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To shake up your exhibiting programme “out there” thinking may be just what you need

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Posted by , 13th March 2018

Out there exhibiting ideas from Exhibitors Only

This is one way of attracting attention from the team at Corporate Entertainment Professionals 

Sometimes you need to do things differently. You know that you need to bring some new ideas and creativity to your exhibiting. You need to move the success needle and drop the same old, same old. If this is how you are feeling right now, this article is really going to help.

Where do you go for ideas?

I’ve organised things around three areas: Finding events: Stand design ideas: “Out There” ideas. We start with “out there.”

“Out there” ideas: Change your thinking to change your results

My favourite subject and one that scares many stand managers. Why? Because we don’t like to take risks and we don’t like to be different. Here, the idea is not to be different just for the sake of being different.  The goal should be to do things that help you attract or meet more of the right people. In order to do that you need to standout to those people.

If in doubt, start your “out there” thinking with small steps and build from there. Meantime, here are some thoughts you might consider.

Out there exhibiting thinking from Exhibitors Only

Think you can’t afford a double-deck stand? Think again

Make your stand look radically different like the one above and get a low-cost double-deck stand in the process. Bold colours really work and there is no reason why you couldn’t include all mod cons like digital screens or projection inside or outside your stand. Another idea would be to include a unit like this as part of a bigger stand space. The image above is from Stax Bond. 

Out there exhibiting thinking from Exhibitors Only
Add some on-stand showbiz

Want something different to attract interest and crowds? What about the “Candy Floss Dancer.” To see him in action and lots of other crowd stopping ideas from Streets United jump to here. 

Out there exhibiting thinking from Exhibitors Only

Convey your message with fun and grab social valuable coverage at the same time

With such a vast variety of cultural and musical events, adventure and beach holidays, the Philippines Tourism Board wanted to remind commuters of the many reasons to visit and to keep returning to the Philippines. So creative experience agency CURB working with JC Decaux came-up with a stand at Waterloo Station that allowed travellers to experience the multi-faceted Philippines.

Instagram photo contests

Following-on from the idea above. Instagram photo contests could be linked to your event participation.

Run your competition in advance of the show. Show the winning entries on a digital screen at the show. Create lots of awareness  pre and post show. The subject matter doesn’t have to be directly related to your subject. Make it fun or serious depending on your market.

Find the events that can transform your business

It’s an obvious thing to say but to achieve great exhibiting results, you need to be in the right shows. Given that more than 800,000 searches are made each month on Google for ” a list of trade shows in the UK,” other people are thinking this way too.

The “right shows” are the ones that attract significant numbers of the people and companies that are most suited to buying what you offer.

Significant numbers will vary from industry to industry. In some events, significant may mean buyers in their dozens, in others, buyers may be measured in hundreds or thousands. You’ll know which category your business falls into. Regardless, here are some places to look to discover events that you may not know about.

Trade associations

Even if your company isn’t a member of a trade association you can still look at their websites which usually contain listings of events that are suitable for members.

I entered a random idea, “pet trade associations” and among the list of suggestions from Google was the PPRA. This is the Pet Product Retail Association. Click on the Events tab on their site and you’ll find 13 events including conferences and exhibitions that the association highlights to members. And this doesn’t include webinars and association-related meetings.

And many trade associations are also the organisers of their own exhibitions and conferences. Like the London Toy Fair for instance.

Other places where events are listed

Trade magazines are also a good source for finding new events. They will carry listings of shows that they are attending or covering editorially. But you can also ask the editor or another member of the editorial team if they know of events that they think are worth considering.

The Bank of Scotland offers a listing of trade shows both domestic and international although the focus is on using this portal as a tool to assist exporting. You can access their directory here.

Many venues also carry detailed listings of the events that will be taking place with them throughout the year. The bigger venues will be hosting the more established events but you are not necessarily looking for shows that you already know about.

Usually, typing in “what’s on at..” will take you to the right page. Click this link and you will see what Olympia’s landing page looks like. This page allows you to see listings for trade and consumer events.

Google and other search engines will of course list shows based on your search criteria. You then need to do some further digging to see how relevant or useful the events listed might before your business.

Stand design ideas

When it comes to fresh thinking for stand design ideas, there are lots of places that you can go to for inspiration.

The obvious place to look is at other people’s stands when you exhibit. You may well find stands that have features that are working well for fellow exhibitors. What are those elements and how could you incorporate some or all into your next display?

Visit consumer shows and events outside your field

Stands that are working really well at consumer events have high levels of visitor engagement. Seeing how exhibitors in those shows achieve this engagement can provide clues to how you might achieve the same in your events. What might surprise you is that some of the most successful stands will not be spending large sums of money to attract their crowds.  And they might actually be small stands too.

For the most enthusiastic and “out there” show, visit MCM Comic Con. At this show you don’t need to look at the stands. The visitors are the exhibits. This is a true experience event.

For style ideas visit the House & Garden Festival or Grand Designs Live.   To see how enthusiasts are catered for, visit one of the big cycling or fitness shows.

Consumer versions of trade shows

There are of course consumer versions of many trade shows. Gifts, equestrian, building, sports, fitness, food and many other sectors all have thriving consumer events. Visiting one of these connects you with end users and their thinking.

The Design Council

The Design Council is a great resource for design thinking across a wide variety of fields and they offer an excellent online resources section. You won’t find stand design ideas there but you will see design thinking that relates to industries like aerospace, food, building, transport and many others. Excellent downloadable guides can be grabbed too like this one on Wayfinding.


The membership list of ESSA, the  Event Supplier and Services Association, comprises nearly 400 companies. Members include many stand designers and builders and if you ask the association, they will recommend members in your area. You can also submit your tender to ESSA members through the association. For more on ESSA, visit www.essa.uk.com

Out there exhibiting thinking from Exhibitors Only

Pintrest & Instagram: Stand ideas galore

Both platforms are great for stand design ideas – you will find masses of them like the one above which I really liked.  And you can follow designers or companies that you like. Image shown is from BizBash on Pinterest.

Here’s to you shaking-up your exhibiting programme. Take the time to get your ideas together. Use a pinboard, physical or digital. Be a little “out there” the next time you show.

Further reading

Desert & Denim: A very different kind of trade show

Great tech ideas for exhibitors that will help you attract, entice & measure more effectively

Dare to be different: 6 ideas for achieving standout sales and trade show results

Posted in Trade show advice  /  Trade show ideas  /  Trade show marketing

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