Trade shows and exhibitions can be a valuable promotion method for your company, whether they are a
big national or international show, or a local one-day event put on by your local Chamber of Commerce.

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Your trade show exhibition stand

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Trade shows and exhibitions can be a valuable promotion method for your company, whether they are a big national or international show, or a local one-day event put on by your local Chamber of Commerce.

But they can be expensive (in terms of both time and money), tiring and frustrating.

Here are a few tips which may make your exhibition presence more effective:

  1. If possible, go to the show as a visitor in the preceding year. That way you will get a flavour of the atmosphere and be able to gauge if the sort of people visiting are your type of potential customer. If you can't do this, ask the exhibition organiser for a catalog from the previous year's show, and for a profile of the visitors who attended. The catalog will help you to identify if your competitors have exhibited there.
  2. Ask your existing customers if they have visited or intend to visit the show. If the answer is 'yes' then your potential customers may also be visiting.
  3. If you have a choice of stand location, try to get one:
    • Near to the entrance
    • Near to the bar / buffet
    • Near to the toilets
  4. Can you man the stand effectively? You can't even do a one-day show on your own. If you are a small business, try to involve friends and family who might be able to relieve you for an hour or so.
  5. Make sure that you allocate enough time after the show to follow up sales leads. Don't leave them for more than a week, or the leads will grow cold. Chances are that most of your visitors will have thrown away the literature that they picked up on your stand.
  6. Plan ahead. Rule #1 of exhibitions is that "if anything can go wrong, it will"! Be sure to have your "Exhibitor's Survival Kit" with you. This should include everyday items such as sticky tape (double-sided), scissors, screwdrives, knife (a Swiss Army knife is indispensible), Velcro strips, plain white card, felt tip pens, stapler - whatever you can think of. Chances are that what you need is what you have forgotten to bring with you!
  7. Take 50 per cent more literature (and business cards) than you think you will need.
  8. When designing your stand, try to get motion, activity and sound on it to attract attention.
  9. Make sure that any equipment you have is spotless. Harsh exhibition lights will show up the smallest bit of dirt.
  10. Try to make eye contact with people passing your stand (they will try to avoid it!) When you've got their attention do not say "Can I help you?". The answer will be "no". Ask them an open-ended question such as "What are you particularly interested in?". If visitors are wearing name badges, try to glimpse their name before speaking to them, then give them a big smile and say "Hello Mr X...". It works wonders!
  11. Try to make time to visit other exhibitors' stands. You can often do as much business with them as with visitors to the exhibition.
  12. Never smoke or eat on the stand. And try to avoid sitting down, no matter how much your feet and legs ache.
  13. Go easy on the evening entertainment. The biggest prospect you have ever had might appear on your stand at 9 am the following morning.
  14. Last, but not least, never once lose your confidence or enthusiasm throughout the whole exhibition.

Exhibitions can be expensive, time consuming and very tiring. But they can also be very rewarding.

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