It goes without saying that a lot of time, effort and above all else, money goes into making a trade show a success. As an exhibitor it is not as simple as booking the space and a stand contractor, there is the tricky business of encouraging visitors onto your stand, ensuring the people you want to meet with attend, determining the product range you want to display and how you are going to stand out from the sea of other exhibitors no matter where you are positioned in the hall.
Experience certainly does reap its own rewards, but when you are embarking on a new exhibition environment or project, how do you make sure you achieve that all important ROI?
Rob Brackstone, Managing Director of ESM, an exhibition stand design, manufacture and build company in London says its all about relationships; “A successful show is a team effort” he says “as exhibition stand contractors we often have insight into hall layouts and have been to most of the shows a number of times so we know what companies can expect, what the challenges are and how high the bar is set to make an impact. Our team are one of the most experienced exhibition stand design companies in the UK - from Spring Fair to Ambiente, Exclusively Housewares and Top Drawer, we constantly design and build stands for these shows and our customers rely on our experience to help them maximise their sales potential.”
If you are new to exhibiting at trade shows, there are a number of tips which many repeat exhibitors don’t take advantage of, or forget about over the years which can help you steal a march on your competitors. First and most importantly, register your interest in a trade show early….. and when we say early, we are talking a good year in advance. This will help ensure you have access to the best available spaces once the rebooking period is over. Talk to stand contractors, buyers and industry contacts to get a good feel for the hall layout and where the stronger locations are. It is likely that the strongest positions will be booked by returning exhibitors, so having a flexible approach and as much information as possible to help make the best decision for your business is key.
Once you have booked your space, the next step is to select an exhibition stand contractor as early as possible in the process. “We are usually booked by clients at least 6 months ahead of an exhibition” says Rob “On the odd occasion, we have had last minute requests for stands to be designed, manufactured and built in a matter of weeks, but on the whole – most of our clients want to spend time ensuring the design answers all their requirements.” Designing an exhibition stand is no easy task either – it takes research, insight and an understanding of a company’s product to ensure everything fits and the right messages are conveyed. “This is why relationships are so important between an exhibitor and stand contractor. We know that visitors are getting more demanding and are looking for an experience, not just great product. In order for us to deliver that experience for our clients, we need to understand their product and brand to work seamlessly with them.” Says Rob “Whether it is a double deck stand or a 2mx2m space, our job is to deliver creative, outstanding results every time.”
This sentiment certainly rings true following the recent Spring Fair and Ambiente trade shows, where more and more exhibitors were holding live events from champagne receptions to cooking demonstrations, and in the case of The Cookware Company at Ambiente – a live band which led a merry group of visitors all dancing with frying pans up and down the aisles. But not everyone has big budgets to spare, yet in such cases we usually find the most creativity. The use of technology is becoming increasingly popular as an aid for smaller stands and exhibitors on a budget – whether it’s a clever use of social media, eye catching video graphics, mood lighting or aroma marketing to awaken the senses, you don’t need to have deep pockets to be memorable, and when combined with a strong graphics suite, winning formulas can be found.
“Graphics and colour are key to making an exhibition space stand out” says Rob “Choose your stand colours wisely: Blue, Green & White appear slick & professional, but they are not strong interest grabbers. Red, Orange & Yellow attract more attention but need to be used selectively.” Flooring is also important and helps set the stand environment. “Most people forget about flooring, but poor floor choices can affect a stand. If you are undertaking cooking demonstrations – don’t use carpet, use a vinyl floor. If you are using carpet and offering your customers tea & coffee, don’t go for a light colour. I cant tell you how many strategically positioned tables I have seen on stands to cover up spillages!”
So with two major trade shows down, and 2 more to go, there is plenty to think about as we head into IHA and Exclusively Housewares.