Looking at my experience on both sides of the fence, both as an exhibitor and a customer, I’m going to share the secret ingredients that I think make a kick-ass exhibition stand and the little tricks that will cover your costs and make you money!
Fairs and exhibitions are a hard place to stand out. Customers are swamped with choice, short of time, and cramped for space. Planning your stand to look the best it can is the first step. At a recent bridal fair with my beauty business, we bought cheap white sheets from Ikea and stapled them to the boring blue velcro partitions. It was a small trick but it really helped our stand look brighter and a little more luxury compared our competitors. If you’re going to pay for the stand, spend the money on making it look awesome.
Events like the Ideal Home Show are packed with people handing out freebies and tasters. DO NOT think you don’t need to do this. You do. Again, it’s a small cost but will get people coming over to your stand, even if just to eat / test / try your product. I walk past food stands all the time at markets that I wouldn’t give a second thought to, but once I’ve tried a piece of food and I like it, you can guarantee I’ll be back to buy! This leads me nicely on to…
THE ONE DAY OFFER
This is exhibition 101. You must, must, must have an exhibition only price offer that will encourage people to spend, and spend now. Exhibitions are all about capturing the passing trade and the impulse buy. Make sure it is two things.
1: Too good to turn down (no 10% off today type thing, you need a full on 50% price reduction at least to grab people’s attention).
2. Visible. Put it up everywhere, especially in sight lines.
There is no distinct rule here and this often depends on what type of business you run. For instance, if you’re demonstrating a juicer then you may want to be a bit more forward in rounding up the troops to watch your demo. If you’re selling a more high end product, you may want to wait until people show interest before approaching them for…
Get your spiel down to a T. It doesn’t need to be a full on sales pitch, just a quick, informative and friendly overview of your product or service with a call to action at the end. Keep it short and simple. Here’s an example;
‘Hey folks, we make speciality cheeses at our farm in Devon. We’re really passionate about making flavour combinations that no-one else has, like stem ginger and Irish whiskey. They taste amazing I promise! Care to try some?’
In just a couple of sentences I know what they make, where they are based, that they are passionate about their product, they’ve enticed me by describing a flavor, and lastly they have offered me some to try. Now unless I really hated cheese, I think I’d be up for that!
I have just two words here that will save you from failure in closing the sale: Be cheeky.
Us British love a little bit of cheeky humour, and we are also expecting to be sold to at an exhibition or fair. Having personable and charismatic staff on your stand will be what gets you the sale. Oh, actually, I have a few more words. Know when to let go! There’s nothing worse than someone who can’t read the social signals as to when a customer is disinterested. Maybe it’s just not for them. Don’t take it personally. Smile, and move on!
Those are my 6 steps to exhibition greatness. Have you ever exhibited before? Do you have some secrets of your own you might care to share in the comments below?