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    Learn the tricks, amend your plan, and coin your exhibition show

    “Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

    Evolution is no longer only defined and experienced through nature and other dimensions that we have not much control over, but also through business…created by us, and therefore controlled by us. Exhibitions, when meticulously understood, form a rather significant part of an entity’s marketing and business strategy, and as we may all know, exhibitions are no longer conducted in the same way as they were 5 years ago.

    As an organisation that has conducted all the necessary research, identifying targeted markets, growth opportunities, and areas of improvement, it is imperative that you choose an exhibition show that presents more reward rather than risk. But in most cases, exhibition show success is based on your organisations’ strategy, creativity and input.

    We have compiled a few exhibition show and exhibition stand tricks that are solely purposed to assist your organisation in achieving the most from your exhibition show participation:

    1. Focus on Quality over Quanitity
    "People have this idea that a successful exhibition show is one where you have 10,000 people walking past your exhibition stand," says Malcom Gilvar, vice president of sales for the Trade Group, a trade show design and consulting service. "But that can be a barrier to your success." Getting the right kind of traffic to your exhibition stand starts before the exhibition show, with pre-show activity such as social media interaction and marketing campaigns. "Define who you want to come to your exhibition stand and target them specifically," Gilvar continues. "If people did nothing but that, it would be an amazingly successful event."

    2. Be 100% confident of your exhibition stand design
    Aside from it being a platform that allows product promotion and interaction between your organisation and its targeted audience, it is most importantly meant to be a specific representation of your organisations’ corporate identity, corporate message and desired brand image. These are the crucial components of your organisation that should be vividly communicated to your exhibition stand designer and exhibition stand builder. In this way you have increased confidence in your exhibition stand as it is created and produced by suppliers that understand your organisational stance and passion.

    3. Train early and often
    "The No. 1 thing people remember about your exhibition stand isn't the great graphics, it's the staff," says Gilvar. Even the most experienced or dynamic exhibition stand staff need training before each exhibition show they attend. "I have no doubt companies' sales staffs are terrific at doing what they do every day. But a well-trained exhibition stand brand representative is the most important part of your exhibition show experience." Ensure that they know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when. Take the time to educate them about the company itself, its history, products, vision, mission, ambitions and exhibition show objectives. Introduce them to key seniors of the organisation, make them believe that they’re role is really as important as it’s made out to be.

    4. Parade your new products and/or services
    Showing something new to your customer is an easy way to succeed at an exhibition show, but unfortunately, shows aren't exactly timed to fit with the launch of your new product or service. You can circumvent this in two ways. First, try promoting an established product you've never featured before. Or, if you have a new prototype, feature it digitally. "You have to make your product fit with the timing of the exhibition show," says Peter Stevenson, president of Realtime Technology. Create a space on your exhibition stand that will allow it to be the focal point, and ensure that the product’s presentation’s aligned with the exhibition show’s theme.

    5. Let them explore
    Putting customers in an industry exhibition show is like putting kids in a candy store: they're going to want to touch things. So let them. Monster.com engages its exhibition show audiences by creating an exhibition stand entirely out of touch screens. "They don't have to wait for a guided demo," says Phil Cavanaugh, Monster.com's vice president of events. "They can approach our product right away." For companies with more limited funding, iPads simulate the same interaction, says Stevenson: "You put three or four on your exhibition stand and people will pick them up." Regardless of the approach, ensure that there is something on your exhibition stand that will engage and entertain the audience.

    6. Choose the right Exhibition Show representative
    When it comes to choosing representatives, regardless of the nature of the event, people tend to go for the top performers. The same applies for exhibition shows. But while this might seem like a good idea, the different environment of an exhibition show can mean that your top phone salespeople or cold callers might not be the best choices for generating fresh leads and closing sales. Choose someone that’s a good match for the audience at your show. Your top-performing salesperson might be wonderful at closing deals with other purchasing managers and CEOs, but can they talk to an ordinary and sometimes overly inquisitive consumer? If needed, get your HR department to create a short list of the employers who are the most socially intelligent, then from there, conduct interviews and make your selection.

    7. Develop a good exhibition show strategy
    A good exhibition show strategy has clearly defined parameters for the following:

    - Objectives of your participation in the exhibition show: Why this specific exhibition show? What are you exhibiting on your exhibition stand? Your targeted audience?
    - Time scales of the different stages of execution and promotions
    - Budgets for concept, design, execution, add-ons, people, transport, logistics et al
    - Space requirements for the different displays depending on their importance.
    - Exhibition stand and graphic design parameters to ensure maximum impact
    - On-site services that add value like a coffee vending machine or a business centre
    - Transportation and logistics of man and material
    - Staffing levels and training for the promotions and actual show
    - Pre- and post-show promotions: content, stages, follow-ups
    - Show evaluation criteria with respect to the objectives
    - On-stand data collection for further business
    - Follow-up procedure for leads: filtering and prioritizing

    Involve everyone in the pre event briefing; make them feel important with designated jobs. This induces team spirit in them and helps to execute the plans to perfection. As in any other project, set deadlines and stick to them. Have project leaders who report at stages and are answerable for any deviations.

    And lastly, any plan is successful when it can assimilate change. Though exhibition plans are initiated with much time to spare, there might be a last minute change, inclusion or exclusion of a facet. The plan has to be resilient to change and yet responsive to the event. In house and external expertise may be required to draw such a plan.

    8. Understand the importance and relevance of exhibition stand project management
    Many companies are guilty of assuming that exhibition stand project management is a task that can be solely handled by one of their staff members if they dedicate a few hours per day….wrong! Exhibition stand project management is a task that entails the overseeing of the entire creation, production, and delivery process of the exhibition stand, furniture, electricals, exhibition stand staffing, company products to be displayed, and marketing content, just to name a few. Hiring a dedicated exhibition stand project manager grants your company staff more time to perfect all that is to be prepared internally for the show. You have less worry about the actual exhibition stand, and you are given time to prepare for press releases, media days etc.

    These are just a few tricks we consider necessary for your exhibition success. As a brand that has a genuine passion of the exhibition industry, SSQ Exhibitions wishes you all the best for the year 2014.

    Information retrieved from the following sources:
    - “8 tricks of the Trade Show” – written by Drew Gannon
    - Real Business
    - “How To Develop an Exhibition Plan for Sure Success?” – Strokes Exhibits

     

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    EXSA enables connections through the networking and communication of our Forums and via our website (www.exsa.co.za).

    Besides providing EXSA’s directory of members, an exhibitions calendar and news feed, the EXSA website also offers a wealth of knowledge and industry guidelines available to its members.

     

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