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10 Tips to EuroSTAR Conference Exhibition Success-->
The EuroSTAR Huddle blog is the home for all software testing articles produced for EuroSTAR by the software testing community. Moving forward the EuroSTAR blog (that’s right here!) is the place for company news, conference announcements, exhibition news, advice and information for attendees, would-be speakers and other partners.
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10 Simple Tips to Exhibition Success
As we prepare for our 23rd software testing exhibition, we’ve taken some time to look back at what makes an exhibition a real success for a participating company. Following on from reviewing the most common mistakes we have encountered at Exhibitions, this post will look at 10 simple tips to making your next involvement at an Expo a successful one.
1.Make No Assumptions
So you’re exhibiting at a software testing exhibition – attendees have an interest in testing software and from your perspective they should be very interested in what you have to offer. That’s probably a fair assumption but it’s possible they have never heard of your company or value proposition.
As you prepare for your Expo, be critical of your brand in relation to the exhibition audience. Enquire about the demographics of attendees: Are they in your key target markets or geographies you intend to explore in the near future? Are they in decision-making roles? Are they influencers?
2.Make the Most of Limited Time
Time is a precious commodity during Exhibitions so make sure you’ve got an efficient message by preparing for people who (i) already know your brand but not your product; (ii) may need your product but don’t know your brand and (iii) have never heard of you or your value proposition. Try to establish what group they fall into early on in the conversation – this can help you (and the attendee) in determining if you can help them or if you’re just collecting another redundant business card.
3.Let your Customers Know You are Attending
If you are planning to attend an exhibition – tell your existing customers and prospects via newsletters or in the news feed on your website – especially customers located close to the event.
There are a number of benefits to getting your customers to attend – (i) they can recommend your offering to other attendees; (ii) they may look at upgrading their service; (iii) face-time with existing customers and prospects can help address problems and identify new opportunities for your product portfolio.
4.Think Outside of the Exhibition Hall
What else can your company get from exhibiting? Talk to organisers about year-round coverage and increasing visibility of your company before and after the physical exhibition. As we’ve said before, exhibiting is much more than just the few days in the Expo Hall talking the talk. The best performing exhibitors think about the event as an important cog of their overall marketing strategy so that the Expo stand becomes a single element in a bigger marketing picture. There may be an opportunity to share literature, host a webinar or mini-event or give a short talk – ask the organisers about further engagement opportunities that might suit your business.
5.Unique Memorable Giveaways
Another stress ball. Great! Genuine prospects want solutions to problems, not branded Frisbees. Giveaways are great – and people virtually always take whatever you give for free – but what is going to be memorable and useful to them?
The same idea done over and over just doesn’t stand out – try to be unique. Can you tie your giveaway to your value proposition for better brand awareness? Can you use the giveaway to get people engaged in advance and to build some anticipation to your participation in the event?
6.Think Twice About Printed Literature
Many, many stands go to the expense of printed literature – with unlimited budgets that’s not a problem but if you’re carefully monitoring costs, maybe you can go without printed materials.
Let’s face it – it goes in the bin within 24 hours. Many attendees travel by plane to attend events and are travelling light enough as it is without taking home printed materials from 50 Expo stands.
Let them download a PDF from a tablet or screen at your stand – that way you can get their contact details too!
Time and money spent on literature may be better spent on getting your message right and training your staff to get the outcomes you desire.
7.Action Attracts Attention
Active stands attract attention. Passive stands get passed by. Are your staff members upbeat and enthusiastic about their goals or are they watching the clock?
Games are a great way of attracting visitors to your stand – especially if the game has some relevance to your message. But the games should be limited in terms of time spent playing them – don’t host a game that detracts from your objective or takes so long to play that the players have to rush off after playing and without speaking to your team!
8.Brief your Staff Each Day
Your expo staff should already be fully aware of what they are trying to achieve during the expo or trade show. Days are long however – especially since most of their audience are attending talks – so it’s easy to lose focus and energy.
Start each day with a few simple reminders on goals for the day, body language, scheduling breaks, method of follow-up and finish the day with a daily evaluation.
9.Keep the Signage Simple
Eye-catching signage is easy in theory. How do you stand out in a big room where everybody is trying to stand out? Simplicity can be a key differentiator – staying consistent with your brand is also important. A loud, intrusive stand might attract attention but that’s not always a good thing!
How structured is your follow-up plan? Do stand personnel come back to the office and leave a neat pile of business cards on the Sales Manager’s desk or is there a more considered approach to how you join the dots between the Expo and the sales funnel. Is there a formal debrief with the sales department including a ranking of leads and handover of prospect notes? Is there a formal evaluation of the Expo and with goals for the follow-up?
There is a default approach to exhibiting – we’ve seen it repeated many times. Buy a stand, turn up, give the sales pitch, go home, sleep it off, wonder what went wrong. Sometimes it actually works – a product might be so innovative or a brand might be so highly regarded that the planning and preparation and actually ‘working the Expo’ becomes secondary – but those instances are very, very rare.
Thinking beyond this autopilot setting will get the best results for your organisation. Use the tips above to challenge the routine approach to exhibiting and get a better return on your marketing investment.