drinking water and keep your team informed of the progress towards achieving targets. The provision of chocolates or a small treat from the local café for the team also keeps up energy levels. And if staying away, book your staff into the same hotel and plan evening meals together, to help foster that team spirit! But beware of the late night drinking sessions with the consequent drained and exhausted image that it presents the following day.

Maintain a buzz – Pre and post show promotion is a great way to get more bang for your buck. Leading up to the show make use of the channels provided by the organisers, such as promotion on their website and in their emails, or negotiate some bespoke activity as part of your exhibition package. Look at listings in trade publications that are publishing exhibition previews.

Ensure you mention your show attendance in your own company newsletter and on your website, but don’t stop there. Nowadays the use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn can generate conversations prior to the exhibition hall opening and so increase footfall to your stand. It is also a great way for your stand team to get involved and have participation in the run-up to the trade show.

Consider continuing promotion through these channels during the show, making your exhibition stand more interactive. Other methods to consider would be to host an ‘event’ on your stand, such as drinks reception, competition or presentation, whilst also using this as a lead capturing opportunity. Also look at ways to direct visitors to your stand, such as floor tiles or promotional staff.

Following the show look to maintain the buzz, email those that visited your stand, encourage your staff to act on their leads quickly, perhaps hold a post-show meeting and set this as the target. Again make use of social media by perhaps posting the answers to the most commonly asked questions on your stand, with web links to product information.

Other approaches would be to contact the journalists that visited your stand with details of some of your successes from the show. Or work with the organisers to be included in the post-show communications.

You may be feeling jaded following the exhibition, you will hopefully be overwhelmed with the number of leads generated but it is important not to loose momentum. One tip would be to diary post show promotion even before the exhibition has happened!

Other useful information:

This post was written by Helen Johnstone, Communications Manager at Competitive Advantage. Helen has over 15 years experience in marketing communications and prior to joining Competitive Advantage she managed company stands at numerous trade shows and exhibitions.

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