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What is Exhibition Marketing?

Exhibition events are opportunities to attract business and communicate a consistent brand message to your audience about your products and services. Given that visitors will only have a set amount of time and money, you need to create the right impression. Your competition will be fierce and will be employing key exhibition marketing strategies, and you must too. 

Exhibitions date back far into the 17th century but became popularised in Britain during the 19th century due to the high amount of traffic flooding into London through its vast, profitable ports. The exhibitions on display were often places to witness glimpses of technological marvels like prototype planes or electricity shooting through coils.

Things have changed since. Ye olde promoters were typically looking for wealthy patrons to fund their pursuits. Not surprisingly, emails and social media didn’t exist, so exhibitioners didn’t have the opportunity to pursue an audience before the exhibition even started, as they do now!

Even if you wish to rely solely on your high-quality banner, your oozing charisma and, of course, the products or services you wish to showcase, your rivals will be employing top exhibition marketing strategies to increase their chances of a successful exhibition. If you’re interested in finding out more about a successful exhibition plan, please read on.

How do you plan an exhibition?

The power of exhibition marketing lies in its face-to-face and hands-on experience with customers. Most promote at exhibitions or trade shows to generate leads or advance their company brand and image. 

The lead generators on an exhibition team will be trying to convince their clients to do business with them by showing off the capabilities of the product and swaying them with tangible offers. Those promoting the company will show off any accolades or recommendations, and create something of a story for the brand. Either way, the underlying exhibition marketing strategy will be the same. 

Giving some proper thought to the exhibition planning process can increase your chances of success and give you a chance of doing business immediately.

  • The first decision you have to make before anything else is choosing the right venue with good travel links where you can showcase.
  • Try not to be preoccupied with the expected numbers of people showing up for an exhibition; this only matters as far as making sure the event isn’t a ghost town.
  • The real value is accessing an audience that is there for what you have to offer i.e. the right target audience, so your event has to have the right exhibition theme.
  • Arrange management of your exhibition space so that you know who is responsible for what and when, especially if the event is over a series of days.
  • Don’t be put off by having competitors in your vicinity, even if those competitors are bigger than you. The fact of the matter is, they’re glad for you being there, and you should be glad for them.
  • You will all be funnelling traffic through the door, and you will all have different sales approaches and products that will appeal to different attendees.
  • When you find a venue that you think is suitable, look and see if there’s anything that you can do for them. Conferences and seminars tend to be part of exhibitions now, and a lot of them accept guest speakers and sponsors, so this is an opportunity to promote your brand.
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What to do with your exhibition space?

A definite boost to the success of your exhibition marketing will be the space you set up. They have to be booked in advance, and it’s best to do so early. Not only does this guarantee you a spot at the exhibit, but the earliest bookers will also nearly always have access to the best positions. 

  • The best exhibition hall spots tend to be on the perimeter, where you can set up in the corners or the walls of the exhibit hall. But most agree the best location is by the front entrance, where everyone is likely to see your promotion at least once. 
  • If you’re unable to take these prime spots, the next best move in your exhibition marketing strategy handbook would be to set yourself up next to a big player. For example, if you’re promoting tech, setting up next to a big-name brand competitor may be a good idea due to the traffic that space will get. 


If you fail to get one of the better spots, don’t worry. It’s not the most important part of your exhibition, that’s often the pre-event promotion. This consists of several things: 

  • Coverage – Trade shows have a good deal of promotion surrounding them, and any pre-show publicity will show up the range of those attending and exhibiting. 
  • Journalists – Inviting journalists to your stand is a very efficient move. Speaking to a journalist about your stand will not only put the word out about your presence and what you offer, but it provides them with relevant marketing materials, which will be of use to them. 
  • Mailing – The exhibition will have a list of pre-registered visitors on hand. Before the event begins, many promoters send out emails and letters to those they already know are coming, capitalising on the opportunity to build up interest. 
  • Social media Take the opportunity to put the word out there about your products and services and the fact that you will be attending events or a specific trade show. There are many opportunities to get creative and really make a pre-event impression so you attract more people.

