Five Mistakes People Make When Planning Their Exhibition.

Taking part in an exhibition can be costly and time consuming, but if this gives your business the chance to show off its products and services it will be worthwhile.

However, having a stand, whether in the UK or abroad, should not simply a matter of booking a space and hoping for the best.

Before you decide on a company to design and produce the stand, you need to consider whether they really understand what you want to achieve. After all you are paying for it.

We’ve designed and produced stands for a wide range of companies at the biggest events in Europe and the UK. We work closely alongside your team and look after everything from start to finish. All you have to do is turn up….and charm the visitors of course.

From our 30 years in the exhibition industry these are the five biggest mistakes you need to avoid.

Failing to Plan

You need to make sure you have a clear set of objectives. Deciding to go to a show is not enough. Ask yourself – why am I going and what do I want to achieve? Who do you want to target and what image do you want to convey? How will you make sure your stand will attract the visitors you want? What do you want to do with the products you will have on the stand i.e. are they giveaways, are they being sold, are they there for display only? What are you going to do with the visitors once they arrive on your stand? Will you offer hospitality, do you have a separate area to talk shop? All these things need to be considered well before the show, and not the week before, or even on the day.

Not Setting a Realistic Budget

Don’t skimp on the budget. To get a good return on investment at exhibitions you need to ensure the budget is realistic. Cutting corners won’t do you any favours when you are placed next to other stands who have spent time and money on their exhibition. You don’t want to end up looking like the poor relation. Think about these things in the planning stage. You can have the best stand in the world, but if you want to do business on the day, yet don’t have a private and separate area, that may put people off. You may also want to add in extras such as video production to show on the stand to attract visitors in, or have product demonstrations taking place. This all needs to be carefully though through and costed.

Not Giving Enough Attention to Stand Design

If you have planned properly, the brief is correct and the budget is realistic then and only then put your designs out to tender. What I would always suggest is put half a day aside and ask several companies to come along and give you a company presentation. That way you will get a better idea of how they work and whether you can work with them. Then choose three of those companies to put a stand design together and choose the design you like best. What is most important is that whichever company you choose, ensure they offer a multi-faceted service. You have to be sure the company that is coming in will organise that show and provide exactly what they are promising.

Not Briefing the Team

Do brief the team who are going to be manning the stand. Don’t just get them to turn up and expect them to know exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Make sure they are in the right attire to represent the company, and that they have all the knowledge and information they need to represent your company. After all, investing in an exhibition is your chance to really show off and you don’t want the stand team to let you down. You also want visitors to the stand to be able to identify your team quickly and easily. If you have a branded uniform, tops with logos for example, that will make it easier. If not, then spell out a dress code. Should the men be wearing a tie, for example? Again, think about the image you want to convey. Make sure your team members know who is doing what among themselves e.g. who is collecting data, who is serving drinks, who is looking after the clients, who is keeping an eye out for that perfect visitor – the one you don’t want to miss. There is no point in having a stand at an exhibition if your staff don’t know what to do with the visitors it attracts. After the show make sure you follow up on those visitors and if you don’t have an in-house team then use a telemarketing company to ensure all bases are covered.

Failing to Promote

How are visitors, customers and potential clients going to find out where you are at the exhibition or whether you are there at all if you don’t tell them? So many people forget to promote the stand prior to the show to existing customers and potential customers on their database. Promotion of your stand and the exhibition itself should be factored into your planning. Don’t just rely on the exhibition organisers. In the lead up to the show, look build up your social presence and start making announcements. Also use the exhibition social platforms – most are usually quite proactive and it will help to amplify your message. If you are launching a new product at the exhibition, it might be worth looking at a pre-show launch release. When you’re at the exhibition, what will you do to attract people to the stand? Do you have an interesting video running on the stand? Are you using social media to promote your presence? If you have a PR agency, what are they doing to help publicise your presence at the exhibition? Don’t forget to follow up after the show too. Let people know you have been there. Write a blog or thought leadership piece or get your PR agency to do this. If you’ve had a significant order or contract win at the show, then talk to the media. And don’t forget to put together a media pack prior to the show, and engage with the relevant media while you are there.

We have decades of experience helping companies to get everything right when it comes to exhibiting at their major shows. Don’t leave it to chance or to the last minute. Get in touch now, and we will help you to SHOW OFF and STAND OUT and at the same time take away the headache of planning and preparation.

Lesley Russon, Show Off Displays

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