How to make the most of your exhibition stand


I’ve spoken at Expo events a couple of times in the past month. Once in Glasgow and yesterday in Newcastle. I’ve noticed a theme when I walk round these shows.

People have paid good money for their stands, and rightly want to get a return on that investment. That typically means having conversations with attendees, generating leads and capturing business cards so that you can follow-up after the event. It’s not rocket science.

However, at both of these shows I would say that only 50% of the stands were making an effort. The others seemed to think that having bought a stand was the end of the process. Wrong!!

Here’s what not to do as an exhibitor at a show:

  • position yourself behind a table. You’ve immediately created a barrier between us. If you’re going to use a table, set it out behind you so that you can engage with people as they walk by;
  • sit behind said table. Now we’re not even on the same level, so how are you going to make eye contact with me?
  • spend the day with your face in your smartphone. Honestly, that’s the thing I saw the most over these two shows. Get off Facebook and talk to me!!
  • look as if you’re really unhappy to be there. Even if you are, make an effort. Smile. Say hi! What’s the worst that could happen? I might turn out to be your ideal customer!

It’s not about budget. Some of the most enjoyable discussions I had in Newcastle were with people on the most simple of stands. But they did something to capture my attention. Often as simple as a smile and saying hi! And these were the people with busy stands, who were harvesting leads.

So next time you take a stand at a show or Expo, spend time really thinking about your strategy for the event. Most events these days have a hashtag, so get on twitter and engage with other people using it. Say hello. Find out what they do. Then plan what you’re going to do to attract people to your stand. No sitting behind a table! And put the smartphones away…..

2 thoughts on “How to make the most of your exhibition stand

  1. LOVE this Ali. All so simple as ideas too. One I would add to the mix is to Listen and ask more Questions as a standholder. This makes not only for a far more interesting day, but it instantly gets you out of that role of feeling like a market stall trader touting your wares. Simply by showing interest in the person who made the effort to come to your stand instead of everyone else’s makes you the more caring more attentive and MEMORABLE person there. The business stuff is always secondary for me.

    1. Thanks Laura, and yes, that’s a great tip to add! The people that I enjoyed speaking to yesterday did that really well, and didn’t try to sell to me. We just had a good conversation and I left their stands feeling energised.

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