We recently visited the Interplas exhibition, the UK's leading plastics industry event. Solutions, products, machines and ideas are presented to the UK manufacturing industry. Interplas covers manufacturing processes, technologies and services essential to the plastics sector.
Interplas is a three-day event and we visited on days one and two. We were not in the marketplace for buying as we have recently made significant machinery investments and are happy with our current suppliers. But we did have lots of questions about exhibiting. This was the ideal show for us to attend as we knew many people who would be either exhibiting or visiting. We spoke to a broad range of exhibitors: suppliers, customers, other plastics manufacturers and whoever else caught our eye.
It was really interesting to learn the reasons they were exhibiting:
- Attract new leads. This was the most important reason for most exhibitors but not all. Depending on what you are selling just one lead that translates into a sale can pay for the cost of exhibiting.
- Be seen as active in the current market. For some this was the most important reason.
- Make contact with current customers. This reason surprised us but Birmingham is a convenient central location.
- Make contact with suppliers. We did find it interesting to put faces to names of suppliers who we have dealt with for many years.
Exhibitors kindly took the time to share some top tips related to their exhibition stand:
- Location of the stand is very important, corner stands are great if you can get one. We noticed that on entering the show visitors tended to turn right rather than left.
- Size does not necessarily matter, but the stand does need to be eye-catching with as much colour as possible.
- You need more than two people even if you have a small stand. This allows for breaks and being able to deal with more than one person visiting your stand at the same time.
- Bring or hire bar stools. This will allow you to take the weight off your feet whilst looking as though you are still standing and available to approach.
These are some of the questions we are now asking ourselves:
- Is exhibiting the most effective way to use our valuable resources? Exhibiting is really hard work and the investment can be high.
- What does a lead actually mean? At the end of the show, exhibitors will count the number of leads obtained. We were scanned at every stand we visited even if we made it clear we were not in the market for their product or service. So will we be counted as a lead even in this situation?
- Do the ways of attracting visitors to stands translate into attracting the right people? We saw many interesting ways of drawing people in but sometimes wondered if this attracted people just for the sake of playing the numbers game, particularly the larger stands.
- What should be given to visitors to your exhibition stand if it is obvious that they are not in your marketplace? We gathered a great deal of stuff and are now working our way through it to decide what to keep. The huge pile of literature feels a bit daunting. It will be divided into two piles, keep and shred. The literature we were most interested in was from other plastic manufacturers and for that we are very grateful. There will definitely be a home in our factory for all the mugs, coasters, memory sticks and stationery.
And finally these are our top tips for visiting an exhibition:
- Print out a floor plan before you go and use a coloured pen to mark the location of the stands you know you want to visit. You will get still sidetracked but this really does help organise your route.
- Think comfort over fashion when it comes to shoes. On day one we achieved 18, 000 steps, surprising considering the amount of time we were standing still and chatting!
- Before you go check other exhibitions that are simultaneously happening at the same venue. Allow extra time and take the opportunity to learn about other current technologies even if they are not relevant to your industry. Our eyes were definitely opened by visiting the TCT and PPMA shows. TCT is dedicated to 3D printing, additive manufacturing and product development. PPMA is the trade show for processing and packaging machinery.
- Follow up your visit by maintaining contact with the contacts you have made on social media. Send LinkedIn connection requests, get tweeting and use the photos you have taken during the visit.
We have many customers who are exhibition stand builders
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