Get ready for 2024 Events - Insider Tips for Exhibiting at Shows and Expos

As we reflect on 2023 and begin to budget for the next year, you may be considering which events to attend.

The possibilities for getting real value from events are huge, but how to make the most of them can sometimes seem daunting. Our marketing expert Clare shares her thoughts on the best tips to make the most of your events calendar.

Why are events so useful?

In our experience, events are the perfect opportunity to achieve pretty much any marketing objective. Raise awareness of your brand? Check. Speak directly to and learn about your customers? Check. Obtain high-value leads? Check. Yet, for every event, there is a task list that can seem endless – things to prepare, merchandise to buy, delegates to reach out to. The last thing you want to do is add more to that list. As someone who has spent years organising in-house events as well as arranging slots as an exhibitor, sponsor or speaker, here are some key insights – in order to make the most of this resource intensive activity.

So, where do we start?

This article is for anyone without a large marketing team, who is considering the best way to exhibit at an event – to get the most from their investment. If you’d like to discuss any of these suggestions, or how it can work as part of your integrated marketing campaign, please get in touch.

Preparation Regardless of how much time you have, these three tasks that will vastly increase your chances at hitting your objectives:
  • Audience specific content: if you’re taking brochures or flyers, are they relevant? Tip – put the name of the show on the front cover – or if already printed – mock up a one-pager to go inside, with dedicated content all about that exact event and industry. Minimal cost, maximum impact.
  • Research: find out who is attending. There’s a reason you’ve chosen to invest in this event and exhibit – and as such, you will get access to some level of data. Take the time to understand who’s there, and have a plan. Is it appropriate to message them on LinkedIn beforehand? Ask if they’d join you for a lunch meeting to discuss their recent product launch and how you might be able to help? Or perhaps, the friendlier approach to simply go and say hello during the event, as to build a natural rapport and nurture a possible relationship.
  • Think about the week after: Book a slot in your calendar right now. One hour, for a week after the event. (Have you?) If you were an engineering company who made tyres for F1, and following a Grand Prix you had lots of insights about what the team said went well and didn’t go well. Would you let that feedback go to waste? Or would you use it to be better next time? This is essential for so many reasons: ensuring you can get in early and get a great stand location if it was useful; ensure you contact all necessary leads; obtain competitive advantage by learning from others’ and what could be improved, so on and so on. Remember that leads can take months to come to fruition, so if possible use as CRM to monitor these. Otherwise, find a way to record your leads in line with compliance, and get in touch as appropriate.


As part of your preparation, make sure your logistics are clear. If this event is new to you, it may be a venue you’ve never visited – even a new city. I take the approach of “if the walk says 6 minutes, I’ll leave 10.” While it may seem excessive to be ultra-prepared, here are some benefits:

  • You are definitely not late: an empty exhibition stand is not a good look for a brand
  • Early delegates are often most receptive to chats – before the bombardment of talks and networking sessions
  • Time to meet other exhibitors: as they may well be useful contacts, as referral partners, collaborators, or even prospects.
  • Access to the best canapes (well, it had to be said).

Squeeze the sponge

Who is joining you on your stand? Is it simply, whoever isn’t in a meeting that day? Or is it just yourself? My recommendation will be to always have at very least two people: one skilled in the technical parts of your business, as well as someone in sales (ideally you want three or more, for bathroom and refreshment breaks). By having this two-pronged approach, the salesperson can engage, exchange contact details, build rapport, while the technical employee can discuss needs in detail. Perhaps you own a design company that makes intricate interiors for the automotive industry. If you bring your Senior Design Engineer, as well as Sales Director, your SDE can answer delegate’s questions about how they approach a new project, and what software they find most cost effective. Meanwhile, your SD can bring in the crowds, give away some merch, get them talking about what they love in their business, and exchange those contact details.

Energy and wellbeing

This is something very often overlooked, and as someone who is also a trained yoga teacher – yes, wellbeing is something I really care about.

Here is a scenario. Your team is tired, hungry, stressed. There’s only two of them and they haven’t sat down in three hours. Will they represent your brand in the best way? These events are often long days, requiring standing, engaging with new people, learning about many different companies and actively responding. Even for the most extroverted, this can be a huge challenge. Here are my tangible tips:

  • Create a rota to ensure your team have regular breaks. Use the event’s own schedule to help with this – as there may well be quieter times (e.g. during a keynote speech) when you can allocate a greater break.
  • Identify where to get refreshments from ahead of time, or even pack snacks with you, so staff can find what they need with ease.
  • Prepare your team the week before, so they are confident with what they’re saying. A recommendation is a Kick Off meeting a few months before, to discuss what marketing material is needed, plus a week-before meeting to remind of logistics.
  • Ensure there is enough of you! If you don’t have a big enough time, look into hiring freelancers to work with you.

