This guide is a three-series to best practice on exhibiting. This week, we will cover what you should know about planning your stand; from the exhibitor manual, hiring furniture (and what to consider) through to managing data and marketing tips.
The Exhibitor Manual
Most exhibitor manuals are available online. It is designed to make planning and participation in an event as easy as possible.
They typically contain a number of sections dealing with logistics, health and safety requirements, deadlines and order forms.
Often exhibitor action checklists contain things to do and order as well as key deadlines. They feature a show schedule including the build-up and break down hours that your contractor will need to be aware of.
Typically, they contain information about:
- Age restrictions
- Display rules and regulations
- Fire and safety regulations
- General policies applicable to the event
- Lists for organiser staff who you can call should you have any questions
- Any official contractor listings such as audio visual, IT rental, floral or photography
The exhibitor manual is a key resource whilst preparing for an exhibition. It will answer the majority of your questions and help you make decisions when it comes to stand design.
Unless you plan to bring your own furniture, it is customary to hire furniture for the duration of the event.
The exhibitor manual will have full details of packages arranged by the organiser.
CHS TIP: If the event you’re exhibiting at is appointment led, it is definitely worth hiring low tables and chairs, to welcome your guests to use. Taking this approach will make them feel comfortable and not rushed to leave; getting the absolute best out of your appointment time with them.
Leaving it too close to the show might give you less options on furniture, so be mindful of this. Chairs and tables are only a small part of the picture – you may need literature racks, storage with lockable sections as well as items like waste-paper bins and coat racks.
It’s not just lighting that needs to be considered but also more innocuous items like kettles and laptops and phone chargers!
You will need a special outlet to power a kettle or coffee machine and it is imperative you do not just order one socket and use a multi-plug adaptor!
You will need to comply with current I.E.E and venue regulations – your exhibitor manual will have all the details. Think also about if you need any audio-visual requirements.
Signage and accessories
When designing your stand, graphics should be clear, bold and attractive to the visitor. Visitors respond best to colour, movement and bullet points.
Your graphics should say who you are and what it is that you do.
Think about how you are going to fix your graphics to the stand walls – especially if they are modular, without damaging your rented shell scheme panels.
Your exhibitor manual or contractor will advise on the best fixing and in the case of larger units they will also have to conform to Health and Safety Regulations
TIP: Your visitor should be able to look at your graphics and get your message within 6 seconds or your message could be missed. Consult the experts to get something that works well in an exhibition environment.
It’s all about the data!
Whether you choose to capture data with a barcode scanner or gathering business cards, you will need to have a plan for the processing of it when the event has finished.
Think about how many staff you intend to have on your stand and whether they will all require a data capture device or if you’re going to assign roles. Think through the process of scanning a badge, through to safe receipt, to dissemination, to the sales team, through to matching it to your company database. Will the person collecting the lead also be the same as the one who follows it up? You might need to grade prospects into hot, warm and cold so your sales staff have some sort of priority to work from.
Please refer to GDPR guides, for information on adhering to the latest data protection regulations.
Let people know you are exhibiting!
One of the golden rules to successful exhibiting is to inform new and existing customers that you will be exhibiting.
- Have tickets available for your sales team to offer to their sales leads
- Mail invitations to clients and prospects you might want to meet up with whilst you’re there
- Get a list of trade publications that are running show features and consider advertising
- Adjust your email settings to include a signature panel that urges them to visit your stand
- Some organisers will offer to do a mailing on your behalf, always look at the different sponsorship opportunities they may have
What can you do to attract people onto your stand in advance of the show? Can you tun a teaser campaign or announce a new launch? Do you have a demonstration worth watching? Will you have a speaker revealing some research? Can you offer an incentive for them to come and redeem a voucher on your stand?
Make sure you order enough business cards for you and your staff. Do you need to order any additional brochures, leaflets or posters in advance?
If you’re organising a business card draw, do you have a suitable receptacle and supporting literature to indicate what is going on? Are you wearing the same ‘uniform’ or corporate colours?
We’ve touched on this above but if you really want to maximise your presence it may be worth considering sponsorship options at the event. The choice is enormous, and you need to consider what profile you are after and how best to achieve this. By sponsoring certain items, you can be as visible or subtle as you wish to be. Your organiser will be receptive to most things and may have opportunities you hadn’t considered, so they are always worth contacting for this.
If you’re after something specific be the one to suggest it to them – it may be possible to exceed your expectations by ensuring the organiser understands the results you are trying to achieve
- Always read the exhibitor manual -it includes everything you need to know about the event
- Think about booking furniture early and how you wish to use the stand – low tables and chairs make the stand more welcoming for informal chats with visitors
- What is your key message to visitors? Make sure this is reflected in your branding, signage and materials; it takes 6 seconds for a visitor to decide whether or not to talk to you
- Take a look at the sponsorship opportunities, there may be some amazing ways to get your brand known to your targeted audience