AfricaCom arrived in Cape Town with a bang ! 6000 delegates converged on the Mother City (or the “Mothers of all cities” as one bill board proclaimed), to attend an exceptionally well run and organised conference.
The two day long conference was jam packed with speakers, key notes, mate classes and an exhibition hall full of stands ranging from Fibre Optics Cables, to Solar powered chargers, to solutions for Telecoms companies.
The exhibition hall was massive and often I “discovered” a new section that I haven’t seen previously.
Speaking to some of the delegates and exhibitioners, the question came up: “What makes a successful stand so you get the most exposure at these events ?”
A great question.
So here are the 5 Tips for having a successful stand and gaining maximum exposure at events:
1. Expose Yourself !
No, not like that ! As soon as the conference organisers have allocated you a stand number and a map of of the event this is where the exposure begins. you must include it on your website, your Twitter and Facebook and even on your email signature. something along the lines of “Come talk to us at the XYZ expo on the AB date at stand DEF”. This is especially helpful for meeting customers who are not in your home town. Its amazing to see how many people will come up to you and say “Hey, I use your product” People want to put a company face to a product they are spending money on. Tell everyone where you are going to be and at which stand.
This also has the subtle credibility that comes with exhibiting along large name brands. It gives your business a boost to say “I am at stand in between the MTN stand and the Goole stand”
2. Spend some Cash
You are spending a lot of money to get a stand, travel and accommodation cost. So don’t let your shop presence let you down. There is nothing more sad than a stand that has two posters stuck up and a black and white printed A4 sheet with some info.
you need to draw attention – for the right reason not for the wrong reason.
3. Right People
This is the part that blows my mind. This is always the biggest let down. You spent the money on the stand, it looks awesome with your wall to wall info, you get people coming in to ask questions so why on earth would you employ a temp with zero training ? There is nothing worse than “I have to ask my boss” as a response to every question.
Make sure you get your staff in at least a couple of days before the event and take them through the basics of what your product does/ what service you offer/ how much it is/ where can you order it from etc. etc. Also train them to deal with customers who want more information or ask difficult questions – these are the customers who are most likely to buy from you. A great Tip is to have a book where you can write anyone’s number so that you can call them. Do not make the mistake of giving your card to the customers saying that if they call you after the show you can help them. They will loose your card and/or will not call.
By the way: why a book and not an iPad or Laptop ? simple – time is of the essence. You want to write the customers details as quickly as possible so that you can help the next person. You don’t want to fuss with software. Pen and Paper works best.
4. Giveth and Taketh away.
It is mandatory. You absolute have to have some “stuff” that people can take away. People come away from these events with a “goodie bag” full of free stuff and you want to make sure you are part of that. When they go through their goodie bag at night at their hotel room, they make the decision of what to keep and what to throw away. If you gave them a brochure and your competitor gave them a stress ball – guess which one is going into the trash ?
This is just one of those things. You have to spend some money getting branded “gimmicks” so that people will remember you after the show is over. The trick is now to maximise those gimmicks giveaways. Don’t lay them out on the table, they will disappear before you have a chance to unpack them. What you can do is have your gimmicks out on display inside your stand where people have to come in to ask you questions in order to get one. At least you are engaging with them.
Be sweet – have is a bowl full of tasty sweets. This is cheap, simple and yet highly effective. As people walk around the expo, a nice tasting sweet – NOT A MINT – is a good pick-me-up and a bit of a sugar kick.
5. Let me play
If you have a product – do not put up a PowerPoint presentation of what it looks like. Have the actual product available on display for demo and for people to touch and feel. This sells the product better than any brochure or your word.
Stands that have more products, tend to have more people. Simple.
Exhibiting at a Technology event – here are 2 Bonus Tips:
The geeks attending these events fall head over heels for:
1. Caffeine – have a coffee machine at your stand and give out free coffee. The stands that did this, had people actually queuing up. People still talk about Apps World in Cape Town where Nokia has a Nesspresso machine – I remember it well !
2. Good looking staff – those stands that had hired good looking promotion girls and guys, had the most…eh…reaction…. At AfricaCom as we sat for coffee three stunning ladies came up to the table to ask if we wanted brochures. I have never seen so many grown men get so excited about Fibre Optics !!! it was hilarious but that brochure made it into the goodie bag…
At AfricaCom it was clear to see who has done their homework. Who has come in to make a splash. Who has come in to get more customers and gain a leg up on the competition.
Make sure you are the one who gets noticed for all the right reasons and you will surely get a return on your investment !