Track those leads

Exhibitions and shows have varying tiers regarding data collection. These can range from, absolutely none, to being sent entire databases with feedback questionnaire results. Your first step should always be to ask the event salesperson: what access do we have to data? From here, use the following insights to maximise this data access:

Once you know if you will receive data access, check:

  • Does this data include email addresses, or just names? Get this in writing to avoid any potential conflict post-event.
  • Is there a disclaimer that the data can only be contacted once (unless they then opt in)? If so, this will affect your post-event email. In this case, it is worth trying to make connections yourself during the event. Essentially, it needs to be super targeted and encourage recipients to continue a conversation. Otherwise, their data is lost.
  • Is there a lead scanning app? If you have an exhibition stand – often at larger events – there may be the opportunity to purchase a lead scanner device or app. This is definitely worth the investment, as it allows you to scan a delegate’s badge, plus write relevant notes. For example, you meet a potential client, and during your conversation, your salesperson scans the badge and highlights their pain points. Following this, your post-event email could be highly targeted and authentically related to their needs.
If the event doesn’t have a lead scanner, here are some things you can do:
Intrigue: Promote a competition on your stand, encouraging people to submit their details in order to win something: could be a consultation, could be a bottle of champagne. Use quick tech: Use a QR code that leads directly to your website contact page. This can be advertised anywhere on your stand, from the tablecloth to the graphics, even your clothing. Legitimate use of LinkedIn: Often, you will be sent a list of names prior to the event. You then have legitimate interest to reach out on LinkedIn should you wish. My advice would be to do this authentically. Start by offering free content – perhaps an article they may find interesting. Do not go straight in and sell. You could also offer to take them to lunch, or ask for a meeting at the event to discuss some of their upcoming projects. Intrigue: Promote a competition on your stand, encouraging people to submit their details in order to win something: could be a consultation, could be a bottle of champagne. Your own lead tracker: Have a tablet, laptop, or phone, with a link to a tracked contact form – where you can very quickly add someone’s details if, during a conversation, a delegate is interested in finding out more. Tracked contact forms are essential to ensure data is collected and does not get lost in the ether of email inboxes. (Not sure how to make these? Give us a call.) Negotiate a Marketing Package with the event organisers’ marketing team to utilise their channels, such as:
  1. Send an email to all delegates from the event’s database, with a tracked link to your website. This is often quite expensive, at between £1,000-2,500. However, if the audience is exactly what you want – it may be worth it. As it comes from the event organisers, the likelihood of a high open rate is vastly increased, and provides a sense of trust between yourself and prospect.
  2. Newsletter: these events almost certainly have a newsletter, building excitement about the event for delegates, and including interesting talks, offers or exhibitor information. If you are exhibiting or speaking, you can provide content for these, sometimes free of charge, to build awareness, interest and a call to action.
  3. Social media: again, the event organiser will be using social media to promote. Can you track down the interviewer during the event, and get on their Instagram story? How about a mention in a LinkedIn post saying which stand you’ll be on if delegates want to know more about your service?

Benefit to customer

And finally, remember, like with all things marketing – it should be all about benefits to the customer. If you speak at (rather than with) every delegate who comes to your stand, your lead conversion will be very low (regardless of how great the stand looks). If, however, you develop a two-way conversation, listen to them, understand, you will be able to showcase how your offer can truly benefit them. Then, you will have a much higher success rate.

Most Important Takeouts

  1. Do your research: speak to the event sales team – i’d recommend a meeting. If you;d like my list of 10 questions to ask, drop us a message here.
  2. Your people are Your brand: whether it’s the way they’re dressed, if they’re on their phone, how they interact, how they feel – make sure they are feeling their best and ready to go. Also, that they act with integrity and authenticity. Ensure they all know your company values, the benefit of your product or service to customers, and what you’re there to achieve.
  3. Have your own goals: perhaps it’s to get 20 hot leads, perhaps it’s to meet with someone you’ve admired for many months. Write this down, so you can analyse effectiveness for the next event or next year.
I hope you found this article interesting. If this has sparked any actions for you, or if you have other tips to share, please do drop me a message to global bay.

Interested in exploring how to utilise these lessons in your business?

Global Bay’s team of digital experts are passionate about crafting impactful websites and digital marketing strategies that authentically and powerfully connect with your customers of today and tomorrow.