Exhibitions are a great way to get brand awareness and meet lots of people. However, you need to do the right things at the right times to maximise the impact of your investment. This brief guide aims to highlight key areas to address, before, during and after the exhibition.

1.Set Objectives

Set clear, defined objectives for the exhibition that fit in with your overall marketing strategy:-

Think. What is the purpose of you attending the event – what will be a successful outcome and how will you measure this?


     To seek Agents and Distributors

     Assess the competition

     Maintain existing sales and contracts

     Introduce and promote a new product

     Increase your market share for existing products

     Target a set number of new potential customers

     Aim for a set target of sales resulting from the event

     Improve relations with existing customers or agents

2. Planning

  1. Appoint a co-ordinator with overall charge of planning and logistics.
  2. Decide on the stand area required; think about the layout and display aids you may need.
  3. Check the facilities you need to exhibit your products will be available e.g. power, water, compressed air, adequate ceiling height and floor loading.
  4. Ensure you have adequate supplies of your sales literature in the appropriate language(s).
  5. Select the staff who will represent your business on the stand and ensure they receive the necessary training to do the job       effectively. Involve them in the planning.
  6. Make sure all those travelling to the event have a current passport; necessary visas; appropriate travel and medical insurance; driving licence (if required); and that advisable vaccinations are up to date. Make your travel and accommodation arrangements in good time - hotels close to the venue quickly become full with exhibitors and buyers. Consider arranging “open” return travel to allow for follow-up meetings after the event.

3. Marketing Options

  1. Select your target audience
  2. Pre-show email/invitation 
  3. Promotional Telemarketing
  4. Advance advertising (e.g. in trade press, show catalogue/grounds)
  5. On-stand catering/prize draw/reception
  6. Press opportunities
  7. Photography – recording of proceedings
  8. Company Business Cards (in different languages?)

4. Before you go….

    1.Check with your production team that exhibits will be ready in good time to meet shipping deadlines
    2.Train your staff in good stand behaviour
    3.Ensure that:-

You are fully conversant with any charges that may be levied by the authorities

Your products are permissible exports/imports

You can comply with any export or import regulation/documentation; if you need a licence apply in good time

You can comply with any local technical, safety, labelling or other regulations.

    4.Space booking and stand construction arrangements must be made in good time.
    5.Confirm that:-

Your exhibits comply with any local regulations

Early application has been made for any Customs or other documentation/licence which may be required.

    6.Be selective in what you choose to display. Select only the appropriate products from your range for the particular market. Bear in        mind that photographs are not as effective as models and models not as effective as the real thing.
    7.Make your shipping arrangements early. Make special allowance for large and heavy exhibits which need to be on site before              stand construction begins.
    8.Make sure that the correct electrical power and other services and facilities needed for demonstrating your exhibits have been              booked. (The ATO may make arrangements for the group). Source appropriate power cables and adaptors.
    9.Arrange proper insurance in good time.
    10.If you need interpreters book them in good time
    11.Make absolutely sure that you can quote delivery dates and prices in the local currency or Euros (or on whatever terms are                  normal in the particular market), and for other markets whose buyers may attend the trade fair.

5. Stand Appearance

  1. Ensure that your stand is fully dressed before the event opens. Do not plan to fix-up displays or exhibits while visitors, who may be potential customers, are arriving.
  2. Design the layout of your stand to create the maximum impact from within your budget.
  3. Do not overfill your stand. Allow for furniture, cupboards, display boards, etc. which complement the stand design and/or arrange for these to be supplied.
  4. Prepare stand graphics and sales literature carefully and in good time, and ensure you have sufficient copies of your literature.   Check you have adequate room on your stand for storing excess literature.
  5. Ensure your graphics state clearly what you do.
  6. Ensure consistent and clear branding.
  7. Use additional lighting, e.g. spotlights or floodlighting to highlight exhibits and graphics.
  8. Make a list of the items that you will need to have with you on the stand, e.g. visitors book, pens, stapler, scissors, business   cards,

