This 3-minute read will tell you how to make loads of money from doing an Expo, with minimal cash outlay.

We’ve all seen exhibition stands manned by a forlorn, lonesome sales exec just wishing the day away. Of course, that’s just a criminal waste of time and resources. But it doesn’t have to be that way – if you go with a plan, taking an Expo stand is a huge opportunity.

Step 1: Pick the right exhibition

Many of you will just want to meet buyers and make sales A.S.A.P; there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re looking to grow your business, at some point you’ll need to step up and exhibit alongside the big boys, at bigger Expos. That’s how you come to be considered a true challenger brand – but you may not be ready for that. Yet.

You must decide exactly where you are in your journey, then plan around it.

Ask yourself the big question, does this exhibition have the right audience for your objectives right now? And I don’t only mean delegates, but other exhibitors too.

Step 2: Plan to stand out: gimmick or die

Going without a gimmick is asking to be ignored. You need to cut through the sensory bombardment of an Expo… you can’t stick a roller-banner up and stand there meek and mild. You need to think creatively…here’s a few ideas to get you started.


Yes, you can pay six grand for a dancing robot or 12 grand for a golf machine if you like, but there’s a whole range of entertainments you can book that don’t cost as much as you think.

For example, you can hire talented magicians and caricaturist/portraitists for a few hundred quid. Things like that always grab people’s attention and hook them in, giving your sales force chance to work their own magic.


Competitions are really, really useful too. Particularly when they align to your brand somehow; giving an iPad away used to be all the rage, but now so many people have them at home, the impact has declined. Besides, raffling an iPad only generates excitement about Apple’s brand. Giving away your own products or services creates interest in your company, which is what exhibiting is all about.


One practical way to get your stand busy is offer WIFI. The connectivity at Expos is invariably rubbish, so being a little oasis of fast internet can help draw a crowd. Remember, much of modern selling is about social proof: if your stand looks busy, it’ll stay busy.

Step 3: Intelligent data capture

Footfall is never an objective in its own right. What happens next decides your success.

There’re two schools of thought here. Do you want to use a data capture strategy to narrow down the prospects, and get the hottest of hot targets right in your crosshairs? Or do you want to use social media to widen the net, and perhaps encourage a load more people to the party?

Have a data capture sheet that qualifies leads, asking questions about where they are in the buying cycle e.g. if you lease photocopiers, you’d be mad not to ask them when their current contract expires on the entry form. Think about what you’d really benefit from knowing, and ask!

The benefits of using social media based competitions are:

  • it can drive traffic on the day
  • it might increase your follower base
  • you can find out quite a bit about someone from their social profiles, so it can be a good learning tool

My advice? Offer both, and if someone enters both ways, they get two chances to win.

Step 4: Manpower and Energy Levels

You need a positive attitude to this. Don’t just send one average sales bod. Commit to it, send a strong team. It’s a long, hard energetic day and it’s too much for one person to handle: understaffing is actually a waste of money.

And whatever you do, no-one should commit any length of time to any one person – no matter how keen they seem . You’ve come to meet thousands of people: if you let one person hog your time, you’re doing it wrong. Be polite, earmark them for a call to set up a meeting, and move on.

Step 5: How to not pay for it

The trick to making a healthy profit from an Expo: don’t pay for it all yourself.

Work out who else could benefit from the data you’re going to capture. I’ve advised on deals where the exhibitor’s supplier has weighed in for half the costs, then we’ve gone to get sponsorship from non-competitive companies who would love to get hot sales leads without the effort of generating them. Finding strategic sponsors like that covered most of the rest of the cost, leaving my client with only £1000 to pay, for £15,000 worth of marketing activity.

The key is: once you have a plan, you can get people to buy into it.

In conclusion

Plan, plan and plan some more.

If you’re going, go all guns blazing and make it count. There’s no point dipping a toe in. Go to win or don’t go at all.


If you could do with some help getting big wins for small outlays, through sharpening up your sales and marketing processes, a quick chat with one of the UK’s best entrepreneur coaches is the best place to start.

Now read: 5 sales pro hacks to get fear to push your business forwards, not block your way 

Image Credit

<a href=”″>Symbian stand</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

7 Business Killers And How You Can Avoid Them And Succeed

Download my FREE eBook to learn the seven deadly business killers and how you can avoid them.

Get your FREE ebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *