Exhibiting: It's 'make your mind up' time

In the first of a series offering advice to fledgling exhibitors, Answers Training managing director Simon Naudi talks about setting show objectives.

Before exhibiting, you should always be clear on why you're attending an exhibition, what you hope to gain from taking stand space and how you will know if you have succeeded. You should also communicate this to the people manning your stand, so that they will communicate your messages to visitors.

Sadly, when you ask 'robo-stand-person' why they are exhibiting, they say: "because it's my turn", "because we always come" or "because Smith is off sick". Quiz these stand managers further and their replies include, "to survive, to give away brochures and to get networked to".

Don't get me wrong, many people are there with good intentions, aiming to do business and generate sales, but often it's the objectives that are too vague and either non-measurable or unrealistic. Broadly, objectives should include:

Sales generation

Direct sales, leads, database building, registering interest, current and new relationships

Customer relationships

Sales, confirmations, incremental or additional business, referees, revitalise lapsed

Brand building

Awareness, positioning, education, demonstration, new markets, investors

Product launches

Interest, prototypes, design studies, feedback data acquisition, timing and sales

Market research

Awareness, perceptions, surveys and opinion data, targets, budgets and campaign robustness

Channel building/support

Partners, dealers, distributors, agents, support for current agreements/channels

Media relations

Coverage, titles, press, editorial and journalist relations, City/investment


Audience, coverage, profile, methodology, VIP profiling

It is important, however, to be more specific. For example, if your goal is to generate sales, then make sure you break it down further.

How many sales are you anticipating? Are you targeting new or existing accounts? In what timescale are you hoping to convert leads into sales?

Are you focused on specific demographic splits? Do you want sales conversions or enquiries to follow up later? Are you looking for leads by order value or number of accounts?

Most experienced exhibitors use some kind of system to remind them of the questions they need to ask themselves. The SMART system below is a good example.

S: Specific - The more specific the better

M: Measurable - How will you measure?

A: Achievable - Can it be done?

R: Results based - Is it based on results?

T: Timescales - Deadlines - during the show and after

Objectives established, you can now start thinking about your next step.

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