These four things will hopefully put you on the map with a range of people. Now that you have their attention, let’s talk about business stands.  

What makes a good exhibition stand?

Exhibition marketing requires a quality stand. Without a well-designed stand at your exhibition event, there will be no impactful impression made on customers and you’ll likely fail to increase brand awareness. Luckily, at Showplace, we offer the highest quality Exhibition Stands

  • Shell Schemes – Shell Schemes are the most common stand you will see at exhibitions. They are partitioned booths with anywhere from one to three walls of display panels. It is often advisable to upgrade your shell scheme to include some or all of the following features: branding, graphics, flooring and furniture, audio and visual to maximise the impact of your stand and to stand out among other shell schemes. They have higher costs than basic pop-ups but create a much bigger impact. 
  • Custom Built – These stands are a bespoke build. This makes them the most expensive of all the stands listed here, as they are very often only used for select purposes. However, elements can be reused across many shows providing a sustainability and efficiency benefit to your exhibition strategy. For example, tension fabric graphics on a light-box stand system can be used time and time again, which also reduces waste.
  • Modular Stands – Modular stands are, as the name implies, stands that have intuitive customisability to them. This allows them to take a great many different shapes that can adapt to your market’s needs.
  • Exhibition Trailers – Flexible, cost-effective way to promote your brand. Our exhibition trailers come in a range of sizes, to suit all budgets and can accommodate a variety of pitch sizes and terrains. They can also be used indoors within an exhibition hall as well as at outdoor shows and events.

Having Impactful Exhibition Stands

Human beings love appealing aesthetics. Having an eye-catching design and easy-to-digest information on your display banners will capture their interest. 

Exhibitions are full of people and full of bright colourful things vying for your very limited attention. As a result, it’s better to keep things simple. The best exhibition stands will have to revolve around a focal point that will absorb peoples’ attention. Simple and impactful designs will make you memorable. 

Adversely, there are things you definitely shouldn’t do. For one, the area needs to be spacious. Adding steps or things that can double as barriers can make the booth feel unwelcoming, and inaccessible to others. 

How do I capture customer information from Exhibitions? 

British culture makes it hard to ask for things, and one of the biggest pressures for a salesperson trying to finalise a sale is having to be blatant in asking if their customers want to go ahead and buy. That pressure can be eased at exhibitions, as it means they have to gather the information that will later be used to procure a sale. 

Your staff members at your exhibition stand need to attend to visitors to the best of their abilities if it is to be successful. They need to be approachable and alert, and well versed in the questions that will be coming their way. They also cannot be too afraid to ask, after they’ve been through the rounds and fully satisfied the customer, for their data so follow-up discussions can take place after the event. 

The dispersal of promotional material is also a well-known, highly effective exhibition marketing strategy to gather viewer data. Keep the promotional material relevant and of decent value (for a free item), and you’ll be in a prime position to gather data. A pen, clipboard, or tablet device is a great way to do this, as it allows you to note down specific things the customer is looking for, allowing for later sales pitches to be tailored specifically towards their needs. 

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Exhibition Sales Lead

Exhibitions report very high success in gaining leads, yet often far too many are passed up. Statistics also illustrate that these qualified leads have a decent chance of being converted into sales. As a result, every eligible lead should be actioned and followed up on. This is the most important part of the exhibition marketing plan, as even failed conversions can present valuable lessons for your business.

That said, you have to work fast. Leads can go cold quickly. We live in an age of hyper-stimulation and there’s always something else to interest a customer, so it’s best to follow up with a simple thank you message while further offering to assist them. Remember to highlight what the product can do for them. The results of lead chasing after the event is what will bring exhibitors success and make all that hard work and exhibition planning worthwhile. 

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