Trade shows offer an invaluable form of marketing for many types of business. They enable you to present your products and services to a new or existing market in a planned environment away from your usual place of operation.
There are various ways tradeshows can be organized, but mostly they are targeted towards a specific industry or profession, though some are open to the general public. Many include exhibitions that introduce new products and give incentives to customers to buy from those participating. They commonly also give employees the opportunity to improve corporate targets for specified sales rewards and remuneration. Consumer shows on the other hand are held specifically for the general public and freuqently cover a wide range of topics that are often exhibited within a common theme.
Tradeshows are often held in conjunction with conventions organized to provide information to a particular industry or trade, or perhaps technological groups. Essentially what they do is to bring buyers and sellers together in one place, for a set period of time. Potential buyers can view products and see how they work; while sellers have the opportunity to demonstrate their effectiveness and discuss their value, persuading buyers why they should ultimately make the purchase.
Preparing for Tradeshows
A huge amount of effort goes into preparing for a successful and profitable tradeshow, many of which are regular annual features on local (or international) events and exhibition calendars. While a company will generally know what needs to be displayed and promoted, it’s important to have an overall strategy and to identify your goals in much the same way as a new business owner would write a business plan prior to launching a new business. For instance it is vital to know the industry well, including purchasing patterns and buyer demographics.
Once you’ve got a good idea of what you want out of a tradeshow, and what will be best for the business, you can get information about shows that are likely to meet your needs. Obviously this will be easier to research from established tradeshows, but don’t ignore new ones. Getting in on the ground floor with a new show or exhibition can have amazing benefits too.
Having established that the show will bring potential customers for your business, additional information you should know will include:
- Average (or projected) show attendance
- Total area of the show venue including space allowed for exhibitors
- A plan of the venue showing stand and booth options, including price (there are often options to take more than one stand/booth if you need a bigger than normal space)
- Information on companies already committed to participating (some will likely be competitors while others will have businesses that complement what you do)
- Information on visitors and/or attendees in terms of interest and job title (you need to know that the people who are likely to attend will be people who can make decisions in terms of buying your product)
- Historic statistics that show what percentage of visitors and/or attendees generally buy from the show
Choosing which stand or booth to sign up for can be a challenge. Cost may be a factor (and you’ll certainly need to have a carefully planned budget,) but if you can get a reasonably central position where the stand is has three (or better still four) aisles passing it, you’ll benefit from a good passing trade. However you also need to consider how many people promoting the stand will be able to talk to interested visitors at any one time. If you have more interested passers-by than the staff can cope with, a prime spot might end up being a disadvantage.
The other important issue to consider is design. What will the stand look like, and what do you need to display on the stand? How do you plan to organize the display? This will depend largely on what you are selling. For instance if you are promoting kitchen appliances, you will probably want to have a selection of items on show, as well as photographs of beautiful kitchens where your company’s appliances have been used. If you sell swimming pools, you might erect a mini version of whatever you specialize in, but large format digital images will likely have a much more powerful impact. If you offer corporate services, graphic displays that tell as story will probably be your best option.
If you are going to incorporate large-format images, you will want at least one side of your display booth against a wall. Ideally any pictures or graphic images will attract attention and guide traffic to your space. In fact they can play a pivotal role in creating interest from potential customers.
Whichever option you choose in terms of graphics and images, the important part is that they should communicate a very clear, strong message that embodies what the business does. If there is lettering, it’s important that people will be able to read it from a distance. Colors can help attract attention, but be careful they complement your company logo and any sales material you plan to use.
Good solid research and careful planning will help get your company well prepared for any tradeshow.