Scarbutts Printers
Scarbutts Printers

Planning a successful exhibition stand.

2023 was a turbulent year for events, whilst some exhibitions like London Packaging Week thrived, which our sister companies Delga Press and Delga Labels attended, others such as the more local B2B event, Business Vision Live at the Kent Event Centre, which we have attended for a number of years, has sadly been cancelled for 2024.

There are still plenty of exhibitions in the diary for 2024, at big venues like London ExCeL, London Olympia, the NEC in Birmingham, and more locally. As winners of ‘Best Large Stand’ at Business Vision Live 2023, we’re here to guide you through everything you need to know about planning and executing the perfect exhibition stand. From driving footfall to your stand to getting quality leads that your business can follow up on, we cover it all. If you want to be the envy of your stand neighbours at the next exhibition you’re attending, read on.

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Choosing the right event.

Before you can start advertising your presence at an event, you’ll need to identify your target audience, do some research on the events available to you, and set your budget. Once you have done this you can decide which events you want to attend and get in touch with the organisers to book your space.

There is often the opportunity to purchase additional advertising through a show organiser such as:

  • Show guide
  • Sponsorship
  • PR opportunities

Once you have decided on the show you want to be present at, you’ll then need to decide on the theme for your stand. Will you focus on a current topic in your industry or a problem you can solve for your audience? Start by brainstorming ideas with your team and how you can get this message across in an engaging way at the show. At this stage just jot down all your ideas, this can range from ideas for stand graphics and marketing collateral you will need, to show giveaways and follow-up ideas.

Designing the Stand.

Depending on your budget, your event calendar, and your campaign, you might choose to work with a stand builder on the design of your stand or go for a more cost-effective method such as multi-use roller banners and pop-up banners that you can use at more than one event. If you are tailoring your message to a specific audience, then designing one-off graphics for that event might be the perfect option, like our “Power of Print” campaign at Business Vision Live in 2023. If you plan on taking a more holistic approach and using the same campaign at several shows, you can invest in reusable graphics, such as roller banners. Ensure that your messaging is more generic, but still highlights your USPs and how you can alleviate common issues faced by your customers.

When it comes to furniture, think about the footfall for your stand. Do you need a meeting area or a demo area? Check if you get a table and chairs with your package and if it suits your needs at the show. You might want to consider covering a table with a branded tablecloth. Make sure you have secure storage for staff belongings and any overstock of marketing collateral and giveaways that you take with you.

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Planning your campaign.

Having a successful exhibition stand requires careful planning in advance. Depending on the event, we recommend starting your preshow campaign at least 8- 12 weeks before the event. This gives your prospects enough time to plan to attend the event, and you enough time to tell them why they should come and see you when they get there.

Build a campaign and decide on the key messages before the show, make sure your advertisements include these key messages, as ultimately this is why people will choose to visit your stand.

You can let people know about your presence at an exhibition in several ways, we recommend doing as many as possible:

Social Media– Post from your company page but get staff that will be attending to post on their LinkedIn pages too, so people can put names to faces before the event. Make sure you tag the venue and the show’s social media page to get more reach.

Emails – Mention the event in your monthly newsletter and include a link to book a ticket. 

Personal Invitations – Consider not only a personalised email but also a printed version. A personalised printed invite is guaranteed to land on their desk/doormat and cannot be ignored (lost in junk and filtered folders).

Website banners and pop-ups – link your banners and pop-ups to a blog that discusses your attendance at the event, the theme of your stand, and why they should come and see you there. Make sure to include a link to book tickets.

Recording leads.

The most important part of the stand is recording who visited you! Most shows offer you the opportunity to scan badges, but this isn’t very personal and doesn’t help you qualify your leads. If you’ve ever visited an exhibition, you will know that it can be very tiring talking to lots of vendors, so visitors need all the help they can get to remember your business after the show. You should focus on keeping visitors on your stand and engaged for as long as possible. This doesn’t mean you need to be talking to them all the time they are on your stand. Making your stand interactive means the visitor is in control and more likely to remember what they’re looking at.

Consider other lead capture techniques, such as a QR code for them to scan to access a download, or you could run a prize draw. Both of these offer the visitor something additional, that might make you more memorable, and gives you the chance to find out a bit more about them and their business needs. It’s also important to remember to not have too many steps to get their information, as you run the risk of putting the visitor off. You could include questions such as:

  • What product/service of yours they are interested in
  • How soon they are likely to purchase
  • If they are the key or sole decision maker in the process

If you would like to contact or email your leads after the show and deliver marketing information to them, you will need to make them aware that you are recording their details for this purpose and give them the option to opt out of this at this stage. Don’t ask for too much information!

Becoming memorable.

You’ve got the data, but you want the visitor to remember you warmly in any follow-up information you send. After you’ve spent some time getting to know them on the stand and recording their details on your lead form, you could offer them a giveaway to take away with them. We recommend having at least the following for anyone to take away with them:

  • Business cards
  • Brochure about the company
  • Leaflet about a specific service/product

In addition to this, you can pop these in a branded bag, which advertises your name as they walk around the show and include a giveaway. At Business Vision Live Scarbutts Printers gave away Scarbutts branded coasters with contact details on them. As well as chocolate bars that featured our teams’ faces, with a QR code that linked directly to contact details to allow the visitor to connect with them after the show. 

Post-show marketing.

Imagine this, your team have spent all day on their feet, talking to prospects getting leads, and telling people about your product or service, they pack up the stand, count the leads, and go home happy thinking that’s it, job done. But the job doesn’t stop there! The single most important part of the success of any show is in the follow-up! Do not expect enquiries to come flooding in without some extra contact!

Have you got a robust strategy in place to follow up on all your leads? There will be some that require an immediate follow-up, these are what we would call high-priority qualified leads, these should hear from your team as soon as possible after the show with a personal email or phone call.

The other less immediate leads will need to be contacted as well. You can then enlist them into your marketing strategy so that you can ensure they hear from you regularly and they don’t forget about you until the time comes when they are ready to buy from you.


Planning your presence at an exhibition does require time and investment, but when executed with careful planning, the right lead capture, and a follow-up process for your business, exhibiting at a show can be a great way to elevate your brand, raise brand awareness, and generate new leads.

Did you find this helpful? Bookmark this page for easy reference when you’re planning your next exhibition. 

We’ve also created a handy Exhibition Checklist for you to download and keep.

At Scarbutts Printers we have decades of experience helping our customers at their events with marketing and show collateral as well as banners and direct mail. If you think you could benefit from a discussion with one of our team, give us a call. We’ll be happy to help. We are not just a printer we have been delivering excellence in print since 1961.

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