With the new year comes a new round of industry events and exhibitions to promote your business. Best practice means beginning your planning months, if not more than a year, ahead but we all know that life gets in the way and sometimes you’re left looking for last-minute ways to boost your exhibition performance.

With Southern Manufacturing – one of the biggest events of the engineering supply chain’s exhibition calendar – just over a week away, here are our top tips to help you make the most of your exhibition attendance, even at short notice.

1. Make sure your directory entries are complete and up to date

Deadlines for printed directories will be long gone but there are still opportunities to make sure your company is visible. Organisers will be updating exhibition websites right up until the last minute so make sure they have all your contact details and information about any services or promotions you’ll be running at the event. Many give exhibitors their own area to upload information directly onto the exhibition website so make sure you haven’t missed any sections or forgotten to update areas you were planning to ‘come back to later’. 

Over recent years, we’ve also seen the arrival of unofficial listings directories, typically asking for payment for inclusion in their ‘at show’ guide. Make sure you check with the official event organisers whether these guides are legitimate or not before parting with any money!

2. Tell customers you are attending via your own communication channels

In years gone by, businesses had to rely on official exhibition directories or trade press articles to promote their exhibition attendance. The digital revolution means we now have more communications channels at our disposal. It may sound obvious but have you updated your website front page to tell visitors you will be exhibiting at a show? Have you made sure all staff have included details about your attendance (including dates, stand number, details on how they can contact you etc) on their email signatures? Have you posted about exhibiting and the services/innovations you’ll be promoting on your social media profiles? 

While many potential customers will have pencilled the exhibition into their diaries, many don’t make the decision to actively attend – or about who they want to visit – until much nearer the time so there is still chance to influence that decision in your favour.

3. Join the conversation on social media

Nearly every exhibition has its own social media channels, show hashtags and event ‘handles’ to collate information about the event and drive conversations. The chatter usually intensifies in the days running up to the exhibition and while it is live so make sure your organisation is part of those conversations by including the relevant tags in your social media updates. 

With so many delegates scrolling through twitter and LinkedIn on their smart phones on the way into the exhibition itself, posting content at the start of the day or lunchtime can be a great way to grab people’s attention and inspire that last-minute stand visit.

4. Find out which journalists are attending the exhibition

With resources ever tighter and more and more content to produce, meeting with key journalists face to face is harder than ever. But many still take the time to attend key industry events and exhibitions. Meeting diaries are often finalised only a few days before the event so if there’s a key journalist you’d like to speak to, now is the time to make contact, let them know about the innovations you’ll be promoting at the event and invite them for that ‘at show’ meeting or company briefing.

5. Save some news to announce at the exhibition 

The show previews have gone and your ideal media contact’s diary is already full of at-show meetings. Is it really too late to secure media coverage about your business? 

Maybe but many exhibitions have their own hard copy and/or digital ‘show daily’ newspapers to share stories coming out of the event, while key trade publications will also have ‘show report’ features planned for the following months.

Make sure you find out who and what the editorial contacts and deadlines are for these and, if possible, hold back on announcing a key news story or product launch to coincide with the exhibition dates. That way you’ll have genuine news to promote at the show as well as a reason to be featured in articles after the event.