First of all you need to decide why you are going to participate in the expo.
What are your objectives? Is it a pure branding exercise; is it something you ‘must’ do so that you are seen as a leader in your industry? Is it to gain more customers, is it networking? Or a combination of these things?
Check out your competition – are your competitors exhibiting at the same event? If not, ask yourself why not. Maybe you need to take more time to look into the proportion of attendees that is your target market. Or maybe you’re the first of your competitors to take the plunge into exhibiting – so if you think it’s right for your business – go for it!
If you decide to exhibit at the event amongst your competitors, make sure you make it clear on all your event marketing materials what your point of difference is. Marketing is all about communicating to customers what you can do for them, and how you can satisfy their need. Don’t overcomplicate things. Don’t try to be all things to all customers. In most cases people set up businesses to fill a need in a market – maybe the market is already saturated, but you found a niche – you need to communicate that. Not all people will be your customers, but you need to communicate your differences so that the people that require that specific offering know where to purchase from.
For example at Custom Printed Bags & Boxes our point of difference is that we fully customise event bags to any requirement (size, colour, design, printed, non-printed etc.), and we cater to low minimum orders. These are the two points of difference over our competitors. We make sure we communicate these points of difference on our postcards, banners, brochures and other marketing materials in simple words /statements. The same words/phrases are repeated everywhere in the hope that when someone needs low quantities of customised bags or boxes they will immediately think of us.
What you need to consider to brand effectively at an event:
Event bags – you can brand event bags to that particular event – why not get creative with your design or you can get generic custom printed event bags with your logo that you can use for events throughout the year.
Banners – these are great at big and small events. You can get roll up banner stands for a few hundred dollars. I suggest getting generic banner stands – with your logo, offering and images that can be used at different events.
Expo stand – if you have the budget, you will look sleek and professional with a professionally made expo stand that is custom made to your brand colours and design.
Brochures / postcards / leaflets – you can get small quantities of quite cheap, good quality postcards or leaflets from somewhere like Vistaprint. Ensure that you have your logo, brand colours, images and your offering in simple wording on your postcard. When customers go through their event bag at the end of the day, they will take a quick glance at each of the dozens of brochures or leaflets that they have picked up during the day. Make sure your message is clear and concise, so people can decide within a second if they want to keep your leaflet or not. Ensure your contact details and website are featured too.
Giveaways – try to find a useful giveaway that somehow ties into your service or brand. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you could give away bottles of water with your logo printed on. I think you should either invest in great giveaways that people will want, need and use, or not spend money on a giveaway that people will end up throwing away with their unwanted brochures that they will receive in their event bags at the end of the day. Think about the giveaways you’ve been given that you were grateful for, and those that you threw away as soon as you get home.
You and your staff – smile at people walking by, and be approachable. If someone is hovering around your stand it probably means they would like someone to say a friendly hello and ask if they can be of any help. Don’t stand in a circle talking to your staff, this is intimidating. When you have the customers attention, let them know your offering, discuss their unique needs and wants, and give them a brochure or any marketing material so they can take it away to think about it too. Also try to get their contact details and follow up with a phone call or email after the event.
Best of luck with your event!
Clara Cassidy, Founder and Marketing Manager of Custom Printed Bags & Boxes, is a marketing professional with years of experience in branding, promotions and events.