Your Planning Guide For Exhibiting Success
Exhibiting offers your business unique benefits that no other form of marketing can match. But once you have taken the decision to exhibit your business, what next? And more importantly, when should you start to organise your exhibition or trade show?
At Quadrant2Design, we have put together this easy-to-follow 1 year timeline to help you organise for a productive and successful exhibition . . .
9 to 12 Months Before Your Exhibition
- Start Early
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. To run a successful exhibition, it’ll come as no surprise to learn it will involve a huge amount of planning and organisation. So when should you start?
We know you’re excited about exhibiting and might want to jump straight in and book the first suitable industry expo that comes up. But this would be a mistake. As a leading exhibition company for the past 20 years, we know one of the biggest mistakes exhibitors can make is being unprepared – this leads to unclear goals and unrealistic expectations.
Don’t rush this! If you are going to get the most out of your event, we recommended you allow 9 to 12 months to organise your exhibition.
- Set Your Exhibiting Objectives
Do this before you even start looking at potential exhibition or trade shows. It might be tempting to simply choose the biggest show in your industry, but this might not always be the best option for you, if it doesn’t match your goals.
If your aim is to generate as many leads and sales as possible then a larger exhibition will be the right choice. But if your objective is to raise brand awareness and engage in B2B marketing and networking, a smaller show where you can connect and interact with the attendees might be more appropriate.
Once you know the purpose of your exhibition and what you hope to achieve, this will help you plan for a realistic budget that includes a projected ROI.
Set Your Exhibiting Budget
The amount you allocate for your exhibition budget will depend on your priorities and the size of your business – sit down with your finance department and work out what a realistic figure is.
The biggest venues in the UK will generally charge around £300 per square meter for an exhibition space, but smaller events will charge much less. But wherever you decide to exhibit, you are unlikely to get a good ROI if you don’t invest in your exhibition stand – there is no point in blowing all you budget on a prime space at a major exhibition event only to stand there with some cheap and unprofessional looking pop up stand.
When you set your budget, plan for how much business you intend to create. Even if your goal is brand awareness, lay out your targets – such as amount of stand visitors you need to get, and the amount of promotional material you intend to distribute.
Find the Right Show for Your Business
Now you have set your objectives and budget, compile a list of all the potential exhibition shows you feel would meet your aims and are within your financial range.
Once you have your list, you should make a shortlist of the events that are best suited to your brand and customers. Find out which exhibition shows the consumer demographics you want to target are attending. All event organisers will be happy to provide potential exhibitors with attendee numbers and audience profiles.
We’d also highly recommend visiting any show you are serious about exhibiting at in advance – this will also give you ample opportunity to speak to other exhibitors to find out how successful their experience has been.
6 to 9 Months Before Your Exhibition
Book Your Exhibition Space
By now, you should have determined which exhibition show you are going to exhibit at. The next step is to decide where would be the best place for your stand space within the exhibition hall. A lot of this will depend not only on your budget but also your exhibition stand requirements.
Although you don’t need to have a perfect exhibition design at this stage, you should have some idea about the features you will need for your exhibition stand, such as a reception counter, TV screens, meeting area, interactive showcases etc. Once you know your stand requirements, you’ll be in a better position to choose your exhibition space.
Yes, it’s still a long time to your show, but if you want to guarantee the best exhibition space at your event, and not be placed in some dark corner at the back, you’ll want to get in early.
Just remember . . . the wrong space at the right show will be a bad show.
Start Your Exhibition Marketing Strategy
This is the time to start putting together your exhibition strategy. Obviously you can’t just show up an exhibition without having done any pre-publicity to promote the event.
Think about how you’re going to let people know you’re exhibiting at this event and how you can create a buzz around your exhibition? Try to come up with an integrated sales message – THE HOOK – which you can use for both the pre-marketing and at the exhibition itself. Once you have this, create a press pack to send out to journalists and promote your event on your website and social media.
Just remember to make your marketing all about your customers and why they should spend time visiting your stand – you’d be surprised how many exhibitors forget this vital step.
Plan Your Exhibition Stand and Services
Before you contact potential exhibition stand companies, you should take time to consider the type of stand you want based on the space you have booked. Start to plan your stand and what you want it to look like.
How are you going to attract attendees and how are they going to interact with your stand? What are your graphics going to look like? You want to make sure your exhibition “stands out” from the crowd. Think about the design features you want as this will help you choose an exhibition company that meets these requirements.
