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Sneak-peep into expo adjudication

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Improved level of interaction and quality displays is what counts in any valuable expo, writes Robert Yawe.

Participating in exhibitions has unfortunately been relegated to a shot-in-the-dark activity as has become of the trend of advertising through the print and electronic media.

It is our expectation that by providing guidelines and feedback on the judging procedure we shall get exhibitors to look at exhibitions differently. Indeed, this being an interiors expo, it is one of the major reasons we held an exhibitor briefing at the Tribe Hotel, an example of a hotel with fascinating architectural works and interiors.

When exhibiting, you need to be clear in mind about what you’re intending to achieve. Before the interactions, ask: “Is it contacts that I want to collect so as to make follow-ups later or do I just want to create awareness of my products and services? Based on this, you will then be in a better position to develop the exhibition stall.

Etched into their memories

It is important to avoid trying to offer too many varied products or services. Look for what your core items and which are supplemental then emphasize the core products. This allows you to have a visitor leave your stall with a specific product or service etched into their memories.

After the expo, you can introduce other products you have either via mail shots or when they (clients) come to visit you in your premises where you will have more time to explain the dynamics of your products.

You need to realize that your stand at an exhibition is an extension of your organization.

The image portrayed here is a reflection of your organization as a whole. The level of product knowledge, your interaction with visitors and the detail of the products displayed is what shall be carried in the minds of the visitors from that day forward.

Getting prospective clients

A critical function of attending an expo is to collect contacts of prospective clients. So make sure that on the Monday after the expo the contacts are tabulated and at the least a “thank you” message sent out by the end of the week. It has been proven that an adult’s brain will not retain information for more than seven days if it is not reinforced or used.

This contact needs to be continuous especially in a situation where the purchase cycle is long. However, bear in mind that most Africans and Asians place more value on a word-of-mouth reference. The person you keep in touch with might not buy but will spread your message further and wider than any known advertising media.

Manning the stall

With SMS messages at 10 cents, while email and a web page cost next to nothing, you have no justification for not keeping in touch with your prospects.

The time, effort and detail you put into opening your permanent office or showroom should be the same way your stand should be handled at the expo. You cannot afford to have the stand closed at lunch hour. Make sure there are shifts. In this regard, avoid recruiting stand assistants on the day of the expo.

If you must use temporary personnel instead of your regular staff, then make sure they are fully briefed on the products and a clear escalation process agreed upon. Since expos are exhausting as well as physically and mentally draining, avoid having a single person at the stand throughout the duration of the expo.

Adjudication criteria

In providing this service we would like to explain the judging criteria for the stands based on internationally acceptable best practice code.

  •  Does the exhibit satisfy the basic pre-requisite of brand identification? Is the branding clearly visible from all available approaches?
  •  Do the key messages of the expo form an integral part of the stand and are they immediately discernible to the visitor?
  •  Can the visitor move freely and logically through the exhibit enabling them to fully ‘engage’ with the exhibitor?
  •  Is it immediately clear what the exhibitor is offering?
  •  Do the forms employed in the exhibit allow the exhibitor to take command of the space they occupy?
  •  Does the exhibitor leave an indelible impression at every touch-point?
  •  Does it connect with the audience?
  •  Has the exhibitor exploited lighting successfully in the creation of a memorable experience for their visitor?
  •  Have they sought to explore new and interesting materials or possibly determined to use traditional materials in a more imaginative and interesting way?
  • Is the stand ‘fit for purpose’?

The right arrangements

Let’s take the example of a stand for a company that produces or markets tile grout in various colours. Since the expo mainly targets home builders and owners it is very important to note that they would prefer the aesthetics and not technical properties.

A stand with a tiled shower cubicle on one site and a kitchen with a tiled backsplash would be more effective than an assortment of the packaged product strewn on the floor of the stand. With such a display it is quicker to explain the functions and benefits of the product leaving a clear and uncluttered message with the visitor.

As we project to have subsequent events after the 2nd Ideal Interiors Expo, it is our hope that we shall see an improvement in the level of interactions and displays.

The writer is the managing director of Quadrant Shift Africa and the chairman of the adjudication panel.