Exhibiting at Trade Shows

The ultimate guide to exhibiting at trade shows

An exhibition or trade show is a fantastic way to show off your products and services and to meet new customers. Exhibitions are great for gaining insights into your customer and the industry, so it’s never too early to start coming up with exhibition stand ideas. There’s an exhibition for almost every industry or interest, from car shows to comic con, business studies to weddings. These shows often span large halls holding thousands of like-minded people. There’s no better way to get in front of people who matter to your business. Making an impact at a trade show can be tough, though, with hundreds of exhibitors all competing for attention. For a truly stand-out stand, your team, your materials and your messaging will all have to be on point. Here’s our comprehensive guide to covering all the bases this exhibition season.

Before the trade show

Be clear on objectives

• What do you want to achieve by attending a trade show or exhibition? What returns do you expect on your investment?
• Without a direct goal in mind, it’s hard to focus your activity. Establish clear objectives to make sure your participation is as effective as possible.
• Consider your main aim. What do you want to achieve?

Increase brand awareness?

• Launch a new product? Concentrating on a specific product category
• Gather new contacts and prospects?

Be specific – set a target. For instance:

Expand your network by 15%
Secure 30 advance orders
Get 50 people to subscribe to emails

Be clear on budget

Set a smart budget and stick to it. Be aware that you’ll need to cover:
• Stand space (plus additional venue charges such as rigging)
• Stand display materials (including item hire and any refreshments you might give away)
• Advertising budget for promotion
• Marketing collateral such as printed materials and promotional products
• Transportation for your materials
• Personnel (will there be weekend overtime for your colleagues, will you need external help?)
• Travel and accommodation for your team
• If it’s a new show, are the organisers offering any special discounts to prospective exhibitors?

Find a show, book a stand

In many industries, one trade show dominates. Other business may face a more open decision about where to exhibit. Either way, you’ll still need to consider whether the exhibition is:
• Relevant to your objectives
• Relevant to your audience
• Within budget
• In a suitable location

Once you’ve selected the exhibition that meets your criteria, the location of your stand is highly important. Contact the event organiser for a map of the hall and consider the following when selecting and designing your stand:
• Identify key locations – areas close to entrances, main thoroughfares and amenities.
• Position your entrance and your messaging so it can be seen from the areas where people congregate.
• Work out which way visitors are most likely to approach your stand. Research the venue and try to look at videos of other events there to gauge which direction people walk around the hall to indicate how you should orientate your signage.

Remember to continue to liaise with the event organiser throughout your preparations. Make sure you’re always up to date on details regarding timings, permissions and promotion opportunities.

Promote your presence

You’ve booked your stand – you’re going to be there. Now you have let people know.

There are many ways to encourage visitors to attend the trade show and visit your stand. by promoting your presence ahead of the event. These include:

• Send out a ‘save the date’ invitation.
• Use appointment cards to arrange specific meetings with existing customers during the show to cement relationships and secure future POs.
• Adding a banner to your website.
• Promote your appearance in email signatures, remember to include your stand location.
• Use marketing emails to inform subscribers.
• Pick up the phone to high-value customers.
• Create social media posts. Use hashtags created by event organisers, or establish your own.
• Speak to the organisers about potential promotional opportunities – you may be able to secure some co-op marketing as part of your stand booking.
• Write a press release and distribute to relevant media
• Why not offer exclusive special offers available to attendees only? Promoting your exclusive trade show deal in all these comms will help encourage attendance.

Create a mock-up and have a dry run

• Practice makes it perfect. Time will be tight when you arrive on-site, so you want to get the majority of your decision making finalised ahead of time. Taking these measure can save you a lot of time:
• Mock it up. Create a scaled-down floorplan based on the dimensions of your stand. Use cardboard cut-outs of your products and display elements to arrange and rearrange the layout of your stand.
• Dry run. Once you’ve finalised your layout, measure out in an open space. Practice setting up your display area prior to the event so you can get to grips with the logistics and the assembly. Take pictures when your happy with it. Plan of action. Based on your experience of the dry run, create a plan of action so everyone knows what they’re doing on arrival.

Top tip: During your dry run make a list of any equipment you used such as tools or step ladders. Use this as an inventory, making sure you have everything you need when you set off for the show.