At Quadrant2Design, we can help you find the right design for you stand. Just get in touch for your FREE 3D visual. What is more, our team will patiently go through the whole process a number of times until you have the perfect eye-catching stand design that meets your needs. And the great news is there is no cost or obligation on your part.
Obviously, you will take into consideration your budget and what you intend to achieve, but you should also think about the other exhibition stand services you will require, such as storage, transportation and installation. Any good exhibition company will take care of all aspects of the exhibition stand process, from initial design and production to final installation at the show.
Book Your Hotels
By now you know when you’re event will be taking place and should have some idea of the number of staff you need to attend your exhibition – even if you still don’t exactly know who those people will be. You can book your rooms earlier, but don’t leave it later than this. You’ll want to ensure you get the best hotel that is either close by or easily accessible to the venue – before all the rooms are sold out.
Even if you’re not 100% certain what you need, book your rooms now anyway. Most chain hotels give you the option to book in advance and make cancellations without any cost – so if you choose this option and have to change plans, you won’t have lost out.
3 to 6 Months Before Your Exhibition
Select Your Exhibition Stand Designer & Supplier
Now you have a good idea of your stand requirements and the services you require, you should be ready to select the exhibition company to design and build your stand. Do not underestimate the time it will take for this process.
Also, to avoid any nasty surprises on the day of the exhibition, make sure you use a company that has rigorous quality and control checks in place. Ideally, find an exhibition company that will pre-build your stand before the event. This is the only way to guarantee every detail of your stand will be in perfect order before your exhibition.
Most importantly of all, use a supplier that will take full control of your project from start to finish. If you can find a company who will manage every part of your exhibition stand from initial design and production, right through to the transportation and installation at the show, it will take a huge amount of stress out of your planning process.
Put Together Your Exhibition Team
Decide which members of your staff will be attending the event and what their role will be. Remember the people you choose for your stand will be representing your business.
You’ll need to pick friendly, reliable, and trustworthy team members, but also make sure they are highly knowledgeable about the product or service you are promoting. This is also a good time to rehearse your stand demonstrations or presentations.
Make Your Travel Arrangements
As soon as you know the team of people who are going to the event, you can book your flights or trains, or work out your journey if you are going by car.
1 to 3 Months Before Your Exhibition
Finalise Your Exhibition Stand & Logistics
Even if you have used a full-service exhibition company, you will still need to be liaising with your project manager, providing them with feedback throughout the stand design process to ensure you get the results you require.
Hopefully, you will have chosen an exhibition company that will pre-build your stand and invite you to see it, in all its glory, set up before your exhibition takes place. This will give you the chance to check the graphics, design features, and structure all match your needs and stand space.
If your exhibition company aren’t going to be managing your project, and we highly recommend choosing one that does, then this is the time to arrange the logistics for setting up your stand at the exhibition. Also, you will need to speak to the event organisers to find out about their on-site services, such as electrics, flooring, furniture, etc.
Most of this information should be provided in your exhibitor manual, provided by the organisers, but if your stand suppliers haven’t provided you with a project manager, then, to ensure a successful show, it is a good idea to liaise with the event organisers about how their on-site services can support your exhibiting needs.
Schedule Meetings for the Show with Clients & Other Businesses
As exhibitions or trade shows bring together people in your industry from far and wide to one location all at the same time, they are a great opportunity for you to arrange meetings with potential clients or business partners who will be attending the event.
If you know that important clients or business partners will be at the event, arrange and finalise details for any meetings or networking events and make the necessary bookings.
Complete Your Lead Follow- Up Plan
As generating leads is one of the main benefits of exhibiting, don’t leave your lead follow-up process until after the event. If you leave it too late to follow up on your leads after your exhibition, the chances are you will lose most of them.
Once you have completed every step on this one year plan, take the time to plan in advance how you are going to make contact with your leads after the event. Decide what you are going to say to them and how you are going to reach out to them. Also, allocate people who will responsible for following up leads – this way you can start the process soon after the exhibition has finished.
Quadrant2Design Are Here to Help You
As leading exhibition designers and suppliers for 20 years, we have created over 10,000 business-enhancing stands for exhibitors at venues in the UK and across the globe.
Our dedicated team of experts know exactly what it takes to organise for a successful and amazing exhibition. We have had the honour of helping our many valued clients with all their exhibiting needs.
Whatever event you’re planning to exhibit at, and whatever your exhibition requirements may be, we are always here to help you.