The six golden rules of exhibiting

By: John Sollars

Date: 10 October 2012

The six golden rules of exhibiting/exhibition{{}}

Love or loathe them, if you don’t consider using exhibitions to promote your business, you may be missing a trick. Since I was a young salesman, I’ve dreaded stand duty, with its attendant aching feet and seemingly very little return for the time spent there.  

As you get older, the pain in the feet and back is still there; the exhaustion from the drive there and back, combined with the physical exertion of manning the stand can take a couple of days to get over. However, I am a firm believer in the power of exhibitions if you follow certain golden rules. So, what are they, I hear you ask…

The six golden rules of exhibiting

1 Make an effort

Don’t be a cheapskate. Do your best to represent yourself and your business as competent, considerate and professional. With a name like we are on a winning streak from the start as it draws attention and makes even the grumpiest attendee smile (sometimes). If you present yourself well, people will respond positively.

2 Inform your customers

Let any existing customers who are in the exhibition’s vicinity know you will be there. You are much better off having a busy stand than a quiet one, and exhibitions are a great place at which to be able to put a face to a customer’s name. Offer them a drink and a cake (for instance) and explore what extra business you can do for them.

3 Be positive

There’s nothing worse than a stand where the people manning it are sitting behind their laptops or checking their Blackberries, refusing to make eye contact with the punters milling past. It is nearly as bad as visitors attending the exhibition and refusing to make eye contact with the exhibitors.

4 Set goals

We approach every exhibition with a target of generating 10 -15% of attendee numbers as ‘hot leads’ (we are told the number of pre-registered delegates). Over 25% and we are over the moon! It is an expensive proposition attending exhibitions, so make sure that the cost is recovered (and more).

5 Involve your team

And make sure you are all “singing from the same song sheet”. All team members need to know your objectives and targets for the exhibition and share in the successes from it.

6 Follow up

If you don’t have a strategy for following up leads you generate, save your money and shoe leather and stay at home. To me it’s the most critical part of the whole process. We try to convert at least 50% of the ‘hot leads’ into customers within a six-month period. The first salvo is an email to all attendees we have details of, then my sales team hit the telephones. They contact people while they still remember what they said at the exhibition. Don’t leave it longer than a couple of days before making contact.

If you approach them in the right way, exhibitions are a great shop window for your business, and here at we embrace them enthusiastically. I may be driving all over the country, but the excitement of finding the next new big customer always inspires me. Don’t forget... tomorrow, the moon!

By John Sollars of

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