Rita Davenport had been given a free hand to design and manage an exhibition stand for her company. The Marketing Director had briefed her extensively on the overall idea and left her with an open brief to produce something that would attract customers, dealers and the trade press. Rita walked out of the meeting feeling inspired but not quite sure what to do next.
Once you understand clearly what the sponsor needs the stand to achieve, you can go about the business of designing and branding your presence. If your budget will stretch to the cost of a professional exhibition designer, you should commission a good one. Not only does it remove some of the more stressful elements of exhibition organization; gaining agreement to the design, arranging manufacture, checking quality, organizing transportation, assembly and disassembly; it allows you to be objective about making changes. In addition, exhibition designers will provide advice about the best position for your stand in the exhibition hall, traffic flow through the stand, lighting and audio-visual presentations.
If you don’t have an extensive enough budget to engage an exhibition designer, get together with a good graphic designer who can produce well designed exhibition panels that will impress and attract attention. You may need to provide a stand system (normally a metal framework that is assembled to hold the exhibition boards) but these are fairly lightweight, easy to assemble and come ready-fitted with a lighting system.
Other considerations for your stand should include furniture to rest your foot-sore customers, pamphlet racks for your product information and storage for the paraphernalia that you don’t want to clutter the stand.
Before you finalize the design of the stand, run it by all of the important decision-makers and influencers in the organization to make sure it has their blessing before you commit to expensive printing and photographic work.
Selecting and training your exhibition staff
When potential customers home in on your stand, they don’t really want to deal with people who only have a vague understanding of your products and services. They generally want very specific answers to very specific questions and it is in your interests to people the stand with carefully selected competent individuals who can work effectively as a team.
If you choose to use technical staff who have limited sales experience or sales staff with limited technical knowledge, it is vitally important to provide them with an opportunity to pick up new skills and information prior to the exhibition. Allow your own staff to train each other and to share tips and techniques in sales as well as improving technical knowledge on the products or services being exhibited.
Rita was fortunate, her exhibition budget allowed her to commission a talented exhibition designer who project managed the installation for her. The exhibition team was selected from sales, marketing, engineering and administration co-workers. They all benefited from a fun workshop where they compiled a stand data book to educate each other about the company, product and sales information.
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