6. At the Show.

  1. Make sure you have enough representatives to staff the stand for the whole event allowing for adequate breaks and business calls. Appoint a Stand Manager for all sessions. No-one to leave the stand without informing the Stand Manager
  2. Make sure staff behave professionally on the stand as per training
  3. Decide how details of visitors to your stand will be recorded and that all staff are aware of it. Keep it simple.
  4. Make sure that all on your stand are fully aware of what has been provided for them in the way of display aids, services etc., and know the rules and regulations which apply to exhibitors.
  5. Ensure staff can answer any technical questions and, if appropriate, demonstrate your products. Also, check staff know about the full range of your business‟s products, are aware of how to help in meeting the objectives you have set for the exhibition, and can negotiate credit and delivery terms for orders and arrange follow up as necessary.
  6. Set up a line of communication with your local agent or back to base in the UK so that stand staff are able to check quickly on delivery dates etc. if necessary. Make sure your stand staff know about it.
  7. Ensure your staff arrive in good time to install properly and, where necessary, test-run your exhibits at least 24 hours before the opening of the event, if permitted.
  8. Consider security arrangements in the halls and ensure any valuable items on your stands are secure, including outside opening hours.
  9. Keep your stand neat and tidy throughout the event.
  10. Hold a review meeting with the team at the end of each day.

7. On the Stand

  1. Set objectives/targets
  2. Wear a name badge
  3. Be welcoming but not too pushy. 
  4. Remember to use names
  5. Take and hand out business cards (not everyone has time to talk but they can always call or look at your website later)
  6. Identify key customers and competitors and act accordingly
  7. Use your “Elevator” speech
  8. Sell Benefits (less focus on features)
  9. Never let a client go without taking full contact details
  10. Always make legible notes during or immediately after meetings even if you keep the next client waiting. Review after the day‟s close.

8. “Elevator” Speech

In order to maximise your potential to appeal to any passing clients you may want to work on an elevator pitch or a core script for stand staff. You should:-

  • Use a short, punchy and memorable description of your business and what you can do/provide
  • Include why someone would want to do business with you – what‟s in it for them?
  • Tailor your speech for different audiences
  • Keep it brief - 30 – 60 seconds max

9. After The Exhibition

  • Make arrangements for re-shipment of unsold exhibits and in particular ensure goods imported „in bond‟ are re-exported or are dealt with in accordance with other local Customs requirements.
  • Ensure a responsible member of your stand staff has adequate local currency to settle local accounts and pay any charges that may be levied by the authorities before leaving.
  • Consider that one member of staff remains available for up to 24 hours after the event closes to develop contacts made at the exhibition, analyse all serious enquiries and follow-up, assist your local representative (if you have one) with sales training/further product development and maximise the benefit of the opportunities identified at the exhibition.

10. Evaluation

Meet with all staff who were involved in either planning or staffing the stand and discuss:-

Evaluating Your Stand - Consider:

  • Number of Business Outcomes
  • Quality of Visitors
  • Visitor Perceptions
  • Number of “meaningful” meetings
  • Number of active leads generated

Evaluating the Exhibition - Think About:

  • Who attended (your existing customers, potential customers, competitors?)
  • Any well-known exhibitors not present?
  • Cost of exhibiting – was it good value for money?
  • Location at show – traffic flow etc.
  • Perceptions of the people manning your stand
  • Did your presence help to achieve your objectives
  • Would you go again?
  • Did anything go wrong – how would you avoid this occurring again?

11. Follow Up

  • For Immediate Opportunities:
    • Email asap thanking for time
    • Possible phone call to develop relationship
    • Pass contact on to appropriate person for immediate action
  • Non Immediate Opportunities:
    • Email within 2 weeks
    • Make further contact every 3 months or as appropriate
  • No Further Interest:
    • Email within 2 weeks and remind

Make Sales!

(That‟s what exhibitions are for)

UK-based UKTI International Trade Advisers can give you further guidance - if you are not already working with one please complete this form.