Exhibitions by their very definition are busy places.

As a delegate, you have paid top dollar to spend the day being wooed by a variety of companies; delegates sometimes look for certain key products or services, whilst other meander through the doors, with some ideas in mind for future projects…

As an exhibitor, you expect the conference to be busy, full of prospective and potential customers. You have invested in roller banner, leaflets and other printed media that tell the passing throng who you are, what you do and why doing business with you is a great idea.

But there is one problem… everyone else has done the same thing.

Exhibitions can soon become a heaving mass of competing demonstrations, printed freebies and clashing posters. Standing out just got tough, and one of the places where it is hardest to stand out is the exhibition hall. Stopping short of taming a lion, it seems all hope is lost and like the surrounding exhibitors, you are working hard just to catch the eye of the passing delegates.

And yet…

Other exhibition stands seem to have people there all the time; they seem to attract passers-by simply setting up their stall. What is the secret of their success? Why are people flocking to them? Why are they standing out and yet your exhibition space doesn’t seem to quite hit the mark.

Hint: recognise people’s reluctance and suspicion

If you have ever been an exhibition or conference delegate you will have met this person. Their actions will have impacted on your for all the wrong reasons.

The ‘leaper’; the person who simply will not let you go. The person who throws themselves in to your path and talks and talks and talks…

Delegates are a wary bunch of people. They want to come to you on their own terms but at the same time, they want you to engage and invite them in to your space.

In other words, the hard sell does not work. Fact.

Your stand

At the start of the conference, take a photograph of your stand and then, as you make your way through the exhibition, take a look at how delegates are using your space. Look at other exhibitor stands – what does their space say about them.

The single most important factor in your exhibition space is your stand and there are many issues that need to be looked at…

  • Professional and engaging – this does not translate to garish colours, flashing lights and a performing seal. Your stand needs to ‘fit’ your business. The colours and the way in which it is dressed is important; the look and feel of it is important too. It needs to draw the passing populace in…
  • Distinctive but not loud – just as off putting is when a stall looks a jumbled mess or too outlandish that people think it is not something for them. Freebies are great; some delegates spend their whole time amassing as many freebies as possible but for many delegates, these start to wear a bit thin after a while…
  • Give basic information in printed form – in some cases, delegates don’t approach a stand as they are not sure what it is you do. You can be stood there, with bowl of boiled sweets and a lovely, welcoming smile but, if it is not immediately obvious what you do, you may find that people don’t approach you. Having inexpensive roller banners, leaflets near the edge of your space and other visual ‘clues’ as to what you do can help in making your stand more memorable.
  • Small can be good – exhibitions stands and plots vary from relatively small 8’ by 6’ spaces, to far larger. If you have many products and need plenty of room, opting for the largest size your budget can afford is the right way forward however, don’t assume that small means insignificant. Small spaces can be just as active and vibrant as larger ones and of course, too big a space with hardly anything in, is just as bad as too small a space, cluttered with everything.

Why not have a dummy run before you book? Set up a stand and see how your products works in different sized spaces – what is the optimum space that shows off your products to the best of their ability?

  • Focus your stand on one or two products or services – simplicity with your stand is key so don’t cram everything that you do into your exhibition space. Take your most popular items, but make sure you have plenty of printed media to give to people to show them what else you do.

And don’t forget you and your exhibition stand team – making contact with people, having a chat, passing the time of day, being approachable and not just sales people are all about making sure you stand out at an exhibition.