Exhibitions can be :

  • Expensive
  • Time consuming 
  • Hassle
  • Stress

You know what? Sometimes all of these can be true and sometimes the Organiser just didn’t get it right and nobody or not enough people turned up or the wrong people and it was a waste of time. When it’s the organisers fault this can be incredibly frustrating spending the money but not getting the return. However a lot of people are quick to blame the Organiser when in reality they should be looking a little closer to home. It’s not going to be popular but most of the time it’s the exhibitors fault when the show doesn’t go well and whilst it’s not popular it’s the truth.

Today’s article is about why companies don’t do well at Exhibitions and focussed on the 4 key elements that are done badly that contribute to failure at Exhibiting.


A lot of people go to a show because they have been told that management have booked the stand and they “need” to be there as nobody else is available. Some see it as a jolly out of the office and a bit of craic. They go…stand there for three days and use it as an opportunity to be away from their desk. The team hope to make a few sales but outside that have just been told to be there. They arrive during the build up and nobody is sure who is building the stand or who is bringing it and responsibilities get passed from billy to jack. When you exhibit you need and should have a written plan of the sales, marketing and operations of the show. This makes you and everyone else more organised and come across more professional. People like to know what’s expected of them so share the plan so everyone knows who is doing what.

Key Tip : Have a one page written plan for Sales, Marketing & Operations


Like the planning stage, a lot of companies go to Exhibitions to “make a few sales” This is great in principle but it’s important that you set objectives that are measurable. If you are exhibiting at a b2b event and you expect to walk away with lots of sales you are realistically going to be disappointed. Exhibitions are about so much more and the key is building that face to face relationship for longer term sales. When I ask companies on stands what their objectives are for exhibiting they either don’t know exactly or give me a long list of 15 objectives for the show. Having no or 15 objectives just doesn’t work as none means your not organised and 15 means you are spreading yourself to thin as it’s hard to focus on so many. The key here is to set THREE clear objectives. By doing this you really focus on achieving them and this delivers success. By setting 3 doesn’t mean you won’t achieve other things but it radically increases the success of the ones you do set. I do a specific module on setting objectives for exhibiting so get in touch if you need help with this.

Key Tip : Set 3 Clear and Measurable Objectives 


82% of buying decisions at Exhibitions are made based on the attitude of the sales person on the stand. Not the stand size or fanciest gizmos on the stand so it’s imperative that you have the right people on the stand who know the plan and the objectives and are best placed to be motivated to inspire the visitors. Exhibition selling is different in that it’s reactive and you have no idea who is coming onto the stand…also visitors are time poor so it’s important your team have a compelling USP and Elevator Pitch for visitors when the opportunity arises. All too often you see people on Exhibition stands who are sitting down reading the newspaper, texting their mates or eating their lunch…This is hardly inspiring! You need your team to be really motivated and hungry not for lunch but to help people. By training your team before the Exhibition on all these things you drastically increase their motivation and also the results they achieve.

Key Tip : Get Your Team Trained In Exhibition Selling


The success or failure of a stand can be heavily influenced by your marketing pre-show. Yes the Organiser will market and promote the show and include your name on exhibitor lists but their remit is to promote the show itself and get visitors there. All too often I see companies attend Exhibitions assuming the Organiser will do all the marketing. Crudely speaking, it’s your money you are spending and you need to be selfish with how you spend it. You need to be marketing YOURSELF to your target market so not only do they visit the show but more importantly visit your stand. Marketing takes many formats but you should be including all channels both on and offline to drive attendance. It could be that one exclusive buyer who visits because of your marketing but it could also be the one that makes or breaks the show for you.

Key Tip : Put together a specific marketing plan for 2 months out, 1 month out, 2 weeks out and 1 week out from the show.

Exhibiting can be hard work but it’s also still proven as one of the strongest marketing channels(2nd after digital) for building sales so make sure you are all set for success next time you exhibit. If you need any help with exhibiting just get in touch as this is exactly what we specialise in. 

Ps we are doing a short course on this soon so get in touch.

Happy Exhibiting and have a great day,

#TheExhibitionGuy - Stephan Murtagh