10 strategies to attract visitors to your exhibition stand

by Editorial Team
13 minutes read

When enterprises participate in exhibitions they anticipate enough show-goers
to pass through their stand to ensure that they meet their marketing goals. When
it comes to visitor numbers, in the past marketers depended on fate to drive
enough of them to their stand but that is all in the past now. Modern-day
marketers can now deliberately strategise to get enough visitors to their stands.
They can plan for the right numbers of the right kind of show-goers to visit their
stand thereby improving the chances of them meeting their marketing objectives
and, by extension, their corporate objectives.
Some of the strategies which marketers can utilise to attract enough visitors
include the following;
1. Attractive stand
Studies on the role of colour in the learning process have established that 80 per
cent of what we know is learnt visually. This emphasises the importance of
design and colour in exhibition participation and visitor attraction. An
outstandingly-designed stand naturally attracts visitors. For outdoor exhibitions,
which include those held on hotel grounds such as the Rainbow Towers Hotel in
Harare and some stands at most provincial shows, the stands may be similar in
size and colour depending on the organiser.
However, brands can tear themselves from the common herd
of other exhibitors by using branded gazebos. These come in handy for
enterprises which use attractive colours such as orange as is the case with the
financial institution, POSB or the mobile phone network operator, Net One
Cellular. Even a normal shell scheme stand can be outstanding if marketers use
the front fascia to foreground his brand by pasting it with his product/service or
corporate colour(s) and logo which they the market have come to know.
Sometimes it is small little things such as these which help to make a difference
when it comes to using exhibition stands to draw visitors.
Stand designs which incorporate tall towers also help stands to be outstanding.
This is because they attract visitors from hundreds of metres away. The strategy
works very well if it is combined with the use of attractive colours, which help
the exhibition stands to beat the clutter of other stands. For pharmaceutical
companies white colour, which is normally used to provide contrast in some

designs can also help stands to stand out and draw the attention of show-goers.
Marketers should note to ensure that graphics on the stand are above eye level
so that they do not obscure by the traffic of visitors.
Another tactic, which is closely linked with stand design, stands location.
There are certain locations within the exhibition venue which draw many
visitors. These include areas on the route to public toilets or food outlets. An
enterprise which uses an outstandingly-designed stand located along one of
these traffic-rich routes increases the chances of meeting its exhibition targets.
Studies have also established that big stands attract a higher number of visitors.
This is because sheer size is in itself a source of curiosity among visitors. It
conjures images of larger than life exhibits or just more exhibits than what is
ordinarily found in an average-sized stand.
2. Attractively dressed stand staff
Stand or booth staff which is attractively dressed, especially if this is combined
with a stand which faces the main isles or is located at some vantage point, is
another strategy which can funnel visitors to your stand. The attractiveness of stand
staff dressing is achieved through garment design and colour choice.

If your exhibition objective is to market your corporate brand designs such as
branded bush shirts or golf shirts would go a long way in this regard, while less
formal designs such as T-shirts are great for product or service brand marketing
such as launching a new beverage brand. Some corporate or line brands use
dark colours such as navy blue or bottle green which makes them difficult to use
to attract show-goers’ eyes. You can go round this by combining them with their
lighter version colours, which helps to attract people without wandering far
away from the colour which the market has come to associate with your
enterprise or brand. Navy blue can be combined with cyan to draw visitors’
attention and bottle green can be combined with lime green to achieve the same
3. Banners and bunting
Another way of attracting show visitors to your exhibition stand is through the
use of banners and bunting. These draw the attention of the show-goers to your
stand. Banners help to announce the presence of your brand at the show. If the

visitors have a problem which they think your brand can solve, they will make
the effort to locate your stand. In the case of outdoor exhibitions, with the
permission of the organisers, a marketer can direct visitors to their stand by
planting banners from the main entrance of the venue to the stand.
One mistake that some marketers make when using banners at exhibitions is
planting banners where everyone is placing theirs, creating brand clutter which
works against the original purpose of making one’s brand stand out. Marketers
should ensure that their brand stands out by placing their banners where they
can be outstanding, thereby drawing the visitors’ attention.
One can also use banners to attract visitors through the design of the banners.
Banner designers constantly re-design their products to do away with the
monotony that comes with sameness. This is the reason why they come up with
different designs such as the shark fin, teardrop and telescopic banners among
other types. A new design which is not yet popular on the market is likely to be
a head-turner as opposed to the decade’s teardrop banner. Remember that
participating in an exhibition is about putting your brand’s best foot forward in
every respect.

