Making the most of your exhibition: at the fair

Article posted by DIT Digital, on behalf of Department for International Trade

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Taking part in an overseas exhibition can be a great way to generate international interest in your products and new develop export business. DIT has put together a three part guide to trade fairs and exhibitions to ensure you make the most of this valuable experience.

This is the second article in the series, concentrating on making the most of your presence and time at the event you’re attending.

Stand dressing: design considerations

It is vital that your stand is fully dressed before the event opens. Do not plan to fix or set up displays or exhibits while visitors – who may be potential customers – are arriving. Ensure everything is done ahead of time.

  • Design the layout of your stand to create the maximum impact from within your budget.
  • Do not overfill your stand. Allow for furniture, cupboards and display boards which complement the stand design and/or arrange for these to be supplied.
  • Prepare stand graphics and sales literature carefully and in good time, ensuring you have sufficient copies of your literature. Check you have adequate room on your stand for storing excess literature.
  • Ensure your graphics state clearly what you do.
  • Ensure consistent and clear branding across all collateral
  • Use additional lighting – such as spotlights or floodlighting – to highlight exhibits and graphics.
  • Make a list of the items that you will need to have with you on the stand such as visitors book, pens, stapler, scissors, business cards, stationery, and so on.

Staffing your stand

  • Make sure you have enough representatives to staff the stand for the whole event allowing for adequate breaks and business calls.
  • Decide how details of visitors to your stand will be recorded and that all staff are aware of it. Keep it simple.
  • Make sure that all staff on your stand are fully aware of what has been booked for your business in the way of display aids, services, and so on, and that they know all the rules and regulations which apply to exhibitors.
  • Ensure staff can answer any technical questions and, if appropriate, demonstrate your products. Also, check staff know about the full range of your business’s products, are aware of how to help in meeting the objectives you have set for the exhibition and can negotiate credit and delivery terms for orders and arrange follow up as necessary.
  • Set up a line of communication with your local agent or back to base in the UK so that stand staff are able to check quickly on delivery dates or other vital information if necessary. Make sure your stand staff know about it.
  • Ensure your staff arrive in adequate time to install properly and, where necessary, test-run your exhibits at least 24 hours before the opening of the event, if permitted.
  • Consider security arrangements in the halls and ensure any valuable items on your stands are secure, including outside opening hours.
  • Keep your stand neat and tidy throughout the event.
  • Do you need an interpreter? See this article for tips on hiring and managing one.
  • Hold a review meeting with the team at the end of each day.

Effective networking

  • Set objectives/targets
  • Wear a name badge
  • Remember and use names
  • Take and hand out business cards – not everyone has time to talk but they can always call or look at your web site later
  • Use your elevator speech (see below)
  • Approach groups
  • Use small talk
  • Always make legible notes during or immediately after meetings even if you keep the next client waiting slightly. Review after days close.

Elevator speech

  • Use a short, punchy and memorable description of your business and what you can do/provide
  • Include why someone would want to do business with you – what’s in it for them?
  • Tailor your speech for different audiences
  • Keep it brief – 60 seconds maximum

Personal sales skills

  • Focus on the right clients
  • Know your client – research, ask questions and listen
  • Understand their whole needs – not just the need for your services
  • Know your services
  • Sell benefits (less focus on features)
  • Make a positive impression (use an elevator speech) and have enthusiasm, energy and ideas
  • Give excellent service
  • Never let a client go without taking full contact details
  • Check your meeting notes at the end of each day

Read the rest of this guide here:
Part 1 – Making the most of your exhibition: planning
Part 3 – Making the most of your exhibition: after the fair