Process is powerful.
Process means organising things in a way that will deliver the desired result.
It can also mean designing a series of actions that respond to something that happens.
The strength of a process in a situation like this is that you don’t have to think about what to do next because it’s been mapped out for you already.
“When such and such happens, do this.”
“This is our policy for refunds.”
“Our induction process covers these key areas..”
“This is the way we do things in relation to …”
Standard processes save individuals and businesses many hours of thinking time and many, many £££’s saved because a new way of thinking or responding to situations that occur frequently or even occasionally is not needed.
A situation arises and the standard process kicks in.
Many businesses call this way of working, standard operating procedure and I recommend taking a similar approach to your stand management and organisation.
What’s your trade show process?
Just like other areas of your business life, having a process for your trade show participation will make your life and the results you achieve from exhibiting much better.
Here are some of the areas that you can create a process for.
Re-visiting and refreshing the objectives for your event programme is a good place to start your process.
The most important thing to agree on is who does your business want to meet when they exhibit?
Has the desired visitor profile changed in any way?
Are there any new businesses that you need to target specifically before the shows on your programme?
Show selection process
Do you have a process for reviewing the list of events that your company will take part in?
What are the measures of success that each event must achieve to stay on the schedule?
How do you make your event choices?
For ideas see this article in which Jeannette La explains how she and her colleagues select events for a worldwide schedule.
Messaging for each event
Deciding who you want to meet is a key part of a successful process for events.
Deciding what you want to say to them and by them I mean each visitor group is another.
What are the products or services that you wish to promote?
Will there be any kind of promotional offers that can be used to attract visitors?
How will you translate this information onto your stand graphics, digital screens and to your on-stand sales team?
Fill out these details in your process document.
Briefing a stand designer
Having a process for this job will definitely save you time. Lots of it.
Don’t call in lots of companies. Go for three maximum.
Ideally, choose from designers whose work you have seen and admired or who have been recommended to you by people whose opinion you trust.
Also: This would be a good article to read on the subject of choosing a design company to work with.
And you can always ask ESSA, the Event Supplier and Services Association to direct you to recognised experts closest to your location.
Preparing your stand team
This has been said many times before but it’s so important it deserves repeating. Your stand team are the people who create the first impression of your business for show attendees.
You also rely on your team to help you achieve your objectives for each event.
Having a plan and a process for their briefing, training, and motivation is a foundation for event success.
Knowing when to call in outside specialist help is important too.
This article from Lee Ali of Expo Stars offers sound reasons for this approach based on Lee’s many years of running an event staffing agency and on his own trade show exhibiting experience.
Attracting visitors to your stand
Deadlines can sneak up on us all.
By building a schedule for your event-related marketing you can ensure that you don’t miss valuable promotional opportunities.
Show organisers follow this plan.
They set time frames for different elements of their attendee attraction plan.
The website for the next event usually goes live within days of the current event’s closing.
The first email communications may go out 6 months before the show.
Advertisements start appearing 3 months out and so on.
It’s a good model to follow but adapt the timings to suit the ways that you find work best for promoting your business.
Publish the schedule and send it to any internal and external promotional teams that you may be working with.
Your plan should include at the event activity and promotions that will follow immediately after.
Lead collection: Lead management: Follow-up
This seems obvious enough but don’t leave things to the last minute.
When you have decided how you will record visitor information you can brief your stand team.
Once you have decided what your follow-up process will be, you can brief colleagues who will be office-based during the show.
Let them know on what they need to do and by when with regard to getting information to the people who visited your stand.
That might also include the inputting of data into your sales database.
And when you have those details in place you can alert the sales team about timings for follow-up calls using the latest data gathered from the show.
A standard template is a great idea.
Reviewing hard facts plus performance notes about various aspects of how an event worked will give you a rounded plan.
Both sets of information can help you evaluate an event’s performance against objectives.
The numbers i.e. visitors numbers, enquiry and sales numbers, provide a basis for comparison with other events you might consider participating in.
A key element of your post show report should relate to the strength of an event and how it delivered on your ideal visitor profile.
You can also record the things that surprised you with regard to visitor interest.
Many trade show exhibitors have been surprised that exhibiting has delivered brand new applications and sales for existing products in areas that they had never considered.
Recording these facts and happy tangents can lead you into new and profitable areas.
Success is a journey…
Arthur Ashe, the great tennis player summed-up the power of process very neatly;
Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.