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Common Exhibition Mistakes-->
The TEST Huddle Blog is the new 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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So now you know why Exhibitions are Dead and digital marketing is the only thing that matters , learn from the most common mistakes made at exhibitions to ensure you have a successful exhibition!
Common Exhibition Mistakes
“So how was the Exhibition last week?” asks CEO or [insert title here].
GULP! here goes! Time to roll out the old excuses as to what went wrong!
You’ve come home from another Expo – it wasn’t cheap and you’re in the crosshairs for a chat with the chief bean counter on his favourite topic, ROI – Return on Investment. So what do you do? Run for the door? There is another way…
This article is aimed at pre-empting what can be a pretty awkward conversation. Be prepared – make your Exhibition presence a successful part of your marketing strategy by avoiding these Common Expo Mistakes. Then stride confidently in to the CEO’s office and start your own ROI conversation – pay raise!
Everyone associated with the Expo should know exactly why your organisation is participating. “Get more leads/sales” is often the one-size-fits-all answer to the above question.
Be specific. We aim to get X new contacts; we want x conversations with existing customers about renewing their license or upgrading; we’re here to release a product update and gauge the reaction of industry influencers; we’re here for brand awareness, to stand alongside our competitors and show people what we are about.
If you ask all of your Expo personnel would they be specific in their answer or would they shrug their shoulders and say “more leads”?
Barriers to Entry
Right, you’ve got loads of marketing material – that’s great! And a table to set them down on. You might think it’s an idea to put that front and centre so passers-by can grab your brochure. That’s fine if your objective is to give away brochures – but snail mail would be cheaper. Tables in the way are one of those mistakes that never seem to go away. Push the tables to one side or to the back and engage the passers-by in conversation.
“Where is our Expo signage?”
“It’s where you left it last year, in the storage room in the basement under a box of unused brochures.”
So you trek down to the basement and discover it’s covered in dust and a coffee stain and has a hole pierced right through it where someone barged the storage door open. Damaged signage – it’ll have to do, won’t it? Not really.
There are other mistakes too – signage is too small; text is too wordy and cluttered; messaging hidden behind that table that you put out in front.
Review your stand critically when you sign up for a conference and again before you leave the office. Make sure your signage is doing what it’s supposed to – visually representing your brand.
Find out what you receive as a part of your exhibitor package and then decide what else you will need to bring or have shipped there.
Not Telling People
Some companies are afraid to announce they are attending an exhibition – maybe in case a competitor gets wind of their participation and gatecrashes the cosy get-together with the target market. But how else are people going to know you are attending?
Have you mentioned it on LinkedIn? Come on! You’re the master of LinkedIn. Shout it from the LinkedIn rooftops. “We’re exhibiting at Europe’s #1 Software Testing Conference!”
List your attendance with affiliates like Supporting Organisations.
Write a pre-event blog post that says – “we’re excited to be exhibiting at this event!” and the reasons why.
Run a competition and get people to register for the competition in advance. Make it worth their while – give them something that they will be willing to give their contact details for.
Have you sent a press release to your PR people? Why not? You pay them enough – so put them to work.
By publicising your participation you’re getting your brand in front of conference attendees before they even arrive on site.
Sending the Wrong Staff
“We’re not sending John, he’s too busy!” says the CEO.
If this is the tipping point in the conversation about who occupies the Expo stand, you need to try harder. Fight back. Insist that John has to go (if he’s the best placed person to attend).
If the Expo is genuinely positioned as part of your overall marketing strategy, then it’s important enough for C-level personnel to attend. Perhaps not for the full week or even a full day but if you genuinely want to capitalise on opportunities, sending your junior marketing executive and blaming him/her for the failure of the Exhibition booth to deliver a positive ROI is merely looking for a scape goat.
Who’s most likely to make the biggest impression? Send them. If they are busy, it’s because you left it too late to ask them and allowed time to fill their calendar with other meetings. Get there early. Fill their calendar for them.
If your best staff can’t go – make sure that those who are going are well trained to get the best results. This should include preparation; daily planning and stand organisation; after-show etiquette; debrief and post-show follow-up.
You start off so convincingly and manage to get the number but you don’t see it through. The success of exhibiting is often in how you follow-up. The attendees gave you their contact details – so make them count. Be personable – even if you are there to pass the contact on to somebody else to follow-up, make sure that happens and contact the prospective customer to make sure they are satisfied. What’s your follow-up process for leads?
Expo organisers are not cattle herders. They can’t tell people where to go. If you are asking for this you’re barking up the wrong tree. Independently minded professionals are going to go where they want in the short time they have to wander through an Expo – so make your stand stand out and be creative with what you do on your stand. Give people a reason to want to come over.
Expo organisers have usually worked on the event before so if you have any questions why not ask the experts – ask them what worked well in the Expo last year, what have they seen other companies doing that has worked well. Wondering if you should host a giveaway? If the organisers are willing to help why not bounce some ideas off them. They will know what attendees like best.
Participation in expos should be another important tactic in your overall marketing strategy – specific goals from the Expo should form part of a successful marketing strategy. Like most aspects of your marketing strategy, the cost goes beyond the price you pay to participate. It’s vitally important to invest time in preparing – defined goals, training, stand appearance and an end-to-end strategy for getting the most from your new contacts.