Abbey England Information Exchange: Making an exhibition of yourself – top tips on exhibiting at live events

Friday, 15 April 2022

Making an exhibition of yourself – top tips on exhibiting at live events

With trade and public exhibitions slowly returning to fully live events – or at least hybrid events – there has never been a better time to take a stand at a show. These are the perfect way to showcase your wares or services, and grow your audience of interested customers and clients in a setting relevant to you and your sector.

We spoke with the Executive Director and Secretary of the British Equestrian Trade Association, Claire Williams who told us why exhibiting at events post covid, is still so important:

For many companies face to face contact is still crucial to establishing new business relationships and cementing existing ones.  Whilst Covid revolutionised digital communications for meetings, the winning of customers and new business is still so often reliant on customers seeing and feeling products and having in depth conversations about the products and features that are often really only possible face to face. Buyers benefit enormously from attendance at trade shows to help them discover new and innovative products that they often will not know about until they see them on show. So for companies launching new products, trying to build their customer base or indeed keen to keep the customers they already have, trade shows can achieve all of these key business goals.

Whether you are taking small steps by first being present at a local event, to scaling up to exhibiting at a big national event, these top tips will be useful to help you and your business to stand out from the crowd:

Do your research

Make a list of any local or national events you are interested in exhibiting at, and ensure these would be relevant for you and your business. If you make pet products direct for the consumer, there is still a place for these at equestrian shows, but not necessarily at an automotive trade show.

Also, who is likely to be attending the event? Will it be largely consumers looking to buy product, or trade looking to become clients and use your services? You can then tailor your search and approach, so that you can ensure you’ll be getting the most at exhibiting at that event. Even if you only exhibit at one event a year, make it count. Don’t forget to note down when you would need to submit your exhibition request by too, so you don’t miss out.

Make a stand

Of course, you couldn’t be an exhibitor without a stand. When dressed properly, these can be very effective in showcasing what your brand is all about, what you do, and what the attendee can expect from you. Your stand could include banners, or video screens to showcase product images or videos to engage and capture the audience’s attention as they are strolling through the show. You want your stand to entice visitors to stop and speak to you, find out more and hopefully drive conversions.

Don’t forget to share

Your social followers are some of your biggest fans, so let them know where you’re going to be exhibiting, and when, as they might jump at the chance to visit your stand if they are already thinking of attending the same show. Share your stand number (when you know it) in your posts so they know how to find you.

Also, sharing updates whilst at the show is a great way to entice others who may not have come across your business before to come and visit your stand, thus opening the chance for new business opportunities.

Smile, smile, smile

It might be the thousandth time you have had the same conversation, but to your new stand visitor it might be their first impression of you, so make sure you make every chat count. Looking friendly and engaging will make visitors want to stop and find out about you and your business. Looking tired and grumpy (which you may well be after day three!) is not going to make visitors think that engaging with your business is worth their time.

All about the freebies

Nothing beats a free product, especially as a means of helping attendees to remember your company name and remind them to get in touch with you after the show. Free products could include branded goods, such as pens and stationary, or leaflets with your contact information. Or if you are able to provide a small sample of what your business creates, such as a small leather keyring, the free product can also be the perfect way to show off your creative talent to people who might be interested in buying from you.

To ensure you have everything you need to make enough example, for sale or free goods to showcase at the exhibition, take a look at our vast range of tools and materials to make sure your products make a lasting impression.

Claire Williams’ Top Tips 

Have a plan- be clear about what you want to achieve at the show and how you are going to do this- is it winning new customers, taking orders, raising awareness to existing customers about product ranges, getting sign ups for newsletters, etc. What you plan to do will determine everything else whether that be the look and layout of the stand, whether or not you do show offers and who you have staffing the stand.

Brief staff about the plan – unless the staff working the stand understand what is being offered, the plan will fail.

Train the stand staff on best practice on stands – this is key.  There is nothing more disengaging that walking past a stand to see staff more occupied with their mobile phones than on the people visiting the show. Train them to approach visitors without being pushy and if mobiles are being used legitimately then encourage this to be done discretely. Social media is key for many and this is often done from mobiles, but your visitors may not understand this and see it as a lack of interest in them. Similarly avoid eating and drinking unless as part of a meeting on the stand – lunch breaks should be taken either out of sight or off stand. And newspaper and magazine reading is also a no no.

Follow up – after the show follow up promptly any queries taken. If it is possible to do this on a daily basis then this can save a lot of catch up at the end.