Emma Swales is Managing Director of Marketingesp Limited and has written the next blog  in our ‘How To Exhibit’ series which are written by industry experts to help our exhibitors get the most from our upcoming flagship event, Conference & Hospitality Show on Tuesday 24th April 2018 in Leeds:


Seeing your stand through the visitors’ eyes: On-stand behaviours

So, by now you’ve got everyone involved and bought into the power of your live event. You’ve told your customers and your prospects that you’re exhibiting, and you may even have secured a diary full of appointments. You’ve planned your team briefing and so everything is sorted. Right?

Well, not quite….how are the stand staff team going to behave on the day, how are they going to ‘work the stand’, what are they expected to achieve?

If you were planning a party at your home, you’d be ready for your guests to arrive. Everything would be in its place, neat and tidy and hospitality provided. You’d welcome your guests warmly and you’d find common connections in the room. You’d introduce them by their name and when it’s time to leave you’d thank them for coming. It’s just the same on an exhibition stand.

So, here’s my FIVE top tips for ensuring you get the most from your time on-stand

  1. Brief the team

Get the team on the stand before the show opens and remind them of the day’s objectives, the visitors you want to engage with, the opportunities you want to foster, the meetings that are arranged, your key messages, your products and services being promoted. Make sure everyone involved knows how the stand will be managed, the team rota, where the brochures are kept, how to use the lead/data capture tool. The stand staff need to be prepared and ready when doors open!

  1. Play to your strengths

Give your team members specific roles. These can change as the day progresses but think about appointing someone to manage the smooth running of the stand. Your team maybe perfectly comfortable with the whole visitor conversation process but if you’re new to exhibiting or some of your team members are, you may want to think about who is best at engaging visitors and qualifying their needs, and who is best at presenting your product or service and closing to the next step (usually some form of lead capture and follow up step). Always play to your strengths and support one another as a team.

  1. Ditch the ‘What if’s’

Who should you engage with? What if the lady in the aisle looks like she’s waiting for someone? What if the group of people on the edge of your stand space look like they are simply hovering? What if the guy watching your on-screen presentation looks perfectly content?

The answer to the question ‘Should I engage with that visitor?’ is YES.

Ditch the ‘what if’s’ and engage with everyone you can – the worst thing that can happen is you get ignored or the visitor says ‘no thanks’. What if, that visitor turns out to be your next big customer?

  1. First impressions count

Everything speaks – whether you’re on the stand or at the networking bar, you are the brand.

Your body language speaks volumes, so try to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Eating and drinking on the stand
  • Taking advantage of the very attractive chairs on your stand!
  • Using mobiles or laptops on the stand
  • Leaning on counters/tables
  • Huddling with colleagues
  • Standing guard on the edge of the stand area

Always be conscious of where you and your colleagues are standing – keep motivated and energetic by moving around rather than standing in one spot. Always be ready and prepared to talk to visitors.

It helps sometimes to take a step back and view your stand from 20 feet away. What do you see? Would you visit your stand?

  1. Be interested and interesting

When you know what you are at the show to achieve and you understand your products and services, then you can concentrate on really listening to the visitor to understand what they have come to achieve – what are they looking for, what challenge are they hoping to overcome, how can you make their life a bit easier? Show them you are interested in what they have to say by asking open questions and digging a bit deeper to demonstrate your understanding of their needs.

You’ll build confidence and trust with the visitor by being able to explain simply how your products and services are relevant to them.

  1. Use their name

I said 5 top tips, but here’s a bonus one! People appreciate it when you use their name. Makes it more personable and human. Try to look out for the visitor’s name badge and when you’re introducing them to a colleague or thanking them for stopping by, it helps to confirm your interest in them when you can use their name.


Emma Swales is Managing Director of Marketingesp Limited, a full-service marketing agency based in the Midlands. Marketingesp delivers strategic marketing consultancy services along with practical implementation of On-line, Off-line and On-show marketing campaigns. Emma is an experienced trainer and facilitator for bespoke exhibitor training services covering pre-show planning and promotion, exhibitor stand staff training and post-show follow up strategies. Her training workshops are low on theory and high on practical and tested solutions that bring a measurable and qualitative impact to exhibiting performance. She has worked with client companies across several diverse sectors. Emma provided business mentoring services for graduate start-ups from De Montfort University for many years and is the exhibition and marketing expert for East Midlands Incubation Network. She is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. 


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