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What Every Business Owner Needs to Know Before Their First Exhibition 

Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes

Sean Owusu , 21 June, 2023

Showcasing your brand at an exhibition can be a game-changer for small businesses. You can display your products or services, generate leads, build relationships, and gain insights. But it can also be a tough and tricky task, especially if you’re new to it. You need to plan and prepare well before you can wow your audience and reach your goals.  

In this blog, we’ll show you what every SME needs to know before their first exhibition, from choosing the right exhibition, setting goals and budget, designing an attractive booth, networking and pitching, to following up with leads. We’ll also tell you about a top-notch provider of custom exhibition stands that can help you create a unique and memorable brand experience for your visitors. 

Choosing the Right Exhibition 

Before anything else, you must choose the right exhibition, which involves doing a lot of research ahead of time. You can use online platforms like Eventbrite or 10times to browse and filter thousands of exhibitions around the world by category, date, location, and more. You can also check industry publications, newsletters, blogs, or social media to find out about the latest and upcoming exhibitions in your niche. You can also ask your peers, customers, suppliers, or competitors for recommendations or feedback on exhibitions they have attended or exhibited at. 

Once you have a list of potential exhibitions, you need to narrow it down by evaluating each one based on some criteria. For instance, you can seek to uncover the reputation of the organisers, how experienced they are, how many people are expected to attend, and the costs associated with the event. By answering these questions, you can compare different exhibitions and choose the one that offers the most value for your business.  

By choosing the right exhibition for your small business, you can increase your chances of having a successful and rewarding experience. You can also avoid wasting your resources on exhibitions that don’t suit your needs or expectations. It is vital to do your homework before you book your space and register your attendance.  

Set a Goal and Budget 

Another crucial step to featuring at an exhibition is setting goals and a budget for your small business. You don’t want to go into an exhibition without a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how much you can afford to spend.  

To avoid this, you’ll need to set SMART goals for your exhibition. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These are the characteristics of effective goals that can help you focus your efforts and track your progress. Here are some examples of SMART goals you are likely to set yourself at an exhibition: 

  • Generate 100 qualified leads 
  • Make 10 sales from the exhibition or within a month after the exhibition 
  • Collect 50 feedback forms from visitors 
  • Increase brand awareness by 20% among attendees 
  • Learn about the latest trends and innovations in your industry 

By setting SMART goals for your exhibition, you can have a clear direction and motivation for your exhibition activities. You can also measure your success and evaluate your performance at the end of the event. 

You also need to create a realistic budget for your exhibition. A budget can help you manage your finances and avoid overspending or underspending on your exhibition. Here are some of the main categories of costs that you need to consider when creating a budget for your exhibition: 

  • Registration fee: This is the fee that you pay to the organisers to book your space and register your attendance at the exhibition. This fee can vary depending on the size, location, and popularity 
  • Travel expense: Cost of transportation to and from the exhibition venue. This can include airfare, train fare, bus fare, taxi fare, car rental, parking, tolls, and so on. 
  • Accommodation cost: Cost of lodging near the exhibition venue. 
  • Marketing budget: Cost of promoting your presence at the exhibition before, during, and after the event. 
  • Staffing cost: Cost of hiring and training staff to help you run your booth. 
  • Material cost: Cost of producing and delivering materials for your booth. 

Engage by networking and pitching 

One of the most valuable steps to exhibiting at an exhibition is networking and pitching your business. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect and communicate with potential customers and other exhibitors at the exhibition. So, how do you network and pitch effectively at an exhibition? 

The first thing you need to do is to prepare an elevator pitch for your small business. An elevator pitch is a short and concise summary of your value proposition, benefits, and differentiation that you can deliver in less than a minute. Here are some tips on how to prepare an elevator pitch for your small business: 

  • Start with a hook that captures the attention of your listeners and makes them curious about your small business. You can use a question, a statistic, a story, or a problem that relates to your products or services. 
  • Explain what your business does and what value it provides to your customers. You can use a simple sentence that describes your products or services, your target market, and your unique selling point. 
  • Highlight the benefits and outcomes that your customers can expect from using your products or services. You can use bullet points or examples that show how your products or services solve their problems, meet their needs, or improve their situations. 
  • End with a call-to-action that invites your listeners to take the next step in engaging with your small business. You can ask them to visit your booth, sign up for a demo, request a quote, or exchange contact information. 

By preparing an elevator pitch for your business, you can have a ready-made speech that you can use to introduce yourself and your small business to anyone at the exhibition. You can also adapt and customise your elevator pitch according to the situation and the audience. 

