Preparing for exhibitions

Preparing for Exhibitions Checklist

Trade and/ or Consumer exhibitions and events present an excellent opportunity to promote your products and increase sales. With large numbers of events available to attend these days however – it’s essential that you plan your exhibition/ events calendar carefully, and plan effectively to make the most out of your attendance.

Here is a checklist to help you achieve the following:

  • Focus on your objectives – why exhibit?

  • Chose the right event

  • Plan effectively for the event

  • Perform well at the event

  • Ensure successful follow-up.

Before The Exhibition

To help you identify the right trade show and clarify your objectives – consider the following:

Why do you hope to achieve by visiting a trade show?

  • Raise awareness of current product range?

  • Raise awareness of a new product?

  • Increase distribution i.e. find new distributors?

  • To sell product?

  • Research the market?

  • Are you looking to raise consumer or trade awareness?

  • Are you looking to increase sales in a specific area e.g. supermarket retail/ convenience retail/ Bars and Clubs/ Restaurants and Hotels/ Hospitality Sector?

Once you have chosen your exhibition e.g. Speciality Fine Food Show or IFE, you should create an exhibition calendar to help you prepare. An outline calendar has been suggested below:

8 – 12 Months before Exhibition

Create a Budget

To avoid any nasty surprises, make a list of all the foreseeable costs relating to the exhibition. The list should include the following:

  • Stand Space per Meter Square

  • Cost of hiring/ purchasing items for the stand e.g. shell scheme, display panels, counter, pop-up stand, coffee table and chairs, plasma screen, plants, branded refrigeration, extra shelving and storage. You might wish to employ an exhibition design company to create a stand kit for you – designed and branded to your own specifications.

  • Associated stand costs e.g. plumbing, electrics, refrigeration, lighting, waste disposal.

  • Transport of Items to the exhibition

  • Transport, Accommodation and Subsistence - Staff

  • Insurance

  • Cost of hiring sampling staff

  • Stock and Point of Sale material for exhibition – if giving away free stock – calculate the value.

  • Cost of a comfortable pair of shoes

Obtaining Stand Space

The earlier you book your stand space, the better chance you have of obtaining a good position. You should look for the following space:

  • Space near a main entrance

  • Space on a main aisle

  • Space with three open sides

  • Space near a stairway or escalator

  • NOT near a competitor

Once the stand space is booked, start thinking about the design and layout of the space e.g. will you need to purchase new items such as pop-up displays, graphics panels? Make the most of the space you have been allocated!

One you have booked your stand space, book your accommodation – preferably close to the exhibition centre!

6 Months before exhibition

  • Plan who will be attending – key staff/ sales people to put the date in their diary!

  • Research promotional opportunities at the show e.g. new product showcases/ awards?

  • Opportunities to sponsor a section of the show e.g. Chef’s Kitchen?

3 Months before exhibition

Create Publicity!

The exhibition organisers often send out a list of press contacts that are either attending, or are covering the show. You can either use this or create your own!

Link to ‘PR Section’ in Links Section of True Marketing web-site

Send out a catchy press release and good quality images (and a product sample if appropriate) to your customer database and key trade and consumer media to state that you will be exhibiting. Insert your stand number and location and invite them to come and receive a free goody bag containing free samples from the range. Remember to include telephone number (plus mobile), email and website.

Send company press release to the exhibition web-site. The show organisers usually have an on-line press section enabling potential customers and the media to access your latest up-dates!

Ensure that you’ve submitted technical requirements e.g. socket and lighting locations, plumbing, stand name.

How will you collect visitor information at the show? Most events hire out ‘badge scanners’ enabling you to download an electronic printout of your contacts at the end of your day. Ensure that this is hired and ready for collection the day before the show.

Provide all necessary information and descriptions for the show brochure. You might choose to advertise in the brochure. Submit graphics early.

What will you be wearing on the stand? Do you need to order branded clothing e.g. hats/ aprons/ T-Shirts?

2 Months before the exhibition

Create a checklist of all the items you will need to take with you to the exhibition.

Make transport arrangements for larger items.

