An exhibition is one of the most interesting communication tools: if you participate in it, you make a contribution to all aspects of marketing. Although some specialists regard the participation as a rather uncostly way of product promotion, it requires considerable efforts and expenses. Well, is it worth spending money?
Prior to making a decision, you need to answer the following questions:
Participation is necessary when you want to announce a new product, find partners for production process rationalization, set up a dealer network (if it is a regional or an international exhibition), improve your sales process or production program.
The reasons for participation may be general:
In general, it includes that sort of cases, when your stand is unavoidably static. For example, if all your exposition consists of text and photos, the mailing of stylish colored booklets and cover letters to potential customers will be more effective. Also, the participation is meaningless, if you are not ready to work hard before, during, and, above all, after the exhibition. Failure to accomplish the project results in low estimate of the exhibition and trade recession.
If you are going to participate in similar exhibitions in two different cities, evaluate your ability to create two completely different expositions, which will grow more customers by exposure of two different visitor cohorts. If so, will you be able to use the same display at both exhibitions?
Do not participate in an exhibition, if:
As for any promo action, you have to decide, what purposes you have. Even if the exhibition is very attractive, you should not participate unless your targeted market is exposed on it. Is the exhibition organized in the right place? It should attract proper visitors and become a launching platform for your products. Does the timing meet your expectations? The exhibition must be consistent with your production schedule and other advertising campaigns.
Exhibition diversity always provides an opportunity to:
To evaluate the chosen exhibition, you may use the following tools:
The function of a stand is to highlight a company from the others, to be attractive (but not provocative), excite consumers’ interest. From the first sight, your stand should disclose the purpose of your participation in the exhibition; stick in people's minds as a seamless combination of construction, design, and production; accentuate the company’s individuality. For example, high tech products are not recommended to display on wooden stands, and foodstuff — on steel and glass constructions.
The right choice of exhibit items is very important too. You may compile the detailed list, if you have realized that selected exhibit groups comply with exhibition format and there are no technical problems with your items (insufficient floor strength or oversize).
Select the "right” people. You will need at least two persons to maintain the stand: an exposition “director”, who will coordinate work, and a manager. All specialists should be fully acquainted with your products and company, know the product promotion policy, be highly communicative, have enough authority to make decisions.
The stand manager holds preparatory negotiations with visitors, that is why they should take great care of their image. At the exhibition, the manager acts as a “poster boy”. The conversation with a visitor should turn out well on the first try, there is no second chance.
The manager should be not just extremely active, they should find helpful persons in a crowd and immediately register visitors (potential partners) in the registration log (recommended fields: organization, address, phone/fax, name/surname, business area, additional info). If there are several managers per one stand, it is recommended to assign them separate segments or exhibition items, and create a day plan for each member.
Participation in exhibitions is one of the cheapest promotional tools. At least, estimated advertising expenses per visitor are noticeably lower as compared to any other advertisement type. In the USA, expenditures on fairs and exhibitions participation are 18% of total spending on marketing, in Germany — about 25%.
It is recommended to develop budget beforehand. About a half of total expenses is rental charges (10–15%) and expenditures on stand mounting (30–35%).
If you develop the budget, you should take into account direct (exhibition area cost, rent and mounting of a stand and all appliances) and extra expenses:
Effectiveness of participation in an exhibition, as any other company's activity, is estimated by cost criterion. Success can be measured by calculating the ratio between cost of participation and value of each significant request. According to researches, the value of one business contact, gained at an exhibition, equals to one third of the expenditures for conduct of negotiations directly in the company's office.
The best proof of successful participation is opening of a regional company's office or dealer network organization. If the final objective is products sale, the indirect measure will be a number of handed out pricelists and information materials. However, you should remember that this advertisement may come into effect in several months.
Though, the demonstrated interest to the product or company can be considered as a positive effect: if your stand has attracted visitors, all materials have been handed out, you have prearranged meetings with potential partners, the exhibition has been definitely successful.
After closing the exposition, you should make a visitors overview specifying the total number of visitors, and the number of your stand’s visitors, the number of handed booklets and filled questionnaires. The analysis of achievements and mistakes is highly recommended too.
There are specialized (industrial), general, multisectoral and consumer goods exhibitions. Specialized exhibitions are much more effective than general ones for trade enquiries and market research. General exhibitions may be more useful for product exposure.
Moreover, all exhibitions fall into some categories: by location (domestic and foreign); by frequency (periodic, annual, seasonal); by focus area (informative, sales-oriented, communicative); by demand.
A company may participate in exhibitions as an individual exponent or as a part of a group (for example, as one of the country’s representatives). Certainly, individual participation is always more effective.
An exhibition, as a tool for product manufacture, promotion and distribution:
No doubt, your greatest efforts will be made during the exhibition, but taking correct steps for preparation of your exposition are no less important. Explore all possible elements of your stand's composition: showcases, cabinets, racks, posters, banners, displays, monitors broadcasting promotional videos, and so on.
Invitations to potential partners should be address-deliverable (by letter). If its content is creative enough, your chances of success will be pretty high. If you have enough money, don’t disregard covering your participation in mass media.
When preparing an exposition, it is recommended to make a catalogue of displayed products, visitors registration log, visitors questionnaire, display stand plan (carcass options: 3x3, 4x3, 6x3, 6x4, 6x6 m). To make a stand look perfect, you should better hire a professional designer. The optimal stand location is against and on the right side of the main entrance, at central inner passages, near active exponents. Avoid placing your stand away from passages, behind big columns and staircases, full back to performance stages.
When placing your exhibit items, take note of main visitors flow run. Explanatory messages or images should be located near or above your items. Your stand should include storage, conference room, recreational space and cooking area. If your exhibit items are of an unusual engineering specification, take care of them beforehand: they may require specific electric supply, and transport for large-sized and heavy equipment.
Don't forget about communicative exhibition function. Perhaps, you would face the necessity of a press-conference. Previously think out, why you would need it, how many people would take part in it, who would be a speaker, when it would take place, etc. If you catch the interest of mass media, especially radio or TV, it is recommended to be prepared to an interview thoroughly: work out not only phrasings and conversation subject, but your image as well.
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