This month we thought we’d look at something a little different. We often write posts about how you can get more from SyteLine, or any of the associated Infor products. We know that these are well received, and we love writing them.
This time we decided to review our first visit to The Southern Manufacturing & Electronics Exhibition in Farnborough.
Over to Sarah, our Marketing Manager, to give us the lowdown on the expo.
Why exhibit now?
This was our first time exhibiting at a major show, and we chose to do it now. We wanted to get out and make new connections. Last year was the first year ’back’, so we waited until this year to exhibit. That paid off; the footfall at The Southern was over 9100 visitors!
Next, we wanted to rekindle some connections that we already had. It was also a great place to meet clients!
Finally, we wanted to supercharge our brand awareness. By getting out in front of not only 9100 visitors but also the exhibitors, we were able to have some brilliant conversations with people we wouldn’t have met if we’d not been there!
Who was there?
Where do we start with this?! First, there were some great businesses out there. We were in the hall’s top corner and surrounded by interesting companies. Some were owned and run by a small team, and others were part of big multinationals. The joy of the show was that everyone was incredibly friendly, and we made some great stand buddies over our three days.
There was a strong bias towards engineering, be that mechanical or electrical, and of course, a heavy dose of aerospace was thrown in with it being at Farnborough.
The complete list of exhibitors is currently here.
Do you have any tips?
We learnt a lot from this expo! Our first tip is to get off the stand and talk to people. Of course, this relies on you having a team of people to go with, so you always have someone on your stand! The best conversations I had over the week were with other stand holders.
Don’t go to sell. This is obvious, and each stand was given a sign that said no canvassing (aimed at visitors rather than exhibitors, of course!). Still, it’s worth reminding that some of the best business is done by connecting with people and forming strong relationships.
I wanted to go and talk to other businesses to see how they were feeling. We can’t escape that we’ve had a lot thrown at us in the last couple of years. The pandemic, supply chain issues and more have affected how some people feel about investing in products and services.
A big part of marketing is listening, not just talking!
Another top tip, especially for a large event like this, is to look at who is exhibiting and note anyone you’d like to go and talk to. I wanted to catch up with a few people on my list! But be prepared that they may be busy, so it’s easier to go and talk to other exhibitors at the start or the end of the day.
How do you decide where to exhibit at?
With so many shows, deciding which will be right for you can be a minefield. We have a few that are on our list. Not all of them work for us as exhibitors. We visit the ones we think will be right for us, then decide if we fancy exhibiting.
To make this decision easier, know what you want from that particular exhibition.
Is it about making new contacts or discovering what is happening in the marketplace? Remember you don’t have to go to them all! Are there shows that suit your niche more than others?
I also recommend asking others where they go. For example, I spoke to several businesses looking to exhibit at MACH 2024. This is perhaps the expo if you’re an engineering business.
Final thoughts on exhibiting
Exhibitions are hard work. A lot goes into the planning before you’ve even hit the stands. There are always things that you need to do.
So another tip is to build up a checklist of what you must do. Things as simple as booking hotel rooms can get forgotten in the excitement (yes, I just about remembered that I need to book my room in time!)
Double-check all your marketing materials, and make sure any banners or other items are in full working order. There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and realising your kit is broken.
Be prepared to be tired! Being on the stand all day is more challenging than you think. So make sure you book some time to relax afterwards.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to follow up! Hopefully, you will make lots of contacts as an exhibitor or visitor. If you’re looking to grow your network, then make sure that you follow up and start building that relationship.
If you want to see where we’re exhibiting next, keep an eye on our LinkedIn page here… Where you’ll find all the latest updates.