Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Exhibiting at events is an effective way to showcase your business and connect with new customers in a meaningful way. Make the right impression, and you’ll convince the people you meet to consider using your products or services.
For travel agent Sabrina Kraft, “It’s important to make a good first impression since I’m a home-based business with no storefront. People are amazed that travel agencies still exist, and they can have personalized concierge services for trips they could never plan on their own. This has been a huge boost for getting my business out there in the mainstream.”
Here are six ways to stand out and create positive associations with your business:
1. Create a professional-looking stand
Sabrina understands the importance of designing an events booth that stands out:
“I use the large heavy-duty banners from Vistaprint to catch the eye of all potential customers. I use a lot of colours, make it look classy and professional and use a huge amount of marketing materials: business cards, door signs, postcards, magnets, brochures, etc. Customers are drawn to the booth because it is so different.“
At business-to-business (B2B) events, most attendees are there to get the latest information about their industry, find out about new products and services, and network with other professionals. They’re looking for information about other businesses, experts and products to help them solve their business problems. Having an attractive and professional-looking booth goes a long way in convincing them that your company is well established and has the experience and expertise they need. A disorganized booth, on the other hand, reflects a chaotic business.
To create a professional and inviting booth:
- • Make sure your booth is easy to walk into, through and around.
- • Have a single theme and a cohesive look and feel for your booth.
- • Use vibrant colours and engaging high-quality images and graphics.
- • Provide comfortable furniture so people can sit down to talk to you.
- • Add plenty of lighting to your booth.
By comparison, at business-to-consumer (B2C) events such as county fairs, food festivals, farmers markets, and craft shows, most people are there to have fun, shop and take part in any event-related activities and experiences. So, while your stand still needs to look professional at these events, it doesn’t have to be quite as formal as it does for a B2B event.
2. Dress appropriately for the event
What you wear and how you interact with potential sales prospects and customers at an event all affect how people perceive your business. So, it’s essential to find out ahead of time what type of clothing will be most appropriate for you to wear: Formal business attire or business casual clothing with your company’s logo on it? A uniform? Or something else? Also, before the event starts, take some time to anticipate everything you’ll need to assist people at your booth, and how you’ll answer any questions they may have. That way, you’ll be prepared to support them.
3. Stand out with signage
If you’re exhibiting at a crowded event, you’ll need plenty of signage to help people find your booth and set your company apart from all the other exhibitors. Otherwise, people may not know where you are. Your signage should be easy to read from far away and include your company’s name, images or other company-related information. And make sure you put your signage where people immediately see it, like in and around entryways or above your booth.
A few signage must-haves for your next event include:
- Retractable banners: A small display banner that comes pre-assembled and includes an aluminum base and carrying case. This type of banner is easy to set up, take down and carry.
- Vinyl banners: A durable, lightweight and fade-resistant banner that attracts attention indoors or outdoors.
- A custom, supersized flag that ranges from 10’ to 15’ tall, and comes in either a feather, teardrop or straight shape.
- A custom, colourful, branded tablecloth.
4. Hand out business cards
When you first meet potential sales prospects and customers at your booth, introduce yourself, and then ask why they’re at the event and what they need. If the conversation goes well and the person you’re talking to seems interested in your company or products, give them a business card and ask for theirs in exchange. That way, you’ll be able to keep the conversation going after the event.
Bookseller and publisher Carrie Butler stocks up on “books and promotional materials (business cards, rack cards, banners, etc.) The hardest part is figuring out how much I’ll need and whether I can get them in time.”
And Carrie’s not alone. That’s a common concern.
So, design your printed products to work beyond each event. You can use any business cards you have left over from the event to continue to market your company. Depending on which marketing tactics would be appropriate for your business, you could mail any remaining business cards out with a sales letter or direct mail piece to your company’s mailing list. You could also put them on the check-out counter in your store, or post them on public bulletin boards in grocery stores, college campuses and churches, etc.
Today, business cards come in a wide variety of sizes, papers and finishes. You can even buy them in specific shapes, request square or rounded corners, or choose soft touch or metallic finishes.
5. Offer promotional giveaways
A great way to attract potential sales prospects to your booth and generate buzz for your company at an event is by offering promotional giveaways, such as drinkware, T-shirts and Polo shirts. They key is to buy high-quality items that not only support your company’s marketing strategy and budget but are useful and easy to carry.
These items can be used as a marketing tool to create awareness of your company, generate leads, promote a new product, or start or build your company’s mailing list. They can also keep your company top of mind with potential sales prospects long after an event is over.
6. Add custom labels and stickers to your company’s products and packaging
Add a finishing touch to your company’s products, packaging, name tags and more with professional-looking product labels, roll labels or custom stickers with your company’s logo or design on them. These labels and stickers come in an assortment of sizes, shapes, colours, materials and quantities ranging from 100 to 25,000.
Here’s a handy event timeline to help you get everything done on time:
6 weeks before
- Research different events. Make sure you’re likely to meet potential customers and get a return on your investment.
- Complete the designs for your products. Creating a library of high-resolution images, logos, etc. makes them easier to design as you have everything on hand.
- Order posters and flyers for events you’re hosting or helping to promote.
1 month before
- Share the event with customers and contacts. Use social networks, posters and flyers to create buzz online and off.
- Look at photos from past editions of the event to get stand design and promotion ideas.
- Order your printed products at least 21 days before your event.
2 weeks before
- Think about the layout of your booth. How will people move through or around it?
- Consider the best way to place your signs and posters to attract customers.
- Gather anything you might need to set up on the day: protective product packaging, boxes, sticky tape, measuring tape, craft knife, screwdriver, scissors, etc.
3 days before
- Create an easy-to-carry day bag with essentials like hand sanitizer, notebook, pens, breath mints, phone charger, etc.
- Plan your route to the venue to allow plenty of time for traffic hold-ups and booth setup.
- Generate some last-minute buzz on your social networks letting everyone where you’ll be.
- Post a photo of your stand to remind people where to find you at the event.
- Take a stroll around and figure out the natural walking routes to make sure your stand is visible.
- Collect business cards from new contacts and note down details for a personalized follow-up.
- Post on social media about how much you enjoyed attending (or hosting) the event.
- Send a hand-signed postcard thanking new contacts for their time at the event.
- Connect with people you met on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Whether you’re exhibiting at a national event or a local fair, Vistaprint helps you make a great first impression.
Know anyone else who could benefit from these practical pointers? Please share this advice with them.