How to man a stand at an exhibition: The Best and The Worst.
Exhibitions are still popular, and the access they offer for face to face interactions and creating relationships is impressive. Attending a show at the Exel recently I wandered through one that was a combination of shows – so that it was hard to understand which one you were in. Some of these stands were pretty big, mini cafes with meeting areas, and large posters with demos taking place and gaggles of suited and polo shirt wearing people bobbing around.
The Worst is this.
You’ve got a stand with 20 people on. So the cost to you is massive – way beyond the cost of the space and the metal frame holding everything up. So are these 20 engaging with the visitors as they pass? Are they greeting people and using this brief, focused shop window effectively? No, they’re sipping coffee, having a giggle with their mates, looking at their phones. Interested people look at them, they could be customers, they sense the dis-interested arrogance and move away. These ‘representatives’ follow one of their directors to a ‘theatre’ (a space with some chairs) and then proceed to ignore his session on the products and services they are trying to sell! And as for the presentation skills!! Okay, simple rule, if you are the kind of person who manages to turn the most simple message into something inordinately complex, then just do not present. Ever. Ask someone else to do it and tell them to keep it SIMPLE.
As I walked through vaguely looking at the stands I passed, someone stepped out, off of the invisible wall blocking all the other stands. ‘Hey, have you seen this?’ Well, no, actually I hadn’t. This guy gave me hope for the future – firstly he was about my age, and had more energy and natural skill than anyone else at the show. He did a great demo, asked me some questions – and we just ‘got on’ and had a conversation. I reckon he did that with 90% of the people passing his stand and as a result he will reap a financial reward from this show – no doubt.
Nearby others sat drearily looking at their phones (which should be banned) and some smiled, and some looked down their noses at you. So here’s another simple rule, if you and your company, and your team, have had no training about how to run an exhibition stand effectively then you may as well not do it. If you’re there for vanity then dole out some drinks or chocolate and forget about any serious discussions because with this level OF interaction you’re on a hiding to nothing. Also, remember, at a quiet show, anyone on your stand makes it look busy – so don’t turn away students, journalists and media people - use them to make other people want to come to your stand!