How to make a big impression when exhibiting at your first conference

By Jacqui Wylde

In today’s business landscape, nobody can pass up the opportunity to get their products or services in front of potential clients and customers. Industry conferences and events provide the perfect platform for getting in front of your target demographic. By exhibiting at an industry conference or trade show, you’re guaranteed to encounter perhaps hundreds or even thousands of potential customers who would benefit from what your company offers.

If you’ve never exhibited at such an event, you might be concerned about how to do it right. Since this is the perfect chance to get your brand out there in an ideal setting, it’s important that you make the most of the opportunity. But how can you make sure you’re properly prepared to make a big impression when exhibiting at your first conference or trade show?

Remember the freebies

This goes without staying – when people visit your exhibition stall, they’re going to expect some sort of goody. Whether it’s a branded pen or stress ball, people love getting free things and it’s a fantastic marketing opportunity for your business. Think of anything that might spend a long period of time on someone’s desk, like coasters, reusable water bottles or notepads.

However, to make sure you stand out and allow your business the opportunity to make a big impression, don’t be afraid to think out of the box when planning your freebies. Food and drinks are also always a hit, with branded cupcakes, cookies and beers a favorite among delegates. Branded bottle openers, key rings, and charging banks are also some creative items you could take along to your booth.

Have company literature to hand

It might seem old fashioned in the digital age, but having a brochure or flier available to potential customers is a must-have for your booth. But don’t limit yourself to stuffy sales-talk in your literature. Instead, really think about your company’s messaging and ensure that this comes through in the tone of any content you prepare. If you’re a quirky and modern firm, use the appropriate language to communicate that. If you’re a corporate B2B, adjust the messaging accordingly.

Attendees often collect many brochures when they attend a conference to take back to the office, so they can review different suppliers or services and compare them. Ultimately, the quality of your literature could be the deciding factor between you and another company for potential clients.


Beyond providing the opportunity to educate your industry about your expertise and generate leads for your business, conferences and exhibitions offer a real opportunity to network with likeminded individuals. Take advantage of this opportunity to mingle with other industry experts and start building beneficial relationships with contacts.

Many industry conferences offer specific networking events as part of the agenda with the sole purpose of getting people talking to one another. Try to attend these. This is one reason it can be helpful for more than one person from your company to attend the event. You’ll want to make sure someone is there to man the booth at all times, while others network and take breaks.

Design an eye-catching booth

To make sure that you stand out to attendees, make sure that you have a way to demonstrate your product or services to them. A conference floor full of different exhibitions and demonstrations can be overwhelming for attendees and many may not know where to start. Therefore it can be very helpful to make your booth stand out.

Don’t be afraid to be bold – use eye-catching design and displays to get the attention of those passing by. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, it can be very effective to have an interesting demonstration of your product or service so they can get a real feel for what you can offer.

Attending your first event as an exhibitor can be a daunting process, but these are just a few of the many steps you can take to ensure that you get attention and make a big impression.


Jacqui Wylde is business development manager and event expert at CT Group Travel. Jacqui has 29 years’ experience in the conference industry and has worked for multiple prestigious agencies.

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