As event organisers, we often get approached about Demo Stands. Startups want to know if they need one or not and I wanted to give you all an answer.

So, do you need a demo stand at an event? Frankly, most likely – the answer is no, at least at most events out there. Here are the two main reasons as to why you should not bother as well as one main reason when you definitely should.

Most Often They Are Expensive Without Justification

Let’s introduce some basic maths and logic. Events are all about actionable results and lead generation. If you are in it for “exposure” or “branding”, unless you are a larger company – that should not be your goal as there are cheaper ways to do it.

If your goal is to get customers leads, investor leads and hiring leads – then we are talking. So what you need to calculate is how many people you can meet potentially with just tickets alone. Then you estimate, based on your target group, how many extra people you would meet thanks to the Demo Stand. As a rule of thumb, a good event will net at least 150 contacts per day per thousand attendees.

Factor in the cost of the demo stand and figure out if the extra contacts are worth the price. Don’t forget to include the extra costs: the roll-ups, design of the booth, marketing materials and more.

For example at Arctic15 – the price of 200-300 extra leads is around 2-3 EUR per lead, which we aimed to make rather competitive compared to say online marketing, as here you meet the in-person and that is very valuable. Yet, you need to make sure that this makes sense to you, considering your target market.

Demo Stands Make You Miss Opportunities Outside Of The Area

Think about it, if you spend your whole time at your demo stand, you are bound to miss opportunities elsewhere.

During one conference day, each person in your company should meet 20-40 people and have a reasonable discussion with them. If you do not have a demo stand and you prepare for the event properly, you can have all the right meetings pre-scheduled and target only those people that you want to talk to. That means – ultra efficiency, especially at events that have pre-event matchmaking. Most of the value lies in these meetings and you can do most of them with just the tickets.

If you do get a Demo Stand, you should have enough people to do both, then you are really maximising your attendance. Schedule who will be at the Demo Stand at which time and who will be working the room and going to meetings. We recommend having 4 hour shifts to keep things interesting.

One way, where this could be very useful is if your company has two or more objectives at the event, or needs to maximize the amount of contacts for your task.

If You Do Not Have The Right Staff

One reason demo stands do not work, is the staff. They are either completely under-staffed or staffed with people who do not know how to put them to good use. When you buy a demo stand, you are not buying the square meters of the booth – you are buying access to the conference floor and the people flow that goes there.

Many people do not realize it, and spend their time waiting to be approached, while filling up their instagram accounts on their phones. That yields nothing. You need people that are active, engaging and have something to show.

Otherwise Demo Stand Is The Best Investment 

Compared to customer acquisition online, demo stands can be extremely cheap at the right conference, with the right target market. Many businesses build their whole business models around attending events and conferences. Some, only make sales at one single trade-show per year.

How do they do it? They do the maths and prepare. As I mentioned, at Arctic15, each new lead will cost around 2-3 EUR. Depending on your industry and goal – this can be pretty much a goldmine. For others – this might not make sense at all. Which brings us to our conclusion.

Conclusion: Treat Events As Any Other Business Activity

Why are we so honest? Why are we writing an article that will make 90% of people not get a demo stand at the event? Simple. The 10% who do, will get real return on investment, and will become our long-term partners, and will also deliver value to all of the other attendees – instead of complaining and spending their time on their phones. Everybody wins.

We think that going to events is identical to any other business activity. Measure your return on investment based on the contacts you will meet, the knowledge you will gain and the cost it will involve.

Do the maths, measure, repeat. Eventually you will know which events are the best for your company and which ones only need you to get tickets and which ones will require a demo stand.

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