exhibition tips

Essential Advice

for Your Next Exhibition


6 secs to make or break your next exhibition


As much as we hate to judge a book by its cover or take something at face value there is something hard wired in us to make a whole set of assumptions and generalisations based on that first impression.

The first time we see someone, the first third of a page on the CV, and the first glance at your exhibition space as someone walks a show can be the difference maker.

And although your work hard before the event begins to bring people to the stand, all that can be undone by a bad first impression and 6 seconds (some say even less) is all the time it takes!

Now all of that might seem a bit doom and gloom, perhaps a little scary, what if you don't get this right?  All the money and time invested could be wasted.

But look at it this way, you have at least 6 seconds of everyones time. At a show with just 600 attendees that is an hour in front of potential prospects, 6000 and it's 10 hours of face time with clients, imagine how much you would have to pay for that in a TV advert or magazine piece?

And that's just the start, this 6 seconds is what you get with everyone who passes, not including the people who decide that you are worth talking to and spend more time having a conversation.

So what you need to do is find the best way of turning those 6 seconds into a longer conversation, but where do you start?


6 seconds

First things first, let's start off with appearances


The 6 seconds that you get start from the moment that the attendees see your booth space.

In the first instance people generally process their experiences visually, so you want the first thing to be an image or a graphic that will grab peoples attention, unfortunately what I see a lot are banners that show the company logo and name and that is about it. While that might work if you are Coca Cola or McDonalds, the chances are that your logo doesn't have enough traction to intrigue people to look a bit closer.

Try and find something visual that relates to what you do, that could be a picture of someone using your product, perhaps a lifesize image of someone who looks like a "typical" customer.

Whatever it is make it big, bright and bold and place it somewhere where people will get to see it, and that doesn't always mean in the centre at the back.

You should also think about appearances, what does the stand space say about you as a company?

   • If it is cluttered and messy does that mean you are disorganised?

   • If the staff are sat with their arms crossed or focussed on their phone or laptop screen does that mean you are unapproachable?

   • If your display equipment is falling apart or graphics are hanging off the system, damaged or don't fit together properly does that mean that you don't invest in yourselves or represent quality?

All of these are assumptions that your potential prospects could make as they walk past you and on to see your competitor.

So let's assume that you've found that visual hook what's the next thing that you can do? Well if they are looking at the great visual you have put together you next want them to identify with what you do and who you are. A lot of people would put that the other way around but, again, I think that if you don't have the name recognition you actually want people to identify as being interested in what you can do for them before they know who you are. So how do you do that?

Choosing A Message


The starting point is to think about the message that you want to get across.

   • What problem do you solve for people?

   • How do you solve it?

   • Why is it important that they get that problem solved?

Ask these questions of yourself. Look at the people that you already deal with and use their experiences to mould the answers you give, ask your customers what it is that brought them to you, they often have the best insights. 

Once you have all of that information it is time to condense it into a simple message.

   • What one question could you ask that would identify someone as a prospect?

   • Is there a simple statement that people could identify with to figure out if they could use you?

   • Perhaps it's a statistic that would intrigue people enough to want them to ask more.

Often people panic about things like this as they are scared they will push people away but if you have crafted the message right then the people you do attract will be the right kind of fit for what you are doing. Don't give in and be generic, be polarising. 

Put the statement/question/tagline on the printed displays you are using. Again make it bold and easy to read, if it comes from a customer testimonial put it in quotes next to a picture of someone who looks like a customer. Make sure it is the next thing they see after the image that attracts them to you.

The Right Display Equipment


Utilising the right kind of display equipment can be the difference between attendees stopping to speak to you and attendees walking straight past you.

Some companies may get the best results from completely dressing the walls of the stand in graphics, others benefit from having something made bespoke and others can get just as good results from some well placed banners.  This will all depend on the event, the stand space, the message and your target audience.

Manning The Exhibition Stand


So what is the final piece that ties it all together? What one element that, if missing, can undo all of the great work that you did to hook people in the first place?

It's you, or more accurately the people who are manning the stand and how they approach the people who are interested.

  • Your visuals and messaging might make people curious but it is the way that you approach them that ultimately turns them into a lead.

   • Don't wait too long, remember 6 seconds is all they will give you initially, but equally don't jump out in people's faces.

   • Have a great opening line crafted (perhaps even 2 or 3) that gives you the opportunity to ask a few simple qualification questions

   • Ask questions that identify whether or not they could be a prospect and then be ready to listen.



To maximize your 6 seconds of exposure remember to:

  — Think about the appearance of your stand — 

 — Find a visual hook that represents your product/service — 

   — Choose a strong (short) key message — 

   — Utilize the right display equipment —

— Think about face - face interaction on the stand —