frustrated

Avoiding expensive and frustrating mistakes

SBMS Mentor, Maggie Knight has seen business expos from both sides of the exhibition booth. She has first-hand experience of some of the mistakes exhibitors can make.

As the Gallery Director of the Washington Gallery in Cardiff, UK for 16 years, and then as Project Director for the Pier Pavilion Building in Cardiff, she was responsible for creating and implementing events focussed on fund raising, publicity and marketing the £4 million refurbishment of the historic structure. To boost sales of artworks at the gallery, she helped introduce artists to a wider audience through visual arts trade fair exhibitions in London. She recalls there were many lessons learned by the exhibition team, as some of the events proved to be expensive exercises.

Her role also meant visiting and buying at the large retail trade fairs held for spring and Christmas orders in a variety of locations in UK. She observed how some exhibitors took full advantage of the opportunity to capture the attention of the public at these events while others faded into the background and did not realise the full benefits on offer.

“There are so many aspects to take into consideration and if you don’t plan carefully you can fall into some traps and end up exhausting yourself on the day or spend a lot of time and money with very little return,” explains Maggie. She provides a list of 10 things to avoid when you are thinking of showcasing your business at an expo or event.

  • Underestimating the amount of storage you need can leave your display cluttered and untidy
  • Not having enough stock on hand to sell or give to interested people
  • The show set up doesn’t allow enough space for exhibitors leaving everyone crammed in
  • You end up at the far end of the venue and have to carry things back and forth all day
  • The standard for exhibitors’ displays are high and far beyond your budget
  • The lighting for your stand is poor
  • You try to man the exhibit on your own and cannot get out to network or take a break
  • A number of people are available to man the stand but there is no plan to cover the whole day
  • There are no provisions for your IT requirements
  • You haven’t checked the venue and end up running around to find what you need to set up

Maggie believes that whether preparing for a trade fair, a business expo or an arts show, exhibitors need to plan: who you want to attract, what you have to offer them; how your team is going to make contact with the public; and what outcome they would like to achieve from networking with attendees and other exhibitors.

“Taking part in these events is a great way to take your business to a much wider audience, but there is a lot of competition for the attention of people attending. You have to know what will attract them to your display. Having a solid plan, pre-checking the venue’s facilities; having a great sales team there; and getting the best possible placement are all keys to increasing your chances of benefitting from your involvement.” Maggie concludes.

As one of the SBMS team, Maggie provides mentoring on Marketing, Retail, Tourism and Business Planning in the Arts and recreation services; and the tourism, hospitality, accommodation and food service industries.

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