To some marketers any design which includes their brand logo and payoff line
is alright. In order to make the most of the design in using banners one also needs to
look at the design of the message. For enterprises which use dark colours, one
needs to ensure that the message design is not over-coloured by using dark
colours throughout. Balanced use of white and navy blue would be more
attractive to the eye than navy blue on its own because portions of white colour
attract the eyes more than navy blue.

Another mistake in message design is placing a logo against a dark coloured
background. Your brand logo is the face of the brand and visitors do not have
to peer closely at the banner to make out what it looks like. If you choose to use
your corporate or brand colour on the banner, ensure that your logo is placed on
a white background so that show-goers can easily see it.
4. Brand mascots
Brand mascots, which refer to persons, animals or things that are believed to
bring luck, are another effective strategy to draw show goers to your exhibition

stand. While mascots were originally associated with luck, in marketing
mascots are not used for luck but for their associations. In sport, mascots were
either people or animals but in marketing, these are creative figures in the form
of people or animals which are associated with brands through using them in
marketing communication messages such as advertisements. Global examples
of brand mascots include the Michelin Man, the Nesquik Bunny and the
Duracell Bunny among others. Local ones include Lafarge Cement’s Simba and
Chicken Slice Heroes which are a family of chickens comprising a father,
Chicco, a mother, Cheeky and Clichy, the child.
Mascots are fascinating because of their design which may include both animal
and human features, size and the surprising aspect. People normally encounter
mascots in print and electronic media advertisements and rarely in real life.
Finding a real mascot during the show can, therefore, be a pleasant surprise to many
a visitor. Animal mascots can take the form of a stuffed animal or figure or a
person in an animal-looking costume. Mascots that can move and talk are more
fascinating, especially to children. Even artificial ones which show some form of
movement can mesmerise children. This is the reason why during 2017
Harare Agricultural Show Lafarge Cement introduced a mascot to target adults
through their children, who the company provided games. The brand continues to
use the mascot as a character in its print media cartoon series on various safety
In order to leverage brand mascots to attract visitors to your stand, the
mascot should be popular. In other words, your mascot should be part of your
brand’s daily interaction with the market so that when visitors meet it at the
show it would be familiar and would remind them of your brand naturally.
Although Lafarge Cement’s mascot was too new to the market, well-thought-out
tactics of leveraging it such as accompanying games saw it registering success
despite being used for the first time.
Show going is both a business and social undertaking for most people. Anything
that is outstanding such as a brand mascot is used as a reminder of the social
outing through photography. The advent of the smartphone means that anyone
can be a photographer and this increases the number of photographs that visitors
will take of themselves and their colleagues and family near your mascot.
Although some will just use the mascot as a background and never get into your

stand, do not chase them away. As the photographs so were taken do their rounds on
the social media so will your brand through your mascot.
5. Brand ambassadors
The use of brand ambassadors as a brand marketing strategy has increased in
popularity over the past few years. However, the role of the ambassadors has
largely been confined to appearances in advertisements to the exclusion of other
areas of marketing such as roadshows, exhibitions and merchandising among
others which would enable marketers to make the most of the relationship with
the ambassadors.
Popular musician, Alick Macheso, who is a Nash Paints brand ambassador, for
an example could form part of the company’s stand staff. Instead of being on the
enterprise’s staff duty roster he could just stand or sit near the entrance to the
stand entrance to greet and welcome bypassing people and usher them into the

The rationale of appointing a brand ambassador is to tap into his or her
popularity in his or her area of specialisation to market the brand. The moment
word spreads at a show that Macheso is at the Nash Paints stand people flock to
the stand. While not all of them will enter the stand or turn out to be promising
leads, the move markets the brand and increases brand awareness among the
Where a brand has no ambassador, a popular celebrity can be hired just for a
once-off assignment for the same purpose.
6. Booth babes and gigolos
As in the case of using brand ambassadors, marketers can also hire young
beautiful men or handsome men to welcome visitors as a way of attracting
visitors. This strategy is mostly used in the Western world where the female
welcomers are termed booth (stand) babes and their male counterparts are called
booth gigolos.
Instead of ordinary booth babes and gigolos a marketer, budget permitting can
hire models.

