How Can You Make Exhibitions Worthwhile?

John Sollars of asks: How can you make exhibitions worthwhile?

I have been selling things to people for most of my adult life. Often this has required me to attend various trade shows and exhibitions as an exhibitor, and also as a visitor.

As an exhibitor I invariably come away with sore feet and a nagging feeling that I have been wasting my money, while as a visitor I come away with sore feet and a nagging feeling that I have been wasting my time. However, exhibitions are still seen as a key marketing plank and the marketplace is buzzing with every niche catered for it seems.

I am going to some shows over the next few months, both as a visitor and as an exhibitor, so here are my top tips for getting really positive benefit from attending:

1. Have a positive mental attitude

This is absolutely key. The biggest factor for most exhibitors is getting over the drudgery: driving for umpteen hours, setting up the stand, standing around all day (sometimes for two or three) being engaging and then driving back. As an exhibitor or visitor you have to look forward to meeting new people and excited at the opportunity of talking about new offerings. Achieving this is tied to the next tip.

2. Set goals

Have a very clear idea of what you want to achieve at the event and set a measurable target that you need to achieve, e.g. acquiring a number of new prospects, or similar.

3. Have a follow up plan

If you can convert 50% of the leads into paying customers then you should see a reasonable return on the investment you have made by being there. As an exhibitor, remember to involve all of your staff in the follow up; make it a treat rather than a chore and reward them as they convert those leads.

4. Be professional

If exhibiting, make sure your stand looks as attractive and interesting as possible. Invest in a decent shell and signage (check there are no spelling errors in the text). Work out what will attract people onto the stand. Before you head off, set it up and step back to make sure nothing is omitted.

5. Enthuse staff

Make sure that staff manning the booth know what they are doing and that they are aware of your objectives and their targets.

6. Let people know

Mail any existing customers in the show’s locality and suggest meeting up. Face-to-face contact helps maintain these relationships and a busy stand generates interest from others.


Exhibitions are hard work, but done right they can be a real benefit to your business. Don’t even contemplate visiting or exhibiting if you feel negative. Instead, showcase yourself and your business and embrace the opportunity of meeting new customers with open arms.

What are your experiences and stories about exhibitions? What have you learned?

Read more about our business expert, John Sollars.

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