The construction of the stand itself will usually be undertaken by one of the many firms specializing in this kind of work. The stand contractor will, if desired, design and build the stand, arrange for the supply of water and electricity, provide carpeting, showcases and other fittings and arrange for the hire of any furniture you may require.

In his discussions with the stand designer, the ONLINE MARKETING Manager should bear in mind certain essentials. The layout of the stand should be such that it invites entry by casual visitors who may be dissuaded from doing so if entry points are obstructed by showcases or other fitments. Thus an open and uncluttered area at the front of the stand is a desirable feature which will facilitate the reception of visitors by the stand personnel. One also needs to cater for the more confidential kind of conversation which will occur when a regular customer or an important potential client comes on the stand for discussions and negotiations with senior company personnel. For these occasions, one requires an enclosed area, furnished with two or three comfortable chairs and a small table for papers and refreshments, away from the 'goldfish bowl' atmosphere of the rest of the stand.

One of the problems of designing exhibition stands is to strike the right balance between aesthetic appeal and practical utility. When it is finally dressed with exhibits, showcases and furnishings, the stand should look attractive. It must be pleasing to the eye, not only to give a good impression of the company, but also because it must vie, in visual appeal, with the attractive-looking stands of competitors. It is a mistake, however, to overdo the aesthetic quality to the detriment of the function of the stand as a sales 'pitch'. It must be remembered that it is your products which visitors have come to see, not the fruits of the artistic genius of your Publicity Manager or the stand designer. This is where the ingenuity of the designer must show itself, by the use of artistry to enhance and not to detract from the commercial attractions of the exhibits.

If one wishes to avoid the expense of a 'tailor-made' stand, stand 'shells' are available from contractors. These basic units may be hired or purchased and are cheaper than a stand designed and constructed to one's specific requirements. Alternatively, there are stand construction kits available which have the advantage that they can be put together in various ways, thus permitting re-use from exhibition to exhibition with adaptation to suit differing sizes and shapes of site.

One of the hazards of which the multi-product company must beware, is that of cluttering the stand with too many exhibits. The analogy of the typical 'cheap-jack' retail shop window in comparison with that of a good-class store window display should be borne in mind. A firm which tries to cram too many exhibits on to its stand will defeat its object. Visitors will get a blurred impression of what it makes because the sheer multiplicity of merchandise will be confusing. It is better to rely on one or two excellent examples of one's product range, prominently yet tastefully displayed, and to relegate lesser items to subordinate positions where they will not obtrude too forcefully upon the visitor's first impressions.

With an exhibition which lasts for a week or more, one has the problem of keeping exhibits in good condition, free from dust and grime. Wherever possible, items of a delicate nature, or those made of synthetic substances liable to static dust attraction, should be confined behind glass.

The staffing arrangements for exhibitions need careful planning: the normal procedure is to appoint a Stand Manager, choosing a senior member of the management staff, who possesses good organizing ability. Another useful qualification is the capacity to remain calm and reasonably unruffled while all about him is chaos! It is his responsibility to ensure that all the services for operating the stand, including cleaning, procurement of refreshment supplies, water and electricity services, are functioning satisfactorily. He will liaise with the exhibition organizers, to ensure that the regulations governing the stand and its general maintenance are complied with. He will also control the company personnel who have been designated to staff the stand. For industrial exhibitions it is usual practice to bring salesmen in from the field and support them with one or two technical personnel to deal with the more complex type of enquiry as well as Export staff capable of dealing with Export enquiries and conversations with non-English-speaking visitors. It is desirable to include one or two young ladies to act as receptionists, to handle telephone calls and to serve drinks to visitors.

Next Step: The Basic Product Idea

Please Note

The Trade is, of course, a major source of product ideas. All manufacturers examine, with avid interest, the new products of their competitors.