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Marketing the old-fashioned way: face to face

Marketing the old-fashioned way: face to face
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Marketing the old-fashioned way: face to face
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

It’s the digital age! People are constantly tweeting, snapping and Instagramming so they can get their brand image out into the world. But no matter how many posts you make, sometimes it’s good to go back to basics and promote your business face to face.

The personality of your business  

If you get your digital presence right, your website and social media feeds should give a really accurate presentation of what your business is like – your values as well as your goods and services – but you sometimes can’t beat the old-school technique of pressing the flesh.  Meeting someone in person gives them an opportunity to get to know the people behind the brand – and people buy from people. 

Expos and tradeshows are a great way to meet other companies in your sector or who are interested in your services.  But take time to find one that’s going to deliver returns for you.  Exhibition organisers will wax lyrical about the anticipated footfall and the calibre of the attendees, but it’s worth talking to previous exhibitors to find out their experience.  You may also want to think about the higher-end packages; you will have much greater visibility and credibility if you have a prime stand or are one of the featured speakers. 

Standing out from the crowd  

Exhibitions (if they’re any good) are busy, with a lot of companies vying for the attention of visitors, so both you and your stand need to be engaging.  Your messaging needs to be accessible from a distance, with compelling messaging to get people to want to find out more.  Too many exhibition stands rely on the company logo, but if someone’s never heard of your brand before, seeing your logo doesn’t give them a single reason to find out more.  What benefits do you offer visitors?  What’s the one reason they should be talking to you?  Get that right – communicate in a nutshell how you solve their problems – and they’ll want to approach you. 

Think about the design of your stand.  Key messaging needs to be bold (can you read it from 10 metres or more?) and waist height or above – people don’t read signs by the floor and they won’t see anything below counter height if your banner is behind a table.  Talking of tables: you probably need one for your literature, but where are you going to stand in relation to it?  You don’t want to create barriers between you and your prospective customers. 

As well as the visuals of your stand, you need to think of ice-breakers, such as a competition or quiz.  And of course, you need to be as engaging as your stand and ice-breaker.  Staying buoyant and bubbly talking to strangers throughout the day isn’t everyone’s forte; if it’s not your strong point, you may like to think about engaging a team member or even a professional to represent your company.  After all, you don’t want to make a big investment in an exhibition only to undermine it yourself. 

Combining forces  

It’s all well and good spending a day at a tradeshow or expo showing off your business, but if you don’t follow up, you might as well have thrown your money away.  It almost goes without saying that you need to include a feature on your stand which will enable you to capture the contact details of the people you engage with, whether it’s a competition, a giveaway or an e-book that you send to them afterwards – in exchange for their email address!   

If you’re really canny, you will get your new prospects to upload their contact details for you at the expo, so you don’t have to waste time with data entry when you get back to the office.  You might run a competition or give away a gift in exchange for them entering their name and email address on your iPad (make sure you have the proper GDPR consents!).  

Some of the ‘follow up’ should ideally be done on the day.  Tag the visitors you have talked to in the social media posts that you send from the exhibition, using any event hashtags to get optimal engagement.  Talking to them in the flesh and then engaging with them via social media will make them even more receptive to the follow-up that you do when you get back to the office. 

This really needs to be done while they are still enthusiastic about the event and you, so pre-plan any follow-up marketing, whether it’s an email campaign, e-newsletters or direct mail, so you’re ready to hit send as soon as you have processed their contact details.  And make sure you schedule enough time in your diary for your follow-up campaign.  

There’s a reason exhibitions haven’t died out in the digital age: people buy from people, so they are still a valuable part of marketing.  But you need to invest both before and after the event to make sure you get the best returns from it.    

To find out how Capital Space business premises could benefit your growing business,  call 0800 107 3667