Exhibiting your products at the best shows is still the best way to get them into the hands of big customers. Online visuals might be constantly improving, but they still aren’t able to seal the deal like a live demonstration or display can.

However, top exhibitions tend to be expensive. They require a major investment of both time and money and you have to ensure that you squeeze the most value out of this amazing opportunity. Here are the top exhibition tips for helping you make the most of this opportunity:

1. Learn How to Properly Select Shows

You must be clear about what you plan to achieve and do as much research as possible on the best shows in your industry. Ask both current customers and suppliers about the shows they expect to see your type of service or product being exhibited at. If possible, visit to get a feel for the exhibition as well as the people in attendance and find out from the present exhibitors about what their experience has been.

2. Have the Collateral

What marketing materials should you bring to the event? You can find a good printer online that can supply the materials required to dress your stand, including banners. At a bare minimum, ensure that you have many business cards as well as information packs or leaflets, depending on what you are promoting.

You should also have everything your need to either take or make sales including paper forms as well as online forms that buyers can access on the spot via tablet or laptop. It is also important to have your online shopfront in place before the event. If you have to do that yourself, you can check out the stylish, simple formats available at Wix.

You also need to have a mechanism for contact collection in your stand kit. It is still worth doing the tried and tested business card raffle. You can also invite visitors to sign up to receive updates and special offers through your online newsletter, using a tool such as GetResponse.

3. Take a Team

You will find it very difficult to get the most out of an exhibition if you are there alone. You need bathroom breaks at least and it is quite the shame to miss out on networking opportunities with industry peers. Plan well in advance for a team or so that you have at least one other person tagging along, whether that’s a friend, relative, or colleague. Whichever person to tag along, ensure that they are thoroughly briefed and rehearse with them the key messages that you wish to deliver.

4. Promotion

You need to get promoting well prior to the event. Do you have a broader PR angle, such as launching a new line, that you can send out a press release about? Can you invite your current associates and customers to visit you on your stand for some cake or champagne celebration? Get an attractive re-board to stand out and really give your stand a lift.

5. Speak Up

Exhibitions often have speaking opportunities. You should volunteer for such if you can. It will give people something to talk to you about. You might even find your stand having a queue. Today, most events even have Twitter hashtags that help add an extra layer of conversation as well as direct promotion to your event.

6. Look Presentable

How would you like people to feel about your business? Whatever that emotion might be, for instance: security, fun, or luxury, ensure that your exhibition display stand, marketing materials, and personal presentation reinforce it.

A good level of grooming is critical to your entire look too, regardless of whether you are looking to appeal to high end clients or hippies. Avoid clutter as well as the temptation to show it all; stay solely focused on the key products.

7. Welcome Visitors

Exhibitions can be physically exhausting. However, you don’t want an important customer to pass by your exhibition stand just as you are grumbling with your colleague. Try as much as possible to keep your head up, stay alert and bright, maintain positive body language, and smile. If you do that, your dream customer will be pleased to find you when they find your stand.

Keep in mind that exhibitions are equally tiring for the visitors. Offering a glass of water, sweets or snacks is a very thoughtful gesture that not only helps visitors view your business more positively but also encourages them to hang around and drop in.

8. Make Conversation

It can be a good idea to view exhibitions as the perfect opportunity to do market research as much as making sales. You will come across as being curious instead of desperate. Prepare several conversation openers, and not ‘Can I help you?’ That’s not a conversation opener but rather a conversation closer.

A good conversation opener could be asking visitors about what’s the best thing they have seen so far at the event, or the offer of refreshments. The objective should be to lead on to feedback about your service or products. A closer look can even lead to a sale. Or, if they might be a potential customer, get their contact details so that they may send them additional information, special offers, free samples, or future developments.

9. Follow-Up

You cannot afford to relax until you do the follow-up. The ideal time for this is immediately. Add contacts to your system, fulfill all the promises you make, and, if nothing else, send a personal email expressing your gratitude for people dropping by. In some instances, that’s all you need to make a sale.

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10. Review

Was the exhibition actually worth it? Ensure that you measure the impact of the exhibition in terms of potential and actual sales, customers, and other opportunities. You might be surprised by the results and should feed into your overall marketing strategy. There’s always room for improvement. What can you improve upon next time?

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