Ten top tips for effective exhibiting

30th September 2010

The recession may be over but many companies are still feeling the pinch. So, it's not surprising that many businesses are looking to get the most out of their marketing activities. When it comes to exhibiting, there are a number of steps that can help ensure a successful event.

1 Choose carefully
Choosing what exhibition to attend is the first part of any successful event marketing campaign. There is little point in turning up to every exhibition. Instead, focusing on exhibitions that provide access to the audience you are targeting is often a good idea. Another option is to opt for a tradeshow that is in a related industry, where it may be possible to meet new contacts.

Weigh up the pros and cons of various exhibitions. Attracting attention at smaller events can sometimes be easier as attendees have fewer stands to visit, but larger exhibitions will provide more possible visitors.

2 Plan, plan, plan
Planning is the key to any event's success. Consider who you are aiming to speak to and what the company's goals are. Figure out how you can achieve these through an exhibition. Speak to the event's management team and don't be afraid to ask them for advice. They want your presence at the exhibition to help it be a success so they will often be willing to discuss booth design, staff scheduling and a marketing campaign prior to the show kick-off. Make a check list and tick items off as you achieve them.

3 Choose your stand carefully
When it comes to choosing a stand, it's important to ensure you opt for one that's in a good location.

Make sure the stand clearly says what your company does and don't put too few or too many items on display. A very neutral stand can look boring and often isn't enticing, while one with many items can be intimidating. Remember that sensory items are often a good idea – is there something to taste, smell, listen to, watch or feel?

Stands should also be free from clutter, including half-drunk cups of coffee.

4 Don't forget about marketing
Creating a buzz is a key part of the marketing around an exhibition. Use Facebook, Twitter or your company newsletter to tell people that your representatives will be at the exhibition and consider launching a new product or service at the event to help boost your firm's profile.

5 Never send just one person to man the stand
Manning a stand can be exhausting and even boring at times, which is why it is beneficial to have more than one person at the show. People also need breaks – whether it's for a bite to eat or a quick stop at the bathroom. Leaving your stand unattended means that you could miss out on possible consumers or contacts. Even if your business is small, it is worthwhile taking along a friend to ensure there is always someone for attendees to speak to.

6 Be pleasant
The person on the stand needs to ensure that they are pleasant to everyone they meet, actively working to promote the organisation or business. An exhibition is a great opportunity to display the personality of your business, but the people on the stand must ensure they are approachable and knowledgeable.

7 Get visitor contact details
It's important to qualify visitors at the stand, finding out which ones are possible customers or contacts and which ones are probably wasting time. Try to get further contact details or pass on yours to them.

8 Follow up
The success of many exhibitions often comes down to the follow-up. Send further information to those who requested and consider giving others a quick call or an email. Don't wait months – this needs to do done as soon after the event as possible.

9 Work out the value
There's no point in attending an exhibition if it doesn't add value to the company. Work out a way of quantifying this – did you build your profile, gain new customers or increase the number of contacts on your mailing list?

10 Ask for feedback
Learn from your experience at the exhibition. Ask existing customers what they liked and didn't like and speak to other exhibitors to see if they have any tips.