So you have booked your space, agreed the design of your stand and submitted your Health & Safety documents. That, however, is just the start of the journey you need to go on to produce a great exhibition stand and, more importantly, achieve the return on investment you want.

So here at Corporate Innovations we have put together some top tips for you to make that journey smoother and more successful.

1. Setting Up – Whether you are employing a stand build company, or pulling along a pop up stand, make sure you plan your timing by having a thorough read of the exhibitor manual for that particular show. Set up days are a crazy experience with hundreds of stand builders all descending on the same place at once all wanting to get their build done as quickly as possible and, more often than not, you are trying to avoid carpet fitters who also want to get their job done all at the same time. Remember the reason you are there is to promote yourself in the best possible light and create more awareness / win more business therefore taking your time to set up will pay off in the end.

2. Staffing – So many people whose job is very office-focused love a day or two out and about, but do not make the mistake and think working an exhibition stand is easy. It’s a full time job running a stand while an exhibition is on, and it should never be left unattended as this will result in a lack of ROI. If you don’t want to spend all day on the stand yourself, think about part of your investment being spent on promotional staff who are used to the long hours, can offer a smiling face, and can ensure a warm welcome is given to all visitors.

3. Dress appropriately – This may seem like a small point but when you have been stood in the same area for 10 hours and it’s either boiling hot or freezing cold you will be glad you took the time to look into this. Also, look at what extra branding opportunity there may be. Would branded clothing help to re-inforce your presence and make it clear who visitors should talk to?

4. Be prepared – Clients are often surprised with the event bag I arrive with to all events but believe me when I say the A-Team could have created many wondrous escape plans from that little bag. From the awe encompassing gaffer tape, to Velcro, sewing kits and more importantly a First Aid kit, pens, paper and business cards. You can never have too much of any of these items and why not throw in some mints and deodorant for those particularly long days to make sure you stay as fresh with the last visitor as you were with the first.

5. Stand display - You will have your own ideas about what works best for you, and what doesn’t, but the most important thing of all is to be CLEAR, BOLD and IMPACTFUL. You can also learn much from other exhibitors, good and bad. Try googling the previous year’s show and look at pictures of what your competitors did. Know your audience too. What will appeal to them, is relevant to their job, and your offering. During the live days there are other simple rules to follow - Don’t clutter your own stand- NO half-drunk cups of coffee, a newspaper or half-eaten sandwich left on display! If the staff are not being kept busy send them round the exhibition to report back to you with intel on other stands especially competitors. If allowed, get them to stand at the entrance with an engaging leaflet and direct interested visitors to your stand.

7. Attracting visitors to your stand – Don’t pounce on anyone. Some visitors will know exactly what they are looking for, and if you don’t frighten them away, they will tell you in their own good time. This is where hiring promotional staff can really pay off as they do this day in and day out and once they have had their briefing from you they can do their thing. If you don’t have the budget for extra help then just engage with people, eye contact, a nice smile and of course open-ended questions. The conversation starter doesn’t need to be about your product it can be something as simple as a remark on their outfit, a comment about the weather (us Brits love talking about the weather!) Now we all know everyone is a little bit mercenary when it comes to giveaways, some companies have huge budgets and amazing footfalls to their stand due to what they are giving away. That’s great, but other than the item itself, is that visitor really walking away with any knowledge about the value of your offering and be likely to return as a customer. There is no getting away from it, you need to give something away with a branding message, but give some thought about what it is. If you intend to visit a number of shows in any given period then buy in bulk for all of those shows meaning you get better quality from a good price point.

8. Don’t judge a book by its cover - Some visitors maybe time-wasters, but how can you be sure – you can’t. You can’t know this until you engage with them and you most certainly can’t always judge by first appearances! Moreover, even if they may not be buying for themselves, they may be buying for someone else. So however tired you are, however unengaged they may appear to be, remember to interact with them as though they were the first visitor to the stand all those hours ago.

9. Collecting information - If you have the opportunity of investing in a badge scanner – DO IT! They are great inventions and for the sake of a quick scan that’s half the battle won and gives you some really measurable ROI. Practise using it so you are not left in the embarrassing situation of pulling on their clothing trying to capture the bar code. However my biggest piece of advice is USE IT. So many times I have seen people pay the money to hire the scanner and then leave it on a table whilst they talk to a group of people. Also set yourself your own SLA so give yourself a date after the show that you intend to get back to everyone and with what information. There is nothing worse than being contacted a month after you attended a show. The message is not a positive one if you were waiting for that information.

10. Be sure of the show - Calculate the cost of your attendance at an exhibition or trade show, and keep a track on its pay-back for you. Don’t go ‘because you always go’. Don’t go because you were told there was a spare place at the last minute — go because it was worth your investment!

I’d be happy to help you organise your successful attendance at your next exhibition, just give us a call.