Promoting your exhibition stand so that it attracts a high number of quality visitors

This is the second article in a series I am writing aimed at exhibitors at We Mean Business, an exhibition organised by the FSB that takes place in Croydon in November.  The article has been adapted slightly from the original, so that it is meaningful for whatever exhibition you might be attending. 

There’s an old adage that says, “Build it and they will come”.  Sadly, it’s not true.  They won’t come if they don’t know about it; and they won’t know about it unless you promote it.

The organisers of your exhibition will be busy promoting it in order to encourage visitors to attend, but what can you do to add to this and promote your own business and attract both existing clients and prospective customers to your stand?

Here are some ideas for you.  Of course, it may be that not all of these are relevant to you.  It will depend on your own industry and your target audience.  You know best where to “find” your existing clients and prospective customers – whether that’s on Twitter or at your local networking group.  But the more of these methods you can employ, the more likely you are to reach your audience, and reach it multiple times, giving the best possible chance for them to see your message and be enticed to visit your stand.

    • Invitations.  Use your customer and prospect databases to invite your contacts to the show.  For the lowest cost, email is best.  Write to your contacts as soon as you book your stand to tell them to save the date; then send a reminder email nearer the time.  Don’t forget to include details of any special offers or promotions you’re running at the show.
    • Blogging.  Write a blog piece about your presence at the exhibition, telling your readers all about what you’ll be offering or promoting.
    •  Your website.  Add the show’s logo (with the organisers’ permission, of course) to your website, and link through to details about your stand.
    • Public relations (PR).  If you are running a competition or making a special offer on your stand, then write and send a press release to the local papers.  Find out from the organisers which press will be attending the event and send them your release.  If applicable, offer them an interview with a senior member of staff at the show itself.  If there will be a press office at the exhibition, prepare some press packs for editors.
    • Networking.  Attend any pre- or post- exhibition get-togethers and social events, plus any networking events taking place during the show.  And don’t forget to mention you’ll be exhibiting at any other business networking you go to.
    • Leaflets.  Have some leaflets printed, promoting your attendance at the exhibition, and highlighting any special offers.  You can mail these to customers and prospects, or have the Royal Mail or a leafleting company to distribute them in certain postcodes if your business is local.  And don’t forget to put leaflets round at local networking events.
    • Social media:
      • Twitter.  Most exhibitions now have official Twitter accounts, so make sure you are following the official account for the show, as it will also be followed by prospective visitors.  You can then follow the show’s followers, and start to engage with prospective visitors and other exhibitors.  And tweet every so often about the show, saying you will be attending, using a recognisable hashtag.
      • Facebook.  “Like” the show’s official Facebook page if it has one and join in the conversations on the page’s wall.  On your business page, add links to content about the show, such as your own blog pieces and news on the event’s website.
      • LinkedIn.  For the larger exhibition, there may be a LinkedIn group you can join where you can post your own promotions and join the discussions.  Via your personal LinkedIn profile, promote occasionally that you will be exhibiting.
      • Other social media.  If your prospects and customers can also be found on other social media such as Google+, YouTube, SlideShare, Scribd, and Flickr, for example, then create content such as videos, photos, documents, presentations and articles and post them on these social media too.
    •  Other.  Check with the organisers whether there are any advertising opportunities – perhaps advertising on the website, or in a show programme, or sponsoring a leaflet, and so on.

These are the other articles in the series:

Article 1 – How to plan effectively for successful exhibitions

Exhibition hall - licenced picture from Pixmac the image used in this blog is licenced