7. Giveaways
One thing which is associated with exhibitions the most is giveaways. These
are mostly branded items such as caps, T-shirts, pens and mugs among others.
Giveaways enable marketers to showcase their brands to the market beyond the
event. This is because, depending on the nature and quality of the giveaway, the
more it is used by the visitor or recipient, the more market exposure for the
The tendency among some marketers is to give away cheap Chinese-made
giveaways in the name of saving on the exhibition participation budget. The
higher the value and quality of the give away the more the show-goer is likely to
use it, thereby exposing your brand to more members of the market. This also
helps to keep your brand top of the recipient’s mind, which makes it easy for
him or her to remember it when s/he has a need or to refer it by name to
members of his or her inner circle. The use of giving aways in exhibition
participation should, therefore, not be viewed as an ancillary gimmick but an
integral part of the strategy of using shows to meet brand marketing objectives.
8. Greeters
These are people who stand near the entrance of your stand greeting by-passing
visitors and inviting them into the stand. Their role is more or less of booth
babes and gigolos and ambassadors with the main difference being that greeters
are just part of your stand staff, who are assigned to help to increase visitor
traffic to the stand. The use of the various types of greeters and welcomers
works well in business to customer shows were realising the high number of
visitors is usually one of the objectives of participating.
In order for the strategy to be effective, the greeters should be well-trained in
order for them to perform their duties professionally and outstandingly.
Remember that other exhibitors may also be using the same strategy and the
only way you can tear your brand from the common herd is through exceptional
way that your greeters’ team performs. Sometimes what sets apart one team from
another is just that one smiles when greeting visitors while does not or that one
has some form of uniform while the other does not. This calls for well-thought
9. Marketing your participation

Although many people may visit the exhibition where your brand is taking part,
not all of them pass through your stand. This means that you have to market
your presence at the show to attract people to your stand. Marketing enables
you, the marketer to target the right kind of people in the right numbers with the
right message.
Marketing your participation at an event is particularly important at the business to
business shows. An enterprise’s main objective of participating in an exhibition
may be to increase the number of its nationwide distributors and agents
following the upgrading of its manufacturing plant which increased its
production capacity. In order to achieve this objective, the marketer may have to
target potential distributors in target provinces by inviting them and even paying
their fares and fees to ensure that visit the stand and get to understand the brand
before considering becoming a distributor.

10. Promotions and discounts
Promotions and discounts are another crowd puller. Most people want more for
less in any transaction and would welcome any initiatives, which help them to
achieve this. This is the reason why sales promotions and discounts that are
given at shows enable marketers to attract more visitors to their stands. The
strategy works particularly well with fast-moving consumer brands (FMCBs) at
the business to customer exhibitions where realising sales may be one of the major
participation objectives.
One of the ways making the most of the strategy is through advertising the
promotion and discounts as part of your participation in marketing efforts. When
Dairibord Zimbabwe launched its hugely successful Pfuko yeMaheu/Udiwo
lwaMahewu maize-based traditional non-alcoholic drink brand in 2014, it
published advertisements in the local print media encouraging children to buy
two bottles of the beverage brand which would entitle them to a ticket to visit
that year’s edition of the Harare Agricultural Show. Once inside the show
the venue, the young visitors would receive a balloon at the company’s stand,
which they would pop in order to win prizes such as T-shirts and bottles of the
beverage brand among others.
The discounts given at the show should be meaningful in order for them to draw
visitors. While it is human nature to fall for anything which is given free of

charge, people can easily see through cheap tricks of using inexpensive giveaways or very low discount percentages just to entice visitors to a stand.

These foregoing strategies are just 10 out of hundreds of others that marketers
employ to meet their marketing objectives and targets. As an exhibitor, you have
probably used some of them. What were your experiences? Share your
experiences with these strategies and others which you have found to be useful
by using the feedback provision at the end of this post.

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