Top tips for exhibition success

by | Sep 21, 2021

Now that lockdown has eased and we’re getting back to some sort of normality, business exhibitions are coming back and perhaps it’s the time to take a fresh look at your display signage. After all, your company message may well have changed since post-pandemic, so rethinking your marketing messages may be prudent.

In this article, we take a look at the 5 elements of getting the most out of an exhibition and maximising your return on investment.


  1. Set clear goals

If you don’t know what you want, you can’t measure success!  Think about why you’re doing the expo and what you want to get out of it.  Would it be to sell product directly, launch a new product or range, increase your client base etc.  Companies exhibit for different reasons, but it’s important that you know your reason.  Exhibitions are expensive and can take up a huge amount of budget if you’re not careful and it’s important to understand how you’re going to recoup that with the results you get.  As an analogy, you wouldn’t go to Poland and not know why you’re going and what you want to do there, would you?

  1. Audience

Think about your audience.  As much as you know why you’re there, do you know why they’re there?  What are they looking for and what motivates them to come onto your stand and take time to talk with you?  What have you got to offer that will be of interest to your target audience?  Failing to understand your audience may well mean that you’re spending money at the wrong expo, talking to the wrong people and pouring your well-earned profits down the drain.

  1. What’s the hook?

Is the expo large enough to hold your audience’s interest all day, or can they see all the exhibitors in 2 hours?  This sort of question may help you decide what your ‘hook’ is.  Would they appreciate a comfortable seating space whilst talking business with you – a cup of coffee, perhaps.  Do you want them to engage with a video product pitch or will your audience expect to pick up some literature and study it at home?

  1. Budget

The costs for exhibiting can very soon run out of control and it’s important to be realistic about the return on investment you expect.  Some companies don’t expect to make a return directly from the expo itself, rather more they use it as a PR exercise.

Budget considerations should include the following:

  1. Cost of the stand
  2. Graphics
  3. Travel Costs
  4. Power points for lighting and electrical equipment
  5. Construction and dismantling costs
  6. Travel costs
  7. Promotional literature
  8. Storage

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you some ideas of what to consider when budgeting for exhibiting.

  1. Type of stand

There are different types of exhibition stands available, depending on your budget and the message you want to get across.

Pop Up Banner stands

These are extremely popular and do exactly what they say on the tin!  They’re lightweight, compact and fully portable.  They come in two styles – one where the graphics are permanently fixed to the pop-up mechanism, and one where the graphics can be attached to the mechanism by magnetic strips.  The latter type allows you to change your graphics without changing the entire stand.

They’re cost-effective, robust, come with a carry bag and are often used for small, local expo’s.

Shell Schemes

Larger expos require the exhibitors to purchase a ‘shell’ which the promoters install prior to the start of the show.  You pay for the electrical supplies and lighting, internet connectivity, flooring etc, as ‘add ons’ to the base price.  You select the size of the shell depending on your budget.

It is then up to you to dress the shell with your branding and message.  The most popular options are either board or fabric.  You see shell schemes at expos such as the Spirit of Christmas Fayre at Olympia and at the NEC, for example.

Shell stands are a cost-effective way of exhibiting.

Modular Display Stands

These stands are modules that ‘lock’ together and are brilliant if you’re going to be a lot of exhibitions.  You should, however, check that you can install and dismantle them yourself, because it could be very costly if you’re using a company to do it for you.  Once installed, different elements and graphics come into play to make a truly bespoke stand for you and your company.

Traditional banner stands

These come in all shapes and sizes, mechanics and budgets.  They work well as stand-alone displays or they can be fitted together to create a long back wall.  They’re cost-effective, particularly if your plan is to ‘rinse and repeat’ and exhibit a lot.

Bespoke stands

Designed and built to your exacting specifications, these stands are big on impact and big on budget!  They are usually used by large, well-established companies where PR is required.

So there you have it, a simple guide to exhibiting and what to consider before you commission a display stand.  At Severn Signs, we’ve been making signage for expos for 20 years for clients in and around Gloucester.  If you need further help, give us a call on 01452 739156 or take a look at our website