If the chief mission of the marketing department is to take your company's products to the right markets, then exhibitions and trade shows are a key part of this. At TDSi we have a healthy annual diary of events which we exhibit at and attend - but it takes a considerable amount of planning and execution for the team to appear and be able to effectively assist clients and potential clients.
This year we have already appeared at IFSEC International, Norbain North Roadshow, Midwich Technology North and will be at Midwich Technology Exposed in September and that's just in the UK! With a truly international reach we have (or will be) appearing at IFSEC Southeast Asia, Intersec Dubai, and the Security Exhibition and Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Whilst this could generate some serious AirMiles, there is a serious side to all this effort we want to meet with and engage with as many of our partners, customers and potential customers as possible!
Having had a lot of experience ourselves, here is part one of TDSi's top tips on how to make the most of exhibiting:
From an outside perspective that is probably a fair question. The resources involved, in terms of time and money as well as disrupting the regular business routine, are considerable. However, exhibiting offers a unique opportunity to not only meet customers face to face but to discuss their honest opinions of your products, what they would like in future and how your development pipeline could best meet the demands of the market.
It is also an excellent way to raise brand awareness and maintain a prominent reputation in the industry through all the associated publicity surrounding the event and representation by industry bodies and publications.
Preparing for an exhibition
Don't underestimate how long your preparation will take! So many details need to be in place to perfect your ideal exhibition experience from your literature to stand design, the composition of your stand team and your online promotion of your attendance. With IFSEC International for example, we started preparing a year in advance in fact we are already planning our appearance next summer!
Its very important to stay in close contact with the event organisers. This is especially the case with deadlines (such as getting your press pack to the press office in good time or organising the delivery of items to the venue) and it is wise to follow any specific advice, as well as being on time and co-operative to ensure proceedings run smoothly.
Having a solid plan is vital and regular reviews and catch ups with anyone involved in the process (including your PR team, stand designers and internal staff) will help you make the most of your investment in the event.
It may sound obvious, but the stand adequately is the centrepiece of your presentation at any event and needs a sizeable chunk of time to prepare. This includes not only the stand itself but the displays and materials on hand that will attract visitors. Naturally the specifics of a stand will vary considerably to suit the event and your themes/products etc. Generally though it’s important to have an eye-catching design that looks open and inviting, with lots to look at.
At IFSEC International this year we wanted an unusual choice so went with a sloped design by OX2P, which we felt drew visitors in and looked accessible, but also made it easy for our team to see if anyone needed assistance without being obtrusive.
The Products and Services on show
As well as the stand itself it is vital to think about the products or services you are showing. For example, there is no point showcasing your all-sing-all-dancing flagship product for enterprise customers at a show for SME businesses it is much better to show them the offering that address their needs. At the same time, at TDSi we have always found product demonstrations and example systems are the best way to show our customers what our products are capable of rather than just showing interested parties lots of literature (which they can often read online anyway!)
In the second part of this blog we will look at the importance of a good staff briefing, how to make the most of promotional materials, the best ways to promote your appearance at the event and most importantly the crucial follow-up of leads.
TDSi Marketing Co-ordinator
Sophie began at TDSi in 2014, her role is predominately focused on PR, social media, website and assistance at exhibitions and shows. All of TDSi charitable involvements are organised by Sophie working alongside Julias House.