Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

FE, Education & Business Marketing: Quick, Effective, Low Cost Marketing

Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

Ensuring Exhibitions Work for Your Business

Titchmarsh on our client's exhibtion stand

A recent request to appear as a guest on Business with Attitude radio led me to think about how people waste so much money on exhibitions.  

 Over the years I’ve organised and run exhibition stands at literally hundreds of exhibitions and events … from those in village halls to national venues such as the NEC ….. mostly in the UK with some in France, Eire etc.  These stands and exhibition venues have included trade stands, commercial stands, stands at leisure events, careers stands at education fairs & job fairs ….. and a lot more.

So what are the secrets of ensuring a good exhibition stand?

We’ve organised stands for businesses at events like Gardeners’ World Live, Badminton Horse Trials, school careers events and even organised national events in partnership with national trade and leisure publications  … and I never cease to be amazed by the number of business that totally waste their money (£000s per event) by failing to understand the event, the visitor or reason for being there ….. or fail to plan adequately or run their stand properly.



Exhibitions are a great marketing tool …. Or a way to waste money big time. 



I was recently interviewed on the topic of exhibitions.  Below are some of the questions Peter Roper asked me …. and some of my answers



Exhibitions must be one of the fastest ways to spend your marketing budget … so do they work?



Yes if well organised but unfortunately most people fail to understand and implement the basic exhibition rules.




Worse still most exhibitors take space at an event for the wrong reason.  Exhibitors often say it is  ……

Because our competitors do

To fly the flag

We were approached by the exhibition sales team

Our CEO said we should attend

Our customers expect us to be there

People think we have closed if we don’t attend ……



These are terrible reasons to attend spend money on an event




So why should businesses exhibit at events?

There are several possible reasons. These include…..



To attract new customers

To launch a new product or service

To act as a magnet and filter

To build relationships with existing and new customers

To gather prospect ‘s contact details



What mistakes do businesses make?  ….. and is it easy to overcome the basic mistakes?



The most common mistake is very simple. It is a … Lack of planning …. and that is easy to overcome.



I’d also advise that you …

Don’t ….


Arrive at the last minute Picture1

Fail to set up the stand before the event starts

Fail to set objectives

Fail to budget adequately 

Fail to brief staff

Forget to follow up enquiries quickly

If a business decides to exhibit what do they need to think about … what would a good exhibition game plan look like.

Do ….

Research the event

Have an objective

Brief your staff

Promote your attendance

Look different

Get media coverage


Again it is about planning.  Think carefully about why you are attending, what your objectives are, how you are going to leverage your existing customers and prospects.  Ensure you look different to your competitors, but above all make it clear what you do, what your offer it , why people should buy products or services from you. 

Can you describe an event that worked really well for you?


There are many but Gardeners’ World Live and the subsequent Chelsea Flower Show both gave our client incredible TV coverage that was worth far more than the cost of the event.


In the first case our client designed a garden exhibit.  This consisted of a 17 m long garden that was designed with the aim of encouraging a well-known TV presenter to use it as a backdrop for a prime time TV show.   


We ensured it worked visually and operationally for TV; included all the presenters favourite plants in the design; wrote to every gardening journalist in the UK (there were hundreds when you included every newspaper gardening columnist) and gave them a blow by blow account of the garden being designed, built and judged … it won Silver Gilt Medal and was featured on TV and in many papers and magazines.


The following year we took the same concept to the Chelsea Flower Show where we built a much smaller garden (some gardens that year had budgets of £1m .. we did it for £5000!).  The result … the garden became a presenter choice in a nationwide competition and obtained five days of being featured on prime time TV … oh, and won a Gold Medal.  

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