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Exhibitions Trade Shows 4 Things You Need to Know

By: Dianne Perrett

Exhibitions and trade shows are a costly marketing tool. Not only is the actual stand space and design/construction expensive but there are also the myriad of hidden costs one often doesn?t budget for; the lost production time of staff manning the stand, the subsistence costs and the handouts that are all part and parcel of stand participation.

What can one do to maximise return on investment? There are a number of critical issues that should be considered:

Choose your stand location carefully:

People are habitual creatures. They will walk in a set pattern, which is known to show organisers. Discuss your needs, who else will be there (competitors / complimentary service providers etc) and what the traffic flow is expected to be. Also remember to look out for any specific requirements eg water, entrance / exits, specific power sources etc. Avoid a dead end as people won?t go down them and you?ll be overlooked. And, be mindful of structural features eg columns, level changes etc, which will detract from your stand?s initial impact.

Develop a sense of showmanship:

A good stand will always convey its message quickly and with a freshness that?s appeals to the target market. Try something unusual (but relevant for your industry) to achieve impact and ensure you have relevant communication tools eg brochures and business cards to hand out. All tools utilised should convey a consistent message and be of a similar standard to indicate consistency ? this encourages peace of mind in the visitor and they can leave your stand with a clear message well understood. Remember to determine up-front what type of display will hit the right note with the audience, is static sufficient, or is something interactive going to get you noticed. Can a theme add value or should you have high tech multi-media material? Know what you want the stand to do for you and you?ll find it much easier to make the decision on what type of communication style will be most appropriate.

Select staff to man the stand carefully:

Often an ?anyone will do? attitude is developed when looking for people to man the stand. However, this alone will undo all the good work that has gone into the preparation and presentation of your exhibition. Staff on duty must not sit, eat, smoke, loiter, talk on cell phones or read the paper. They must always be professionally groomed, be on time for their shift, be pleasant and courteous and, above all, be knowledgeable when asked about your business and it?s products/services.

Follow up once the show is over:

By having a mechanism to collect business cards eg having some kind of lucky prize draws, you can enlarge your database of prospects substantially. However this information is of no use if it is not utilised after the show is over. Drop all the contacts a note advising them of who won the prizes and thanking them for their support. Then, follow up a month later with correspondence telling them of a special promotion, event or new product launch. Statistically, new clients need to see your name, and be reminded of what you do, three times in quick succession in order to remember you. This simple 1-2-3 will hit the right note.

As with all the marketing tools there is always more to it than meets the eye, but once understood it all becomes purely logical. I hope these pointers help you get the most out of your next exhibition.

Happy Marketing!

Dianne Perrett

Dianne Perrett has been an international marketing consultant for over 15 years. She has worked at both corporate and entrepreneurial level on 3 continents with hundreds of clients as diverse as cosmetics and day old chicks, attorneys and travel agents. Few have as much experience with different cultures, industries, countries and marketing challenges.

She regularly contributes to marketing forums, business publications and, through her own free marketing newsletter, to hundreds of marketing individuals globally.

Dianne can be contacted through

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