Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Walking along the streets, you might unknowingly bump into one or two of your competitors. The market is saturated. But an exhibition is a gathering spot where all of your immediate competitors are invited and they’re ready for the game! All decked out, ready to pull punches and crush the game. 

All under one roof. 

That’s what it is like to participate in an exhibition as a merchant and a part of our jobs as a display panel supplier and exhibition display unit supplier is to help you make the most of the limited (and possibly expensive) real estate you’re paying to be a part of that exhibition. 

Bear in mind that attendees of these trade shows and exhibitions spend approximately 9 hours traipsing around the exhibition halls. Information overload? Yes, definitely.


The cost of participating in a trade show, road show or exhibition

The cost of participating in an exhibition, of course, varies from one exhibition to another. You could rent out a smaller booth in a more hidden corner of the trade show hall, or you could pump all the cash into securing the massive booth right in front of the entrance (that coveted spot)!

Based on a study, it could cost a company USD100 to $150 per square foot to be in a popular trade show. So, if the trade show booth is about 20 x 20, we’re talking about shelling out to the tune of USD$40,000 to USD$50,000. Bear in mind that because of logistics and marketing, most of the cost would consist of purchasing hardware or mobile display panels for the exhibition.

That’s why some companies decide to put together an internal team of people (experienced or not) to hunker down together in the meeting room to hash out a marketing game plan while slashing away at the budget. Larger conglomerates have fewer things to worry about because they would either be already experts in participating (and rocking) trade shows or have agencies and specialists behind them. 

The following ideas are not ground-breaking ones but we would like to remind participants of trade shows that you only have a fraction of a second or, at best, a couple of minutes, to capture someone’s attention. As attendees walk-in, they face, first, an overload of information. Their normal reaction would be to seek out either the quietest place within their line of sight or become encapsulated with something flashy right in front of them.

Invest in fun, colourful, vibrant, and informative ads to display on a loop

At most, you’ll have approximately 3 to 5 of your staff (and/or trained part-timers and assistants) at hand during the trade show or exhibition. During peak hours, their hands would be pretty tied. So, if you can mobilise a video presentation that can be played on a loop throughout the trade show, it'd be best to run that in the background. 

Use a colourful foldable display panel to attract your customers’ attention with vibrant, enticing, and self-explanatory (or ambiguous - this depends on the angle of your marketing plan) ads and visuals. 

If the budget permits, hire someone to do on-the-spot demonstrations and explanations to interested customers. In fact, if you want to really get serious about free promotions, do a live broadcast or a semi-live one on either Youtube, Instagram or Linkedin

Stories and narratives have never been more important. It’s no secret that big brands are using storytelling as a part of their marketing gameplan to connect with their customers. 

It's time to sit down and think of a way to connect with your customers, not in a company-customer way, but in a person-to-person way.

Give them something useful they can use on the spot

Within 5 minutes of walking around, an attendee’s arms would already be full of free stuff in the form of everything from brochures to notepads, t-shirts to umbrellas. So, the best thing you can give away is actually high-quality bags with your logo printed prominently across it. 

Apart from promotional pens and bags, here are a few things to consider:

  1. A wallet or carry-all for smartphones and devices
  2. Fancy, cute, and memorable document clips to use on the spot
  3. Quality reusable water bottles in exchange for personal information
  4. A bright, quality tote bag
  5. USB chargers (because everyone needs them these days)
  6. T-shirts (still the best multi-faceted, long-lasting promotional gift in the world)
  7. Product samples - because nothing is more convincing than a small version of the product itself. 
  8. Light refreshments - because it stops them in their tracks and the window of opportunity opens for them to have a look at YOUR booth and what you have to offer.

Bank on Unconventional, Targeted Giveaways and Brochures 

If you’re a maternity wear store, don’t stop at just promoting your store as one, instead, get savvy with technology and have different booklets and flyers for different target markets. Dive deep instead of sideways. 

Instead of promoting your store as a maternity store located in a such-and-such locale, hand them brochures about maternity clothing for working mothers and don’t forget to include links or QR codes that lead them directly to your website, Youtube video, or eCommerce website!

If you’re a company selling home and living products, choose one angle and go from there. How different are you from...say, IKEA or Home’s Harmony? And why? Why should you tackle these questions? Because that’s what they’re asking in their heads

With a website, eCommerce site or an active Facebook page, participating in a trade show or exhibition is a sure-fire way to get the video views, eyeballs, and footfall up. 

As for promotional items, spend money on products that are practical for everyday use - something they can bring home with them and use over a long period instead of wasting your money on stuff they’ll stick into the trash before leaving the trade show.

Focusing on modern technology

Back in 1998, trade shows and exhibitions were all about making connections, exchanging business cards, endless chats, discussions, and networking. As fleeting as modern people’s attention are whenever they’re browsing through their phones, their attention span is also just as fleeting when they’re in a large overwhelming trade show.

Apart from attracting them via an attractive booth with a colourful, vibrant display panel, help them remember you by catering to their modern needs. For instance, we’ve found people giving away headphones and USB chargers during exhibitions.

Who needs notepads nowadays when everything is a snapshot or a Whatsapp message away.  

And honestly speaking, if you find the right suppliers, headphones and Bluetooth speakers aren’t expensive trade show giveaways. With your logo emblazoned on the set, they will not only continue using the item in their hotel room as they wait for their flight back home, but someone at home will also probably find them useful too.

Find the right balance between traditional and social media exposure

I know some of us are having trouble diving into this and I don’t really blame you. Do we start with promoting our Facebook page with a link and QR code? Do we collect email addresses and phone numbers right off the bat? What do we do with it even if they respond? How do I make them visit and follow our Instagram account? What do I write? What kind of live presentation should I carry out? 

Let’s face the fact: you can’t do it all. You’ll have to pick and choose

That’s where the marketing strategy comes in and if you’ve decided to come up with an enticing video with a simple contest or quiz, hop on Instagram and Facebook and ask them to use a specific hashtag to connect with them online again once the trade show or exhibition is over. 

You can still continue to delve into traditional media by sending out press releases to the local dailies to provide exposure to your booth at the trade show, or you can invite them for a demonstration so that you can post a video up on either Youtube or Linkedin live or after the trade show. Your call. 

Conclusion - It’s time to get creative and crafty at exhibitions and trade shows

  1. The cost of participating in a trade show, roadshow, or exhibition can be hefty - so, make it count! Use every trick in the book and outside the box to make it count
  2. Invest in fun, creative, innovative, and social ways to engage with your potential customers
  3. Give them something free in exchange for their information
  4. Catch their attention as quickly as possible and give them reasons to stay
  5. Use stories and narratives that hit the right notes to draw people in
  6. Bank on unconventional, targeted giveaways, brothers and promotional items that they can use every day after the show is over
  7. Focus on modern technology and, if you want, go live
  8. Find the right balance between traditional and social media exposure.

I hope you found these to be useful in your bid to make every single sen and Ringgit spent on an exhibition or trade show.

If you’re looking for long-lasting, flexible, lightweight, and portable display panels and systems for a trade show or exhibition that you’re participating soon, please drop by our website to browse around. Better yet, email us at enquiry@formedge.com.my for more information or call us at +603-6156 6222 to get things moving along. 

Of course, we're also on social media so, let's catch up over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and our blog.

As usual, if you have questions, feedback or comments about this blog and its content, please shoot me an email at editor@formedge.com.my and I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can!

Published in Blog