The second thing you need to do is to engage visitors with open-ended questions, demonstrations, testimonials, or incentives. These are some of the ways that you can chat with your visitors and show them your products or services in an engaging way. Here are some tips on how to use these ways: 

  • Open-ended questions: These are questions that invite your visitors to share their opinions, experiences, or preferences. You can use them to learn more about your visitors’ problems, needs, or interests and how you can help them. You can also use them to build rapport and trust with your visitors and show that you care. 
  • Demonstrations: These are presentations that show how your products or services work and what they offer. You can use them to show off your products or services in action and let your visitors see, hear, touch, or try them. You can also use them to answer any questions or objections that your visitors may have. 
  • Testimonials: These are statements or stories from happy customers that vouch for your products or services. You can use them to provide social proof and credibility for your small business and show that others have used and liked your products or services. You can also use them to address any concerns or doubts that your visitors may have. 
  • Incentives: These are rewards or offers that motivate your visitors to act or show interest in your products or services. You can use them to entice your visitors to visit your booth, sign up for a demo, request a quote, or exchange contact information. You can also use them to thank your visitors for their time and attention and make them feel valued. 

Networking and pitching effectively at an exhibition can boost your chances of generating leads, making sales, building relationships, and gaining insights. You can also communicate your value proposition, benefits, and differentiation to potential customers and other exhibitors. So don’t forget to brush up on your networking and pitching skills! 

Following Up with Leads 

The final step to exhibiting at an exhibition is following up with leads that you have collected from the exhibition. To convert your leads into customers or referrals after the event, here are some tips on how to follow up: 

  • Organise and segment your leads based on their interest level, needs, and preferences. You can use tools like spreadsheets, CRM software, or email marketing platforms to store and manage your leads’ information and interactions. 
  • Communicate with your leads using the most appropriate channel and frequency. You can use email, phone call, social media, or direct mail to reach out to your leads and remind them of your products or services. You can also use automation or personalisation tools to send relevant and customised messages to your leads. 
  • Nurture your leads with valuable content, offers, or invitations until they are ready to buy from you or refer you to others. You can use blogs, newsletters, webinars, case studies, white papers, or ebooks to educate and inform your leads about your products or services. You can also use discounts, coupons, free trials, or demos to entice and persuade your leads to act. 

By following up with leads after an exhibition, you can maintain and strengthen your relationship with your leads and increase your chances of converting them into customers or referrals. You can also avoid losing your leads to your competitors or forgetting about them altogether. 

Make a statement with a memorable booth 

One of the most important steps to exhibiting at an exhibition is designing an attractive booth for your small business. After all, for those attending, this will be their first impression of your business, so you’ll want something that stands out and amplifies your brand’s persona.  

To go about designing a booth that reflects your brand identity, the first thing you need to do is to choose the right size, layout, location, and lighting. These are the basic elements that determine how your booth looks and functions at the exhibition.  

Here are some tips on how to choose these elements: 

  • Size: Choose a booth size that suits your space booking, product display, and visitor capacity. You want enough space to fit your staff, visitors, and materials comfortably and invitingly. 
  • Layout: Arrange your booth layout to optimise your visibility, accessibility, and functionality. You want a layout that guides your visitors smoothly and logically. 
  • Location: Pick a booth location that maximises your exposure, traffic, and relevance. You want a location that avoids distractions, obstructions, or competition. 
  • Lighting: Select a booth lighting that highlights your products, materials, and brand. You want a lighting that boosts your visibility, attractiveness, and mood. You also want a lighting that matches your brand personality and theme. 

The second thing you need to do is to use custom exhibition stands to create a unique and memorable impression on your audience. Custom exhibition stands are bespoke structures that are designed and built according to your specifications and preferences. They can help you showcase your products or services, convey your brand message, and differentiate yourself from other exhibitors. Here are some benefits of using custom exhibition stands: 

  • Customisation: Gain the freedom to customise every aspect of your booth design. You decide the shape, size, colour, material, style, and features of your custom exhibition stands. You can also display graphics, logos, slogans, or images that show your brand identity and value proposition. 
  • Innovation: Custom exhibition stands enable you to add any technology, functionality, or interactivity that improves your booth design. You can demonstrate your products or services in an innovative way with devices, screens, sounds, lights, or effects. You can also interact with your visitors using games, quizzes, surveys, or contests. 
  • Impact: Make a lasting impact on your audience. You can attract your visitors’ attention and interest with any shapes, sizes, colours, materials, styles, or features. You can also convey your brand message and make them remember your booth with graphics, logos, slogans, or images. 

One of the leading providers of custom exhibition stands is Quadrant2Design. Quadrant2Design is a UK-based company that offers high-quality design, installation, and support services for custom exhibition stands. They have over 20 years of experience in creating stunning custom exhibition stands for various industries and events. They use their own modular system called Prestige Events System to create custom exhibition stands that are flexible, reusable, and eco-friendly. They also offer free 3D design visuals and no-obligation quotations for their clients. 

If you are interested in using custom exhibition stands for your small business, you can visit the Quadrant2Design website or contact them for a quote. 

If you are ready to take your small business to the next level by attending an exhibition, but you need some financial assistance to make it happen, we have a solution for you. Here at Nucleus, we offer flexible and tailored funding solutions for small businesses. We can help you get the cash you need to cover your exhibition expenses and grow your business. Get in touch with us today. 

BY Sean Owusu




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