Maximising value and success is crucial for any organisation planning to exhibit. With increasing pressure on businesses to provide a return on investment and the costs involved in exhibiting at national and international events, the need to make the right choices have never been more important. According toRichard Bland, Creative Director at KISS Communications the number of exhibitions is growing every year, not just in the UK but also in Europe. Deciding on the most suitable event for your company can be hard. He explains, “Choosing the wrong exhibition or using an old stand that conveys outdated messages or company images are all recipes for disaster and will bring no benefit to your organisation. “There are considerable commercial benefits for an organisation exhibiting at a major trade or consumer show, but it is vital that your stand communication fits effectively into your broader marketing strategy rather than a standalone piece of marketing.” He continued, “Inertia can also mean it’s easier to continue exhibiting at the same events rather than re-evaluating whether it’s still the right place for your target audience. “Companies must also be realistic about the budget available, looking not just at the investment of the exhibition space, but also the cost of getting employees to the event, providing accommodation, the stand itself, giveaways, etc.” Designing and producing eye-catching exhibition and event solutions that support UK companies both at shows abroad and at home is just one of the services KISS Communications offers. In the last few months, the agency has produced stands for booking.com; Plasti-kote; One Nucleus; and Johnson Matthey. The company offers complete exhibition packages, from brand strategies, stand designs, implementation, production of marketing collateral to hand-outs and promotional gifts. According to Simon Fryer, Managing Director at KISS, the company’s experience of pan-European marketing has played a crucial role in the year-on-year success of the exhibition side of the business. He said: “We understand the cultural differences of working across Europe, and central to that is developing long term brand strategies for our clients to gain distribution and build sales.” Hannah Rimmer is leading the exhibition team at KISS and currently taking bookings for 2011; she believes planning is the key to a successful exhibition: “Once a company has chosen an exhibition there is a lot of planning, preparation, logistics and project managing to do. We can do all this for clients, taking the hassle out of exhibiting by managing the whole event.” Using this expertise, KISS has developed a five-point check plan that companies should ask themselves before any decisions have been made regarding an exhibition. KISS Communications five-point exhibition check list: 1. The right exhibition? Inertia often means a decision to change from the usual haunts is given less consideration than it deserves. A bit more research and intelligence to find out where your clients, your partners and your competitors are likely to be may help to steer decisions. 2. The right location? Make sure your choice of location within an exhibition works at every level. Having a great space in the wrong place can be disastrous. Take a look at the likely footfall, the orientation of the space and its proximity to your competitors or partners. 3. The right strategy? Set your objectives for attending the exhibition. Be clear as to whether you are attending the exhibition to generate sales leads, to launch a new product or to develop a new customer database. Once objectives have been set, the strategy then needs to be developed. 4. The right message? Make sure that your stand execution fits within your marketing strategy and doesn’t miss this vital opportunity to grow your brand communication. All too often the design of a stand overtakes the message it’s designed to convey, so make sure your brief is single minded, clear and thorough. 5. The right team? Putting together any exhibition can be a real headache, particularly if it’s abroad, so use an experienced company that can take the pressure off your team and allows you to oversee the project without drowning in the detail. Attempting to do it all yourself can often turn out to be a false economy. Hannah Rimmer is leading the KISS exhibition team for the year ahead. Any organisation that needs an effective exhibition presence should contact Hannah on 0208 12345 75 or via email on hannah@kisscom.co.uk