Location, Location, Location
How many reminders do we get about how important location is in everything that we do? From Kirstie Allsopp on the TV show to the current Zoopla advert - they tell you how their search function allows you to narrow down house searches by how close they are to shops, train stations and gyms. And location does play a big part in our lives, I moved house at the end of last year and although we didn't do it in order to get in somewhere specific there is no denying that it helped my daughter start her education this September at a very good school.
But preaching here that location is important when it comes to picking exhibition space would be like teaching how to suck eggs. What you probably want to know is how to make sure that you get the best space; what to look for and avoid when choosing and how to make the most of what you get.
First things first
I'm going to assume here that you have already done a bit of research on the show and have a pretty good feeling that it is the right kind of place for you to be exhibiting, part of that process should be visiting the show and that is a great place to start. Look at where people tend to go, which seminar spaces are popular, and where the most used food places and toilets are. Being armed with this real time information makes it much easier to select a space when talking to the organisers. Bear in mind that a lot of the best spaces go early, so try to be in conversation with the organisers at the start of their process. This gives you the best opportunity to get a space in one of the high traffic spots. If you do have to book a space at a show that you have never been to then at least try to use any knowledge that you have of the venue, either from previous visits or finding another show there to go to and explore.
Things to look out for
There are several common trends that you want to be aware of when looking at a space to choose. Let’s go through some of the things that will help you and what you should try to avoid:
- Helpful: Go left, there are people there - 90% of attendees turn left when they enter an exhibition
- Avoid: Stands to the right of the entrance, statistically this is the place that people get to last, if at all, when they are tired and rushed. Not the best time to be speaking to them
- Helpful: Catch a jumbuck at the water hole - Refreshment concessions have the highest footfall of anywhere in the hall, the toilets come a close second
- Avoid: Booking too late and taking the “great deal” offered by the organisers, consider why it is that the space hasn’t been picked up and whether you will have time to do anything about it
- Helpful: That’s me on the Corner - Corner or row end stands are generally open on 2 sides, sometimes 3 and give great visibility on the approach
- Avoid: Obscured visibility should be avoided. Pillars for example. If you have one on your stand you will probably be made to dress it and if there is one on the sight line from the main thoroughfare to your space you will lose a lot of impact too. Other things to take into account could be staircases and architectural features, any of which might obscure your views
- Helpful: Come Together - Exhibitors tend to get better results when they position themselves near associated vendors, so look for people who are already booked and are in industries that complement your offering
- Avoid: Stands in the middle of your competition. Whilst the area might attract a lot of potential prospects and you might offer the best service or product, you tend to end up in a contest of who can shout the loudest where communicating your true value will be tricky
- Helpful: Look Who’s Talking - Seminars and speakers are one of the things that draw people into the events in the first place so the spaces and rooms they use are always busy
Simple then, just find a corner space on the left near a food stall, right by some associated vendors and a seminar room! In all seriousness just getting one or two of these will help you have more visibility.
So you followed the advice above as much as you could, but maybe the space you managed to get wasn't as great as you'd hoped. Don't worry it's not the end of the world there are things you can do to lessen the effect. In fact even if you got a great space the tips below will help you maximise its effectiveness.
- Use the space you have efficiently, don't be afraid to get a little creative to attract people's attention and also have a think about where people are going to be approaching your space from. Then you can decide to put your collateral and displays in a position where they will have the most visibility.
- Make the most of the height allowance that you have. Most small stands at events get limited to 2.4m high but, if you do get more, something simple like a tall flag banner would be easy to use.
- Get the shell scheme name board removed if you can, it restricts the view of your display and I don't think having your name up there in black and white text really adds value.
- Put a map of your location at the show on any literature you send out pre show. Make it easy for people to find you when they attend
- Do your pre show marketing work thoroughly. Make sure you are driving people to come and visit you rather than waiting for them to turn up
- Educate your staff on how to approach and interact with people when they are on the stand. Role play different customer types with them and common objections so they can handle everything better on the show days
At the end of the day whilst location is important it isn't essential to get the perfect spot. As long as you are at the right kind of event and have done the appropriate prep and marketing work going in, you can make a stand that is a bit out in the sticks work for you. The only bad location is being back at your office whilst your competition are connecting with the prospects that you want to be speaking to.