Despite the general gloom and doom in the business world, one continuing success story is that of the business show. Whilst there are reports of a few specialist shows showing a drop in numbers, in general as business people it seems as though we can’t get enough of these events.
Just looking at one event location in London, in the space of a few days it is possible to visit business shows about restaurants, e-commerce, call centres, care, workplace management, building services and energy solutions. Whilst we wouldn’t suggest a scattergun approach, a careful choice of business show can really boost your business.
Business shows work because of the mix between exhibitor and visitor. Each have their part to play and it helps to understand the golden rules for making the most of a show. Starting with exhibitors, here are our top tips for making the most of any business show.
- The stand. It doesn’t matter if you have a two foot patch of floor or half a football pitch, the important thing is to make sure your stand looks attractive and is manned at all times. Have plenty of brochures, business cards and leaflets available to give away to visitors.
- The people. There is nothing worse for a visitor than to find a stand is manned by people who apparently want only to talk to each other or to play on a laptop at the back of the stand. Smile, step out of the stand area to greet, be friendly and chat. Above all, make sure that your people know about your business. A good impression here will make prospective clients want to get in touch again.
- The “freebies”. Some companies go overboard, others give nothing away. Whether you want to exchange a business card for “a chance to win”, offer sweets to passing trade or give away pens or balloons doesn’t really matter. These may help to get you remembered but you will also be caught by a number of people who go to shows to collect as many free treats as possible. At the end of the day all these are ice breakers to persuade people to stop and talk to you or a way of collecting business cards.
- The follow up. If you have collected business cards at the show by whatever means, make sure your diary is blocked out for the next few days to follow up. Even a short e-mail with some extra information about yourself or a link to your web site is better than nothing. If possible, when collecting cards make a note about one aspect of your chat so that you can personalise your follow-up e-mail. Don’t leave it too long though as after a week or so visitors will have started to forget about you.
From the visitor’s point of view the most important thing is that you are there to look, chat and learn. Visiting a show is not a cheap way of marketing your business. Remember that the exhibitors have paid for their stands and they want to talk to you about their business and how they can help you, not receive a sales pitch from you. Having said that, conversation is a two way thing and you may well find that some exhibitors are interested in follow up discussions about your business. In addition, many business shows run speed networking sessions where the idea is to meet and pitch to other businesses so bring a sizeable pack of business cards with you. Remember to follow up on these introductions though or you will waste your initial impression.
Business shows allow you to meet others in your line of business, exchange ideas, and get information. In particular, business shows such as the Business Start Up show at Earls Court on 17-18 November enable new businesses, existing businesses and those thinking of starting a business to find out about accountancy, banking, networking, software, web sites and so much more. So whether you are a new business or an existing one why not pop along to the Business Start up show and say hello to us while you are there.