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By in Design + Brand + Grow

Exhibitions can be seen as a large investment, particularly by small and medium-sized businesses. But by investing in the short term, you can reap the benefits in the long term, turning the leads collected at an exhibition into loyal customers. Why bother when it is so easy to attract customers online? Exhibitions and  events  allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking adding another, distinctly more human, element to your marketing mix.  They say people buy people – and the contrast of a personal meeting to a brief email could be the thing standing between you and a lifelong loyal customer.

Why Exhibit?

Many forms of digital marketing, including ppc, social media and emails involve some intrusion on customers. Not so with exhibitions. Customers go to events prepared to give their time and attention and are often ready to buy.

Face-to-face meetings mean that you can have a conversation with customers. As well as presenting your products and services, you get the opportunity to find out more about your customers and their needs. Trade shows attract qualified visitors and the majority often have buying responsibility. Indeed, trade fairs attract those people who can be elusive at other times. Many arrive with a credit card, ready to buy.

As well as making sales, exhibitions can be used to forge new relationships, strengthen existing alliances, build databases, generate positive PR, conduct market research, recruit new staff and build your brand.

Exhibitions and events often work better than outbound marketing as everyone at the event has an interest in being there. With events for every sector and profession it can however, be an expensive part of the marketing strategy for a small business.

Getting the most for your money

Compared to digital methods, exhibitions can seem expensive.  Preparation is vital for success and will maximise opportunities, giving you better Return on Investment (ROI). The more thought and planning you put in before the exhibition, the more likely you are to succeed at the event.

Follow the exhibitor manual carefully when you receive it and ensure you organise everything you need on your stand.  Set objectives for the event and put a plan in place as early as possible. This should include all deadlines for getting the stand designed and the information you need to submit to the organiser.

With all your competitors lined up beside you the one thing you really need to be different.  You must really make your unique service offering stand out from the crowd and get noticed.  Eye catching design and promotional gimmicks are the best way to achieve this. And once you have people on your stand – make sure your offer delivers.

Most of all enjoy what you do. If you don’t like people then perhaps an exhibition or networking event simply isn’t for you.