Ignoring exhibition visitors at your peril

Ignoring visitors at exhibitions is a dangerous game to play – and as experts in the exhibition industry, we can tell you this:
You will be missing out on leads!
Just by changing the way you invest and use your time in exhibitions will help increase the amount of leads you gain. Below, we’ve documented two exhibition visits and combined our research with best exhibiting practice tips to help improve your on-stand performance for your next event.

Are we Ignoring Young Visitors?

We visited Autosport International. It’s the ‘go to’ exhibition for car aficionados and our own Guy Wenham was raring to visit as a racer himself.
As well as going for his own enjoyment, we also set him with a few missions. We asked him to measure how long it takes for on-stand staff to approach him – a young guy aptly named Guy – versus someone older with ‘MD’ on his badge.
On three stands, it took an average of 1 minute 3 seconds for Guy to be approached, compared to the MD, which took 38 seconds.
This tells us a little about prioritising visitor’s on-stand and suggests that staff are de-prioritising young visitors versus those with suspected higher purchasing power.

Deprioritising younger visitors

When you’re really busy, this may seem like a sensible decision for most exhibitions. Opt for the people with buying power, who are going to be more likely to follow through on a lead.
But is that right or is it an outdated view?
With younger team members, interns and apprentices being sent out to exhibitions to meet potential new suppliers and research new products on behalf of their managers - should we really be ignoring younger visitor’s on-stand?
Should we be making them wait for nearly double the amount of time? Or are businesses missing out on potential leads by making them wait too long?

Value of younger visitors

They may have youthful grins and not be as experienced as more senior members of the team but what they do have is excitement.
New in the industry, they’re eager to make their mark, to help their teams make great decisions. That includes scoping out new suppliers, which could be you.
By ignoring less senior members on a whim that they don’t have buying power, businesses could be missing out on leads.
They may not hold the purse strings themselves, but if they don’t bring your brand back to the table then you may not even be in with a shot.

Ignore visitors at your peril

Following on from our suspicion that younger visitors could be overlooked, we sent Guy off again to a second exhibition. This time, one aimed at a fairly young audience of sports clubs, where his age may not be a contributory factor to him being ignored.
It was a less busy show and on average people greeted him in less than 3 seconds, which I’m sure you’ll agree is pretty good. These exhibitors get a big thumbs up from us.
But, what he was quite surprised at finding was that three out of 25 exhibitors that he visited completely blanked him. Not even a whisper of a greeting. So, he upped the ante to show them he was a ‘real’ potential lead. He thumbed through leaflets on their stands, showed all the signs of interest – including the nod of interest and a casual grin that you’d expect to see in a potential lead to say “hello, talk to me”. Still no contact.
The exhibitors were stood (or in some instances sat), well aware of his presence but scrolling through their phones, completely oblivious to the fact that by ignoring him they’ve shown themselves as bad exhibitors.



Don’t make these mistakes

To ignore anybody at an exhibition seems futile. The aim of exhibiting should be to drive brand awareness, sales, launch a new product and generally get people excited about what you do. With a short amount of time to get your message across to potentially thousands of passers-by it’s not just your stand that has to look visually appealing.
You are your brand when you’re on your stand. As such, your actions – both good and bad – are a direct reflection on your products and services.
By standing on your exhibition stand (or indeed in some instances to sit on it) and ignore potential customers, regardless of their age, you’re telling passers-by that you don’t care about them. You don’t need their business. So what would any self-respecting visitor do?
They’d look to your competitors. Your brand is now no longer in the run in for that person’s, and their company's, business.
It’s such a waste of potential and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Bad exhibiting practice

We know from previous research that 63% of exhibitors do not follow exhibiting advice and best practice. From 44% of people using mobile phones while on an exhibition stand, to 71% of people not measuring ROI, the results were astounding.
Mixed with the above, our findings from a visitor’s perspective of being ignored as a consequence of exhibitors not following best practice could result in serious consequences for exhibitors.
What may seem like a simple thought of “we’re not busy so I’ll check my phone or rest my feet”, may actually result in a loss of sales and reputation.
What could have been a positive experience and an opportunity to grow a new relationship, could have been shattered.
So, we’d always suggest brushing up on best practice before your event. As a summary, here are a few points to take away to start improving your exhibiting performance:
  • Make sure that mobiles are banned
  • Greet passers-by with at least a smile
  • Rotate lunch breaks with colleagues to avoid unmanned stands
  • Speak to your exhibiting team about expectations
  • Make sure that everybody is performing at their best and knows the do’s and don’ts of the exhibition floor.
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