2012 Finalist

Are shows and exhibitions worth attending?

Are shows and exhibitions worth attending?




It's well proven that face-to-face communication is the number one way to engage with customers, especially in the rural sector. So, surely attending an event where hundreds or thousands of people interested in your industry are all in one place is a no-brainer? 

Unfortunately, the budget required for shows, both in terms of exhibiting costs and staff time can be huge, so it's important to think carefully about where your money is best spent.

For those who already attend shows, try and sit down at the start of each financial year and review every event individually to work out whether it is still providing value for money. It's not always easy to quantify return on investment at exhibitions, as brand exposure and the value of client hospitality can be difficult (but not impossible) to measure. Make sure you talk to your sales team and see how many leads or good conversations they felt they had last year, as this may be the most tangible measurement you will have.

There are instances where businesses feel they must attend a show just because their competitors do. Although this is a valid reason up to a point, if a show isn't working for you, do think about scaling down your offer or perhaps sending the sales team to walk around individually instead. Quite often, when one player makes the first move and withdraws from a show, it's not long before its competitors breathe a sigh of relief and jump ship too!

Exhibiting at a new event

Before making the decision to exhibit at a new show, try and attend as a visitor and see whether the people you want to talk to are there. See what stands and speaking slots attract the crowds (these will almost definitely include those that are offering free food!), and get a feel for who the typical visitor is. It may be that, in fact, your target customers are the ones exhibiting, in which case, having your own stand may limit your ability to interact with others in the room.

Be organised

When costing out a show don't underestimate the amount of staff time it takes in the lead up to the event to ensure a show runs smoothly. Even filling out booking forms, providing wording for catalogue entries and filling out health and safety paperwork can take a significant amount of time, and that's before sorting out what the stand will look like, as well as literature and giveaways. Since the Construction, Design & Management (CDM) 2015 regulations were launched, the paper trail has become even more detailed, so make sure that the person responsible for arranging an exhibition is organised, thorough and can work well to deadlines. 

Getting the most out of your exhibit

Have the right people on your stand… and keep them there! People either come on the stand because they want to know more about your product, or because they have some relationship with a member of the team, most likely to be the sales team. Valuable enquiries can be missed if you haven't got the right staff on hand. An industry exhibition can be equally as interesting for your staff as it is to their potential customers, so make it clear from the outset that they are expected to remain on the stand, or set up a rota system, if necessary. If you are providing refreshments, do assign someone to look after serving and clearing up to ensure that the stand remains tidy throughout the day and that the sales team are free to stay out the front and talk shop.


Top tips for shows & exhibitions

  1. Space is expensive so think carefully about the size you require.  A smaller professional stand will look better than a larger, empty space.
  2. Try and have a focus to draw people on to your exhibit - find a creative way of showcasing a new product - or if all else fails resort to the free food option!
  3. A prize draw is a good way to obtain contact details for potential customers... remember though that a prize draw doesn't necessarily mean they are interested in your product, they may just want the prize.
  4. Review the show with your team directly after the event and make a note of any details that need changing for next year. Review again in a future sales meeting to see if any leads have appeared as a direct result of the show.
  5. If you are adding the task to an existing member of staff's job description, make sure they have adequate time to assign to the spikes of work required in the lead up to the event…or employ a PR & marketing agency to do it for you!


Case Study: Calcifert 



We have been working with granulated lime manufacturer, Calcifert, since 2011 and caught up with their Sales Director, Mick Stovin, to get his view on attending shows. 

"We don't sell our products directly to the end user, so attending shows is a great way for us to generate product awareness and drive sales through our distributors. We have scaled back some of our show activity in recent years to make sure we are only attending the events that are adding value to our business. These are a mixture of some of the main agricultural shows, smaller specialist shows, and events organised by our customers.

"Reverberate manage our whole show programme and we look to them to help us decide which shows we should attend, in what capacity, and to help us drive footfall to our stand. They provide a turnkey solution from booking the stand and hotels, to making sure there is enough milk in the fridge for tea for our guests! All we have to do is turn up and sell." 



Written by Reverberate at 08:31


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