Get creative – tips to maximise your exhibitions

Posted: 22 Nov 2018 - 16:25
UCAS exhibitions
It’s an age-old problem: you’re faced with a 4 x 3 stand space, and a minimal budget to generate maximum impact. You need to prove your return on investment and you know you’ll be in competition for audience share. It can feel like a tough ask - there’s always that one stand that captures all the attention and interest, and isn’t it always right opposite yours?

Have a single message

Like any campaigns, creativity allows you to get positive results which can be wildly disproportionate to the resource invested. At UCAS Exhibitions, we’ve seen some of the smallest teams, stands and budgets steal the show – using nothing but a little creativity.

It sounds almost too simple, but we’ve seen too many exhibitors try to communicate everything, to everyone. Focus on your USP, and the outcome you need from it – and then work on making that accessible and any outcomes measurable. Set targets for sign ups for prospectuses, open day bookings, sample distribution, distribution of vouchers – as long as the outcome is tangible and measurable, you can demonstrate both impact and success.
Ensuring your stand visually enforces that key message is key. It’s always best to start planning the space based on what you want it to achieve rather than what you have available to fill it. Inevitably there will be compromises – but if you just accept the status quo, you’ll never get to the point where the experience the audience has is any different to the last time. When you do work it out, step back and ensure that whatever you have decided on is confident but not overly complex. This is simply the pull – once you have people engaged all avenues open up, but its far easier to people to make that connection when they understand what you are offering them.

Changing Pace

When visiting an exhibition or trade show, people spend a lot of time walking around. Fight exhibition fatigue by offering people a change of pace when they come to visit you.

If the exhibition is likely to be frantic, make your stand a calm amongst the storm. Having enough chairs for people to take a moment to sit down and leaf through literature, or having refreshments on hand to keep them on their feet, will go a long way to piquing their interest. Don’t be offended that they’re not there for you, take your opportunity and start the conversation.

Or, bring some energy onto your stand in a way that challenges the norm. Hoots of enthusiasm from willing stage and screen face painting volunteers are going to get you attention, and social noise – and tech demonstrating the latest products in the market combined with the excited gasps of would-be students undergoing a virtual reality tour of their new halls will draw in the crowds. 

Bringing the cavalry

Most businesses have internal champions. These are gold dust for your exhibition, as your staff are the forward line of your brand. But how many of these do you have, and are they all available on the big day?

Rely on the expertise or equipment already available to you – we’ve seen performance artists, photobooths, videowalls and highly engaging student ambassadors all used to great effect, and all for minimal investment. 

On-the-day commitment is rarely the goal for exhibitions. Almost 9/10 customers acquired at events will convert that evening online, or the next day, or a week or two afterwards. Concentrate on finding a group of talented forward-facing staff who are able to attract prospects and effectively impart your single key message, that should be their only brief.

Prior Preparation

Whilst our exhibitions are attended by hundreds of thousands of young people, it would be an opportunity missed if you simply hoped for your slice of the action on the day. 

Direct mail – whether by email or post with physical vouchers that can be exchanged on-the-day at your stand will certainly get people seeking you out. Don’t be too proud to make it completely irrelevant to what you’re actually there for. If it boosts your engagement with prospects, its mission accomplished.

Make sure that you’re supporting this campaign within other channels as well, including using the exhibition’s channels on-the-day. 

The possibilities for creativity at exhibitions are endless, but never forget the importance of following up. Keep your conversations going and your relationships warm. Get in touch with your leads as soon as possible and keep them in the funnel, whether that be inviting them to an upcoming open day or providing them with a time-sensitive offer that they need to redeem. And of course, talk to us about accessing the entire exhibition’s attendance list through UCAS Media marketing solutions.

Understanding engagement on their terms

We’re in the perfect position to support universities, colleges, employers and brands that want to speak to, and support the verified student audience, through our exhibitions season.

For more information on any aspect of our service, or to find out how we can connect you to this important audience, please call 01242 544881, or email [email protected].

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