Smart Planning and Consistent Monitoring are Key to Expo Success

While exhibiting at a major trade show can potentially yield positive returns for a consumer brand, products won’t simply fly off the shelves without intensive planning. Johnny Malherbe, show manager at the Rand Show, explains how exhibitors can gain the most of their investment.

Exhibitor bookings for the 2019 Rand Show are well ahead of target, with over 90% of 2018 exhibitors showing a strong interest to return after the 2018 Show yielded exceptional results for them.

These great results are partly due to a highly focused drive by the Rand Show team to curate the show to make it as engaging as possible to encourage immediate sales.  This moves away from the historical approach of treating the show as a brand building exercise.

It’s also true, however, that any stand at the Rand Show is only as effective as the amount of work the brand itself puts behind it. A traditional above-the-line advertisement is easy to place, with minimal direct intervention other than responding to inquiries. An investment into an exhibition stand, on the other hand, calls for more than just money – it requires a lot of thought, time and effort.

Planning

Activating a great stand at a major trade exhibition like the Rand Show involves much more time than the ten days over which the show runs.

To achieve the most out of your stand, you need to dedicate some time for thorough planning. This strategic phase is where you set out the business objective, conduct a location recon, allocate resources, plan logistics and material, and define your measurement criteria and follow-up steps.

People

While ‘booth babes’ might attract (some) visitors to the stand, the people who will keep customers engaged and sell them products are knowledgeable experts. Stands manned by skilled company employees are more effective in expressing the brand culture and company values, and in moving stock.

Pitching and Measurement

It is vital to set out a daily measure of your stand’s success, along with an intervention process should it be falling short. With over 200 000 people walking through the various attractions, it is unlikely that the problem would be in getting enough visitors. However, should this be the case, skilled organisers can help to not only get more visitors, but attract the right ones to the stand.

More than likely, success is driven by a clear concise message. A visitor who’s gone to the trouble of travelling to the festival, finding parking and walking to your stand is more likely to buy from you than someone seeing an ad in the newspaper or TV, so make sure to get your pitch right ahead of time. Measurement can vary from penetrating a new segment to increasing sales, but this needs to be monitored closely throughout the campaign.

Follow-up

Unfortunately, too many exhibitors take visitor details and fail to follow up once the show is over. When a visitor leaves their contact details and asks for more information, this is a great opportunity to not only close a sale, but to establish a relationship – and possibly a lifelong brand advocate. Make sure that every lead generated during the show is followed through, preferably by the same person who made the initial contact.

Things can always go wrong – a lost shipment, poor attendance, a sick employee or any number of small issues. But that’s just business.

Creating an effective, thorough plan, along with a strong customer pitch can turn the investment of exhibiting at a Business to Consumer or Business to Business into a great opportunity to reach new customers in a fun, face-to-face environment and gain valuable insights about their needs.

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