So your organisation’s exhibition schedule has just landed on your desk! It is now your task attend as many events in one year that are relevant to your company’s products and services with a view to deciding whether they should become part of your event marketing strategy or whether they should stay on the list of ‘ones to attend’. Now, on the surface, that may seem like a fun task and it would be if it were not for your existing heavy workload. That is why you need to create an exhibition and event plan so you can make every minute count and become the most efficient delegate on the planet!
Go prepared! You can never do too much research before attending an event. Get to know the exhibitors and study the layout of the event. Note the location of any particular businesses you need to meet with and work out the most efficient route around the exhibition hall. You can walk for miles at exhibitions and trade shows so you will be thankful of this level of planning when you are there! Why not make appointments with the most important people that you need to see as events are so busy it will save you wasting time whilst you wait to see your business contact. Also note any presentations and seminars that may be running throughout the day and plan your visit around them. Remember to book where necessary. On arrival it’s often a good idea to take a quick walk around the venue it will allow you to get your bearings become familiar with the layout.
Dress for Success
Ensure you look the part. Don’t forget this may be a day out of the office but you are still representing your organisation so you need to look as if you mean business! Ensure you dress appropriately for your indoor or outdoor exhibition. This will usually mean business dress but it really depends on your industry and the organisation you work for. Regardless of what you wear, the most essential thing I’d say would be to wear your most comfortable pair of shoes! You will be doing a lot of walking and standing so this is no place for trying out a new pair of shoes or for wearing high heels. So take heed, unless you want to be limping around the exhibition hall by lunchtime, be sensible!
Ensure you pick up as many brochures, leaflets and promotional items as possible. You will find businesses will give away a huge range of interesting things just to get your attention, draw you to their stand and to promote their products and services. Not only will you have a reminder of what your competitors are doing but you will be able to see what works, what doesn’t work and use some of their best ideas for your next exhibition. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, other people’s ideas can be adapted and can spark your own creativity so be sure you take what’s on offer and to take photos (with permission of course) of the trade show stands, posters, flags, banners and more, to remind yourself of the ways your competitors get noticed at events.
Once back to the office, there is only one thing to do. Follow up your leads! Unless you immediately follow up your leads you will render your attendance at the event, as well as your day out of the office, a complete waste of time. Go through all of the cards you have collected as well as your notes to remind yourself of the conversation you had then make the call. Important and long standing business relationships are often made through networking so this may be the start of a long and fruitful relationship. Once you’ve followed up your leads then be sure to write an appraisal of the event for review. Note whether it is one you should attend as a delegate, whether you should attend at all or whether it is important enough for your company to become an exhibitor. Record the leads gained and the results of your conversations and very soon an event strategy will develop from your hard work.