An exhibition is a wonderful place to network with potiential customers and suppliers alike, but it all depends on how you go about marketing your business at an exhibition as to how successful this will be for you.

It isn’t just about what you do, but where you do it, make sure you choose the right venue and show for your business. When you first start thinking about attending an exhibition, it is important to think about the reasons you want to be there.

If you know what it is you hope to gain and want to achieve then it is easier to determine which exhibitions and events will work for you.

The sorts of objectives that can be forfilled include:

  • Sales Generation – wheither this is with direct sales at the show, building up your database of potentially interested parties to follow up later on, or maintaining exsisting relationships.
  • Product Launches – Exhibitions are a perfect launching ground for new products or services as they can be launched with a bang to wow your potential customers.
  • Market Research – The number of potiential clients and customers at an exhibition is an invaluable source of market research oppitunity. It will allow you to talk to people, conduct surveys and gather opinions and other information.
  • Brand Building – An event is a fantastic place to help raise your brand awareness and expand into new markets and attract new investors.
  • Media Coverage – Many large events have media coverage which can be beneficial, both immediately, and in the future.
  • Public Relations – Maybe the most important factor of being at an event, is the chance for public relations. People buy from people, and you are the public face of your business, so as much as your business, product or service, your are selling yourself.

Once you know what you hope to achieve from attending the event, you will able to research the venues and events to see which would suit you best. It may seem at first best to go for the biggest show held for your industry, and although, yes, there will be plenty of people there, you need to consider wheither you are large enough to be able to “hold your own” against the “big boys” of your industry or if your product/service is likely to be swamped by bigger players in your industry.

If you think that you may be overwhelmed then it may be worth looking at smaller, more localised shows for your industry to help you build your brand and presence. These shows tend to be more affordable as well, which reduces your marketing costs as well as giving you a better chance of being seen.

When the venue is organised, you need to start thinking about how else you can market yourself at the event, many of the most memorable stands at big trade exhibitions have “freebies” to give away, this can be something as simple as branded sweets, useful items like mousemats, sewing kits, or screwdriver kits or more genenorus items such as branded shirts, or caps, or novality items such as shaped “stress busters”.

As well as thinking about the branded free gifts you have to help attract people to your stall, you should also ensure that you have cast your eyes over your printed marketing including any name badges, flyers and business cards that you are planning on taking with you to ensure that it is up to date and looking fresh. If your printed matter is looking a little dated, it may be worth talking to a designer or printers to discuss freshening your literature to better reflect your brand.

Think about how you will lay out your stand, if you know what size space you will have (which you should know from your booking) then it is a good idea to do a trial run before you go. This will ensure you know what to take with you and in what quantites. You can also work out where and how to hang and stand any banners or posters for best effect.

Whilst it is important for you stand and your products to look at their best, it is just a vital to ensure you put some careful thought into your appearence too. If you don’t have a work uniform, then ensure what you are wearing is clean, tidy and presentable.

At the event you will be talking to people, so think carefully about what you take with you to eat or drink, and make sure you keep a pack of mints or chewing gum in your pocket to freshen your breath before you talk to potential clients/customers.

Marketing your business at an exhibition, when handled with planning and forethought can be very productive and a worthwhile expense, and I hope that some of the tips in this article are of use for you.