We exhibited at the CASRO Digital Conference a couple of weeks ago. It happened to be in my back yard, right here in Nashville. A really nice event.
The ‘exhibit hall’ was fairly small… it was actually a ballroom that held 12-15 exhibitors. And even in this microcosm of the exhibiting world, it was amazing to see just how bad most firms are at exhibiting. Here are five basic guidelines for exhibiting that I saw broken again and again…
Throughout much of the event, many of the exhibitor personnel sat in their chairs behind the table in their booth space. It made them look lazy and uninterested.
Guideline: Get rid of the chairs and stand up – in front of or beside the table – ready to meet and greet. And when you need a break, leave the exhibit hall and walk out to the hotel lobby to find a chair.
Aside from giving you something to sit behind (see CHAIRS), tables are a barrier between you and your booth visitors. Is that what you really want?
Guideline: If you need a place to display your materials and handouts, either push the table to the back of the booth space, or rotate it 90 degrees and move it off to one side.
A few of the meals and social time for attendees took place in the exhibit hall… a nice way to get them to mingle with the exhibitors. But exhibitor personnel were also eating in their booths. Not only does it look bad and “trash up” your booth, but it’s kind of difficult to have a good business conversation with a mouth full of lasagna.
Guideline: We all need to eat… so do it outside of the exhibit hall or at least wait until the attendees have returned to their conference sessions.
4. THE BOOTH
First and foremost, your booth/signage/display should be a “visual train wreck!” Its primary responsibility is to get people walking by to stop, look and to generate a little interest in their minds (giving you the opportunity to engage them in conversation). Your booth is not meant to list out every single detail about your company or your latest product. Think of your booth as a billboard… if it doesn’t generate interest in the 2 seconds it takes someone to walk past it, then it’s time for a new one!
Guideline: Your booth should contain a visually compelling image (NOT your logo!) plus 1 or 2 benefits – not 10-15 features.
First, there is nothing inherently wrong with giveaways. On the other hand, there generally isn’t any real business value generated by them, either. That is, “Because I now have your pen in my possession, does that mean I’m more inclined to call you?” Doubtful. It’s true, they are another way to build awareness (maybe), but they cost money and are often a pain-in-the-ass to order, receive, pack and ship to (and from) an event.
Guideline: If you’re willing to spend a few hundred dollars on “merch,” could those same dollars be more effective if used for something else like pre-event marketing or entertaining a prospective client while at the conference?
Bottom line: Exhibiting is a time-consuming and expensive marketing tactic… one that can have a very positive impact on awareness building, lead generation and your sales pipeline. But only if you do it right. I hope the guidelines for exhibiting above will help.
For more information on getting the most out of your next exhibiting opportunity, download our eBook, Marketing & Sales for the Market Research Firm:The Exhibitor’s Workbook by Clicking Here.