How to organise an exhibition or event

When organising an exhibition stand or event, it's sometimes difficult to know where to begin. This stands true for even the most establish exhibition and event organisers, who want to constantly improve their methods.

We've gathered some of the knowledge we've gained over the last 20 years to provide you some insight into how to organise an exhibition or event. 

 

Set an objective

The number one tip we have for organising an exhibition or event, is decide on an objective before you start. 

Ideally you’ll know what you want to achieve as part of a wider marketing strategy, and decide on the exhibition that suits this best months in advance. 

Whether that’s the case or not, deciding on an objective gives your whole team clarity before a show. 

Our recent research indicates that 70% of exhibitors that had set an objective had a successful event. This figure drops to 40% when an objective wasn’t properly set.

  • Decide which exhibition you will attend
  • Set a budget
  • Set your objective. X leads. X sales. X new product enquiries. 

 

Design your stand

Once your objective has been set, then your design team know exactly what to incorporate into their design. 

Whether that’s making sure there’s room for a product display, or adding specific messages onto your graphics, it will speed up the entire process and help you achieve your goal.

At this point you can then decide what type of exhibition stand you’ll build - a pop up display, a modular stand, or something completely bespoke.

Modular stands offer you the most cost-effective option, but for those looking to stand out, a custom display could be perfect.

  • Does your stand communicate your objective
  • Will it help entice your target audience
  • Can you use your stand for future promotional activities

 

Decide on your exhibition team

Your exhibition team will likely be made up of sales people, but sometimes it’s worth bringing people outside of sales, as they can engage visitors without the direct pressure of selling.

Once your team has been decided, make sure to train them thoroughly on every element of the stand design. This will allow them to be knowledgeable about every aspect of your display, when someone visits the stand. 

  • Pick an engaging team with varied skill sets
  • Train & Brief your team
  • Create a stand rota

 

Pre-event Marketing

Take advantage of any opportunities trade magazines and show organisers may have pre-arranged. By getting in touch with them before a reminder email goes out, you’ll beat the rush of last minute entries that could be cherry-picked - resulting in your submission missing out. 

You’ve already defined your audience and know who you’re targeting, so apply this to methods of marketing before the show. This could include personal emails from your sales team, or partnering with industry magazines to generate more exposure before the show.

Social media is also incredibly effective before a show, allowing you to connect with individuals and other businesses due to be exhibiting. 

  • Research trade magazine opportunities
  • Look for online opportunities associated with your exhibition
  • Find hashtags and handles of social media accounts

 

Before the event

A key consideration here is the build of your exhibition stand. 

We recently researched whether building a stand with an in-house installation team makes a difference to the final look of your stand.

Only 50% of exhibitors thought their stand looked as expected when using an in-house team.

This figures jumps to 70% when using an exhibition stand build team, plus this saves both time and the worry of whether your stand will be ready in time.

  • Ensure all paperwork and health & safety forms are completed
  • Take note of load in times and arrange transport
  • Alternatively - Hire professional stand build team

 

At the event

This is when your stand needs to work for you. 

Make sure everything is prepared to make for an exceptional show - including methods of collecting leads (usually scanners or paper lead forms), an enticing giveaway or hook to draw people to your stand (coffee works great!) and finally make sure your team are doing all they can to generate interest.

Have a round up with your team after day one, and treat this as an opportunity to improve the results you’re going to get on day two. 

Finally, make sure you have a copy of all the leads gathered. The worst thing that could happen is for a paper lead form booklet to go missing on the way back to HQ!

  • Pre-purchased method of collecting leads - such as scanners
  • Test methods of catching attention of visitors
  • Review meetings with team at the end of each day

 

Post-exhibition

Set a strategy on how you’re going to follow up on all those leads you’ve generated. If the leads will be divided amongst a team, be sure to fire a quick email from the person who gathered the lead explaining the process, and that they can get in touch should they need anything.

Depending on how quickly leads usually progress into sales, set a point to review how successful the leads you generated from the show have been. This can give you an indication into whether you’d like to book the show again next year (while prices may be cheaper!) or whether you need to work harder to generate some ROI.

  • Decide on follow up strategy
  • Send immediate email thanking visitors
  • Consider booking show again depending on lead performance