So, you have committed to exhibiting at an trade show – what next?
As an exhibition stand contractor who talks to many exhibitors each year The MOST important single question to begin with is to ask yourself WHY you are exhibiting? It sounds obvious, but we often hear the answer ‘well, because we always do’, normally followed by ‘we need some furniture, some storage space, a screen’ and all the practical stuff, followed by the inevitable question ‘what can you do for us?’.
For our exhibition stand designers, it isn’t about the stand, at least not initially. Your exhibition space is a stage/platform/vehicle for satisfying all the reasons you booked to exhibit in the first place. Anyone looking to help you build your exhibition stand really wants to know what those are.
So again, ask yourself why are you exhibiting at your chosen show?
In answering this question be SMART:
SPECIFIC: Narrow down why you are attending as an exhibitor to a single or at most three important reasons. Focusing on too many objectives will cloud your vision for the stand and result in a lack of clarity that will be obvious to delegates.
MEASURABLE: How will you know you have achieved your goals and how can the stand or your staff facilitate the collection of the information you need to make a judgement on the success of the event (these should be both qualitative and quantitative)
ACHIEVEABLE: Are your goals realistic? Given the nature of the audience, the predicted number of delegates, your position in the marketplace. Give yourself a genuine target against which to make judgements about what you need from your stand. This might in turn provide you with some budget numbers.
RELEVANT: Consider how the audience is relevant to you, and how your product or service is relevant to them and how you communicate that. It might be obvious, but then again, it might not be.
TIME-BOUND: Have you the time to achieve your goals? A good exhibition stand designer and builder can provide you with a time-line for what they need and when; whether that be authorisation to make what you need, electrical requirements, artwork, product deliveries and so on. Check you will have your brand ready in time, your launch products good to go, the materials and rationale behind your products explained in time. Don’t hinge your success at the show on something that might not be deliverable without having a plan B.
Now you have your goals, something of a budget and an understanding of what you want to say or do on a macro level you can ask the second question:
‘What do I need?’