Director of Monk Marketing and organiser of the West Sussex and Brighton Business Expos, Mike Monk is back again this month with tips on how to profit from trade exhibitions

If you want to grow your business, face-to-face marketing is the way to go. It has many advantages over other forms of promotion and provides great brand exposure. As well as offering a personalised approach, it is more engaging than often impersonal email and social media advertising. That is why more and more businesses are choosing to promote their brands at trade exhibitions.
Mike says, the benefits of connecting with customers in person include on-the-spot sales, quality lead generation and valuable networking.

Taking a stand at a local trade exhibition also raises awareness about a brand and gives it instant credibility.
Another way of gaining exposure for your business at a trade exhibition is to sponsor it.

Before the event

Tell people you are exhibiting. Share information about your stand and the show on social media, in newsletters and on your company blog. Use the run-up time to connect with other exhibitors. Grow your audience by following other exhibitors.
Time a special offer or discount to coincide with the show. You can make it exclusive to those who visit your stand, or those who respond to online promotions. Be careful to ensure your offer is relevant, will grab people’s attention and offer real value. An expiry date and a compelling call to action will prompt people to act quickly.

Decide to hold a competition or giveaway on your stand and promote it. Offer something that complements your business. More people will visit your stand and remember your brand.

Think about your stand and how you want it to reflect your brand. Make it relevant and interesting, so that people will want to stop and talk to you. Make sure it looks professional and gives people the right impression of your business.

During the event

Don’t waste a single minute. Have a pen and paper handy to collect visitor contact information. This is a great opportunity to sign up people to your company newsletter or for email promotions. Put out a bowl to collect business cards – this will ensure you collect data even when you are busy.

It really is good to talk. Make people feel welcome when they visit your stand. Avoid giving the wrong impression – switch off your mobile phone (after you have taken a picture of your stand and posted it on social media using relevant hashtags). Talking is networking. The more people you talk to the better. Don’t forget to hand out your own business cards throughout the day. If you don’t quite know where to start, talk to those exhibiting next to you.

Take a break. Eating and drinking at a trade standis considered very unprofessional. Find a cafe area where you can relax, make calls, reply to emails and enjoy a quick drink and bite to eat. You will go back to your stand feeling refreshed and ready to sell your brand.

After the event

Share your success on social media. Include images of your business at the show, and don’t forget to mention competition winners.
Follow up leads with an email shot, perhaps offering a post-show special offer. If you are not sure how to go about this, many trade exhibition organisers provide free email templates. Follow new connections on social media and stay in touch.

Don’t wait. Hot leads can go icy cold in a matter of weeks. Therefore, you should follow up leads within two weeks’ of the show. If a follow-up does not produce an immediate sale, keep the details in your database and follow up the lead again.