HOW TO PLAN A SUCCESSFUL EXHIBITION
Exhibiting offers your business unique benefits that no other form of marketing can match. But once you have taken the decision to plan an exhibition, what next? And more importantly, when should you start to organise your exhibition?
We are one of the leading exhibition stand organisers in the UK. Here we have put together this easy-to-follow 1 year timeline to help you organise your exhibition event.
9 TO 12 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR EXHIBITION
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. To run a successful exhibition takes a certain amount of planning. So when should you start?
It’s a good idea to start thinking about which events you plan to exhibit at 9 to 12 months before they happen, this way you can make sure everything is in place.
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 exhibiting 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 budget
The amount you allocate for your exhibition organisation budget will depend on your priorities and the size of your business.
The biggest venues in the UK will generally charge £300 to £350 per square metre 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 your whole budget on a prime space at a major exhibition event only to spoil it with a basic and unprofessional-looking pop-up stand.
When you set your budget, plan for how much business you hope to generate. 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.
Choose the right exhibition
Now you have set your exhibition organisation objectives and budget, compile a list of all the potential exhibition events that will meet your aims and budget.
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 exhibitions the consumer demographics you want to target are attending. All exhibition organisers will be happy to provide potential exhibitors with attendee numbers and audience profiles.
If possible, visit the event before exhibiting – this will also give you the opportunity to speak to other exhibitors to find out how successful their experience has been.
6 TO 9 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR EXHIBITION
Book your space
Once you have chosen the exhibition for you, the next step is to book your space.
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.
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.
Organise your exhibition strategy
This is the time to plan your exhibition organisation strategy. To plan a successful exhibition you need to market your attendance.
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. Link up with the pages used by the exhibition organiser and use the same hashtag.
Just remember to make your marketing all about your customers and why they should spend time visiting your stand.
Design your exhibition stand
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 exhibition 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 stand 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.
Make sure your exhibition stand designer pre-builds your stand so that you know exactly what it will look like and can plan what will go where.
Book hotels for staff
By now you know when your 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 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
Organise your exhibition stand staff
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.
Organise 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. If travelling by you will need to organise parking at the exhibition hall.
1 TO 3 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR EXHIBITION
Organise services to your stand
You will need to arrange services to your stand such as electrics, lighting and water if required.
Most of this information should be in your exhibitor manual provided by the exhibition organisers. If your stand suppliers haven’t provided you with a project manager, then, to ensure a successful exhibition you will need to book these services yourself.
Organise meetings with clients at the exhibition
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.
Plan how to take and follow-up leads
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.
How you take leads will depend on whether you want to automate the process to allow for ease of follow-up. There are several lead gathering apps on the market that can do this for you and synch with your CRM system. Just collecting business cards in a bowl won’t give your staff much to go on when following up so get as much information from prospects as you can.
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.
For help organising your next exhibition call us on 01202 723 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.