By the time you read this, the Myhrtoolkit team will be setting up our stand at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester Central (Its stand D106 if you’re interested). There will be more than 5,000 HR and L&D professionals in attendance, needless to say, it’s the biggest event in the HR calendar.
If you’re going as a delegate, you’re in for a treat, with loads of great talks and networking opportunities. I challenge you to spend some extra time perusing the exhibition hall and take in the sights and sounds.
If, like us, you’re actually exhibiting, by the time you’re on site, it should be plain sailing, as long as you’ve done your prep and got your sales patter down. Effortless as it may look on the day, preparing for an exhibition is a significant task.
It’s clear from a tour of the exhibition hall, that a great deal of thought goes into stand design. Some exhibitors engaging professional designers, others adopting a DIY approach. Generally, it’s quite hard to tell. Each year there are a wide variety of new ideas and not a small amount of “I wish we’d thought of that”. Bigger is certainly not always better with some smaller firms coming up with some brilliant and ingenious ideas. What never ceases to surprise though is the number of stands where despite considerable study, it is not at all clear what the business actually does – maybe that’s the idea, forcing the more inquisitive delegate to engage with the stand personnel? With regard to how much text to put on your stand; the current consensus seems to be that less is more. Listing every feature your product or service entails, may be satisfying for the completists amongst us, but to the passing delegate, it can often be plain confusing. So, you’ll see many stands clearly displaying one or two key messages. That said, we’ve heard reports of our entire carefully developed brand being summed up post show as “oh, you lot with the blue stand”.
It is also true that unless you are a genuine household name, your logo / colour scheme alone, is unlikely to gain much recognition. Provenance however is always good, so get your client logos in plain sight; the more recognisable the better.
How much should you think about how you talk about your product; especially in an exhibition content? Although a few delegates are happy to discuss at length, often you have a few minutes to get your message across and stand out from the competition. Partly this will also be driven by your company culture, do you sell, or do you tell, do you blow your own trumpet or not? However you choose to do it, make sure you avoid jargon or your own internal refences; key here is to ensure that your stand team all understand what is and isn’t common parlance in the outside world?
If you want to play it safe, at least on first meeting to keep it simple by focussing on the 2 or 3 key things that your service or product offers. Even better perhaps is to be more consultative, and spend the time you have understanding, what need your offering will satisfy or what pain it will make go away.
Lastly, a few thoughts on capturing customer information. There’s nothing worse than a promising discussion with a seemingly interested prospect only for them to leave without you finding out who they were. A business card is ok as far as it goes but does not convey much about the conversation or follow up. Some people prefer the click-click data scanners whilst others rely on good old paper forms. Scanners are quick and easy, but sometimes the data obtained can be limited in scope and in some cases untruthful as delegates attempted to evade unwanted post show marketing attention. Paper forms need to be simple and quick to complete, otherwise you get back to base and that all your hard work has yielded is lots of partially completed forms.
We’re really excited to be at the conference and exhibition, it’s a real highlight of our year. We pride ourselves on being ‘people people’ and the opportunity to be at the number one place where we can catch up with old friends, as well as enthuse in person about our toolkit and how it can transform SMEs HR process’.
Follow us on twitter to follow our time at the show!