Exhibiting: Get ready for the big event

In the second part of a series offering advice to fledgling exhibitors, Simon Naudi looks at the radical difference that pre-show promotion can make.

The message is simple - if you fancy great sex, you need good foreplay.

I'll repeat that, only this time I'll use the language of the events industry. If you fancy a great show, you need good pre-show promotion.

And while different organisers participate in a broad array of different activities, there is a plethora of additional activities that you should get involved with to maximise your own results.

The good news is that many of these will be at minimal or no cost to you. In fact there are times when, like other activities I could mention, the best things in life are free.

1. A review of your exhibitor manual or online guide will normally highlight the opportunities available for your particular show. This is normally your best starting point.

2. Show guides, show catalogues and show previews should all carry your news and company information. Many will carry your company and stand details as well as contact information, some with a limited amount of editorial.

3. In pre-show literature you will be able to pay for enhanced entries, colour photographs and suchlike, but in the majority of instances these are non-chargeable and a good way to get your name out in advance of the show.

4. Ask for invitations, which you can sometimes overprint with your logo. Post some, give some to your sales team, agents and distributors, and keep the rest in your reception area. VIP tickets are often a valuable way to entice more visitors to your stand. Moreover, if you don't invite your key clients and prospects, the chances are that your competitors will.

5. In terms of advertising, find out the show's marketing and advertising schedule (and discounts) and titles the organiser is using. Dovetail any of your own advertising in the same issues where they are running previews and features on the show.

6. Use flashes and banners across your ad, such as "See us on stand no: B52". Be creative - why not amend your franking machine with the same info? Or set up a template on your PC to overprint your company letterheads, compliment slips and even e-mail backgrounds with your event and stand details.

7. Most organisers use their own in-house PR agency or an outsourced one. Be sure to use their services, as these are usually complimentary to exhibitors, and remember to pick their professional brains (and contacts). Often they can guide you on how best to write press releases and give you an idea of what's hot and what's not.

8. Get a list of press contacts and deadlines but do remember that some titles (especially national press and established names) work several months in advance.

9. If you have a company newsletter, utilise this additional opportunity. Do mail shots and e-shots to key clients, existing, potential and past customers.

10. Remember also the power of the Internet and make sure you have current information on your website and a hyperlink from the show site to yours.

There are numerous documented testimonials showing that exhibitors have paid for their stand several times over from business enquiries generated through the show website in advance of the show itself.

I firmly believe that a few hundred pounds spent in this area will make a radical and tangible difference to your results.

The alternative - that is, spending the same amount on nicer graphics or a more elaborate floral display - almost certainly will not.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

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