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The Enigma Exhibition Survival Guide (AKA 'don’t forget your vacuum cleaner!')


Exhibition stands are a battlefield for attention. Banners flash, demos blare and charismatic staff are desperate to catch your eye. But the good thing is, when you’re part of a team manning a stand, you can catch up with colleagues to find out the latest news and take turns to get the coffees in…

…if they are with you.

Lost in the (exhibition) wilderness

What happens if you are the ‘team’? How do you survive when you're that lone trooper, manning a one-person stand for two whole days in your First Time Solo Stand Exhibitor Experience?

This is what happened to an Enigma team member only a few weeks ago - but with the right preparation and mindset, you can emerge happy and in one piece… albeit with sore feet.

Employee wandering lost in the desert

One thing you should always do is to find out what the exhibition organisers are responsible for and what is down to you. But even then, things sometimes don’t go to plan.

Recently, a colleague was unexpectedly left to run a major exhibition at a major trade event solo. After a frantic first day, they suddenly remembered to ask about getting their stand cleaned before kickoff on day two. “Oh don't worry, the organiser's cleaners will take care of that", they were told.

Except they didn’t.

Fortunately, the team member in question had savvily brought their own personal handheld vacuum cleaner - and fifteen minutes later, the booth was spotless! Phew! So how would you survive a similar lonely existence?

No problem - with our colleague’s experience fresh in our minds, we’ve created...

The Enigma exhibition survival guide

  1. Choose your supporting tools well. Pack brochures, product demos, branded giveaways and business cards galore, (don't forget snacks). 
  2. Rehearse your Q&As and elevator pitch: strong, concise answers and a compelling 10, 30, and 90 second explanation of your product or service go a long way to winning new customers.
  3. Smile. Stand tall. Make eye contact. Delegates and attendees can spot a bored booth body from a mile away (they can smell fear!). Remember, first impressions matter.
  4. Make sure your mobile device is charged and set up to receive. If you’re using your mobile to collect leads and sales data, don’t waste valuable battery power zombie scrolling social sites. Instead bring an extra independent power source to back up lead capture activities and quickly post using the event hashtag to highlight an interesting fact or demo. 
  5. Stand within easy reach.Before you know it, you'll be greeting visitors, answering questions, handling demonstrations, and collecting leads – all at once. Avoid standing behind chairs or tables and keep your stance open and ready for conversation. 
  6. Learn the art of the "soft approach" and be ready to multitask. You don’t want to be overbearing, but you’ve got to be ready for action. Lead with curiosity and ditch the 'car salesman pushy' approach. 
  7. Don’t despair in the quiet moments! Use them to refresh, rehearse your pitch and network with other exhibitors - remember leads are all around you, don't slip into trade show tunnel vision. Remember to rehydrate and tuck into your snacks to keep your energy up. 
  8. Accept that things will go wrong. A demo might malfunction, a key piece of information might be missing. Breathe, stay calm, and improvise. Resourcefulness is your superpower.

One last tip: pack that vacuum cleaner, just in case! You never know what the venue T&Cs will say about cleaning the stand…

Crowded showroom floor from MWC 2024

For over 30 years Enigma has been putting Brands in Focus. You can take a closer look at our experiential marketing principles here, contact us here, or follow the link below for stats on the effectiveness of in-person events.

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