When it comes to tradeshows, it seems that three is the magic number.
This was the key takeaway from the VisitBritain Tradeshow Excellence workshop delivered by The Exhibition Guy aka Stephan Murtagh earlier this month in London. As an exhibition veteran with over 25 years’ international experience, Stephan was able to offer incredible insights into maximising return on objectives. This got our team thinking about the different tactics ICC Belfast could employ and how we could tweak our current tactics to make our experience at every exhibition world-class.
The PDA approach
Any venue’s exhibition experience starts well in advance of the shell schemes being built and ends long after the last business card has been exchanged. Therefore, trade shows must be approached holistically using the PDA approach. The three stages of this approach are:
Pre - identify the reason for attendance
Before setting foot in a tradeshow it is important to identify the reason for attendance. This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list, approximately three high level goals that are achievable and that can add demonstrable value will suffice.
An interesting suggestion made was for different objectives to be set for different days of the trade show. A self-imposed strict timeframe may stimulate productivity and will help to provide focus, particularly at large scale events that run for a number of days.
Engaging in pre show marketing to communicate your stand number to generate appointments may seem obvious, but Stephan noted the importance of reaching out to both prospects and current customers using the most relevant medium to capture their attention and secure their time. If done correctly this should deliver a busy diary of the kind of appointments your team are excited to have, which also factors in time for networking and walk ups to the stand during the event.
During - first impressions count
Appointments at exhibitions are brief so first impressions count, especially given that they’re made within the first four seconds of a meeting. To make the best possible impression, it’s critical that the right team members are delivering the right pitch with an energy that’s palpable and unwavering for the duration of the exhibition. By linking the objectives that have been previously prepared to the pitch, the team at the exhibition will better understand the PDA process and in turn will feel empowered to speak authoritatively on their offering, which in our case is world-class conference facilities in the heart of Belfast city centre.
After - not all leads are created equal
Not all exhibition leads are created equal and in an increasingly competitive market that constantly evolves, sending out one generic post show e-shot will not be enough to continue the conversations had at the exhibition and could potentially act as a barrier to converting leads to satisfied customers if individuals do not feel their specific needs or requests are being taken into account. Leads gathered need to be qualified and notes must be made to ensure an accurate record of specific requests is being made and followed up.
Stephan made it clear during the workshop that the importance of exhibitions cannot be undermined, particularly as it’s an industry that is growing at a faster rate than the global economy. Exhibitions facilitate precious face to face interactions with a captive audience and allow sales teams to do what they do best; sell. Selling however is just one piece of the exhibition puzzle and collaboration with marketing teams can maximise the opportunities that arise pre, during and after.
Our team are looking forward to putting our newly acquired principles into practice at upcoming exhibitions including IMEX America in October and IBTM World in November - hope to see you there to get your feedback on how we’re doing!