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Things to consider before exhibiting at a trade event

For small businesses, exhibitions can provide a great platform for getting your business seen and raising awareness of your products and brands. They are an involved affair though, and to ensure success, planning and follow-up are required.This article will explore the process:

Why exhibit?

This is an important question, and one that prevents an unclear message being given at an exhibition. Having objectives laid out before exhibiting, detailing what  you are exhibiting (a new product or range? Your brand? A new promotion?) will allow you to tailor your displays and materials accordingly, and prevent time being wasted when preparing.

Where to exhibit?

There are hundreds of exhibitions across the country (and world!) on everything from boats, to culture, to video games. Finding the most relevant exhibition to your business and its goals is vital in ensuring you’re pitching to the right audience.

What image will you portray?

Exhibitions are an ideal place for dialogue between potential customers and businesses. The formal / casual spectrum should be considered when planning things such as staff uniforms, colour schemes, imagery and the like. A friendly, approachable image is desireable for most businesses, but at the same time having your staff loafing around in baseball caps and baggy clothes won’t impress anyone.

The same can be said for your exhibition stand; it should convey all the relevant information to what you are exhibiting, but in a concise manner. People won’t stop to read reams of text. Bold colours can attract the attention of attendees, but if they’re vibrant it may also be offputting. Getting the design right is something that requires planning, and companies such as Nimlok offer design services to help with this.

What incentives will you offer?

People are more likely to visit your stand if they’re offered a freebie. Even something like a free pen, or a bowl of sweets on a surface for them to eat. You could even go as far as organising a raffle with each person who visits your stand being given a ticket. These incentives, while being an expense in the short term, are likely to assist in generating leads and sales.

How will you follow up on leads?

There’s no point making leads at an exhibition if you aren’t going to follow them up. It’s likely that there’ll be different levels of interest demonstrated across the leads made; priority should be given to those who are most interested in your business and are ready to buy. Those who expressed interest but don’t seem ready to buy yet could be sent literature informing them of your product range. A simple ‘thanks for visiting!’ delivered via email will remind people about your business in a positive way.

Considering these factors will help your exhibition run smoothly, giving you time to focus on raising the profile of your small business.


Christopher Lee (the author of this article, not the actor) works on behalf of Nimlok; suppliers of a range of exhibition stands and displays.