Richard Edwards specialises in creating exhibition experiences that strengthen relationships and improve communication. He has a number of tips to help you attract and then engage visitors to your stand.
If you have ever exhibited on behalf of your company you will know exhibitions have the potential to offer a good return on investment - but only if you know how to grab the interest of the passing footfall.
Making the most of your exhibition stand involves focusing on two key things; attracting visitors to your stand and interacting with them once they are there. If you get it right you can expect new connections, increased conversions and plenty of new business leads.
However, every stand at the exhibition will be trying to do the same. So, how can you be sure to stand out?
Attracting visitors to your stand
Successful engagement has to start with getting visitors to your stand. Here are four tried-and-tested attention-grabbers:
- Entertain your visitors – It could be a Scalextric track, a juggler or even Frank Bruno. Entertainment is a sure-fire way of gaining initial attention.
- Spectacular stand design – A stand with spectacular design features can be more attractive than any gimmick. Many design companies focus solely on conveying information. They don’t think about attracting attention. Bold colours and innovative lighting can help to draw people to you.
- Workshops and seminars – Most exhibition attendees are looking for new, innovative and workable solutions to business challenges. So develop intriguing and well-researched topics that will excite your target audience and demonstrate that you solutions to some of your industry’s challenges.
- Technology – A neat gadget or two can be like a shiny object to a magpie. The most popular piece of tech we ever used was an F1 simulator, which had visitors queuing across rows of stands. Everyone passing by wanted to see what the fuss was about, so it gained the stand even more attention!
Engaging visitors at your stand
Once you have attracted visitors to your stand, you then need to engage them. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this, instead it’s best to combine a few techniques.
Here are five ideas that we have used successfully on exhibition stands;
- Coffee – It may sound obvious, but it does work, for a number of reasons;
* It can be quite hard to come by good (and inexpensive) tea or coffee at events, so you’re offering something many people are looking for
* Caffeine can help beat exhibition lethargy for visitors
* A hot drink gives you time to engage the visitor in conversation while they wait for it to cool
* The caffeine works on their pleasure receptors, creating a positive psychological link with your brand!
- Engaging staff – We’ve all visited stands where the staff seem friendly and knowledgeable yet lack that extra edge which makes you want to stop and chat further about the brand.
- Videos – A high-quality video is eye-catching, stimulating and informative. Be sure to include a call-to-action such as “take one of our leaflets” or “scan this QR-code to send us an email” to increase follow-up contacts.
- Live Tweets – Display a live Twitter feed and allow visitors to follow you, use your #hashtag and ask questions to your offsite social media sales team – helping to engage and inform your visitors even when all your on-site staff are busy.
- Get your iPad out – Technology and cool gadgets not only help attract visitors to your stand, they can also be a great way of gathering contact details, completing surveys and demonstrating your products. People are far more likely to leave their contact details on an iPad or tablet than a long paper form. Also, with clever software like qbit, contact details can be collated instantly off-site via Wi-Fi or 3G – allowing your sales team to get a head start on your lead nurturing process.
However you decide to attract and engage visitors to your stand, it is always important to follow up with your new leads within a few days of the exhibition. If you have the resources – make the contact personal. A personalised message is so much more memorable and will do wonders for the perception of you and your brand.
Exhibitions are a big investment – but done right they can deliver huge rewards. So be sure to think carefully about how you are going to attract visitors, engage them and follow-up with them afterwards. By considering these areas at the planning stage you can expect to considerably increase your return on investment.
Richard Edwards is a director of Quatreus Ltd.