Trade shows aren’t something you can just throw together. Whether you’re exhibiting or you’re hosting, you need to organise yourself to really make the event work for you. Get things right and people will look forward to seeing you again the following year or attend any other events you organise. Trade shows offer a myriad of opportunities, but it’s all in the planning. This is how to prepare for a trade show.
Secure a good location
Location, location, location — this should be so obvious it doesn’t need a mention, but if you want to organise a good furniture trade show, you should choose a good location. It should be big enough for people to walk around comfortably and view the different stands. People should be able to recognise the venue and reach it easily. Most importantly of all, don’t leave your organisation till the last minute. Take plenty of time before you intend to hold the show to book a suitable venue. If not, the whole event could be a disaster.
Set some goals
If you’re an exhibitor at an event, you have to decide why you’re attending. Are you going there to make direct sales? Do you want to generate leads? Do you just want people to see your brand? Once you know the reason(s) why you wish to be at the event, you can design your stand and manage your budget accordingly.
This is just as important if you’re the organiser. Budget allocation is massively important and depending on your goals, you may designate more or less of your budget to certain aspects of the event. Exhibit space, promotion and marketing, logistics and show services are just some aspects you’d need to consider in your budget.
Set up a good booth
If you’re exhibiting, you need to build a stand that blows the visitors’ socks off (not literally!). You and your competitors will all be trying to capture the attention of visitors, so your stand needs to be the business. Ideally, brand messaging should be bold and relevant. Incorporating product demonstrations, promotions or interactive features into your stand will get eyeballs on your stand (and hopefully wanting to buy your product).
Don’t underestimate the space that exhibitors will need, if you’re organising the furniture trade show. Offering plenty of floorspace can encourage people to exhibit at your event. An overcrowded event space would damage the experience for your guests, so have a chat to anyone who plans to exhibit at your trade show and find out how much space they’ll need.
Prepare your staff
You’ll want your best men and women on the job when it comes to running your stand. These people are representing you, so you want people who can communicate well. Brief your sales and marketing teams adequately. Let them know what you want them to do and what the stakes are. You might even include a few bonuses or extras for any tasks they complete well or targets they achieve.
If you’re running the event, hold meetings in the time leading up to the event and organise a few trial runs. This gives you the chance to anticipate any problems that might occur during the event and pre-empt them or identify possible solutions if they do arise. Create a list of numbers and make sure everyone involved in helping you put on the show has the list so that you all contact each other when necessary.
Collect lead information
Digital wristbands are an easy way to collect information from potential leads without having to swap business cards, which you can sometimes lose. If your aim is to generate leads, you should try to collect as much information as possible and then follow up the leads after the show. Digital wristbands are efficient and can help you to qualify leads as high quality or low quality, warm or cold or whatever way you wish to classify them.
Create time for fun
Trade shows are a serious affair, but that doesn’t mean they should be all work and no play. Side events can make the show a lot more interesting and give the visitors and the exhibitors a break from the more serious side of the event. They’re an opportunity to socialise and network in a more relaxed setting. Presentations, awards ceremonies, games and other events all add some extra colour to the trade show proceedings. Workshops are a popular choice and will engage people in the theme of your event.
Harness the power of social media
The world needs to know about your stand and attendance at the event, so get active on social media and post photos before, during and after the event. Make sure you know what the event hashtag is and use it so you can connect with other people at the event. You might even generate some leads from your social media activity!
If you’re the furniture trade show organiser, create an event hashtag so that people can follow the build-up to the show, during it and after it. This is a good way to generate conversation and excitement around the show. During the show, you can live stream proceedings at the show on social media for anyone who couldn’t attend. This will create further buzz.
When the show is over, don’t just pack up, go home and forget about it. How did it go? Did you get all the leads you wanted? How will you follow them up? Is there anything that didn’t go right? Were people receptive to your messages? This debrief with your team(s) is crucial to discuss everything that happened at the event and identify business opportunities and areas for improvement.
Furniture trade shows are a superb opportunity to get your brand into the spotlight, showcase your business and sell your products, as well as to get in the know about everything that’s going on in your industry. If you’re the show organiser, they’re a way to build some prestige and a reputation as someone who knows how to put on an event. Do a good job and people will look forward to your trade show with massive anticipation in the future.
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