If we had access to the NHS statistics on blood pressure and stress within the construction industry, there would certainly be an Everest-sized spike in the chart for January and February every year, as the industry frantically tries to prepare for the biggest event in the calendar.
Unfortunately, what so few realise is that by the time you’re packing turkey curry into your lunchbox ready for your first day back in the New Year – you’ve missed the Ecobuild bus!
The Ecobuild party kicks off on Google in September, with early bird visitors pre registering and starting to research and plan their trip. If you’re going to try and make the best out of your experience at the show, you need to be organising and (more importantly!) sharing information about your stand activities now.
Exhibiting at Ecobuild (and indeed any big event) is a huge outlay, but in order to make the most of your investment you need to approach the experience in a calculated, measurable way. Presuming you’ve got your stand design and logistics all sorted, it’s now time to think about the important finer details.
What are your objectives?
How do you want to measure success? Is this down to numbers of potential new business leads,.. meeting journalists from key magazines… gathering relevant email addresses for your monthly newsletter… the number of product samples you hand out to architects… it really could be anything! Don’t be over ambitious with your goals, stay realistic about your place within the marketplace and keep your business plan at the forefront of your mind.
Identify fun ways to meet your targets.
Your stand activities and presence at the show should be tailored towards meeting your objectives. Due to the sheer size of Ecobuild now, you’re really going to have to stand out. Offer something different, set up networking opportunities for your clients and think outside the box. Your stand space is your own – run unique, interesting workshops or competitions and really engage with your audience.
Spread the word
Start shouting about your plans… now!
Don’t just expect passing footfall to fill your stand talks or seminars. Target your new business prospects, but also your existing clients as an opportunity to engage with them. There is nothing better than introducing a potential client to a satisfied existing one – personal recommendations are always powerful. Use social media to piggyback on the Ecobuild hashtag and meet new contacts online. By February, a seasoned Ecobuild visitor will already have started planning their ‘must see’ stands or seminars and you may have missed out.
You have one chance to engage a passer-by, don’t miss it.
There is nothing worse than a deserted exhibitor stand. Or, when you’re asked to return because the manager is on lunch. Or, when you wanted a brochure but they’ve run out. Plan a rota to ensure you’ve got the right people on the stand at the right times, bring far too many brochures and business cards, and if your key contacts are only on the stand for particular days or times – make sure your key audience know this. Communicate your stand rota to your clients and contacts so they can be sure to catch you.
Are your team ready?
If you have members of staff who are shy, perhaps don’t fully understand your product range or would quite frankly just rather not be client facing – don’t put them on the stand! Those who are involved, need a careful briefing before the show. Show them the virtual tour on the ExCel website, give them advice on what to wear, maps showing your stand and where your key competitors are positioned, how to get to ExCel and journey times, where the best places are for lunch… it all helps them feel less overwhelmed. Set up a staff incentive programme for lead generation and follow up too!
If you don’t evaluate your experience, how will you know if it justified the spend?
This is where your planning time will pay off – you can’t measure how successful the show was for you if you don’t know how you’re judging ‘success’. Plan in an Ecobuild debrief for the following week and give everybody a chance to air their highs and lows. Share the results from your measurement and keep minutes to review ready for your next show. It takes time to get good at exhibiting, but the feedback after each event is really key. No matter how sick you are of hearing the words ‘North Hall’.
The key to a successful Ecobuild is simple really: planning, creativity, evaluation. It’s a fantastic experience and has the potential to be really valuable to your business.
Don’t miss the Ecobuild bus this year – plan in a meeting to discuss Ecobuild with your team now.
P.S. Turkey curry – not a fan… discuss!