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No! No! Ten times no!

CIMCIG’s Rick Osman considers what you should be thinking about if you’re exhibiting at Ecobuild

Your success at any exhibition lies as much with not turning visitors to your stand away as much as it has to do with attracting them in the first place.

Exhibitions are where you want to meet new potential specifiers and customers. Whereas people you already know are quite likely to breeze up and say hello, those who do not know your company need to be reassured when they hesitate in front of your stand.

Is your product the one they are looking for? Is it expensive? Are they interrupting you? Are you busy with another visitor? You need to be aware that potential visitors can be easily turned off by little things on the stand or by staff attitude.

So how can you go wrong?

Well, your stand staff are your biggest asset at an exhibition, and your biggest liability. Some of them might prefer to be at home, might have aching feet, might be hungover or might think the show is rubbish. If they are they should not share it with your visitors. So our first ‘No!’ is…

No moaning about being there

Indeed, staff behaviour is paramount. Staff who are having a friendly chat with each other will deter visitors. You want everyone on the stand to get on but not so much that they appear to be a little clique to passers-by. Therefore our second ‘No!’ is…

No prolonged chatting to each other

Similarly, no one likes to interrupt someone while they’re eating. Have a rota for eating so that people can leave the stand to eat, better yet have a giant breakfast and go straight through the day. So…

No eating on the stand

People’s physical attitude, their body language, plays an important part in keeping your stand visitor-friendly. In almost all cultures turning your back on someone is seen as rude and unfriendly so it is a bit obvious to say but…

No backs turned towards the public

Having chairs on a stand can be bit double edged. You want visitors to be comfy and relaxed but sometimes, if it’s a bit early in the day or it’s getting towards the end of the afternoon, those chairs are going to look awfully attractive to some staff. But, as with eating, it is harder to approach someone who is obviously relaxing than it is to go up a keen, alert, smiling person, therefore…

No sitting down (except with visitors)

However, your staff need to be careful where they stand. Ranks of dark-suited sales people lined up along the front of your stand will also be quite effective in intimidating potential visitors…

No guardians

And on to the stand itself: first of all your stand must be easy to enter. If your design has a substantial desk or display across most of the front, change it. Walls keep people out.

No walls

Videos are not quite as useful on stands as people think. The wrong video will do no good at all and may even turn people away; and if it has a soundtrack be aware of two things, no visitor will listen to it and it will have driven your staff potty by the end of the morning.

No noisy videos

You’ve brought the pens to give away, the brochures to hand out and all the other stuff you don’t want to take back with you. Therefore it’s daft not to have it easily available so…

No tucking things away at the back of the stand

Most important of all is that your stand represents your company. A messy stand with used coffee mugs and sweet wrappers and dumped coats and the boxes the brochures were delivered in conveys that you do not care. Finally…

No mess

Exhibitions have an element of show business about them, so enjoy the show and then you’ll do the business.

Rick Osman is a partner in Highwire,, a design and marketing agency that specialises in the construction industry, and one of the team that created as well as being a CIMCIG committee member. For further details visit


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