Pre-show organisation is key to a successful show

When it comes to exhibitions, pre-show organisation is the key to a successful show. Having spent a number of years in event organisation, I have seen many mistakes, which given the size of investment that goes into a show, really should have been addressed in order to maximise the unique opportunity that meeting face-to-face with prospects offers.

Some errors that occur are out of a company’s control and some are not, so being organised and prepared to be flexible is essential! I’ve seen data capture forms being delivered to the wrong place, leaflets failing to arrive on-time, plus one memorable moment when someone turned up at the wrong exhibition centre! Attention to detail in the weeks before the event will help it all run as smoothly as possible. Following instructions from the organisers in terms of delivery is key to ensure minimal mistakes.

Similarly, give yourself plenty of time on the build day. You will need to swing into action if the furniture doesn’t appear or someone’s forgotten to order electricity. We even had one stand fall-down demolishing the one next door too. Thankfully, no-one was hurt but the lesson learned is to make sure there is plenty of time to fix any issues and this will help smooth the whole process. If you have never done an event before, talk to the organisers or peers who have to see what you need to bring with you. I have seen many turn up without key items such as scissors, and even something to transport your items from the car to the stand. It can be a long way from the back of the hall to the front when you are carrying a heavy box.

It’s important to have a clear plan for the days of the exhibition itself. Just ‘sitting there’ and hoping people will come and talk to you just doesn’t work! Staff need to act like salespeople, they need to be fully briefed and motivated to be welcoming and be prepared to talk, a lot!

Talking to the event organisers and working closely with them may yield opportunities to participate in pre-show marketing e-shots or social media posts to encourage attendance at your booth. Ensuring your profile is up to date on their website is also important, visitors will look beforehand to see who is exhibiting.

Linking-up with other industry professionals can also be advantageous. Being able to point prospects to affiliates at the exhibition can help them make informed decisions to move them forward on their journey. For example, d&t is exhibiting at forthcoming franchise exhibitions, getting interested franchisees to talk to our experts about business planning and funding options can help them overcome issues people often worry about and can become common barriers to sale.

Data capture during the show also needs some thought. Will you use forms to take down prospects’ details? If so, they need to be legible for follow-up later. Or, for a few hundred pounds it may be possible to hire scanners. Again, discuss with the event organisers to find out the best way to do this.

The post-show follow-up is another area that shouldn’t be underestimated. You will need to put aside time to contact interested prospects and follow-up leads. This should be done as soon as you are back from the event, block out your diary and give yourself a good amount of time to do this. All these steps go towards making a successful exhibition

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Originally published in Franchise World Page 21