Exhibiting Tips

Here are 15 quick tips to get more out of your exhibition stand:

1. Book into the right show

Make sure the show has some history and that your buyers are coming along. Ask the organiser for a breakdown of visitor types. Talk to previous participants. Remember smaller focused events can be better than big general shows. Check the credibility of the organiser with a quick online search.

2. Book early and start planning

Many of us book a show and forget about it, or we book late. We then have to rush at the last minute to get organised. Book early and get a copy of the exhibitor manual. Set up a file for the show and start planning. Book hotels and flights early to get the best rates and lock it in.

3. Set some objectives

Have a chat with your sales and marketing people and set some objectives. They should be practical and realistic. They might include generating a specific number of leads, meetings or sales. They might be to find a distributor, conduct research or attract media attention. You might want to do all these things, but think about the key priorities and how to measure them.

4. Engage in pre-show promotion

The organiser will run a promotion campaign to attract industry buyers, but research has shown a huge advantage for exhibitors who promote their own presence. It helps to generate stand traffic and shows how active you are in the market. Consider mailing a personal letter and ticket to all your current and potential clients. Put links on your emails, website and social media. Tweet and blog about your participation. Include a note on your invoices. Get your reps to hand out tickets to customers. Be enthusiastic - it works!

5. Use social media

Social media and live events go together beautifully. Make sure you are talking about the event in your tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram. If nothing else just follow the official show sites on Twitter or Facebook and share the messages put out by the organiser. At the event you can take photos with your phone and post straight to your account. It's free and easy.

6. Train your show team

Staff are often thrown into a show. It is not their natural environment so they need some help. Bring everyone together before the show and talk about your objectives; talk about the products on display; talk about how to start conversations and how to qualify buyers. The main points can be reinforced with a brief meeting each morning of the show.

7. Motivate your team

Working at a show can be hard work. Motivate your team by offering rewards for meeting your objectives. Set targets in terms of leads, meetings or orders. Give them regular breaks outside the building to recharge. Promise them a big dinner after the show rather than a late night in the middle.

8. Be professional

Your company is literally on show. Make sure your stand is properly put together and your people are well presented and attentive. Instead of posters or pop-ups think about digital prints attached directly to the walls or benches. Rent good quality furniture. Organise storage to hide away files and personal items. Hide power leads under the carpet. Try not to eat or sit on the stand. Don't pack up early.

9. Dress right

You want to look professional but approachable. We suggest you dress the same or slightly better than the audience. A company uniform such as a quality printed polo shirt is great. If you don't have one them perhaps head out and buy some matching ties and scarves. If in doubt wear a suit. Chefs should wear a branded chef jacket.

10. Be obvious

Visitors will walk past your stand in five seconds. Make sure it is obvious what you do. A wall of product is much better than a picture of your factory or bunch of flowers. If you have a new product put up a sign that says ‘new product’. If you want a distributor then put up a sign that says 'distributor wanted'. If you want an order or an appointment then don't forget to ask for it.

11. Be positive

Smile and the world smiles with you - cry and you cry alone. Greet every visitor with a smile and get them excited about what you are doing. If you look grumpy and complain about the show then guess what - you will have a bad show. It is that simple.


12. Ask open ended questions

Train your salespeople to ask intelligent open ended questions. These generally begin with how, why, where or when. For example:

> What style of cuisine do you serve?
> When do you think about new menu items?
> How would you do this in your kitchen?
> Where do you currently source your ...

People generally like to talk about their business. Once you know something about them you can explain how your products will make their life easier.


13. Think about sampling

Providing samples is a great way to engage buyers and showcase your range. Just make you have enough staff and the right equipment to do it professionally, and can still talk to customers. You will need to fill out some forms and follow the local health rules.

14. Get rid of visitors!

Be careful not to spend too much time with individual visitors. You only have so much time to spend with each buyer and you don't want to get caught with people who will never buy - or even with regular buyers. A great way to get rid of visitors is to give them a card and confirm a follow up call. Then move to the next prospect.

15. Follow up

One of the biggest complaints from visitors is that exhibitors do not follow them up. Can you believe it? Make sure you capture details accurately and send something within a week of the show. The only way to make this happen is to prepare your materials before the show. Get something out to everyone and then start calling individually.