Last person standing – top tips to manning an exhibition stand

manning an exhibition stand

manning an exhibition standAttending an exhibition as a delegate is for many people one of the highlights of their job – they get to network, investigate new technology and procedures and get spoilt by potential suppliers. Working an exhibition on the other hand is for many people an absolute nightmare. Your feet hurt, the air conditioning doesn’t work properly, you miss sunlight and you have to talk to some people who under normal circumstances you’d run a mile from (and that’s just your co-workers).

However working on a stand is an excellent way of building your interpersonal skills, learning how to push back and to refine your sales patter. Nobody likes it if you just push for an outcome face to face, and so you need to know your product, and more importantly find out what the visitor to your stand wants. Yes, there’s a chance they are crazy and deluded, but so is your boss. I have known a casual meeting at an exhibition turn into a client worth a million in revenue a year – so, get interested.

And, no, there is nothing to gain by being rude, even to a fellow exhibitor who might be trying to sell you something. One day that person might well be the decision maker on a contract, or even on the other side of the desk when you interview for a job – and trust me they will remember. Besides being rude is just plain unpleasant so learn some manners before you book your stand, please! And, yes, it is you I am referencing, marketing manager for an eCommerce agency based in Slough. Or at least you deserve to work in Slough.

So – here’s a few tips on surviving an exhibition:

1)     Have a leads book – staple business cards or write down emails in an A4 pad, and make notes on your follow up actions – you will get mixed up otherwise

2)     Social media – let people know you’re going to be attending – your company and yourself – use Linkedin, and Twitter – and use it over the course of the day commenting on events and seminars and the day itself – other attendees with see this and respond – and come over!

3)     Prioritise your follow up actions – make sure you get back to your best leads within 72 hours – some of the others might just warrant a quick email and some credentials – but go to town with your top twenty

4)     The night before get a good night’s sleep – you’ll need it. If you’re away for a few days save the big night for the last night – believe me sweating it out all day under the heat of exhibition stand lighting really isn’t a good look and you’ll want to actually die by midday

5)     Drink plenty of water – your skin dries out and nobody wants to talk to a desiccated corpse

6)     Take breaks – you and your colleagues deserve it – it can be busy – lunchtimes especially – but around that take 50 minutes and get some fresh air and some decent fodder – don’t eat on your stand, that’s just wrong

7)     Smiling at everyone who looks over at the stand is actually a bit scary – look friendly by all means but grinning like a mad person makes you look like just that, a mad person

8)     Keep work politics at work – you’re at a show – park any issues with colleagues or bosses – a stand isn’t a good place for sulks or arguments – draw a line under things before or have a clear the air session – just don’t go there with a bag of gripes! Work as a team at shows and you’ll look better and feel better about being away

9)     Take your laptop – you might not get to use it but sometimes you will have a little hour or so and doing some work is a better look than reading the paper, plaiting your colleague’s hair, talking to your Mum on the phone, polishing your shoes or eating fried chicken – just some of the things I have seen exhibitors doing during a lull and thought better of talking to them

10)  Let colleagues and clients know you are at an event. Your email might not work and your phone could go on the blink so have someone else in the office to take urgent calls on your behalf.  Plus, you’re going to be busy you won’t have time to complete an RFI as well – exhibition time ought to be sacrosanct

11)  Enjoy yourself – people are actually friendly, most the time. Don’t just talk, listen. I’ve had a great time at shows and met some brilliant people and heard some really interesting stories. We don’t get to interact with our peers and customers one to one very often so make the most of it but please don’t try so hard.

And remember, it’s supposed to be fun.

7 Comments on “Last person standing – top tips to manning an exhibition stand”

  1. Unfortunately a lot of businesses are let down by the stand they use at such exhibitions. It may look good on paper, but if it doesn’t do the job when you are there presenting your business to the world, it won’t get the results you want. This is why an outstanding exhibition stand design is so important when it comes to making the most out of every exhibition you go to.
    The first thing you have to consider when thinking about your exhibition stand design is the floor space. You will only get a set amount, depending on how much you wish to pay for. But however large or small it is, you must make the most of every single square inch. It is entirely possible to have a small and dynamic display, just as it is possible to have a very large and unassuming one. This is why it always pays dividends to hire a professional company to help create your exhibition stand design.

  2. I agree, considering how expensive stand space costs, you have to engage

    delegates and inspire them. Often the build budget can be a smaller allocation

    than the space cost. I would advise going for less square metres and create an

    exciting, dynamic and relevant environment.

  3. Trade shows are an essential part of many people’s business. The downside is that exhibitions are expensive – really expensive.
    You can’t join just because its “nice to be there”. You need to have a purpose.
    For most people, the goal is to get more business. Collecting business cards becomes a treasure hunt. Fine.
    But collecting cards for the sake of collecting cards is non-sense. The real game begins when you need to convert these cards into real business. And this starts with proper follow-up.
    This article is great and mentions that one should bring his laptop on the booth. True. But not only for answering emails: have your laptop / tablet / smartphone ready and use it for collecting leads. Use a digital tool that helps you recording prospects information and send automatic thank you emails. That is the starting point of successful events.

  4. I agree that the stand, the image and the message are important- however more important are the people manning the stand. People buy from people. Over many years I have analysed what makes someone visit one stand when the one next to it is offering a similar product/service and I have been asked by exhibitors where are they going wrong. People will be attracted not just to the image, and product offering but the person who is waiting to greet them. So ensure the staff that man your stand are not only knowledgeable about the service and product they are promoting, but that they also understand about the importance of a smile and warm friendly ( not over the top) greeting.

  5. This is something which is really important. All of us just focus on how to make our exhibition booth successful but none of us prepares ourselves for being presentation ready which unfortunately leads to mess at last moment. Audience not only get attracted by the amazing designs but also the team which presents the booth.
    The ideas and information provided by you in the above content is quite amazing with great and unique ideas. Great work! Keep sharing more stuff like this to keep us updated.

  6. The knowledge you given here definitely going to help a lot. We generally focus on the exhibition stand design and neglect that there are various important point for which we need to be prepared. As you explained manners, your behaviour with customer as well as with your colleagues is also important. These smaller things creates greater impact.
    If we prepare ourselves according to the points you jotted down here we definitely get the results. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog.

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