...Making It Happen

Trade Shows and Exhibitions

According to the American Marketing Association , trade shows are “a periodic gathering at which manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in a particular industry, or related industries, display their products and provide information for potential buyers (retail, wholesale, or industrial).”

Trade shows can be expensive and require planning to yield maximum benefit. Carefully decide on which shows to attend, bring business cards & company miterature. If possible demonstrate your products at the show. Set your goals for each trade show, for example, create 150 new leads or find 5 new suppliers etc. Your goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). After the show, evaluate its effect, did you generate enough leads.

According to Hansen (1999) , trade exhibitions can be used to meet several business objectives:

  • Generate sales & leads.
  • Information-gathering about your industry, customers, suppliers etc.
  • Build and promote your brand.
  • Motivation staff and business partners.
  • Relationship building.

Going to a trade fair as a customer

A trade fair is a great way to find relevant suppliers. Plan your objectives before you attend the show. Ask yourself what kinds of product or service do you want to find out about? Choose a show that meets your needs. You should be able to:

  • Meet suppliers and see their products or services.
  • Compare several suppliers quickly.
  • Discover new technology, ideas and innovative companies.
  • Network and learn from other business. Retrieved 2012-03-21 Hansen, Kare (1999). Trade Show Performance: A conceptual Framework and its implications for future research. Academy of Marketing Science Review. Sourced at: Retrieved 2012-03-25.

If you are exhibiting

Choose trade fair that are most likely to attract your customers. For example, a furniture retailer is more likely to exhibit at an ideal homes exhibition than a sporting themed exhibition. Most established exhibitions can provide you with a detailed breakdown of the number and type of visitors from previous years. Depending on the constraints of the exhibition and your budget it is advisable to be creative with your exhibition. Many catering and foodservice companies provide food and beverage samples at exhibitions. Cadbury have been know to recreate a shop display full of confectionary at their exhibitions. And Aldi have been know to bring along an Audi car at their exhibitions.

When exhibiting, you may wish to bring:

  • Products for demonstration and related equipment
  • Brochures, Catalogues, leaflets, business cards etc.
  • Branded merchandise.
  • A background banner or posters.
  • A branded tablecloth for the exhibition table.
  • An extra member of your staff to assist you.
  • A laptop or iPad to display videos & graphics.

Set your objectives before you attend the event by asking yourself:

  • Who are my target customers & audience.
  • What will you tell them.
  • How can you make your stand unique and noticed.
  • What image do you want to portray.
  • What promotional materials will you bring.

Planning before the exhibition

  • Promote your attendance before and after the event.
  • Decide on what staff members (if any) you will bring to the event. You may require staff with technical knowledge.
  • You may need to brief or provide training to staff.
  • Ensure you are stocked with marketing material before the exhibition.
  • Ensure all equipment, laptops etc are working before the event.
  • Set up your stand the day of or day before the event.
  • Read over the exhibition organiser’s guidelines.
  • Find out what equipment the venue provides, e.g. screens, tables, chairs, platforms.
  • Book your attendance early to ensure you get your place.
  • Make sure you have enough stock of products and promotional materials.
  • Ensure your stand meets health & safety requirements.

Following up from a trade fair

  • After the trade fair, follow up with the connections you have made with suppliers, customers etc.
  • Review what worked and what didn't.
  • Consider how you can make improvements for future exhibitions.
  • Measure your success/new leads against the goals you set.
  • Follow up all the with a phone call, email, letter or information pack.
  • Evaluate the success of these leads. Depending on your industry it may take hours or weeks to see the effect on sales.