20 ways to exhibit like a pro

Posted on Mon 20th Nov 2017 at 2:16pm

Engineering successful show participation for your company isn’t hard if you do the right things. But what exactly are those “right things?” By David O’Beirne, Publisher of Exhibitors Only

Here are my top 20 exhibiting tips based on years of working with and observing successful exhibitors.

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the show. Success will be yours if you have time to address a long list of pre-event “to do’s.”

  2. Check all paperwork that pertains to your site booking. Be sure that you understand exactly what your contract with the organiser covers. If your booking is for Space Only or Floorspace Only, it means that your company has to provide the stand that goes on that space. If you have a shell scheme booking, check what is included. Some bookings include carpeting, electrics and a furniture package. Others won’t. Best to know so you can plan accordingly.

  3. Define clear objectives for the show. Put them in writing. Share them. Get sign-off for them. Be clear before the show about what success is going to look once the show is over.

  4. Objectives and goals should be measurable, not vague. Substitute vague phrases like “generate sales leads” for “capture XX leads from new contacts.”

  5. Work back from your goals and make plans to achieve them. Capturing 50 leads on a two day show means signing 25 leads a day. If the show is open for 14 hours in total you need to capture 3-4 good leads per hour.

  6. Get your strongest stand team together and give them plenty of advance notice. Pick enthusiastic, hard working people. No shirkers. No whiners. Remember, this team will be for many show visitors, their first impression of your business. You want it to be the best possible. Remember too that, you are also relying on this team to help deliver your show goals and objectives!

  7. Book accommodation and travel for everyone who will be working on your stand. The earlier you do this, the better your chances of being in a hotel that’s close to the venue or city centre.

  8. Put together a listing of all staff contact details including mobile numbers and home addresses and home contact numbers

  9. Plan your stand design and the layout of your exhibits early. Always plan to scale to ensure that everything fits into your stand space.

  10. Reserve or book your exhibits and displays within your own business well in advance of the show. If you leave this too close to the event, some equipment or products may be unavailable for use.

  11. If exhibiting with a custom build stand; submit your design for approval to the show organisers. Do this at the earliest possible time and certainly in advance of the deadline set for submissions. If changes need to be made, get the information back to your stand designer ASAP. An amended design will need to be submitted.

  12. Submit orders for your electrical, data supply, rigging (if needed) requirements to the venue. You’ll find order forms for these services in your copy of the Exhibitor Manual for the show. Missing deadlines may incur surcharges for venue services like data and electrics, so avoid wasting money by being on-top of things.

  13. Organise your graphics. If there is one display element that can make a standout stand, it’s graphics. Big and bold is the way to go especially on a small stand. If you have a limited budget, make the biggest investment that you can in the design of your graphics. Talk to your stand contractor and get their input on fitting. Where possible, go for a seamless look with a flat wall installation. If you’re not sure what that is, your contractor will be able to explain.

  14. Arrange the shipping and transport of your exhibits. Unless your exhibits are small and very portable, transport to and from the venue will be required.

  15. Promote your presence in advance of the show. Exhibitors who don’t tell their clients and prospective customers about their participation are doing themselves a disservice. Determine why attendees should make the time to time to visit your stand. Translate these “whys” into pre-show promotional messages to people working in the companies that you most want to meet. Don’t rely on just one email to announce or highlight your presence. Run a campaign and consider using direct mail and social media to promote your show appearance too.

  16. Keep the show’s Marketing Team informed about any product launches, celebrity visits or other newsworthy items that you have organised for the show. They will also promote these things at no cost to you.

  17. Arrange your show follow-up measures before the show. You exhibit ultimately to generate sales and to win new clients. Lead capture and management is an important step in that process. When you exhibit you are in competition with other exhibitors for the attention and orders of the show’s attendees. Post show, you need to move fast and preparing your follow-up materials in advance enables you to do that.

  18. During the show, run your stand like a pro. Ensure that your stand team is helpful and enthusiastic with visitors. No one should not be left hanging around waiting for someone to talk to them. Stand staff shouldn’t be on their phones or chatting to each other either. Ensure all areas of the stand are covered. If using digital screens, check that all are displaying correctly. Don’t allow your stand to get untidy. Lead and inspire your team. Share progress on goals. Invite and act on their feedback.

  19. Post show, follow-up with stand visitors quickly. Distribute leads to your sales team so that they can follow-up too. Enter all lead information into your database. Note the show name where the lead was collected. This will enable you to track future sales and attribute the value of the sale to your show participation.

  20. Report your results. Compare what was actually achieved with the objectives that were written pre-show. Note what worked and what could be improved. Record everything that was spent. You may find that you need to add new costs lines to your budget. Doing so will ensure greater accuracy in financial reporting on future events.   

Successful exhibiting is like achieving success in other areas of life. You need to follow a plan. Do this and you will always exhibit like a pro.

About the author

David O’Beirne, publisher of Exhibitors Only, has a career in exhibitions and events that spans more than thirty-five years. Much of that time was spent working as an organiser of trade and consumer shows but, as an exhibitor, David has organised stands and exhibited nationally and in events in mainland Europe. During the past twenty years, he has advised hundreds of exhibitors via training seminars and consultancy, on the most productive ways to improve their show results. David’s most recent corporate appointment was as Media & Sponsorship Director with ExCeL London where he led a team focused on creating new  branding and sponsorship opportunities for organisers and exhibitors.


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