Creating your stand

Standing out from competitors in a busy exhibition centre requires some serious visual impact. When you’re formulating your trade stand ideas, consider lines of sight and do all you can to direct the trade show traffic to your stand:

Use height. Do the organisers accommodate suspended overhead signage? Do they look after the rigging? What are the costs?

Use light. Illuminate your message, create an atmosphere and highlight key areas with lighting. Ensure you liaise with event organisers and comply with their health and safety regulations

Use built elements. The fixtures, fittings and furniture of your stand need to fulfil their function, but they should also work hard to attract attendees. Think about what elements you might need such as:

• Seating
• Writing surfaces or somewhere to put a laptop or tablet
• Somewhere to mount a screen
• A counter to serve refreshments
• Somewhere to hold a one-to-one chat, especially if you’ve booked appointments
• Simple seating that offers an opportunity for a rest will attract visitors.
• A free coffee bar will attract even more!

Freestanding Elements

Use freestanding elements. Custom printed display stands tend to be easy to transport, assemble and dismantle. There’s a huge range of different shapes, sizes and types available, such as:

• Exhibition Stands
• Roller Banners
• Flags
• Fabric Displays
• Literature Stands

Top tip: You should also think about the way the visitors will move around and through the stand itself. Ensure there are obvious entry points and consider which areas are likely to get crammed and where you want attention to be focussed.

What’s your message?

The key to any trade show booth is, of course, a killer display. Selecting the right style, colours, lighting and features can make or break your experience and either result in you being overlooked or drawing significant attention to your brand. A few points to keep in mind with regard to the design of your exhibition stand itself are:

• Announce your product or service in a way that is clear and concise.
• Explain and reach out to your market.
• Promote your unique selling points.
• Detail the benefits of doing business with you.
• Reinforce your brand with a strong theme of familiar colours.
• Use large, vivid graphics instead of too much text.
• Work from a primary focal point on the stand itself.
• Have one strong, key message.

It’s also worth considering:
• Exposing your price point (if appropriate for your industry.)
• Using your stand to introduce key team members
• Publishing endorsements and testimonials on your display.
• Using bold colours to attract greater attention.

Top tip: Not only are our exhibition stands a striking exhibition marketing tool, they’re convenient, lightweight and simple to install. Our exhibition stands can be moved between events effortlessly, making it easy to get in front of the right people, time and time again. No matter where you use it, your stand will be synonymous with your brand, easily recognisable and really simple to put up.

Embellishing your stand

When you book exhibition space it’s usually just that – a space. Once you populated the space with your larger fixtures you need to come up with some creative exhibition stand design ideas.

Some basic elements will include:
• Product samples for people to see and touch.
• Fresh, on-brand marketing literature such as brochures, postcards or business cards.
• But don’t forget to think outside the box. Giving your visitors something to see, touch, hear or even taste, to create a memorable experience. You might consider some quirky additions like:
• Flowers & plants
• Sounds
• Smells
• Refreshments
• A photo opportunity

Top tip: Remember to consider your power requirements. Make sure all equipment is PAT tested and liaise with the event organiser to ensure you comply with policies surrounding extension cables, lighting, sound etc.

Materials to take away

Maximise your brand exposure by providing plenty of well-written take away literature. Let’s run through some of the key promotional materials to promote your stand:
Leaflets and flyers. Your give and go pieces of print that will highlight a product, campaign or competition. It’s the glossy flagship of your print portfolio. Use them to show off your brand and your products.
Literature stands. Keep your booklets and brochures neat, tidy and ready to pick up.
Business cards. It’s your basic, bare minimum piece of collateral. Avoid embarrassment by making sure you’re fully stocked up.
Appointment cards. Let visitors book time in with the MD or the CEO. An appointment card will ensure their return visit for facetime with the boss.
Presentation folders. Assemble separate documents and elements and show of your portfolio in a handy, custom-designed pack.

Top tip: Printed materials make a great conversation starters for your team manning the stand. Make sure they each have a handful and that they don’t let visitors leave empty-handed!

Don't have your own artwork?

If you need an artwork package, you simply need to mention it in the notes when you place your order or call us on 0800 246 5137. We will contact you to discuss the package that best suits your requirements. You don’t need to add anything extra to your cart.