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How to stand out from the crowd at an exhibition

March 2019Tom

If you’ve invested in a trade show or exhibition you really need to make sure you get a return on that investment. Just turning up does not guarantee people will flock to your stand to buy your products and services. Like every marketing tool you’ve got to plan it, be targeted and promote it.

Here’s our top tips for getting it right:

 Choose the right exhibition

If you’ve already booked it’s too late to think about this one. But if not, research carefully. Going to the show as a visitor first is often the best way because you’ll see the traffic that goes through the door and the type of people attending. But this isn’t always practical so do your research. Trade shows are often easy to determine because there’s probably only one or two key events in your industry throughout the year. Business shows are harder to guage because they can be quite generic, so choose carefully.

 Plan ahead

You need to do this well in advance of the show as there are many things to think about and deadlines for show previews and health and safety forms to complete. So download the exhibition guide and make sure you capture all deadlines and commitments and put them in your plan.

Set clear objectives

You need to set targets and be very clear why you are attending the show. Saying you want leads is not good enough. How many leads do you want? What type of leads are you looking for? The more questions you ask yourself, the more specific your targets will be. You may be launching a new product for example and want to attract buyers from a new part of the market. Set yourself realistic and achievable targets and above all, look for quality leads rather than quantity.

 Have a theme

Having an overall theme for your exhibition is one of the best ways of ensuring your messaging is clear and it all ties in. This is far more important than spending big budgets on a fancy stand. As long as your stand is dressed in professional graphics you can keep costs to a minimum, but make sure your message is clear. By trying to say everything and making it all about you rarely works. Think about your USPs and what is going to really make people sit up and take notice. And then create a whole theme around it, it helps you to stand out more.

 Promote your exhibition stand

You need to work really hard to promote that you are attending an exhibition or trade show. PR is a really good way of achieving this aim. Most shows have media partners and will be looking for pre show stories, so if you are launching a new product, have a unique solution or a UK first, for example, you’ll get coverage. What’s your big story? Invite your customers and prospects to meet you at the stand, make appointments, tell them you are unveiling a new product or service, give them a reason to come and meet you.

 Be memorable, but for the right reasons

A hook is often a good idea on the day of the exhibition to attract attention. You can get students dressed up in costumes to walk around the exhibition and hand out leaflets, but check the rules on this and make sure it’s not just a gimmick. If it ties in with your theme then great. You want to be remembered definitely, but for the right reasons!

 Work your stand

Make sure everybody going to the exhibition knows their specific role. I’m not sure what is worse, seeing staff sat chatting whilst having a cup of tea on a stand, or staff chasing prospects down the corridors trying to sell to them! If you’ve not exhibited before get some training for your staff. People should have different and specific roles to play throughout the day. Hookers try to entice people on to your stand, whereas engagers will keep customers talking and make sure prospect forms are completed and their requirements captured. You may have a need for demonstrators who will answer questions and show customers how your products and services will work. You should also nominate a spokesperson who will liaise with the press during the day.

 Follow up

After all your hard work before and during the exhibition, don’t lose the impetus by not following up leads. If you are really slick arrange for a professional emailshot to go out the morning after the show saying thank you for visiting your stand and that you’ll be in touch. Grade your leads in order of urgency and then follow them up quickly and efficiently. Warm leads will soon go cold and one thing you can be sure of, other companies will be calling them too!


Exhibitions are a big investment for any company so make sure you evaluate how it’s worked for you. Measuring results against your targets is a starting point, but do a debrief with your team to find out what went well, what didn’t go so well. Sometimes though sales conversions can take a long time to develop so don’t make too hasty judgements.

FIG has many years’ experience working with clients attending shows and exhibitions, supporting the whole process from training, design and build of stands and graphics, messaging and branding, PR, email marketing and exhibition ideas and themes.

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