Exhibiting – Getting the basics right

Many moons ago I spent a number of years organising B2B and B2C exhibitions. As an organiser we would spend hours working out the room layout, designing shell scheme spaces to maximise revenue, developing great interactive sessions to entice delegates along to the show. We also put together an extensive exhibitor manual full of information including preferred suppliers with discounted rates to help the exhibitors make the most out of their space.

What threw me the most at a number of our shows was the complete lack of knowledge many exhibitors had on how to exhibit and attract and engage with visitors at an event. It was clear that they had not spent time thinking it all through and had just gone with a banner stand and a table, not very interesting to a passer-by. If this wasn’t bad enough, when they then complained about a lack of footfall to their stand event as our fault (3000 people in the room at that time) i watched in horror as they sat behind a blockade of tables playing on their phones not even raising their heads.

This lead me to think that maybe people don’t actually know the basics of exhibiting. They dont seem to even have the basics simple ways to increase stand footfall and visitor engagement levels. Exhibiting can cost a lot of money and if your not maximising your ROI (return on investment) you might as well just send me the money and put your feet up at home for the day.

So here are my top tips for exhibiting and making the most of your space.

1. Make a plan of what you want to have in your stand space. Draw a diagram of what will be included and even the dimensions of all your kit. This way you will maximise your space without over cluttering or it looking bare.

2. Ensure your stand is open and inviting. Do not put tables or display cases around the front of the stand. Its stops you from engaging with passer-by’s and this barrier can make people feel like they are invading your space or interrupting you. Big no no is do not sit down behind a trestle table it just looks terrible and that you have no interest in engaging. Tables are useful to display products and literature but not to sit behind, its an exhibition not a seminar!!!!
Place any freebies inside the stand so visitors have to engage with you if they want something.

3. Be creative with your space, think outside the box and use different materials and displays. An artists easel can look really cool with a branded Foamex board on it. Of course a banner stand is a relatively cheap way to get your message across to people as they walk by but make sure it is not full of lots of text and that it clearly states who you are and what you do. TV screens with videos playing can add life and attract attention to your stand. Maybe even a video game or two, people love a bit of completion and can create a talking point amongst delegates and exhibitors.

4. If possible have a mini event of some sort at your stand. This could be a presentation, prize draw or special guest. Promote it during the event, but make sure it doesn’t class with any major keynote speakers.

5. Read the exhibitor manual thoroughly. Its has been written to help make arranging your participation as easy as possible. It should include any set up or break down times. Details of how items can be delivered and also any extras that may not be included. Electricity is a big one people miss and end up paying extra when they arrive on site. It may also include country specific information such as licences or permits that may be required.

6. Book early and get the best space possible. Always look for spaces that are in an area of natural footfall, entrances or refreshment areas are always busy and a good starting point.

7. GET OFF YOUR PHONE. This is my biggest pet hate at exhibitions. It looks awful, its unprofessional and how do you expect to engage people if you have your head down playing on your phone!!!!!

If you think your space through carefully and do it right, you will find that its not always the biggest most expensive stands that attract the most visitors.

Happy Planning xx

The Faulty Planner

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