The key to any successful exhibition marketing strategy is preparation. After all, there are so many details to address, from the design of your stand, to the exhibition services you require and the products or services you are actually going to showcase. For this reason, advance planning is of critical importance.
Here, we take a closer look at the steps you need to go through to plan for an upcoming exhibition.
Set Clear, Measurable Goals
The first step of any exhibition marketing plan should be to set out exactly what you are aiming to achieve. This may be, for example, to generate a certain number of sales, or a certain amount of exposure in a new market. The key is to make sure your goals are realistic, understood by all involved and measurable.
"Your exhibition targets can be anything from the number of leads scanned to orders processed," explains Chris Bardsley, marketing executive at Unibox, in an article written for Marketing Donut. "It is only by setting objectives that you can measure the success of your strategy."
Establish a Budget
Next, you need to sit down with your finance department and decide exactly how much money you have to spend on your exhibition. The amount you allocate will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of money available to you and the specific goals you have. Once a budget is established, try to stick to it by breaking it down carefully, taking into account all outgoings.
To give you an idea of what you should be looking to spend, B2B exhibitions account for around 39 percent of total B2B marketing budgets, on average. However, that statistic covers all trade shows over the course of the year. Ultimately, the amount you allocate will depend on your priorities and financial situation.
Put Together Your Team
One aspect of your strategy that will require careful thought is the staff you choose to be part of the process. Here, you need to ensure you are picking reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable team members. It may also be necessary to consider which products or services you are showcasing and who has the best knowledge of them.
"The people you choose for your booth represent your business," says Timothy Carter, writing for MarketingProfs. "Make sure they're knowledgeable about the product or service, and friendly and engaging."
Plan Your Exhibition Stand and Services
Another important consideration is the type of exhibition stand you want. Many design companies will offer a range of options, from bespoke exhibition stands to pop up stands, and everything in between. You should also think about any additional exhibition services you may require, such as storage, transportation, installation and derigging.
Think about what you are trying to achieve, your budget, and any other needs. While bespoke exhibition stands pack a real punch and are great for attracting attention through enhanced branding, a modular stand is going to be a much better investment if you want to attend various exhibitions or trade shows throughout the year, because they are reusable and reconfigurable.
Carry Out Pre-Event Marketing
An element of successful exhibition marketing that is not always given the level of attention it requires is pre-event marketing. Yet, around 70 percent of attendees plan a list of the exhibitions they want to visit before they attend, according to Inc.com, which should put its importance into perspective.
In simple terms, you need to let people know you are going to be at the exhibition event before they arrive. Use email, social media, snail mail and your own website to put the message out there. You should also consider advertising your appearance in trade publications and, if possible, in the literature for the event itself.
Create a Follow-Up Plan
Finally, lead generation is often cited as one of the key benefits of carrying out an exhibition marketing strategy. Despite this, industry research shows that a staggering 80 percent of trade show leads are not followed up, and many of those companies that do follow up on leads take more than 50 days to do so.
Do not leave the follow-up process until after the event. Plan in advance for how you are going to make contact with your leads, what you are going to say to them and how often you are going to reach out to them. You should also plan who is going to be responsible for getting in touch with people and when the process will begin.
Reno is a founder and director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in retail designs, event branding, bespoke exhibition stands, trade show marketing and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.