The Endometriosis Foundation recently attended its first exhibition, the Fertility Show, at London Olympia.
After supporting them with exhibition print and advice for the show, we caught up with Carla Cressy, founder of The Endometriosis Foundation, to find out how they got on and what they learned from the experience.
It was Carla’s first time exhibiting at this kind of event, so we shared with her some insights that we’d learned from our own experiences. We were also able to pass on the knowledge that we’ve learned from speaking to customers who are seasoned exhibitors.
These insights allowed Carla to consider import and topics and questions ahead of the event and avoid surprises on the day itself.
Key questions we discussed in the build-up to the Fertility Show were:
- How do we best stand out?
- How much room do we have and how can we utilise the space best?
- How best to tailor the information to fit with the event?
- What’s the best way to spread our message?
Being constantly busy with other events before the show gave Carla plenty of opportunities to practice setting up her stand before the big day.
Carla said: “We had two practice runs setting up our stand before we went so we definitely felt prepared.
“We had a couple of test runs to practice like when we visited the West Ham women’s team. This meant, on the day we had absolutely no issues or stress about setting up!”
The Fertility Show came around in a flash for Carla and her team.
As experts in Endometriosis, they came with a wealth of experience in their field. However, as first-time exhibitors, neither Carla nor her team knew what to expect from the show.
Carla said: “My expectations of the exhibition before it took place was that it was going to be a calm day where we’d talk to a few people about ourselves.”
In reality, the show proved to be a bustling event, with crowds of eager visitors keen to learn about the Foundation’s work.
A helping hand
To help deal with the huge audience attending The Fertility Show, Carla brought a team with her for support. With four volunteers helping over the two days, The Endometriosis Foundation were ready to set up and take on its first exhibition.
Carla said: “Our plot was an open space which we easily filled. Our stand position and set up gave off a welcoming feel which we hoped would encourage as many people as possible to come and talk to us.”
Thankfully, their preparation paid dividends. Carla explained that they arrived with 30 minutes to spare before the crowds were let in. Their thorough practice runs meant they took only 15 minutes to get set up!
On with the show!
As it turned out, The Endometriosis Foundation were the only charity exhibiting at the show.
Carla added: “Everyone else there was a clinic so a lot of people came to us as we were a different voice in the room. Being the only charity there, people were coming to us for a break and a bit of respite.”
In anticipation of the show, Carla and her team were apprehensive about how popular their stand would be.
However, over the course of the two days, they were blown away by the support and popularity their stand received.
Carla said: “None of us expected as many people to interact with our stand as they did.
“We especially didn’t expect that many people to come to us who either had endometriosis themselves or knew a friend or relative who had experienced the disease.”
In fact, their stand was so popular that they struggled to keep up with demand. Their freebie stock of Bags and Leaflets depleted so quickly that they had to create their own!
Carla said: “We gave out all our gift Bags before the show ended. We thought we would have plenty of leftovers!
“Originally, we imagined we’d hand out 100 a day at best but we ended up giving out over 200 each day! We ended up making up our own goodie bags as they were still in demand.”
But what made their stand so popular, and what made them stand out in a packed-out London Olympia?
Carla emphasised how important their printed goodies were: “Everyone loves a freebie!”
She added: “Nearly every other stand was white and blue. Our stand was filled with yellow and pink print that was surrounded by our Wide Banner and accompanying Roller Banners.
“Our stand was unmissable!”
Not only taking part in her first exhibition, Carla was also a show ambassador for the Fertility Show.
This meant a day of multitasking between roles. Running between her stand and topical discussions on the main stage, she was in for a busy day!
Carla added: “Being a show ambassador, I had to run across to the other side of London Olympia to get mic’d up for our panel talks. It was a bit hectic as the stage was the other end to where our stand was!”
Learnings for next time
First shows don’t go much better than The Endometriosis Foundations. However, there are always lessons to be learnt to take on board for the next time.
After all, nothing changes if nothing changes! These are some of the insights Carla will be carried forward for future events:
Be prepared for people’s generosity!
Next time, Carla wants to include an easy way for people attending to donate to The Endometriosis Foundation. Being the only charity at the exhibition, many people wanted to give their money, however, this wasn’t something Carla had anticipated.
She added: “We needed a way of collecting money from people while we were there. We had so many people coming up to us and wanting to donate but we could only send them to our website.
“We needed an easy way for people to donate. Either a card reader or a scannable QR code.”
Pick a role and stick with it
One of the main things Carla would change is her multi-tasking between attending her stand and being a show ambassador.
She said: “It was hectic multi-tasking as our stand and the stage couldn’t have been further from each other! Next time I think I’d have to choose between roles and only do one of them.”
Ensure that promo materials are plentiful and all-inclusive
Having given out all their Bags before the show ended, Carla wants to take more Bags as well as other merchandise next time.
While their Leaflets were filled with essential topics and information, she wants to cover wider issues for her audience.
Carla added: “ We were prepared to talk about fertility but not for other topics as much.
“Next time I want to provide more information and varied topics in our Leaflets that cover wider topics such as nutrition and pain management.”
The show must go on!
Learning from Carla’s first exhibiting experience, the main thing you can take away if you’re looking to exhibit at your first show is that it’s better to take too much than run out.
It’s better to have too much merchandise than not enough!
A good place to start in getting an idea of what kind of event you might be exhibiting at, to get a gauge of your audience and its size, would be to get in touch with the organisers of the show to get a better understanding of any questions you may have!
If you need any printed goodies to take along with you, we’ll be here to help you every step of the way!
After all, as Carla put it, who doesn’t love a freebie?