Exhibiting For The First Time? 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid.

Exhibiting For The First Time? 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid.

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UK exhibitions and events get over 85 million visitors every year, making them a fantastic place to put your brand on display. When working with your exhibition stand designer, how do you get your stand design right?

At any exhibition you need to stand out, but if you’ve never exhibited before how do you get this right?

We’re taking a look at the best way to do this and what common mistakes many first time exhibitors get wrong and how to avoid them.

Understand why you want to exhibit.

If you don’t know, don’t do it. It’s a lot of money and time. That being said, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are my goals for exhibiting?
  2. What are my plans for wow-ing attendees who come to my stand or booth?
  3. How will I stay in touch or communicate with them before, during, and after the face to face event? Does the exhibit show have a mobile event app we can leverage or do we need to choose an event app for our experience?

If you’ve gotten answers that point you in the direction of yes, let’s exhibit! Then read on for more details of where and how to get started.

Picking the right tradeshow.

The next question is which show is right for you and your product or services. This is not always as straightforward as it might seem.

Before you commit to a tradeshow, find out who the audience is and what industries the exhibit show covers. For example, there are numerous tech shows, but some are specialized to specific industries and sectors like security or education. Is there ROI for your company to invest here?

What is the right amount of space?

When it comes to choosing a space many companies end up spending a lot on large spaces they don’t need. While others have big plans and small areas to bring them to life, so how do you get this right?

This can be a little trickier as often you don’t know at this stage what your stand (or booth for the US readers) design will be.

The best option is to speak to your stand design company about possible ideas and requirements. This doesn’t mean finalizing the design immediately, but you can plan roughly what elements will be needed.

If you have not yet found a stand designer, then there are a few things you might need to consider before booking.

  • How big are the products you want to show and how many do you want to show?
  • Will you need storage space for additional stock?
  • Do you need/want any meeting or seating areas for speaking to clients?
  • How many staff will be exhibiting?
  • Are you simply putting things on display or wanting something a little more creative?

In simple terms, the more you want to do the more space it will require. However, that doesn’t always mean huge spaces as they can be expensive.

Even if a small space is all you can afford, with the right design and a creative stand design company you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

Choosing the right contractor.

Finding the right exhibition stand designer for your exhibition is a critical key to its success. You need to know they understand your goals and have the experience and expertise to deliver a stand that helps achieve them.

Do you know what the stand’s concept is already? Which company you use will depend on your concept or if you even have one.

For those with a fully developed concept, a simple build contractor may be the best answer. This can help keep costs lower; however, you shouldn’t expect anything other than a literal recreation of the brief.

For those needing a little more creative input from their contractors look for exhibition stand builders who offer design and creative elements. Many of these contractors will be able to develop the creative concepts with you and help you understand what is possible on an exhibition stand.

These partners are particularly useful for people attending their first shows, as they help you understand not only the build aspects but also the creative process involved in stand designs.

Other useful things to consider with any contractor you are considering are:

  • Are they members of IAEE, one of the exhibition and event industry’s professional association?
  • Do they offer full project management?
  • If you need it, do they have a design team?
  • Are they insured?

Getting your creative brief right.

Your brief is critical in ensuring you get absolutely everything you want the way you want it. A good brief lets you manage budgets and schedules. As a good brief means getting the execution plan started right first time.

Remember, nothing is undoable when it comes to an exhibition stand, but a good brief saves you the time and expense of unnecessary corrections.

So what elements make up a good tradeshow creative brief?

A good creative brief shares about your brand and company background.

Good contractors will want as much information about your company, brand and goals as possible.

A good creative brief clearly outlines your goals for the tradeshow.

Are you after sales, social media buzz, a certain amount of leads? Make this clear. Ideally, you know what you want to accomplish at the tradeshow. It’s bonus points if you can align that goal with your overall company goals.

A good creative brief clearly outlines what you want attendees to feel when they visit your booth or stand.

What kind of experience do you want to deliver? Do you want visitors leaving happy, intrigued or something else? Is your brand to be seen as fun, serious, confident, innovative? You need to consider what type of experience you are delivering.

A good creative brief clearly outlines how much space you really want and why.

Tell them how much room will you need and for what? How big is your product, and how much are you taking? How many people do you want on your stand at any time? Do you need different spaces (meeting areas, spaces for tech, storage, speakers)?

A good creative brief clearly outlines your budget.

Yes, we know you don’t want to talk money. However, you need to have budget parameters. It’s unrealistic otherwise and will leave you with bad expectations during any previews or pitches. Be clear on the budget as you want to get as much for your budget as possible.

A good creative brief clearly outlines your deadlines and critical milestones.

When do you need it and where? Also make sure you build in time for delivery, set up and testing. Pro tip: share who else needs to approve things so that time can be built in to account for ALL feedback and opinions.

A good creative brief clearly outlines a time for questions:

You have a right to questions. You don’t need a 15 page RFP or creative brief. You do need to understand who your partners are before you begin working with them and how everyone on your internal and external team will work with them.

A good creative brief clearly outlines what you’re looking for in a pitch.

If you don’t like things presented a certain way, say so. It will save you and the companies preparing options for you time and frustration. But do make sure you speak to your shortlist in person or at the very least by video conference. This will give you a better understanding of them and how they work.

The keys to tradeshow success are communication and planning.

All of this sounds like a lot to remember. The key is to remember any stand’s design and success comes from planning, time and communication. Make sure you consider each element and speak to your designers and builders to make sure they are on the same page.

All of the above are simply elements of the design and build process of any stand. So if you are considering these points and speaking to your suppliers regularly you will be able to manage every element.

For those wanting a little extra support, many contractors will manage the entire process for you. This approach can be highly beneficial for first-time exhibitors as it removes many of the pitfalls entirely and lets you focus on the show itself.

Author Bio:

Mark Gill has been with DMN Design Build since 1997 when he started his career with the firm as a joiner. He now heads up the production team, managing the process from prototype to handover, specializing in exhibition stands design and exhibition services.