Lessons learnt at 2013's Web Summit in Dublin

Yes, the Dublin Web Summit is an experience — 10000+ visitors and 1000+ exhibitors. There are chances to interact with a large number of investors, customers, partners, and competitors — all relevant or important.

We definitely did our preparation but, of course, there is always room for improvement. Here is what we learned; we hope it will help you get more out of exhibitions:

  1. The time before the Summit is demanding. We prepared a new version of our debating platform – Discuto – which we presented in Dublin. Yet while you are trying to meet deadlines, you get bombarded by emails from the summit from other sources offering to help you prepare, plus you have your usual business to look after as well. It can be a challenge to avoid being overwhelmed by it all and you may risk missing deadlines which could mean not exhibiting, or ending up with an inappropriate stand.
  2. Being on top of your emails becomes even more important as the Summit approaches. Be prepared to react quickly to any kind of events, workshops, presentations, or other relevant invitations. This year most sold out within minutes.
  3. If you are a small business you will have a limited amount of space in which to present yourself. You get a stand around 1m in width and 2m in height, a poster with your logo and a short description of what you are doing. So, focus on offering your key message.
  4. Imagine a crowded hall, with hundreds of exhibitors, and lots of people walking through. They will be glancing at the poster, and trying to figure out whether it’s of interest to them.
    1. You have one or two sentences to lure people to your stand and into a conversation. If you are not efficiently communicating what you are offering, people will simply walk on to the next stand.
    2. If you make things complicated, waste space talking about your company history or future, you are not promoting your products or showing the benefits to your target market.
    3. Test your slogans. You may understand what you want to say but others might not. Talk to potential users beforehand and ask them what they think.
  5. Exhibitors use all kind of “tricks” to draw attention to their products. This includes dressing up, using huge screens to showcase their products, offering prizes, inviting people to leave business cards, flying helicopters, giving away promotional merchandise. Spend some time beforehand considering which options could work for you. And do this well in advance of the exhibition.   
  6. People at the exhibition may stop at your stand, but they may not want to interact with you.  Show that you’re available to talk, or find creative ways to catch their attention but don’t “stalk” people. You risk wasting your time and theirs.
  7. If someone does stop to talk, take your time and gauge reaction to your product, and look for ways to improve functionalities and better target customers. Take the reactions of visitors as important feedback that will help to improve your product.
  8. Pitching without showcasing your product is always a challenge so get your pitch ready beforehand. Also spend time with potential customers, asking them for feedback, before you go to the summit.

The experiences made in Dublin will help us better prepare for future exhibitions. We are now looking forward to these exhibitions.

About the author :

Hannes Leo

Hannes is CEO and co-founder of cbased and doesn’t just talk about innovations and encourage others to be innovative; he also makes sure he meets the innovation challenge himself. Continuously analysing innovation concepts from various perspectives, Hannes also advises national and international organisations on competitiveness, innovation, creative industries and participatory decision making.

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