Three weeks ago we were offered an exhibitor’s spot at the Sales Innovation Expo to support Salesforce, and while it was short notice, we definitely couldn’t pass up the opportunity. With absolutely zero plan, no branded merchandise or stand design, and very little exhibitor experience, we instantly felt the pressure. Here’s how we managed to pull it off.
So we knew how much time we had — not very much — but we needed to work out what tasks we needed to complete, and prioritise those tasks.
- Design the stand
Being exhibition newbies, we didn’t have an oe:gen-branded wall stand to use on the day, and had to come up with a design concept in time to get it printed and picked up before the show. We needed something that reflected our brand personality and also made it crystal-clear what we do, without it being too complicated or crowded.
We got this designed, sent over, and printed just in time to be picked in Peterborough en-route to London in the van on the day! Phew.
- Plan our offering
We had to think of what we can offer on the day to people who visited our stand. We always see lots of cupcakes, pens, hand sanitizers etc… but along with the usual show merch, we wanted to offer something genuinely useful to people interested in using our services. It’s all well and good offering those free pens or stickers, but we wanted to give something that’s mindful of and tailored to our potential clients.
We decided on a free Sales Cloud and Pardot demo and a 10% voucher discount for our Pardot and Sales Cloud quick starts. But we also wanted to cater to the busy people who might not have the time to grab a demo or talk more in-depth about their Salesforce needs with us on the day. That’s why we went with a ‘coffee with oe:gen’ option — a free coffee voucher to use when those busy bees are ready to talk. This leads nicely onto our totems…
- Design totems
The totems were to advertise our coffee with oe:gen offering, and we wanted to come up with a design that was eye-catching, explained the offering clearly, while also being a little funny. Not hilarious, but something that makes you chuckle as you walk past it. For this I was inspired by quirky blackboard stands you sometimes find outside coffee places such as 200 Degrees. You know what I mean.
So, I googled the most ridiculous, complex Starbucks order out there, which happened to be something along the lines of: ‘grande half-soy non-fat double-shot vanilla no-foam latte at 96-degrees with whipped cream’. Ridiculous, complex, and kinda hilarious, no? I had to use it as the eye-catching opening line.
The copy read:
Grab your free Grande half-soy non-fat double-shot vanilla no-foam latte at 96-degrees with whipped cream on us!
No matter how complicated, we’re always here to chat about your Salesforce needs.
Too busy today? No worries.
We’ll send you a Starbucks voucher to use when you’re ready.
Col’s design and fading typography emphasised the complexity of the Starbucks order and really pulled it all together:
- Design a presentation
Next, we had a presentation to do for the tv (which we also had to purchase!) displaying our service offerings. We decided to make it loop through our four key service offerings and match what we have on the website for consistency.
- Design new business cards
Ah, yet another thing we had to get designed and set off to the printers dead quick! Our sales consultants were in dire need of some shiny new business cards that were in-line with our branding, so we got those designed and sent off in a nail-biting hurry.
- Merchandise (Stickers and pens)
Luckily, I had been to Marketing Week Live the week before we started planning for this show, and had found an awesome branded merch company called Brand ‘n’ Deliver offering biodegradable pens made from sugar cane. We wanted to hand out something different and get people thinking about the environment when they’re going around getting business-pen-bingo at these things.
Now, we did have a teensy bit of a snag here where they accidentally sent us the wrong colour pens at first, but they managed to turn it around fast and sent us the correct pens the day before we were setting off for the show. Disaster, very narrowly avoided!
- Pardot landing page
Our plan was to demo Pardot and Sales Cloud on the day, so we obviously wanted to capture information via one of our lovely Pardot landing page forms! This was perfect because we could then show people how Pardot syncs their data to Salesforce in real-time with the demo. This was created fairly quick as we already had templates set up in Pardot. Easy!
- Update marketing portal
Sadly we were too late to get a magazine slot, but we did end up on the Sales Innovation website as an exhibitor! Nice.
- Blog post and distribution
In between our planning, we had to let people know we were actually going to be there. So I wrote a little blog and we distributed across all our social channels and subscription email lists.
- Trip to IKEA
We needed some tables to rest our laptops on while we did our demos for people (mental note for next year: get some stools as well! Our feet were in AGONY).
- Hire a van
We had to hire a van to take everything from Nottingham down to ExCeL London, and we also had to take a slight detour to Peterborough on the way to pick up the stand and totems last minute. Ever been in a van for 4 hours with Paul? I wouldn’t recommend it. Within 2 seconds he was beeping the horn like a hooligan!
Almost forgot this one. We were very close to sleeping in the van overnight… Luckily, Airbnb had some last-minute options for us, even if Paul had to take one for the team and sleep on the sofa. Sorry, Paul.
The Trello board
After we had all this planned, we created a Trello board where we assigned tasks and prioritised them. This way, once things had been checked off, we could all see the progress of the Expo project.
This is very similar to how we transparently present the progress of our client projects, and it really helped us communicate and see where we’re at within the short timeframe.
15- minute scrums
Our 15-minute scrums helped us be on the same page with who’s responsibility certain tasks were, what the deadlines were, and what had or hadn’t been done. With projects with tight deadlines like this, it’s all about effective communication executed in an agile way.
We arrived at Excel to set up on Tuesday, and searched for the ‘brighter-than-the-actual-sun’ yellow carpet we’d booked for our spot. What do you mean, ‘attention seeking?’
After we set up the stand, admired our handy work and parked the van, it was time to do some last-minute adjustments to our Pardot forms and Engagement programs before hitting the hay. We woke up the next day to an insanely busy queue for the event, and it was go-time!
From roaming robots that did some questionable dances, to Virtual Reality, to actual, real-life holograms — the exhibition was full of amazing things to see and experience. We even met an astronaut and someone’s nan! If you head over to our Instagram, you can view our saved story from the day to see exactly what we got up to.
We met some amazing people, spoke to some lovely prospects looking for help with Salesforce, and went to lots of insightful Keynotes and Masterclasses such as the ones at the Salesforce Masterclass booth, right next to our stand. They were showing how leading companies around the world use CRM, demystifying AI for sales, and bridging the gap between sales and marketing with marketing automation.
We also managed to watch Dave Thomson from Salesforce talk about his ‘Observations from 500 Contact Centre Visits‘. Dave has found that customer contact centres have become a bunch of “23-year-olds using 23-year-old technology”, and is calling for people to get rid of their IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Bold statements, but very true. IVRs do absolutely nothing but piss people off, and we don’t need them anymore — not when we have technologies like Salesforce Sales and Service Cloud out there making lives easier and speeding up service.
Here are some other things people were buzzing about:
- Salesforce marketing automation and integrations
- LinkedIn for business
- The way AI and new technologies are transforming sales
- Building and supporting better sales, marketing and customer service teams
- Account-based marketing
- Conversational marketing/selling.
After the two days of intense networking were up, our feet were tired, but we left feeling full of excitement for next year’s adventure. We’re thinking bigger and better, and maybe a couple of keynote slots? Watch this space; we’ve got a whole year to plan this time around.