According to The Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 83% of visitors at trade shows have buying authority; 79% of these use industry events to make purchase decisions for their business, and each delegate is likely to tell more than six people about their event experience for custom exhibition stands.
These stats highlight the ongoing importance of event marketing for organizations in all sectors.
But if hosting a stand works for your business, it will also work for your competitors. Delegates spend an average of eight hours visiting 26 different stands at each event. Making sure they remember yours is essential. So, how do you make your bespoke exhibition stand come under the limelight?
1. Start with your story
It’s easy to cover a custom exhibition stand in vague brand messages and hope for the best. Doing so will make yours fade into the background for delegates.
Don’t be wallpaper. When planning your strategy and working on designs, focus on telling the story only your brand can tell, in the most eye-catching way possible. Stories are proven to make products and services more valuable. Story narratives are immersive; they require understanding and engagement on the part of the listener (in this case, the delegate) – which is exactly what you should be seeking to achieve.
Think carefully about how each element reflects and contributes to this story. Is your lighting dramatic? Is there a story that is reflected through the construction of the materials? Is your brand story presented simply and clearly, so delegates can tap into it easily?
2. Give delegates what they want
Your exhibit imposes the dwelling place of your brand all throughout the duration of the event. So, you need to treat the custom exhibition stands the UK as one of your homes. Make it a place visitors want to spend time. Make them feel relaxed. Entertain them. The comfort is all offered at the possible places that have been duly missed earlier.
Offering free (quality) coffee and somewhere to rest are good ideas, as is offering desks with free, easy-to-use wifi. If your budget won’t stretch this far, ask yourself a simpler question: as a delegate, what type of environment would I want to see after a long day of walking, waiting and engaging in sales conversations?
Color is equally important. The exhibit design world for the past decade and more has been dominated by the white minimal spaces. Many delegates find these spaces cold and clinical, however.
3. Give delegates what they won’t expect
The highest accolade for any exhibit is to be the must-see: the thing delegates are still talking about at the end of their day and recommending to others.
To truly break the mold, brand teams must think outside the box. Really outside the box.
What does your business so that visitors will be unfamiliar with, but unwaveringly interested in? Think racing cars; Olympic bikes; even traditional team games. Doing so will help you offer a memorable experience linked to your brand and event strategy.
Go big. Most businesses simply incorporate the latest ‘must-have’ technology in their bespoke exhibition stands in a bid to stand out. Visitors expect this – and while using VR or AR technology might prolong sales conversations in the short-term, these technologies are often distracting. Given how common both are today, they’re increasingly forgettable too.
4. Offer exclusivity
Where possible, offer visitors experiences they won’t find elsewhere.
This is especially important for launch events where stands are used to present a product, service or concept not yet available for general release. Here, offer a never-before-seen preview. At all times, and for all stands, seek to provide delegates with a gift that they could not cheaply obtain elsewhere. Branded pens, USB sticks, and mobile chargers are everywhere.
5. Provide the warmest welcome (and have the most fun)
The most striking, innovative exhibition stand will not engage visitors if the human touch is missing.
Your event team is your secret weapon: the difference between leaving an event with a half-full database of cold leads or a calendar full of prospect meetings.
A lot of brands send their experts to events, thinking it impossible to outsource knowledge of their business. This might be true, but experts aren’t guaranteed to have the hospitality training to welcome delegates onto a stand. We regularly use specialist event teams to host exhibits and provide the first point of contact with visitors. If delegates prove interested in technical aspects of a product or service, we then connect them with an expert within the business.
If outsourcing is not an option, train your event team to talk confidently and knowledgeable about your product and service. Make sure they’re well-presented and dressed on-brand. And do what you can to help them make delegates comfortable and at ease at your stand.
Most important of all: let your team be human. It’s a chance to make eye contact with customers and clients and to start building a relationship. No visitor wants to hear a sales pitch spoken at them. So go on: share a joke. Smile. And enjoy the event yourself. Delegates will warm to this, and you deserve it.