10 steps to successful expo stands and displays

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Once you have booked your stand at an Exhibition, there are 10 steps that you should consider, before rushing off to book a stand builder, if you want an effective, economical stand that will help you achieve fabulous results:

STEP 1 – set multiple exhibition objectives, because if you don’t know where you are going, how will you get there? Exhibitions are so sophisticated that there are literally 100 different exhibition objectives to choose from. The role of a successful stand or display, it to help your stand staff to sell and achieve your exhibition objectives.

STEP 2 – If you book a stand, then sit there hoping that the right people will visit your stand, then you are retailing,  not marketing.  Plan pre-show and on-stand promotions that will help you achieve your exhibition objectives by driving qualified traffic to your stand; important considerations when designing a stand.

STEP 3 – consider the dimensions and requirements of your product/exhibit: how big is it – length, height, width and weight, what does it need to operate, i.e. water supply, electricity, compressed air etc.

Exhibitions out-perform all other marketing mediums for one reason only – you can demonstrate the products. If you don’t demonstrate your products (including services) then you really are retailing.!

STEP 4 – consider on-stand promotions, displays, entertainment, storage and seating because the area they occupy, together with exhibits, should not exceed 70% of the stand space booked – the remaining 30% is for visitors/buyers and your staff.

STEP 5 – most companies battle with determining the Return on the Exhibition Investment (ROI), which management will consider in determining the success of your participation.  ROI will also allow you to compare the results from different exhibitions and stands. Return on objective (ROO) might be a better indicator of show success.

The two sets of figures needed for determining the ROI are (1) an exhibition budget, detailing all expenditure, then (2) tracking all new business gained from the exhibition, up to 12 months after the show closes. Plan to track both religiously.

STEP 6 – the decision to hire or buy an exhibition stand is influenced by numerous factors not least of which is aesthetics and budget. If you only exhibit once a year, then hiring might make more sense, rather than paying for 11 months of storage.  Consider how often you exhibit as it would save you a fortune to buy one stand that could be used for three or 4 exhibitions, with small adjustments. Your own stands and displays are always constructed carefully but are not broken-down and stored with the same attention to detail. Well maintained and stored stands & displays will give you many years of service.

STEP 7 – Graphics are an expensive item but a picture truly ‘is worth a thousand words’. Either consider using your existing graphics on the stand or ask your appointed stand builder to quote for these separately, then get competitive quotations.

STEP 8 – The Organiser’s issue every exhibitor with an information manual, containing everything you need for successful participation, including service order forms like: electrics, furniture and cleaning.  You can either order these items yourself or ask your stand builder to arrange, at a cost.

If you wish your stand builder to supply these services, please do not hand them your exhibitor’s manual as it contains rules, regulations and information, vital for your success. Read the manual, before briefing the stand builder, so that you are aware of all of the rules and regulations that would affect stand building.

STEP 9 – ensure that you fully understand what is being supplied by the Organisers as part of your stand rental. If you have booked a ‘stand package’ this could include carpets, spotlights, plug, name on the fascia board, furniture etc.,  then make sure that these items are not duplicated in stand building quotations.

STEP 10 – to gain maximum benefit from exhibition participation, start planning 3 – 6 months out from the show. Leaving everything till the last minute will incur extra stress and expense and limit your chance of truly successful results.


For the duration of the exhibition, your stand becomes your Head Office, as it is the face that you present to your industry, clients and prospects. Yet it would be a big mistake to spend 100% of your exhibition budget, on stand building and displays, which are the ‘hardware’ of exhibiting. Computer hardware does not work without the software, which in the case of exhibitions  is the marketing, pre-show promotions, stand staff selection, and training,  lead management and post-show promotions.



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