Exhibition marketing can offer a completely unique value to your business, because 81% of all trade show attendees have buying authority, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. This means that four out of five attendees are potential customers, and you have the opportunity to spend face-to-face time with them.

So picture the scene. You have spent money hiring an expert team of exhibition stand builders and designers, you have put together a crew of friendly staff members, and you feel confident your products or services have mass appeal. Yet, in spite of all this, the visitors at the exhibition keep walking past.

“Assume that people don’t know your brand, and make sure your stand tells them who you are and what you do.”


Rest assured you are not alone. Research from Exhibit Surveys Inc. shows that the typical exhibition visitor spends more than nine hours browsing the exhibits, yet most attendees visit fewer than 10% of the total number of exhibition stands. So why do some stands attract visitors, while others are ignored?

The design of your stand

Perhaps the most obvious reason people may walk past is the exhibition stand design itself. Trade show attendees will naturally be more drawn to attractive stands, which stand out from those around them. In addition, visitors will be more likely to visit stands that have been arranged well, showing off products, without seeming cluttered.

“One common problem is that the stand does not make clear exactly what issues you can solve for passers by”


With that said, problems with stand design go beyond pure aesthetic quality. One common problem is that the stand does not make clear exactly what it is that your business does and what issues you can solve for passers by.

Exhibition stands need to provide information quickly and clearly, and that information needs to be consumer oriented. Assume that people don’t know your brand, and make sure your stand tells them who you are and what you do.

Issues with body language

It is important to realise that the physical structure of your stand is not the only thing exhibition visitors will be looking at when making their decisions. In actual fact, the staff members you choose will have a huge role to play and positive body language is essential. Common body language mistakes that will put people off include:

  • Staff talking amongst themselves, especially in groups;
  • Staff sitting down or facing away from the main floor;
  • Staff eating, drinking, or playing with their phone at the stand;
  • Staff displaying signs of boredom, e.g. yawning, finger drumming.

Furthermore, the way your staff are dressed can have an impact. People want to visit stands where they instantly know exactly who the staff are, and they also expect staff to look professional. While a strict uniform isn’t always mandatory, staff should look presentable and should all be sticking to the same basic dress code.

Lack of pre-event marketing

Finally, one of the biggest reasons people will walk past your exhibition stand is because they already have an idea in mind of the stands they want to see, based on pre-event advertising. Indeed, research published by Inc. Magazine shows that 70% of attendees plan a list of who to visit before getting to the exhibition itself.

Trade publications, social media and literature produced by the event organisers all offer an opportunity to let people know about your attendance in advance. Moreover, your appearance should be advertised on your own website and you should consider making contact with the local press where appropriate.

However, pre-event marketing should not be limited to pure advertising. According to the CEIR, companies that send out multiple pre-show invitations receive an average of 50 percent more visitors to their stand than those who do not, so you should also send out personal invites to prospects through the mail, or via email.