I am neck deep in exhibitor sales brochures at the moment and it involves reading endless exhibition statistics, questionable exhibitor testimonials and vomit-inducing openers from organisers.

It is a very boring and predictable process because 85% of them are templated tosh.

When reading the brochures you can normally tell quite quickly the 15% of marketing teams that are trying to up their game and the other 85% who are just updating the previous years’ copy and taking instruction from very shouty event directors.

(Message to the 15% – Nice one, loving your work!)

The exhibitor sales brochure has been around for years and although the layouts and graphics have undoubtedly improved, the format and tone has remained pretty much unchanged over the years and across the sectors:

‘The must attend event for the industry’ said a faceless sales exec.

‘A great place to meet all the relevant people under one roof’ said no-one, ever.

‘95% of attendees did business as a result of attending’ a crappy stat

That last one actually featured in a brochure and made me want to smash my own face in.

The problem with exhibitor brochures quite simply is they lack authenticity and integrity.

The quotes have either been primed or edited to within an inch of their life and the stats have been formed from leading questions.

I can’t be alone in thinking this right?

But what can you do if you want to up your game when it comes to exhibitor brochures?

Well there are loads of things you can do with the existing format (like, tons) but one of the popular trends is to switch the format.

As everyone knows, people are going absolutely bonkers for video and to save you some time here are the video facts:

  • Online video will account for 74% of all web traffic
  • More video content is uploaded in a single month than TV has created in 3 decades
  • 75% of business exec watch work related videos each week

See, absolutely bonkers.

So it makes sense to flip the brochure to a video format but here’s the thing… all the videos I have seen suffer the same fate as the brochures… they still lack authenticity, realism and integrity.

Exhibitor sales collateral, irrespective of format, need to focus on one thing and that is authentic storytelling.

Nail that and you have yourself a winning formula.

A few weeks ago, one of my favourite podcasts, Start Up, inadvertently produced one of the most authentic endorsements for a tradeshow I have ever heard.

It narrated the story of an inventor/exhibitor and his two experiences (ten years apart) at the American Toy Fair in the New York.

It’s a great listen and it encapsulated the energy of the show in quick sound bites and highlighted the wider business impact for exhibitors outside the halls of the Javitts Center.

Probably because it wasn’t produced by the organisers it talked about the real-world trials, tribulations, pain, success and impact of the tradeshow for that particular exhibitor.

I loved it’s honest. It felt right and it felt real. It told a story.

Personally, if I was an inventor or small business in the toy market it would have convinced me to exhibit…and that’s an emotive action that the majority of the boring brochures and videos failed to spark.

Have a listen – it’s a half an hour long but you can have it on in the background.

For me, podcasts are one of the strongest story formats and I am absolutely hooked on them. You can pretty much assume that if I have my headphones in when I am walking, driving, cycling, exercising or working I will be listening to a podcast.

I think is one of the least utilised formats by the exhibition industry and massively overlooked.

Bringing it back…Exhibitor brochures can be so much more than the boring pdfs we are used to seeing.

They can be in many different formats and on many different platforms but if they don’t tell a story in an engaging, authentic way it doesn’t matter whether they are print, digital, video or podcast they will remain…..well, boring.


If you need to refresh/revisit your exhibitor sales collateral drop me a line on 07977 410648

By the way, if you are new to podcasts and need some tips…Here are a few which are on my subscribe list …

a16z- Tech and culture

Angelos and Barry Show- Bonkers comedy

Convicted- True crime story

How I Built This- Business interviews

James Altucher Show- Interviews

Journal by Kevin Rose- Interviews

No Such Thing As A Fish- QI facts

Ringside Toe2Toe- Boxing

Serial- True story crime

Start Up- Business

Stuff You Should Know- Weird knowledge

Tim Ferris Show- A self-experimenter

VB Engage- Tech


Exhibitor Smarts is a specialist exhibitor agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to maximise exhibitor revenue and performance.

We also work directly with exhibitors saving more than 30% off their costs.

Email :

Mobile: 07977 410 648

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