Successful participation trade fairs
Trade Fairs are an excellent marketing activity. Below are tips to make the most of your investment in trade fair participation
1. Clearly define your goals
It is important to have a clear understanding of your objective at the fair. Once you define this, you can work efficiently and effectively to meet that goal. Some goals are:
- Meeting new customers
- Customer care: building on existing business relations
- Increasing company awareness
- Presentation of new products and services
- Image improvement of company / brand
- Generating export orders
- Conclusions of sales and contracts
- Opening up new markets, discovering market niches
- Forging joint venture partnerships
- Market research via the trade fair (collecting new market / buyer / business info, testing the market)
More goals can be added for sure. Just make sure that you prioritize. Try to make your goals specific and realistic. Clear and measurable. Goals will also help you to select the right trade fair. Furthermore, setting tangible goals contribute to a focused action plan and consistent communication towards team members such that they know what to achieve. At the end, the goals can be used for measurement of success after the trade fair.
2. EXPORT READINESS
It is essential you meet the requirements of the market and the buyer. Export readiness check should include: terms of legal requirements, standards, product & packaging requirements, promotion requirements, sales and delivery, price competitiveness etc. Check your readiness via the interactive NEPC-checker and see where you stand at this moment!
3. Select the right trade fair
Make sure you choose the most suitable trade fair for your business. Research your preferred market(s) and buyers before selecting a fair. Some important criteria for trade fair selection include the following:
- Ideal market entry point for your product(s) or service(s)
- Check the trade fair concept, period and cross-check with other events
- Exhibitors, number of visitors, company profiles and the products
- Check duration, costs, type and location of space available
- Check international trade show directories to find applicable fairs (eg. eventseye.com)
- Check the assistance that the fair may offer you (via the exhibitor manual)
- Check exhibitor catalogs of previous years
4. Make a detailed preparation for successful participation in the fair
Another key for success is a thorough preparation for the trade fair. Make sure you start preparation in time. This is key for the eventual success .Tips for preparation include:
- Make a concept exhibition plan
- Set the goals
- prepare a budget
- Decide on participation
- Establish a project team and create commitment for the goals
- Take into account a 12-month preparation period
- Prepare a checklist and set deadlines
Download the trade fair checklist
5. Implement proactive visitor marketing
Sending invitations to your potential visitors is among the most effective instruments for visitor marketing. Over 80% of all professional visitors plan their visits to a fair well in advance and arrange important appointments before the fair. You are advised to market your own presence at the fair. Try to draw the attention of potential visitors well in advance. Encourage them to visit your stand. Stand out from the crowd!
Make a long list of potential visitors by checking:
- the exhibitor database at the website of the trade fair
- relevant international business directories
- the member lists of some relevant industry associations in your preferred market(s)
Consider sending a “Save the Date”-email and well written invitations.
Try to be creative in your invitations. With an attractive invitation you will differentiate yourself and generate interest.
You could also make a personal phone call shortly before the start of the fair.
Make sure you use your website and relevant social media channels for promoting your trade fair visit. You can have an appointment form on your website to allow buyers make appointments with you at the fair.
6. Optimise your stand behaviour
It is critical to understand the needs of your visitors before you pitch your product and your company. Try to find out the needs and expectations of your visitors at the fair. Start asking open questions such as: What are you looking for? How can I help you? What do you need?
After exploring the needs and breaking the ice, pitch your product based on the customers’ needs. This includes specific info regarding:
- Your solution to the needs
- Your added value
- The (unique) benefits: what makes you stand out from the competition
- Track record has convincing power
- Supporting evidence
Manage different customers effectively. Be well prepared when talking to invited customers. For the really interested ones, listen more carefully to them. Use the tips above and start the sales process! Be careful with giving too much detailed information to your competitors. However, take note of your competitors’ strength during the trade fair.
Key success factors for optimal stand behaviour:
- Sell yourself first
- Be approachable, honest, polite and hospitable
- Don’t be too eager, don’t lean back either
- It’s all about communication!
- Understand the business culture of the visitors
7. Effective lead management (contact forms)
Manage your leads effectively. Make use of a quality contact form at the fair. This ensures that you document the needs of your (potential) client and the desired action. For the contact form, we advice “the simpler, the better”. Find a sample contact form.
8. ENSURE APPROPRIATE AND IMMEDIATE FOLLOW-UP
Appropriate follow-up requires prompt actions in addressing issues raised by the visitor. Preferably, try to exceed the expectations of your visitor(s). This includes:.
- Send thank you letters to your important visitors and potential clients
- Make necessary follow-up calls
- Attend to the orders generated appropriately
- Invite buyers to purchase from you again
- Develop a mailing list and use it for future purposes
- Send the info you promised at the fair (samples, brochures, price lists, etc). This is critical for building your reputation.
9. Monitor and evaluate your trade fair participation
Always measure the success of your participation at trade fairs. The goals you set up-front are your starting point. Document the results of your trade fair participation. This gives you the opportunity to filter information about the success of the fair. De-briefing sessions with your team should be carried out; document results, good practices, strong points and points for improvements. The lessons learnt could be used in preparing for your next participation.
10. Make use of the trade fair services provided by NEPC
NEPC offers support for participation at international trade fairs/exhibitions spearheaded by the Council. These include:
- Provision of free stands/booth (Nigerian pavilion)
- Air-freighting of stipulated quantity of products samples
- Provision of interpreters where necessary
- Other assistance as may be necessary
To find out the fairs for which NEPC offers support, check out the event calendar.