When it comes to planning exhibitions, trade fairs and events, it can be just like planning a party. All those days, weeks, months planning and when the clock strikes 7pm and there’s not an immediate knock on the door, you start to panic. What if nobody comes? The invites said 7pm right?

Much like planning a party, when it comes to planning an exhibition or trade show, there’s often a huge amount of resource, time and effort spent preparing. Not to mention the cash.

Luckily, we’ve got some helpful hints and tips to help you with your planning and almost guarantee people will turn up.

1. Pro-actively pre-arrange meetings before the event.

The diary needs to be full and you need to make the most of being on ‘neutral ground’. A busy stand always looks good, so make sure you let people know that you’ll be at the event by posting on the events section of your website so delegates can pre-arrange a meeting. Ensure your team is briefed to set up meetings with key customers and prospects. But remember, your time is precious, so don’t agree meetings just to fill your diary – use time wisely!

2. Promote attendance internally.

Make sure your attendance is widely communicated to all departments within your organisation and ensure your team understands your focus and goals for the show. Staff speaking to customers, suppliers and journalists can help to increase walk-ups to your stand.

3. Ensure your attendance is on all of  the free event materials.

There’s likely to be lots of opportunities to get your brand noticed before and during the exhibition or show. Contact the organisers to secure editorial inclusion in the show magazines, issue a press release in time for the show and ensure you’re listed in the show directory. Make use of social media too by using relevant hashtags  and mention the organisers to start conversations with other visitors.

4. Highlight attendance on the homepage of your website.

Above, we mentioned publishing information about the event in the events section of your website but if that section doesn’t tend to get much traffic it might be worth highlighting your attendance of events on your homepage too. Linking  to a ‘meet us’ or events page from the homepage allows people to book meetings online without digging around the website.

5. Promote the event on all staff email signatures.

Mentioning the event in your staff e-signatures can also help to promote your attendance. Whether you’re a company of 30 or 3000 staff, think how this message is amplified across all those emails.

6. PR, PR, PR.

Got something to shout about? Whether it’s a new service, product or partnership, it’s a great idea to time your announcement with the event and issue a news release to key trade titles. Take some media packs with you to the show, perhaps on a USB as journalists prefer electronic versions rather than carrying around piles of paper. Around three months before the show you could approach them with potential features for the upcoming issues. Arrange meetings with key media and look at their editorial calendars before the event so you can prepare feature content and position yourself as a go-to expert.

7. Contact people so they know you’ll be there.

Pick up the phone, drop your clients and prospects an email or even send out an e-newsletter to shout about your attendance. If you’ve got some spare money in your budget for the event maybe even try something creative with a direct mailer in the post.

8. Include an event banner on all existing online and offline adverts to give them more of a call to action.

Making use of a visual event banner on existing online and offline adverts is a great way to shout about your event attendance. also make use of  a call to action such as ‘visit our website to arrange a meeting with us’.

9. Arm your sales staff with invites.

Arm your customer facing staff with invites to your stand to help them spread the word about your attendance to people you might not have contact with. This allows you to focus on the clients and prospects you have existing relationships with.

10. Even better, if you can base all of the above around a creative theme.

If you can take all of the above and base your attendance to an event around a creative them,  product launch or something that will generate attention – do it! Some of the most successful stands at events or exhibitions are those who have quite literally thought outside the box and gone above and beyond just putting up a sign and giving out free pens.

So there you have it, 10 top tips to help you generate more footfall to your exhibition, trade fairs and events stands.