Trade fairs and exhibitions can be very fruitful for startups of all sizes.
Image Source: Flickr (Intel Free Press)
They can increase your visibility and give you the jumpstart that you need. The trouble is; they can also be a complete waste of time and money. The key to a successful exhibition is all about standing out. Of course, there are good ways and bad ways to draw attention to yourself, but for the purposes of this article, we'll assume you are looking for a positive reaction! Let's get started right away.
Often, you have no say in where your stand will be located. There is every chance you will be placed in a far corner of a vast conference hall or even right next to the bathroom facilities. Now, in the second situation you will, of course, benefit from a bit more footfall, but that isn’t the point. You just won’t get the visitors if you don’t catch their eye. Corner slots can be a pain, especially if you are stuck out with unconnected businesses. Your best bet here is to start working the floor and trying to draw people over. Once a crowd develops, more people will come.
Expensive to attend
Trade fairs can be expensive investments, particularly for startups with minimal turnover. You need to get a return on that investment somehow. Don't forget, it isn't just the cost of the event that you need to cover. You will also be losing a day or two's trading, and will be paying staff to be away from their usual desks. That can all add up, and to make up for the costs, you will need to get people to your stall.
Everyone is looking for attention
Every single stall at a trade fair is looking for exactly the same thing as you are: people. If you don't get visitors, you might as well go home for an early bath. You will see all kinds of crazy designs out there to draw people in, and you have to think about how you are going to do the same. A great stand design could be the difference between a boring day out and a few dozen high ticket sales.
Audience mood swings
Pack a few thousand people in the same space and things can get a little hectic. Everybody will be in either one of two moods: hyped up by the occasion or completely overwhelmed. It's going to be around 50/50 in percentages, so that is something to think about when you are making your plan. But how do you stand out to both sets of the audience? Think about the colour schemes you are using for your stand, and be wary of creating a crazy environment that could put people off. Don't forget, standing out doesn't mean being loud: it could also mean being noticed for giving respite to the madness.
As you can see, it is crucial to stand out when you are at a trade fair. It’s not just about your stall, either. You and your team should be well presented, courteous and friendly. And that, more than anything, will linger in people’s memory longer than the chrome-fronted stand your rivals have put in place.