Exhibiting can be a complex beast, especially when you’re a rookie.
How do I get my stand noticed? Attract prospects? Capture as many leads as I can?
We give you the answers from the most successful exhibition leaders in the industry. In this post, we offer sparks of wisdom from the exhibition master, John Blaskey.
Who is John Blaskey?
John Blaskey is an international exhibition consultant, public speaker and presenter with over forty years’ industry experience under his belt.
His exhibiting career accidentally kick-started in 1947 after his father sold the family business – Blaskey began working for a photographer who wanted to showcase giant prints at exhibitions.
To do so, the photographer needed a modular stand (booths that businesses can easily assemble themselves). Blaskey helped build such an item and this gave him a new business idea.
He became the go-to man for modular stand creation. While working at trade shows, exhibiting businesses started asking Blaskey for further support, from managing their stand to training staff.
He realised one fundamental thing: that businesses were failing to adopt trade show strategies to get the most out of their investment. They didn’t know what they wanted to achieve or how they were going to achieve it. And John was set on helping them find the answers – a role he continues to fill today.
Back to the Present
Modern businesses face the same challenges. They know they should be exhibiting. But how can they maximise their ROI? John uses his decades of experience to help companies smash their exhibiting goals.
He works with The Exhibiting Agency which helps brands across the globe develop powerful trade show strategies and effective face-to-face engagement.
The agency has generated £1 billion in prospective new business for its clients. How is this achieved? Consultants like John support companies by:
- Challenging and modifying their exhibition strategies
- Identifying skill gaps (such as the need for multilingual staff)
- Offering trade show teams in-house workshops for improved exhibiting
- Re-designing stand experiences
Clients from all lines of business have benefited from such support.
For instance, The Exhibiting Agency helped Terumo Pharmaceutical Solutions review their exhibition strategy, train their team and transform their stand experience. As a result, they captured twice the number of targeted leads during the Barcelona CPhl event.
As an expert from an industry-leading consultancy, John shares with us the best principles of exhibiting so, like Terumo, you can supercharge your trade show efforts.
Collaborating with Expo Stars
“The Exhibiting Agency has a multi-faceted business relationship with Expo Stars” John explains, “as a consultant at The Exhibiting Agency, we turn to Expo Stars to help clients staff their booths. And they always rebook. It’s a mutually rewarding eight-year-old partnership. Expo Stars regularly collaborate on exhibition masterclasses and workshops, providing content and expert speakers to help clients develop strategies for high-performance exhibiting.”
John recently shared with Expo Stars the best principles of exhibiting. Read on for the interview and gain insights to help you supercharge your trade show efforts.
How to Be an Expo Trailblazer
Expo Stars: What would you say is the most important aspect of exhibiting?
John Blaskey: Exhibiting is a golden opportunity to meet prospects face-to-face. This form of marketing is immensely powerful. It has been since the dawn of time; human beings are social creatures by nature and the best way to make a solid connection is by face-to-face communication.
However, the world has changed through technology and we have lost those skills. It’s much easier to send emails than talk directly to someone. I see it all the time at trade shows – some individuals simply don’t know how to start a conversation. It’s crazy because they’ve paid to exhibit, and delegates have paid to come to the event, yet only a small number understand the art of effective face-to-face engagement.
E.S: How can businesses improve face-to-face marketing at trade shows?
J.B: They need a solid strategy. Instead of purely focusing on having a pretty stand, they need to plan for why they are attending, how it links to their wider marketing and business plans and what tactics should be used to attract and qualify leads.
Also, understanding how many quality leads are needed gives a trade show team drive and direction. Lead generators should master how to evaluate high-quality leads, so they waste no time talking to the wrong people.
A carefully considered visitor journey will help corral the RIGHT customers to their stand. And rather than focusing purely on selling, trade show staff need to listen – it’s amazing how much value you can glean by listening to people.
E.S: What is the most effective way to attract visitors to your booth?
J.B: Content is key. It used to be all about the stand design. But now, the best way to draw in attendees is through content.
Companies that leverage the power of educational content to attract more booth visits are reaping the rewards. It’s a great way to convince them you are a business they can take seriously. If you can find a way to do this creatively while engaging the senses, you’ll have attendees hooked.
E.S: Aside from capturing leads, what can businesses gain from exhibiting?
J.B: Trade shows are goldmines for market research. For example, businesses can discover key information by talking to attendees to help inform future product decisions or fuel powerful PR and social media campaigns.
What’s more, to widen the reach of the show and continue conversations post-expo, they could invite prospects to a future event post-exhibition such as a meeting, seminar or demo.
E.S: What are the best exhibition tips you can offer to businesses?
J.B: Firstly, don’t take brochures or leaflets to a show – they are an exit visa for stand attendees and will inevitably end up in the bin. Instead, tell visitors you will send them one and conduct a feedback exercise to gather their details. Find out what their challenges are and what they are looking for. This will help you improve your sales follow-ups and your understanding of the market.
Secondly, avoid taking sales reps to the trade show – exhibiting is not about sales, it’s an exercise in marketing. Take people who can generate engagement, educate and capture leads.
Finally, don’t have a stand anyone can access – letting anyone on the stand will take up your time and you’ll be swamped by the wrong visitors. Your stand should be a controlled area and people should be privileged to enter after they’ve been qualified. This creates an element of secrecy and curiosity, and more delegates will want in.
There Are More Exciting Things to Come
Hungry for more exhibiting insight? We will provide! Follow us on Twitter for a mountain of expo tips and tricks. And if you have any burning questions give us a call on 0161 834 9478 – we love to discuss all things trade shows and help you in any way we can.