In an ideal world, a successful display at an exhibition will leave attendees walking away talking about your idea and more importantly, musing about your brand. It’s not a far flung dream, but striking the right balance between a risqué and engaging strategy can often leave many companies floundering with what are pretty boring concepts. Raffles, giveaways and the like have been flogged at trade shows on every continent and I can guarantee you are not going to impress anyone with your own imitation. The best ideas are simple in theory, but are in fact intrinsically linked backed to the product which they are trying to sell.
Take Visa for example, back in the early days of mobile payments when people were freaking out about how money could be moved that easily, they had to come up with a way to make people listen. The result was a coffee machine. Yeah, it has nothing to do with credit cards or finance right? Well, in fact it aimed to show how quick and simple it was to make payments with your mobile. But what made it great was that while attendees waited two minutes for their coffee, this gave staff on the stand the chance to engage with those in line and explain the product. At worst, the attendee got themselves a free coffee and at best, Visa were able to convince people that mobile payments were secure and easy to use (and they were right!).
Figure out the concept
What makes this idea great is that theoretically, anyone could replicate it. They didn’t have to spend millions giving away things, in fact, I would wager whatever they spent giving out coffee was significantly offset by the engagement they received. Chances are, the success of your exhibition stand will more than likely hinge on this one thing; the concept. Great ideas are hard to come by, but if you can pull it off, it can increase the engagement with your stand tenfold.
None of the attendees will want to be held up while you reel off your sales pitch for five minutes, that is why a good concept will give them an incentive. If your product is pretty boring on the surface, then you need to provide something which will help them to engage with the fundamental aspects which get you excited.
For example, if your company produces electrical components, then rattling off a list of specifications is going to fly over 99% of the attendee’s heads. Instead, take the core idea of electricity, introduce it into an activity which will engage them for just a couple of minutes, and then while they wait, tell them straight and simply why your product can revolutionise the market.
Make it Unique
This is important. As many of the people you will be speaking to are seasoned professionals, then if they have seen it once, then they probably have seen it a thousand times. Sure, the technique of perching on the stand and having a chat can have success and it is often the approach that many people take, but unless you can strike a chord with them in just a few minutes, your company will get forgotten like thousands of other attendees.
Even if you have people walking away thinking; “huh, well that was different”, then you have still made an impression. If your product is a bit too technical, then use the pop up exhibition stand to dumb it down. For Visa, they could have droned on about all this fancy tech which allows you to make payments with just your phone. But what made it a success, was that they boiled it down to one polished line; ‘make your payments in the time it takes to make a coffee’.
Engage with Everyone
Well, this is pretty much a given at this point and while your exhibition stand will be setting up your well-constructed sales pitch, it will be your team who really drive it home.
We’ve covered how scripted sales pitches will send attendees running, which is why selecting the right team to surround you will be crucial in helping your company live long in the memory. Unsurprisingly, other humans love emotion, its instinctive to us. So, if you have a group who are as passionate and as knowledgeable as you are about your company, then you can help guarantee a successful trade show.
As a parting note, if you had not realised already, social media is amazing for events such as these. Before, during and after, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are brilliant for building excitement, having conversations and ultimately driving traffic to your site. E-mails can be a bit boring, and while they are still effective as they are a significantly more formal approach, they do not provide the scope which is available elsewhere online.