Memoirs from an exhibitionist – tips on exhibiting at shows (Part 1)

Posted on: August 26th, 2009

Today, I proudly call myself an exhibitionist. I believe this is a fair title after working on projects for the Good Food & Wine Shows in Melbourne and Sydney and the Food Show in Auckland – in addition to attending several shows a year as a spectator.

So whilst I am fresh off the back of all of this activity, I have collated some pointers (in two parts) for would be exhibitors. Whilst this is not rocket science, there are definitely a few key things to think about and get right for this activity to be effective. Part 1 looks at reasons to exhibit, budgets and developing your stand design. Part 2 will focus on the logistical side of running a stand, leveraging your presence at the show and evaluating its success.


What are they? Is the audience right? What’s the purpose of your stand? Are you exhibiting for awareness, to encourage trial, move stock, for one-on-one time with customers or do you want to provide a particular brand experience? Set objectives and targets prior to participation so you’re clear on what you want to achieve.


Aside from the space itself, there are stand design, installation, product and staffing costs to consider. Do you have the budget, resources and time to be there? Set the budget and then add 10-15 percent as a contingency; this should cover any unexpected costs.


Location can make or break the experience. Ensure you’re in a good isle with flow through traffic. Try to position yourself next to major show attractions and always check brands that will be next to your stand – will they help attract visitors, are they complementary products or services or are they competitors?


From my experience standscome as a ‘shell scheme’ or ‘space only’. Shell schemes come with an exisiting frame (walls, signboard etc); space only is literally, space only; the exhibitors must provide everything. The former is cheaper but you are limited with what can be created in the space provided so work with your budget.


You’re competing for attention in a crowded market so how will you stand out? Think about an overall look and feel. Do you want your stand to be functional or do you want to create a tactile or visual experience for visitors. Consider whether you need to employ someone to create a great stand design on your behalf.


Although it looks easy enough, stand installation can be labour and time intensive. Evaluate whether you can afford time away from the business to install the stand – is this time well spent? Sometimes it’s worth paying a professional to bump in and out; they’ll do it in half the time and the effort, leaving you with energy for the busy days ahead.


This needs to visible, consistent and in line with your other branded executions e.g. website, packaging, marketing collateral etc. The exhibiting space should bring your brand to life and reinforce people’s positive perceptions.

I hope this was helpful, part 2 to follow next week.

Posted by Jane Outen

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