Despite the fact Diatom has been successfully working at the Latvian and global market for more than 10 years, last year was the first time our company participated in Riga Comm IT Fair. That is an IT & Business event that allows ICT professionals, entrepreneurs and other interested people to learn about the latest products and services in the IT industry. That is also a possibility to such companies as ours, to boost participation at a global event and promote the company at a local and foreign market.
Our HR Director at Riga Comm 2014
Last year we took a decision to participate rather late. Thus, this year we have decided to prepare in advance. That is: to summarize our experience and combine it with a small research on TOP-tips regarding participating as an Exhibitor in such events. We would also like to share those tips with other companies and, perhaps, hear their comments and learn about their experience.
Here we go!
TIP 1. EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM.
That may sound too obvious, but being among the first ones to register may be critical at such trade shows and exhibitions. First, early participation gives you a chance to book a prime location (none wants to be at the very end of the hall, however, if you wait for too long, you risk to get a place that is far away from the main entrance and/or conference hall and visitors just won’t get there). Second, attractive discounts are available for those registering early. That might be of additional value if your company decides to book a bigger booth.
TIP 2. DEFINE YOUR GOALS.
Ask yourself several questions:
- What exactly do you want to achieve at this particular exhibition?
- Is it necessary to show everything you offer?
For example, our company Diatom Enterprises is a wide-profile company, we offer services in various industries and technologies. However, it would be just too foolish to try to show ALL of that to the visitors. Of course, if visitors ask us more about our company, we will be ready to talk about it.
But this year we will have two clearly defined goals:
- Focus on, promote and advertise ONE specific technology that is quite rare in our country, that is Xamarin.
- Find .NET and Java Developers.
Plus, the goals we are setting are measurable: we can count how many developers came to us after Riga Comm, as well as count how many new leads we got after the exhibition.
TIP 3. KEEP YOUR MESSAGE SIMPLE. PRESENT IT THROUGHOUT THE EVENT.
Research has shown that visitors spend about 3 seconds when passing by your booth. How much information will they be able to acquire? Make your goals clear for them. For example, one message per banner, one banner per booth.
That is also a tip to think about if you prefer using PowerPoint Presentations. Imagine: you promote your expertise in .NET but you have only 2 slides about that in your PPT presentation among other 8 slides. What is a potential client passes by when there are those “other” slides and just doesn’t get your message? Think about it.
TIP 4. COME PREPARED.
May sound obvious again but strategic preparation is critically important. Research who is going to participate there, schedule meetings with the participants (by the way, if you are already a participant, be expecting us reaching out to you to schedule a meeting;) ) and potential clients, create a buzz at your booth. What can be better than a busy booth at Riga Comm?
*By the way, we have found out that it is worth scheduling meetings at the so-called “weird times”, e.g. 10.35 or even 10.34 instead of 10.30. You will be remembered by that, plus, will create an illusion of being fully booked for the meetings and having only 5 minutes for a meeting. Why not try it?
TIP 5. PROMOTE YOUR PARTICIPATION LIKE CRAZY.
Promote it via your social media accounts in advance (don’t forget to put the right hashtags and names, e.g. @RigaComm to interact with the organizers and attract additional audience), promote it verbally when talking to someone, add informative banner at the end of your e-mail (look for ours below for an example), make sure the dog of your Dream Potential Client knows you will be there. If you don’t promote yourself – who will then? The more people know about it – the better.
We insert a promotional banner into the signature in our e-mails.
TIP 6. BE CREATIVE. BE MEMORABLE. BE DIFFERENT.
Easy to say and often hard to implement. Well, you still have time. Create a brainstorm far in advance in the office to decide how you will grab visitors’ attention. Will there be any promotions or competitions at your booth? Will there be any attractive slogans? Will you use unusual booth design?
Humour can help! While browsing the Internet on this theme, we found this:
A collaboration-in-the-cloud innovator “Central Desktop” grabbed everybody’s attention at ad: tech conference in San Francisco, on April 2012, by hiring a bearded angel instead of attractive “booth babes”. That was a success: the booth was attended by 8 900 visitors and the consultant also successfully communicated the company’s unique value proposition.
Here, in Riga, it might be extreme and even risky. But we hope you’ve got the point: be creative, be memorable, be different.
TIP 7. FOLLOW UP ACQUIRED LEADS ASAP.
If possible, schedule appointments during the exhibition. If not – follow up quickly, at least the next day. Also, remind the leads about yourself. During the exhibition visitors meet hundreds of faces, do you still believe they will remember you? Remind them of something specific that was in you: you showed them the way to the conference hall, laughed with them about “The Big Bang Theory”, etc.
TO SUM UP.
Sure, there are many more things to think about. But as you see, success often depends on planning in advance and being prepared. Take your time, prepare, as well as feel free to share your thoughts on this topic.
Finally, if you would like to check out how we have followed our own pieces of advice, come and see us at Riga Comm 2015, at stand A8 on October 23-24!