The Events Hub

How SMEs can exhibit effectively on a budget

The Events Hub team have been involved in a huge number and variety of B2B business expos, trade shows & exhibitions of varying size and appeal across the UK over many years.

Looking around exhibition halls of B2B shows up and down the country, the surroundings are so familiar that you could be anywhere at any point in time – the clothed trestle tables, chairs tucked behind them and a variety of pull-up banners displayed along the back.

From the provider’s point of view, there’s nothing wrong with this but as an exhibitor, could you be doing more to be more creative?

These opportunities are presented to us to showcase our services so how can an SME stand out at these exhibitions without blowing the events budget?

Here are some of The Events Hub’s top tips:

1. Plan your objectives 

What are you aiming to achieve by being an exhibitor? What added value do you get in comparison to being a regular show visitor? Do you have measurable objectives in terms of the number of leads you hope to gain or is it less tangible – such as raising your business profile or using the event as a PR or marketing exercise? Communicate your objectives clearly to all of those working or helping on your stand and have a process in place to capture interest, leads and follow-ups – even if it’s just an exercise for yourself.

2. Dedicate time to think about and plan your space

Do this based on your objectives. Why are you attending the show? What feelings do you want to evoke from stand visitors when they approach you? How will you make your stand eye-catching or memorable? What approach will you use to speak to passers-by and how will you walk them through your stand experience? How much money do you have available to spend on your stand and how can you maximise your budget? Map out or talk your stand process over and see if there are any other touch points that could be added to the process to make it memorable and enjoyable for your visitors.

3. Think creatively 

Do away with the table and chairs! Sitting on a chair behind a table automatically creates a barrier between you and the attendees and if you or your staff are not fully engaged or are distracted, this gives the feeling of you being unapproachable or disinterested. Ideally, that’s not the first impression you want to give to visitors of yourself or your business so how can you change things around to personalise your stand experience? At a recent business show, we removed the trestle table and chairs completely, opening up the floor to demonstrate that we are open, personable and approachable. Use the opportunity to be photographed, take photos of your stand and those of other stands to share on social media to extend your reach.

4. Welcome varied conversations and keep an open mind 

It’s very common at small to medium-sized shows for exhibitors to network with one another. Often, networking with the other exhibitors is just as fruitful if not more than the networking opportunities that you get with your visitors. Try not to restrict yourself by only speaking to people you know, those in your industry or with the same interests as you. Just as it is in day-to-day networking, you never know where conversations lead to and who people’s networks are made up of. Invite and welcome the varied conversations that you have on your stand or at other people’s stands and keep an open mind.

5. Follow up immediately 

Once the show is over, an immediate follow-up is as important as your pre-show build-up and being present on the day. As a result of the expo, you might have come across potential suppliers, clients or collaborators. Aim to follow up right after the show so that you’re still fresh in people’s minds and to demonstrate that you really value the fact that you are now connected with each new contact – an opportunity that has come about thanks to the event. Although sometimes it might not be possible to reach out directly after a show, particularly if you’re the sole person in your business, try and reduce the lag time that you leave before sending that follow-up email or making that call.

As a small business owner, exhibitions can be an extremely cost-effective way of telling others about your business and sharing your story. You can and should maximise the opportunities that arise – from the pre-show activity to your stand on the day,, and all the way through to the follow-up process.

If you’d like to speak to The Events Hub Team about exhibiting or your future event plans, drop us an email at or call us on 01506 300277.

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