20 Jan Checklist for Preparing and Getting the Most Out of Fairs as an Exhibitor
Sector fairs provide a great showcase for companies: facilitating contacts, allowing you to see, touch and even try out products, generating new customers, building trust, offering a chance to get new training and updated knowledge, providing a source of inspiration and an opportunity to observe the competition… And sometimes they can even help find new lines of business or figure out new ways of doing things.
However, they can be a real headache without good planning as there’s a lot of work involved: completing forms, designing a stand, selecting products, choosing the company representatives to attend… And they’re often difficult to manage while handling the company’s day-to-day. This is precisely the reason why organisation is essential. It’s the only way to get the most out of participating. Here’s a checklist so you don’t forget a thing.
Announcements, notifications and communications.
Fairs begin long before they’re held. You must announce, notify and communicate your presence beforehand. One good way to do so is by announcing it via your social media accounts and sending a newsletter to all your contacts. You might also want to think about some sort of advertising insert in the media that will be covering the event if you have the budget for it. And don’t forget direct communication. You speak to many of your customers on a daily basis who have potential customers and sector colleagues. Take advantage of those conversations to tell them you’ll be at the fair and ask if they’re going too!
A good image is fundamental. That’s why you must prepare all your corporate material in advance. This includes everything from business cards and office material (pens, notepads, stickers and screensavers) to product labels and packaging. Oh, and designing gifts or giveaways if you decide to create them. And don’t forget your online corporate material! At least 15 days in advance you should create a custom email signature so all the contacts with whom you exchange emails know you’re attending the fair.
Brochures are also really important. Don’t use the same ones for all fairs. Adapt them for each occasion and try to always use the language of the country where the fair is being held or the language that will be used at the fair.
Plus, you must complete your online profile at the fair website. Almost all events now offer this possibility and it’s a wonderful stand that reaches a much larger audience than visiting the fair physically as it’s usually available to and within the reach of anyone on the Internet. It takes time, but it’s worth it. Upload your logos, photos of your products, videos, catalogues… everything you believe is necessary. And always include your website address and a contact email.
Designing a stand is one of the most important and complicated matters. Throughout the fair, your stand will be your workplace. It’s also what your potential customers will see and the image that will stay in their heads when they think about your company. You must position your logo in a highly visible location. Remember you’ll be surrounded by competitors and must stand out. Make sure the images and materials you use are of high quality and that you’re sending the correct message. You must display images that clearly show your product and in a context that represents your company’s values. And, even though a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s also a good idea to include some words or a slogan in your design that describes what’s different about your company in comparison to all the others.
If your product portfolio is very extensive, you won’t be able to take everything. You must carefully select the products you’ll be presenting at the fair. One good way to choose them is by selecting the ones that get the best profit margin, are the easiest or fastest to produce or the ones you have in stock. Whatever you do, always remember that the products you take must be a representative sample of what your company offers. And hey! Don’t forget to take your latest developments, new launches and most innovative products.
Choosing the right products is important, but so is figuring out who your potential customers will be at the fair. Study their needs and the characteristics of the country and culture to adapt your offer to their demand.
Meetings and gatherings with colleagues.
Organise your schedule to get the most out of your time. To do so, you need to have planned meetings and gatherings on the days prior to the fair. This way you’ll be able to reach all of your customers or potential customers in the best way possible. One good way to do it is by contacting them in advance and slotting them into a specific time in an agreed place. And remember to leave yourself some free time to take a look at the other stands you’re interested in, whether potential customers or competing companies.
New contacts or customers.
Don’t be aggressive. But don’t be passive either. You don’t need to tackle everyone who walks by your stand and glances at your products. Give your potential customers some room as nobody likes feeling overwhelmed. But if you see someone walk by your stand several times or stopping to take a good look, greet them, introduce yourself and offer any help they may need. Pay attention to your potential customers.
Social media and photographs.
Many people will see you at the fair even if they’re not walking through the halls, all thanks to social media. This is a major benefit you must take advantage of. So, it’s important to take photos and add publications to your social media accounts. In the Internet era, it’s not enough just to be there. You also have to tell people you’ve been there. Plus, it’s important to interact online with other attendees and exhibitors as well as the fair organizers.
Fairs don’t end when you dismantle your stand. They continue for several days or even weeks. During this time, it’s important to take stock on the results, analyse whether attending was worth it and look for any areas for improvement. You also need to do some monitoring of potential customers. Fairs are a chance to break the ice. Afterwards, you must call and exchange impressions about the event. And suggest a business proposition, of course.