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Written by Mark Powell

The Problem:  You have a limited exhibition budget and don’t know where to focus the money.  You have a list of a dozen things you WANT to do, but the pennies won’t cover it all.  What do you do?

The Solution:  Height and light.  Put yourself in the visitor’s shoes for a moment.  You’re walking around a show, looking for an interesting stand to spend your valuable time at… which one should be next?  You can’t see much below head height because crowds of people are in your way.  Then you spot something of interest: a logo up high, brightly lit, with a tagline underneath it that’s just what you came for.  Bingo!

Most small budget stands stick to aBUDGET EXHIBITION STAND DESIGN AND BUILD NEC height of 2.5 metres and have no, little or very poor lighting.  Now, if you’re exhibiting at a local show in a hotel foyer, it may not be possible to build a back wall to 4 metres high, but it will usually be possible to put some extra lighting up on and around your displays.  Lighting is key as any form of exhibition; it says “come and look – we have something to show you!”  And when you get there, you can actually see it!

Getting height at a small show can be tricky.  Most pop up displays are around 2.2 metres high; most roller banners 1.8 metres at best.  They just don’t stand out above the crowd.  Your best bet here is just to make sure what you’ve got is well lit.

When you exhibit at a larger show though, you have the opportunity to go higher.  This is where clever use of your exhibition budget is vital.  You can purchase off the shelf systems that will easily go up above the shell scheme competition of 2.5 metres and these can be used and reconfigured time and time again.  Spend a little more and an exhibition company will come and put up a wall or two for you, adorn it with a logo and graphics and even stick some high powered lighting up on and around it.  Suddenly you’re not in a shell scheme any more; you have a ‘proper stand’ and are starting to look like one of the big boys!

Now this may cost you a couple of thousand pounds per show more than booking a shell scheme and doing it yourself, so what benefits would you get out of it?  Well, you may consider some or all of the following:

  • You arrive at the show and your stand is all ready and waiting for you.  Yes, you didn’t have to shoehorn everything into a hire van, drag the pop ups through the car park and spend hours wrestling with magnetic graphics that just won’t…bloody…line…up!  All you’ve had to bring is a box of brochures and a laptop.  Exhibiting heaven!
  • Because you’ve saved a day (and lots of swearing) setting up, you spent that time doing your day job and whilst sat in the office (or on the road) sealed an extra deal or two.  Bonus!
  • You also don’t have to take the stand down at the end of the show.  It’s all done for you.  You just take back the nearly empty box of brochures and your laptop.
  • Because you are broadcasting your message up high in the hall, your visitor numbers and leads double compared to last time.
  • Now that you look like a ‘big player’ in the market, those people with the deep pockets who walked past you last year now stop and talk.  Not only has the number of leads increased, but the average value too.  Your percentage ROI has gone through the roof!

It’s always a balancing act deciding what to spend on a show, as what is important is the return on investment (ROI).  But if you can make your exhibition budget stretch to include height and light, it’s what I’d recommend every time.