Before the exhibition:
Beat the crowds by planning early.All too often exhibitors leave exhibition planning until a week or two before an event, thus paving the way to full blown exhibition hysteria. By two weeks before the show lots of deadlines will have already passed, equipment suppliers will have run out of stock, and you’ll spend two weeks frantically rushing to sort your stand. On the flip side, don’t plan your stand a year in advance so that you then forget about the details until the last moment. The sweet spot is 4 to 1 months before the event to begin planning your event. You should even have a plan for how to plan, take one element at a time (booking the stand, designing graphics, ordering furniture, promoting the event to visitors and booking appointments), each part will take much less time when organised in advance, plus you’ll have more choices open to you when you’re ahead of the crowd of other exhibitors rushing at the last moment.
Do your research.If you’re a first time exhibitor spend some time researching exhibitions in general and yours in particular. There’s a wealth of blogs, articles and guides for exhibitors on the internet so you’ll know exactly what to expect when you step into the exhibition hall on the set up day. Exhibition hysteria is fuelled by fear of the unknown, know what steps you need to take and what to expect from the exhibition then you’ll be able to think logically about the event without getting overwhelmed.
Crunch the numbers.If you’ve gone to the effort of creating a budget for your event (which you should!), then stick to it. By overspending in the run up to the event you put pressure on yourself to overperform at the event and your sales pitches can become desperate. Plus, there’s plenty you can do with an exhibition stand on any budget, see our guide to low-budget exhibition stands here.
Hire, don’t buy.Yes, we’re biased, but we truly believe hiring is the path to a smooth exhibition. Someone else will be in charge of logistics, you don’t need to worry yourself with any of the practicalities of getting your equipment to your exhibition stand, when hired the equipment will be delivered direct to your stand for you. Sure, things do sometimes go awry, but any supplier will have a team available by phone and email to help and support you; there’s no need to deal with an issue alone, you’ll have a whole team of exhibition professionals behind you!
Breathe.Set up days are infinitely stressful things by their very nature – there’s people, dangerous equipment and loud noises all round for hours on end – but try not to let that fuel your own panic. Rest assured there’s plenty of people around you who are there to help. We’re available at the end of a phone line or email, plus the exhibition organiser also often has excess stock available at the last minute, just in case you forgot to order that vital table, stool or counter. If you want to set up your exhibition stand in peace and relative calm take a pair of headphones with you to block out the hectic buzz.
Two heads are better than one.It’s a good idea to take a colleague to bounce ideas and resolutions off, or to have one designated contact in your head office who you can reach by phone. Sometimes you just need someone to listen to your great pitch idea or stand optimisation, and being unable to speak to anyone can increase your own frustration levels. The major added bonus being you double the visitor interaction at your stand with two reps instead of one.
Take a stack of business cards.If you’re busy with a customer the last thing you want to do is hurry them along because you’re panicked about the business you’re missing while talking to them. Having a stack of business cards placed on your front counter, or a bowl for people to drop their business cards into, will instantly calm you as you’re not missing leads while you help the first visitor.
Rest up.You’ll probably feel exhausted by the exhibition, but try to refrain from taking leave until at least two weeks after the show. The sooner and more personally you can follow up with each of the leads from the exhibition the higher the conversion rate will be. Then, take a break! You’ll have earned it!