How to avoid making an exhibition of yourself..

It happens to most of us at one time or another. It is happening to us twice this month. Exhibiting that is. Orchard Growth Partners will be exhibiting at the Yorkshire Mafia exhibition in Leeds on 15th March and the South East Business show at Gatwick on 25th March.

Of course we are looking forward to it very much. Exhibitions are a great way of engaging with a number of clients and contacts in a short space of time. However it should not be forgotten that they cost time and money and it is important that the return on this investment is measured and monitored. With this in mind, I thought I would take you through some of the dos and don’ts of exhibiting. From a finance director’s point of view of course. I wouldn’t want any of you thinking I’d gone over to the dark side and become a marketing guru……

Do make sure your people are fully briefed as to what is expected of them and have the necessary tools to make the exhibition a success. Knowledgeable professional staff on the stands will make a professional impact.

Don’t assume anything about your visitors. Listen carefully to what they have to say and ask gently probing questions. You can’t know if you are the solution until you understand the problem. You might be knowledgeable but you don’t know everything.

Do make sure that the money you spend is visible on the stand. The other costs of exhibiting such as food, drink, accommodation and travel need to be controlled carefully. It is like producing a multi-million dollar movie – you want to see the money on the screen not spent on the extras.

Don’t try and “bribe” people to your stand. Sweets, drinks and nibbles are very enticing but may attract the wrong type of visitor.

Do make people curious. Make sure you have some interesting presentation materials or video. Oh and look like you are enjoying yourself – you are enjoying yourself aren’t you? If not perhaps you should not be there in the first place.

Don’t accost people walking past your stand. At best they will be unwilling visitors. If the presentation of your stand is attractive and interesting they will come to you.

Do go for a walk and look at other stalls – you can always learn from what other exhibitors are doing.

Don’t spend too long looking at other stalls and talking to other exhibitors (unless of course they are potential clients). Remember what you are there for.

Do smile – as that classic album title by the punk rocker with flowers in her hair Sandi Thom says it confuses people… and remember to clean your teeth before smiling unless you want to do more than confuse people.

Don’t be surprised if people hurry past your stand. It means they are probably nervous, intimidated or not interested, so don’t take it personally. Unless of course you did not clean your teeth….

Do remember that you are exhibiting in order to generate paid work. Make sure all your preparation and show processes are geared to that aim and you track how successful you have been in doing so as a result of exhibiting.

Don’t forget to follow up – but not too aggressively. Making proper notes using a pre-designed form will help you make the most of your follow up, and ensure that your potential clients get the details of the solutions to their problems rather than somebody else’s.

If you want to see how we measure up we look forward to seeing you. We’ll even clean our teeth and smile…..

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