Your definitive guide for setting meaningful objectives for your exhibition.

If you are thinking of exhibiting you will need to decide why you are doing it, what you want to achieve from it, how you will achieve it and how you will decide if it was a success.

Setting your business exhibition goals using SMARTER objectives can help you do this.

Goal setting concept diagram on white board

The acronym typically stands for:



Agreed, achievable

Realistic, relevant

Time bound, timely



Using this method should increase the chances of a successful event; helping to ensure the exhibition has a focus and results in a valuable activity for your business.

Be specific

As a first step, ask yourself the ‘Specifics’ of why you are exhibiting.

“Because we think we should be” is not specific enough.

Some good reasons to exhibit include:

  • Selling (the most common reason for businesses to exhibit)
  • Product launches/demos
  • Networking
  • To create brand awareness and raise your profile
  • Data capture/grow database of potential customers
  • Lead generation
  • Advertising
  • Customer education
  • Qualifying customers
  • To observe the competition
  • To recruit partners/staff/speakers/suppliers
  • PR opportunities
  • Market research

Exhibitions provide lots of opportunities for businesses. As long as businesses are specific about what they want to achieve, they can successfully get multiple benefits out of them.


Measuring tape measuring text success

‘Measure’ how successful you were at achieving your objective. Consider setting targets to help you do this. Read this to get you started. 

Depending on what the targets are, they can provide a quantifiable way to measure the success of your exhibition.


The objective for attending the exhibition should be ‘Agreed’ within the business, and within the team who will be at the exhibition. If everyone is on board with the idea, focus and productivity will be high, making success more ‘Achievable’.


Exhibitions offer the unique situation of putting you face to face with customers who are likely to already have an interest in your product or service. Therefore you can be ambitious in what you aim to achieve. However, try and ensure that the objective remains ‘Realistic’.

Do the audience at the show, the location, the literature you have, the people on your stand, the stand itself, the activities on your stand and the targets you have set your team align with what you want to achieve overall? If they do, then chances are your objective for the exhibition is realistic and also ‘Relevant’.


Ensure your objective is ‘Timely’, with deadlines so you can be clear of what needs to be achieved by when.

Evaluate and Review

Originally objectives used to be SMART, but ‘Evaluating’ and ‘Reviewing’ the exhibition are crucial steps in deciding if the exhibition was a success. Depending on what your original objective was for exhibiting, you will need to apply different criteria to evaluate this.

Your business may also discover that it got value from things like making new business contacts or PR coverage. These may not have been initial reasons for exhibiting, but reviewing them could influence how successful you felt the event was and may contribute to the reasons for exhibiting in the future.