You’ve got to make it exciting boy!

“You’ve got to make it exciting boy”. That was what a Sales Director told me nearly 40 years ago now. He was well into in his 60’s at the time and had been in the sales game all his career and was very anti new- fangled ‘marketing techniques’. He didn’t have much time for marketing people (like me), but he definitely knew how to sell and so I listened. Turns out he was right.

‘Making it exciting’ is something you need to keep in mind whenever you are in front of a potential customer and there’s no better example of that than at an exhibition. It could be a national exhibition at the NEC, it could be a small local exhibition with just a handful of companies or it could be just you, on your own with a bit of space, a few products and people passing by.

After you have booked your space and paid your money, you have two choices. You can either pitch up and blend in with the other 10, 50, 100 or 500 exhibitors, or you can do something to stand out and grab visitors attention.

The first option is the easy option and that, of course, is why so many companies choose it. The second option takes a little bit of time, a bit of creativity and maybe even a little bit of money, but, if you get it right, it can pay handsome dividends.

Creating a buzz on your stand will do a number of things. It will stop people as they walk past and bring many of them onto ‘your space’. It will keep them on your space longer and, if you get it right, it will create the engagement you need to start the sales process.

Depending on the type of promotion you are running, it can also generate you important contact details you need to develop a relationship with a potential customer.

And it will also have a positive impact on your team too, giving them something to use to make the all-important first connection with passers-by and providing a level of energy and interest on the stand that will ensure you have a more effective time.

Even before the exhibition opens, it can provide you with all the marketing ammunition you need to generate interest pre-show, get yourself on the ‘must-see’ list and start the process of creating a momentum. During the exhibition it can provide you with ongoing content for all your social media platforms and don’t forget after the exhibition too as there could be plenty of positive messages to push out into the marketplace on the back of a successful time.

So, what to do to create that interest? Well, here are three examples from the recent OT Show.

The first is from Mangar International. You can’t go far wrong with chocolate and the company produced something a bit special as you can see. It’s not easy to pass something like that on a stand and not take a second look and that’s exactly what you are hoping for. That second look can then become a comment which can be the thing that starts the conversation. Before long you are talking products and hey presto, you have engagement.

The second example is from The Frontier Medical Group with a very simple but effective ‘Pump It’ promotion with a Top Gear style leaderboard as a very visual and fun way to both attract the visitors and to get them to have a go. The company had some great images to use on social media throughout the show and anything that involves action on a stand will stop the aisle traffic and create a crowd.

The final example is from Repose Furniture. The company has used the ‘selfie’ as the basis of a promotion for a couple of years after introducing Sid the pen. This time they decided to go further with a clever ‘selfie mirror’. It created a fun element on the stand and plenty of visitors took time out to get involved.

Lisa Wardley of Repose explained that, when the company decided to exhibit at the OT for the first year, they wanted to were looking to use something attractive for the OTs. “We wanted something that the OTs could take away, give us a talking point at the event and make them stop and engage with us.”

“The Selfie Sid Pen was born, with us engaging with the OTs by asking them to take a picture with their Selfie Sid pens in various locations and posting on Facebook as part of a competition.”

“From there we thought why not use the unique Selfie Mirror on the stand. This went down a treat and we had OTs queuing on the stand. They had copies of their Selfies on the day to take back to the office with our company information which will hopefully stay on the office with a talking point and memory of us!”

“It definitely gave the OTs something to talk about and remember us by, and gave us additional time engaging with them on all aspects of seating. Totally successful!”

Putting an effective promotion together to use at an event doesn’t have to take a great deal of time or a great deal of money. However, it does take some planning and it isn’t something that you can just put together a day or two before you are in front of your audience.

It’s not cheap to buy space at exhibitions and so you need to use very trick you can to make sure that you are going to make it work for you. Having something on the stand that sets you apart and gets people to give you a second look is one of the ways in which you can be more confident of spending your time wisely.