Here is a typical checklist:

  • Large Items

    • Fridge

    • Counter/ Welcome Desk

    • Coffee Table & Chairs

    • Display Items e.g. Pop-up stand

    • Plants

  • Information Collection Resources

    • Enquiry Log Book

    • Visitor Badge Scanner

    • Business Card Collection Book

  • Promotional Material

    • Product Literature (Brochures/ Newsletters/ Postcards/ Stickers/ Specifications)

    • Promotional CD to run on a plasma screen/ laptop

    • Price Lists

    • Business Cards

    • Media kits pre-prepared for journalists

    • Point of Sale material e.g. pens/ keyrings/ carrier bags

    • Item to be competitioned off on the stand. (Customers to place their details in a box for a chance to win).

    • Stockist/ Distributor/ Retail List for new customers – showing availability.

  • Sampling & Selling Resources

    • Sufficient stock for sampling

    • Cups/ Trays/ Cocktail Sticks/ Napkins

    • Back-up stock arrangement e.g. delivery from local distributor or from factory?

    • Copy of Food Preparation Guidelines

    • Storage for stock

    • System for taking cash on the stand – at consumer shows.

  • General

    • Badges for all company representatives on the stand

    • Dustpan & Brush

    • Binbags

    • Spare notebooks and pens

    • Staple Gun, Stapler, Hole Punch, Double Sided Tape, Extension Leads, Post –its, Scissors

    • First Aid Kit – plasters, antiseptic cream, bandage, headache tablets, leg-gel, foot spray.

    • Tool Hit – hammer, screwdriver and pliers

    • Camera

1 Month Before the Exhibition

  • Re-send press release to customers and press. Create an agenda if meetings have been scheduled during the show.

  • If you are entertaining customers at the show – book a restaurant (one that possibly stocks your product?) and create a list of attendees – confirmed and not confirmed.

1 to 2 Weeks Before the Exhibition

Prepare a final information pack for each member of staff attending – to include the following:

  • Exhibition Name

  • Location

  • Dates

  • Opening Times

  • Accommodation arrangements

  • Transport arrangements

  • Telephone numbers of all staff attending

  • Show Passes

  • Parking Permits

Issue pre-show entry permits to the person delivering large items to the stand before the show.

Hold a briefing session before the show. Go over key responsibilities and plan of work on the stand i.e. sampling, passing on important potential customers to relevant sales manager etc. Ensure one person is responsible for looking after the enquiries you have gathered each day! Don’t leave these on the stand at the end of the day.

At The Show

You are your product! Think of four or five key words to describe the product e.g. indulgent, fiery, naughty, delicious, sensational – and convey it!

Getting visitors to stop

  • The Don’ts

    • Don’t Pounce

    • Don’t Hover

    • Don’t block the exhibit

    • Don’t cluster together with colleagues

    • Don’t stand on the edge of the stand with folded arms

    • Don’t turn your back on the main aisle

  • The Do’s

    • Do think about what will get a visitor to stop at your stand.

    • Do smile and be friendly

    • Do have a busy stand – rent a crowd!?

    • Do organise a business card draw or competition

  • Opening Lines
    Work out and rehearse your opening remarks – opening remarks are vital!
    Avoid “Can I help You” and try and engage the visitor in a conversation e.g.

    • Are you familiar with our product

    • Would you like to sample some of our products?

    • What kind of business are you in?

    • What brings you to the stand?

From your initial conversations with the visitor, you should be aim to establish:

  • Their level of interest

  • Their business

  • Their position within the business e.g., buyer, manager, chef etc

Visitors normally fall into 3 categories

  • A: Genuinely Interested

  • B: Could be persuaded

  • C: Not Interested

Remember to market your enquiries with either A, B or C – this will enable you to create a key A contacts list following the show, and respond to the swiftly.

Keep monitoring stock levels – never run out!

After the Show

  • Allocate a week after the show to handle follow-ups.

  • Arrange for a thank you letter and a brochure to be sent to ALL enquirers. A phone call should be made to all the A and selected B enquirers. Make a plan to follow up these contacts in two week, 1 month etc.

  • Create a positive report summarising your attendance at the show and send to all your major customers. Boast about your success!

  • Review your show expenditure

  • Start planning for your next show!