India's Pioneer Media on TradeFairs

“Before You Hit The Venue” – Introduction

Stephan Murtagh, the Exhibition Guy in his book titled Before You Hit The Venue gives insights on all aspects of Exhibiting in an Exhibition.

The book will be published in TFT in a series for the benefit of its reader. Enjoy and do write back to us with your feedback.



Introduction to The World of Exhibitions

The whole world of Exhibitions is a place where the first things you hear are that Exhibitions are expensive, don’t work, won’t last, are too much hassle and really are something to be avoided as they are a waste of time. I understand why people feel that way and these things can be true if you just turn up at a show expecting visitors to pour money onto your stand, not object to price, pay full rate for your products and pay you within 30 days. If this is the kind of response you are looking for then you would probably be better off buying a lottery ticket and sit in the comfort of your armchair checking the results and dreaming of retiring to the Bahamas.

  • Exhibitions are expensive – Possibly, they are more expensive than an ad in the local magazine or newspaper.
  • They don’t work –  Unfortunately there are just some Exhibitions that don’t work well
  • They won’t last – Some shows have gone or gone under in the same way as lots of other industries and products
  • Exhibitions are too much hassle – considering the cost, time, stress & organization of stands yes, they can be a hassle
  • Things to be avoided – If you truly believe all the above then maybe you should look to avoid them

So, we also need to look at the real facts and opportunities at Exhibitions that you simply don’t get from other forms of marketing.

  • Meeting your current clients face to face
  • Meet new customers who are specifically interested in your industry sector
  • Appoint distributors
  • Get new staff for your company
  • Conduct effective face to face market research
  • Physically demonstrate your product
  • Go head to head to with your competitors
  • Promote your business
  • Make appointments for after the show
  • Make actual sales


You may have noticed I left the “make actual sales” until the end of the list and I did this on purpose because that’s a given at Exhibitions, but you have a host of other things that an exhibition offers you that you simply can’t get with other forms of marketing. I am biased because I am in the industry, but these are not my simple flights of fancy…these are real facts. If you simply see Exhibitions as a waste of time, I firmly believe that you have either done the wrong one or didn’t approach the one you did correctly. When you are learning to ride a bike, you don’t get off the bike after your first fall and say the bike doesn’t work.

Exhibitions are no different and require hard work and effort but what you get in return are long lasting results and strong client relationships that last long-long beyond the halls of the exhibition centre. Face to face relationships are stronger and longer lasting. A website or ad in a magazine is great but it’s no substitute for real face to face interaction or the opportunity to make your personality and product shine. I give you an example of this from an article I did recently on LinkedIn, whilst it’s not specifically exhibition hall related, I think you will agree it makes the point….

I had been prospecting an office furniture company to do a show with me and they were a big name in the industry and I really wanted them on-board. During our phone conversation, we got to a semi-agreement that they would take a stand at the show (circa €1500) I felt he was really buying into the event but didn’t really understand that taking a small space wasn’t going to benefit him much as office furniture is obviously big! I didn’t (at the time) particularly want to go and visit him as it was quite a distance away and felt I could cover more clients and get more business by staying put in my warm office and not having to stress about traffic. However, I also thought I was doing him a disservice by just taking the stand and “winging” it so decided to make the journey to his factory.

After arriving and looking at his product range it became obvious this guy was a major player and he was very excited about his new ranges. We sat down and discussed the show we agreed that the stand he booked really wasn’t going to do him justice and that he wanted to take more. We spent an hour looking at different options and how he could really use the show as a springboard to launch his new range of office furniture. It was a really enjoyable chat as you could see on his face how excited he was about his business and the opportunities. I walked out of there with an order for over €20k. He commented to me that he had considered lots if shows before but had never done one because nobody had ever called to see him in person because they felt his premises was too far away. It was a simple throwaway comment but has always stuck with me because it shows how easy we assume things sitting in an office and not being actually in front of a customer where we can build a far stronger relationship.

I’m Stephan Murtagh, The Exhibition Guy and welcome to the world I live in every day a world that is hard work, ever changing, dynamic & stressful sometimes but ultimately a world full of great opportunities. I hope you enjoy this little book and please feel free to give me any feedback either positive or negative at any stage on