For the very first time, we decided to exhibit at the SMEICC 2019 Expo, one of Singapore’s largest events for founders, managers, and policymakers.
Held over a period of two days, the Expo showcased over 200 SME turnkey solutions, 29 bilingual conferences, and over 10 government agencies to help attendees transform and digitise their businesses.
Talenox at SMEICC Expo 2019
Although we had participated in a handful of events previously, exhibiting at a large-scale event like this was a different experience.
How different, you say? This was the first time we:
- Custom-designed our booth,
- Worked with other exhibitors to carry out on-site co-marketing activities, such as a combined lucky draw, and
- Engaged the full team (okay, almost… and, yes, even our engineering team!) to help out at the event
As we are still a relatively small team, we needed to make sure we did our homework and were well prepared for the two-day event.
As small business owners, especially those in the start-up phase, preparing for something like this can be quite a daunting task.
As such, we’ll highlight some of our biggest takeaways in this article. If you’re exhibiting at a trade show/expo like the SMEICC 2019 Expo for the first time, we hope this article will provide you with some useful insights.
1. Have specific objectives in mind
Before deciding if you should exhibit at an event, it’s important to be clear about why you’re doing it.
Whether it’s to increase brand awareness, promote a new product, or acquire sales leads, know that events don’t just cost money; they cost a lot of time and energy as well.
Only with clear objectives in mind, can you then proceed with the how. The next few pointers say how you can start executing your plan to meet your objectives.
Pro tip #1: Sit down with a couple of your team’s key members (i.e. the people in charge of your finances, marketing, and operations). Together, calculate the objectives and goals you need to hit. Make sure that the objectives are structured to help you gain a positive return on investment (ROI).
2. Make your booth stand out
As one of our key objectives was to acquire x number of leads, we knew one way of doing so was to encourage interactivity at our booth.
In order to have people take notice of us and walk into the booth, we needed to make our booth look different from others’. Hence, we went with a dark theme–a full-black background, with our text and graphics in contrasting colours. This was very much aligned to our brand’s colour palette.
We also wanted to create a feeling of space (pun intended) and openess, so that a maximum of 16 people could be standing in our booth at any one time. With that, we made special arrangements to remove our top fascia board and had a special support beam constructed to hold up our walls. Note: Our booth is a standard-shell booth.
Pro tip #2: If you prefer to have a larger space and have more flexibility in your design, you could combine two booths and opt for a “raw space”.
Our partner, Mednefits, did exactly that. Look at how gorgeous their booth turned out!
…But first, spend some time to work out the details
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
In order to ensure your booth turns out the way you envisioned it, find out the specifics of the exhibition hall and the area you’re exhibiting in. For example, studying the general floor plan gives you an idea of traffic flow. You might want to get a booth that faces towards the flow of traffic, not away from it.
Another thing to consider is the possibility of being placed next to competing exhibitors. On the other hand, do look out for complementary partners who are exhibiting as well. It would certainly be beneficial to all parties if there’s a possibility of working together for this special occasion.
In addition, keep an open line of communication with the organisers of the event to help answer any questions you have while deciding on the placement of your booth. (*A quick shout-out to Tiffany and Jade: you ladies are awesome!)
Once you’ve decided on the booth placement, start working with your talented designer (if you have one in-house) to design the actual booth. Find a reliable contractor (here’s looking at you, Jason, from J. Design Pte Ltd) to implement the design you’ve created. Alternatively, some contractors offer graphic design services so you may opt for that as well.
Pro tip #3: Give yourself a buffer time of about 2-3 months. Expect a lot of back-and-forth communication with your contractor, as they may need to do several print tests. If you’re thinking of buying your own furniture and equipment (e.g. standing tables, monitors, etc), expect some lead-time for online orders.
Pro tip #4: Give your contractor several visualisations for your booth design. Try to make it as realistic as possible.
3. Partner up to amplify your efforts
Rockefeller once said, “A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.“
We were so blessed to have had the opportunity to partner up 3 companies.
Together with our first partner, DBS, we conducted two mini bootcamps for DBS BusinessClass members.
We also offered Talenox free for 18 months (*6 months free, with an additional SGD$ 480 credits for subscription to a bundled package worth up to an additional 12 months) on DBS’s Start Digital Package, jointly supported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
Together with our second and third partners, Mednefits and 361dc, we conducted a combined lucky draw, which took place live, on both days. Lucky winners walked away with a variety of prizes such as Uniqlo t-shirts, webcam covers, Starbucks gift cards, health screening vouchers, and a pair of Rayban sunglasses!
Pro tip #5: By partnering with companies you trust, you’d be able to mutually add value to your services. This includes directing traffic to each others’ booths, sharing resources, and most importantly, developing an enhanced understanding of each others’ companies’ values. In the long run, this is a good way to develop strong and lasting partnerships.
4. Treat everyone with respect
“Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.”
This pertains not only to your booth’s visitors, but also extends to your internal team members and partners. Keep in mind: a lot of people contribute to the success of the event. This includes people who don’t work directly with you, but interact with you anyway.
Some of our team mates/fellow exhibitors encountered some really pleasant people. A few offered to buy coffee to heal our tired souls, a few let us queue in front of them during lunch, as they knew we had to rush back to man the booth, a few offered us high-fives as we walked by. Even though all these seem like small gestures, they made a huge impact on us.
By treating everyone kindly, you’d be pleasantly surprised by how the general atmosphere lightens up. A seemingly exhausting day wouldn’t seem so exhausting after all when people around you are happy.
Pro tip #6: Say a simple “thank you” to the catering staff that clears your plate. Ask a fellow exhibitor how their day has been. Offer the tired security guard a bottle of water. A small gesture goes a long way.
5. Deliver a motivational pep talk on the day itself
Done effectively, a pep talk can uplift and encourage your team to do their best at the event. Every morning, conduct a 10-15 minute briefing. Not only does get everyone pumped up; it also ensures they know what to say and do when specific situations arise.
My briefing usually consist of the following points:
- An introduction to all the team members present (it’s important to do this if you decide to have part-timers/external members help out at the event, who aren’t usually part of the team)
- How to describe Talenox in 10 seconds
- Logistics (booth) – how to invite people into our booth to conduct demos, what do with our brochures, how to encourage people to participate in our lucky draw, ensuring there are always x number of people at the booth, etc
- Logistics (main hall) – where to get water, where the restrooms are, etc
- A handful of commonly asked questions from attendees, and the appropriate answers to give
- One last cheer (i.e. we hit our objectives together, but make sure everyone also enjoys the process)
Pro tip 7: If you forget everything mentioned above, it’s really all right. Just remember to enjoy the process and get a good experience out of it. Positivity is contagious. If your teammates see you motivated and in good spirits, they’d be more likely to feel the same way. And although it takes a lot of mental and physical energy to exhibit at an event, with a solid team, your time and effort would most definitely be well-spent.