shutterstock_smallEvents such as trade shows and exhibitions represent a huge investment, both in terms of your time and money. In order to ensure you get the best possible results we have put together our guide to making the most of exhibitions, with the help of organisers o the UK’s top events in the independent living sector.

Visiting Exhibitions

Visiting exhibitions is a great opportunity for you, as a retailer, to meet new and existing suppliers, source new products and gain new ideas for your business.

When you are taking valuable time away from your business to visit an event , a little preparation beforehand can go a long way to maximising the effectiveness of your day. Events such as Rehacare and Naidex can take a number of days to fully explore but i you are limited on time, planning hwo you are going to manage your day can make all the difference.

Trade Days takes place for the first time in October and event director, Matthew Butler offered the following advice or visitors to the exhibition. Matthew said: “It is always best to come prepared. Think about what products may be needed over the coming months, what lines you may be considering stocking, what business issues you may be facing… in order to come armed with a clear objective or attending. This will then help direct you to the right stands, or theatres to get the information you are looking or. I would recommend visitors print the A-Z list of exhibitors from the website, and circle the ones they want to see. When they arrive at the show, they can collect a show guide and circle the stands on the floor plan, which then allows people to plan visits in the right order and prevent miles of unnecessary walking! There is also plenty of space to have private business meetings, so it may be an idea to arrange to meet with desired companies at certain times that fir in with your day.”

He added: “I would suggest visitors take a business card or flyer from the stands they visit, remember who they spoke to and what about, but they need to be prepared to do business at the show as a majority of the exhibitors will operate ‘show only deals and special offers’ – and this is after all what the show is all about!”

Exhibiting 

Exhibitions offer a great opportunity or businesses to get their products in front of prospective buyers, whether you are a manufacturer hoping to sell to retailers or a retailer looking to get your products in front of end users.

Before the show

Set goals you wish to achieve

Ask yourself, why are we exhibiting? A big part of your pre-event preparation should be focused on deciding what your goals are. This could be anything from a number of leads you wish to obtain to the number of entries you would like to collect or a competition.

Plan your stand

Your stand is a key tool in how successful your appearance will be. The first things you should organise is the construction of the stand (if a ready-built stand is not provided), any power outlets you will require, lighting and internet access. Whatever size your stand is, it is important to use it to its full potential. Try setting your stand up before the event to make sure it has the impact you desire.

Train your staff

Your staff are the representatives of your business so it’s important to make sure they know why they are there and what you hope to achieve.

Matthew Tingey, event director at Naidex National said: “The people on the stand make the difference between a good event or a great event. A highly motivated, well informed team does more than any other factor to differentiate you from the other stands and make an impact on your market. Daily briefings are a must. Remind everyone of your goals, your key messages and the role of each team member.

Report on your progress towards your goals. Make adjustments if necessary. Announce the winner of your lead-generating competition. Most importantly keep the energy up and the attitudes positive.”

Spread the word 

An important step in achieving the results you want is to make people aware that you will be attending and letting them know why they should take the time to visit your stand. There are many ways you can do this – direct mail and e-newsletters are good ways to get the word out, as is social networking. Posting on the likes of Facebook and Twitter that you will be attending a particular event is an effective way of getting the message out to your customers.

As well as letting people know you will be there, is there anything else you can tell them for added attraction? Will you be launching a new product or holding some kind of celebration? If so, be sure to mention this in your marketing along with your stand number so people know exactly where to  find you.

Make sure you take the opportunity to have your company profile on the event website and check out any advertising or sponsorship packages they may be offering. It can also be very useful to find out who the event’s official media partners are. These publications will normally run features and articles in the run up to the event. There’s no harm in sending a press release regarding what you are planning for your appearance at the exhibition.

At the show  

Having so many potential clients in one place offers a fantastic opportunity or your business. Every year, the Kidz exhibitions take place at various locations around the country, offering manufacturers and retailers a great opportunity to get in front of end users.

Admin and exhibitions manager with Disabled Living, organisers of the Kidz events, Carmel Hourigan said: “Throughout the day exhibitors could have access to approximately 3500 visitors (at a Kidz event). From an exhibitor’s point of view they need to be very proactive, collecting as much information on the day from the customers/clients so they can ensure they can meet the client’s needs. Securing sales is vital. Good customer service is crucial.”

After the event

The opportunities an exhibition offers don’t end when the doors close on the last day. In act, in many cases this is when things begin. Over the course o the event you will have built up contacts and potential leads through your interaction with the visitors. It is what you do with these leads that will be key to how successful the event was for your business.

By making contact after the event there is more chance of you converting your leads into sales. Make phone calls, send personalised emails and arrange appointments. It is also important to keep track of how many of these leads were converted into sales. Some companies will do this for the next 3, 6 or even 12 months following the event. This will allow you to fully evaluate the event and plan or next year.