First time exhibitors guide to achieving success

Making the decision to exhibit for the first time can be a difficult one. After all, it is quite a big investment with no real guarantee of a return.

Whilst it can be tempting to solely attribute your potential success to the particular conference or trade show you are choosing to exhibit at, in reality as long as you choose wisely, the rest is really down to you as to how successful your return will be. Pressure!

Trade shows are a popular choice for business exposure for a very good reason – providing the perfect networking opportunity and face to face engagement. Let’s face it, are rare occasions these days.

Which event?

Your choice of event can make or break your overall success. It can be difficult to decide with such a volume to choose from.

Often, newbie exhibitors will focus on the largest industry trade shows with the highest footfall, when in reality this may not be the smartest move.

Focus on exhibiting at events which have the right audience rather than simply a high volume of attendees. The right calibre can offer far more in terms of return on investment.

Another area which many don’t immediately realise, is the importance of the business model used for the event. For example, some conference will charge speakers and exhibitors high prices and attendees can attend for free. These tend to lead to the audience not wanting to spend any money and show little interest in trade stands. Where as events with paying attendees are more likely to already be invested in the event and all it has to offer.

And finally, different events offer different packages, so check what’s included. For example: pre-event promotion via their website and social media and during the event, i.e. some events have conference apps which aid networking pre and post event.

Be attractive

The look and feel of your stand is paramount to attracting people to it and setting that first impression of your business. There are many types of exhibition display stands to choose from, so be sure to take the time to plan the best design and invest in a professional one that will do your brand justice.

You want to intrigue and ignite curiosity in your audience.  Think of creative and unique ways to get your message across as quickly as possible to passers-by, perhaps using a video or audio.


Focus and tailor your offering to the specific event audience. What will most interest them? Rather than offering all of your products focus on a select few which will best resonate.

Providing a time limited exclusive offer is a great way to get more interest and of course get attendees to take immediate action. However, avoid leading with this and instead opt for friendly engagement to begin with. After all, who likes being sold to?!

Lead generation

Now you’ve covered the direct sales element, you will also benefit from having a way of capturing interest for future marketing. This can be achieved through a competition to win something, for example – where they provide their contact information in order to be get entered into a prize draw.

Network like a pro

The number one priority is to look approachable! Smile and look happy. Wait for people to approach you and simply have a chat! Most important of all – listen to them and find out more about them. In doing so you will naturally find a connection and can build from this place of trust.

Remember even if you don’t make direct sales at the event, taking steps to build meaningful business relationships and connections can do far more for your business in the longer term.

Moreover, there may also be new business contacts which although may not be a direct customer but can help you in some way with your future business development. Therefore, see each person you engage with as a new and exciting opportunity with untold potential!

Post event

To keep engagement and flow going after the event itself, be as organised as possible and follow up on all of those lovely leads you gathered. Keeping your brand and business fresh in their mind will help cement the relationship. However, there is a fine line and you should avoid bombarding anyone with emails and being to pushy.