Getting the best out of fairs as an exhibitor is completely different compared to getting the best out of it as a visitor. I'll try to give you our best insights for both cases.
As an exhibitor
If you have a stand, nothing is worse than getting overlooked by valuable attendees. Being prepared means having an eye-catching decor. Focus on your visibility to attract visitors and don’t over pack your booth with furniture and inventory. It’s important to leave enough space for people to engage with you.
Simple, yet always effective. Attendees are very likely to stop by if there is something in it for them. Make sure your goodies come with information about your brand and a clear call-to-action that drives them back to your booth (or website) to learn more. Ideally, you can tie your product giveaways to something tangible like signing up for a brand email.
Of course, a nice stand comes with a certain cost. Try to think about this as an investment. If you are not prepared to spend enough, you risk seeing no outcomes and thus losing the entire budget you allocated to the event.
Befriend organizers, staff or neighboring booths. If they know what you’re looking for, they may drive those people to your booth.
And very important: have your pitch ready. You have to be able to convince people in 30 seconds that your product or service is amazing and why they should be working with you.
Go for it
Talk to everybody. Don’t wait for people to come and ask you questions. Reach out to them and attract attention at any price. If they are too busy, giving is better than taking. Your golden question should be: Can we send you the information?
During the fair you will meet a ton of people and it’s important to save the information you get from them. Try to get their business cards or CV’s if it’s a job fair. This way you can plan your follow-up afterwards.
As a visitor
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
If you are going to a fair, usually, you can find the exhibitors list online or on-premise. This list will help you prioritize the companies you want to approach or the people you want to meet. The research you did in advance will allow you to tailor your conversations specifically to your person of contact and ask more in depth questions. And if you run out of time during the fair, you can use the list to visit your top choices first.
Don't go alone and set objectives
If you are prospecting the exhibitors, try to go with a colleague to motivate and challenge each other.
- Try to visit all your prospects
- Try to get minimum 4 appointments
Since you’re there together, you might be inclined to approach a stand together. Don’t. Move alone, to increase your chance to have more conversations and ask personal questions. Your time is too valuable.
Try to get introduced
Try to get in touch with prospects you contacted previously or clients you know before the fair. This way they can introduce you to other interesting people.
Dare and be bold
Good things come to those who wait, but not at a fair. Approach your target, be friendly, confident and be prepared with something to say.
You might interrupt people but they are at a fair for that. If you are really interrupting or if they have no time, you can ask for a business card and agree to call them back.
So good luck to both exhibitors and visitors. Remember… Fortune favors the bold!