Trade shows and exhibitions are fantastic for lead generation and brand awareness – but they take a lot of planning!
You could just rock up on the day and wing it, but you wouldn’t be doing your brand or your business opportunities many favours. Start planning as far ahead as possible, and your slick expo stand and attention-grabbing literature will draw footfall and boost business.
There are many ways that print can help improve your brand presence at a trade show – and they work best when tied in with your digital marketing. For example, give away product brochures, but only in exchange for someone’s email address. That way, you have their permission to store their details (ready for the EU GDPR), and can email them to follow up after the event.
To make the most out of your print for the next trade show or customer exhibition, take a look at our checklist and ensure you don’t miss anything!
First and foremost, you’ll need a striking exhibition stand. Find one that can be re-used time and again, as this’ll make it far more cost-effective. A simple pop-up frame with magnetic graphics will make it super-easy to set up and install your stand. You’ll appreciate a stand that’s quick to set up if you’re travelling a long way – you may not have long to set everything up.
A magnetic graphic means the background sheet, usually polyethylene or a similar material, has magnetic strips on the back of it. These snap onto the pop-up frame really easily, so the entire stand can be assembled by a single person.
When creating your exhibition stand graphic, try to be eye-catching yet minimal. Don’t cram it with loads of text – that’s what the rest of your materials are for! Use simple branding and a strapline, nothing more. You want it to make people stop and look: if there’s a lot of reading involved, it’ll put them off and they’re likely to walk right past your stand.
It’s important to have some kind of table on your exhibition stand, for people to fill out paperwork, or to have somewhere to bring potential clients for a chat. Some exhibition stands come with travel cases which double as a podium stand, giving you extra bang for your buck!
A podium stand can provide you with a focal point, and allows for additional branding, too. Travel cases that double as your stand will come with a wraparound graphic for the outside of the case – giving you an extra opportunity to make your branding visible! Cases like this also help to keep your stand tidy, as you can store additional flyers or giveaways inside it until you need them.
A classic for exhibitions, you can’t beat a good pop-up roller banner or two to really get your message across. They are called ‘pop-up’ roller banners for a reason: you can put one up in less than a minute. Once again, the time constraints exhibitors often find when it comes to setting up (and taking down) an exhibition stand mean that anything which can be done quickly is always a good option.
Roller banners are self-standing, too, so it makes them adaptable to any space. If you find yourself on a corner stand, for example, you could position one at each corner to attract delegates on either side of the walkway. Or, if you find that you’re in a smaller space than expected, it’s easy to pop one behind a table. With this in mind, remember to keep any important messaging to the top third of your roller banner – this makes sure it can always be seen, regardless of your stand set-up.
If your exhibition stand is within a shell scheme, you’ll often find that you’re pretty restricted as to what you can and can’t do with the walls. This is because shell scheme walls are thin, and can’t hold much weight – so hanging heavy displays is a no-go!
Foamex boards are a smarter alternative to posters. They’re really lightweight and come in sizes A3 – A0, so you’ll find one to fit your shell scheme. Find out the panel dimensions of your shell scheme before you get anything printed! Smaller sizes such as A3 can be fixed to the wall with blue tack, while larger sizes will need some Velcro.
If you’re transporting your Foamex signs to your exhibition, be sure to wrap them up well. The foam can be fragile, and cargo loaders can be heavy-handed!
A handy addition to any exhibition stand, an A-frame can have different graphics put in it for different events, making it an ideal investment for any business that regularly attends trade shows and expos. Use in place of a roller banner, or (with the event organiser’s permission) place it somewhere in the exhibition hall to direct people towards your stand.
A-frames are also weatherproof – so if your stand is outside, your message won’t get rained away.
Booklets And Catalogues
This is your chance to cherry-pick your favourite products and pop them together in a glossy booklet. Keep your selection to a minimum, otherwise you could overwhelm delegates. Remember: there are hundreds of your competitors at a trade show, all doing the same thing – so your brochure needs to be smart, slick, to-the-point, and easy to read.
Possibly the most important element of your print arsenal, business cards are essential at exhibitions! They’re the most traditional way of passing on your contact information, and give delegates a physical reminder to follow up with you after the event.
You can also encourage people to trade their business cards with you by running a raffle on your stand. To enter, each visitor must simply hand in one of their business cards for the draw! Draw the raffle at the end of the day, maybe at a drinks reception on your stand (to encourage people to visit you last before they go home). By using business cards like this, you will:
- Build your data list
- Boost your reputation (as people can see you announce the winner – some unscrupulous companies pretend there’s a prize that’s never won!)
- Encourage a positive interaction with your brand.
If you can, give each entrant your business card when they pass theirs over, to make sure they have your information to follow up at a later date. Exhibitions are great lead generators, but you’ll often find people will call you many months after the event when they’re actually in the buying phase of their journey: exhibitions tend to be for the research phase!
Survey Or Feedback Forms
A great way to encourage customer interaction, build your data list, and do some market research, is to carry out a quick survey. Include printed survey forms in your print media pack, and you’ll find it easier to get on-the-spot feedback. You could also have an online version of the survey to point people to, should they wish to complete it in their own time, but asking someone to fill out a short (very short!) survey while they stand in front of you is much easier to do with a physical form.
You can always encourage feedback by running a competition for survey respondents, or giving a voucher or special discount code in return for their participation.
Event-specific vouchers are a dynamic tool to encourage delegates to move from their research mood into a buying mood. It’s easy to create this shift in mindset with exhibition-only offers that must be completed before the expo closes. If you aren’t a fan of the hard sell, you could always adapt this to ‘must be agreed before the expo closes’, giving people time to get in touch with you after the event to finalise paperwork.
Goody Bag Flyers
Conferences and exhibitions usually give away goody bags – and it’s a great opportunity to be seen as a thought-leader in your field. A copy of your monthly magazine, a flyer for your latest product, or a leaflet detailing when and where your speaker will be to greet delegates, can all be well-received. Talk to your event organiser to see how you can get something into the goody bag – sometimes, you’ll need to pay an additional fee as a sponsor, but often it is part of the exhibition stand agreement.
Other Printed Options
We’ve covered the usual suspects when it comes to exhibition printed media, but you might also want to consider these for some extra pizazz:
- Table talkers for your podium stand (promote an offer, highlight a drinks reception, or advertise your best product)
- Presentation folders to hold all of your brochures and leaflets together
- Branded desk calendars to remind your new contacts about your company 365 days of the year
- Branded compliment slips to staple to your business card (so that you can include personal notes, exclusive offers to the individual, or arrange a meeting)
- Posters to put up before the event to promote your attendance.
Exhibitions are a wonderful, in-person buying experience that many people miss in today’s digital world.
You can make delegates warm to you by using high quality branded printed products, a smile, and real conversation – don’t just go for the hard sell!
This is the time to build your network – you can always close a sale later on. Make the most of the opportunity to meet lots of new clients in one go, and remember to always, ALWAYS, hand out your business card!