- Planning My Trade-Show Presence by Susanne Pichotta
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Planning My Trade-Show Presence
By Susanne Pichotta, ps-communications*
Presence at a trade fair is expensive, which is why it should be worth it. But how can I tell if a trade fair presence is worth it? Is it the right trade fair? Or even the right instrument? Should we even plan a trade fair
resence after visitor numbers were down at the furnishing trade fairs in 2009?
Of course there is no generally valid answer to these questions. Each company has to analyse and decide for itself. The success of a trade fair depends on the planning in advance. This does not just mean working through checklists, but rather first determining: What do we want to achieve?
Trade-Show Objectives: Is it Better to Just Go For It or to Use the Navigation System?
Before deciding to participate in a trade fair, it is important to not only collect a bit of information, but also to clearly define what we intend to achieve and whom we intend to reach. The trade fair objectives are derived from the corporate objectives and formulated such that it can be recognised when the objective has been achieved. So if a company would like to acquire new customers, for example, it should precisely formulate which target group it is watching, how many contacts it is expecting and by when concrete orders should result. Objectives such as image gain are certainly somewhat more difficult to formulate. Nonetheless one should attempt to set down what the image gain should look like as precisely as possible. For instance, should customers get a better image of the company or should the name of a product be associated with positive terms? The more precisely and targeted the objectives of a company
are formulated, the easier it is to implement the concept and the more compelling the effect of the entire presence.
Trade fair objectives may be:
• Contact objectives: - foster old or new contacts with
customers, target groups, partners or VIPs from
associations and politics
• Communication objectives: - public relations work, bring
topics to the public, but also to associations and partners,
work on image
• Presentation objectives: - presentation of products,
• Product objectives: - compare products on the market
using price and other features, introduce or launch new
products, collect ideas for new products
• Distribution objectives: - find new distribution partners, find
new distribution channels
Once goals are set and perhaps even weighted, they will be visible through the entire planning and execution of the trade fair as a central theme
You Have to Blow Your Own Trumpet
Although a beautiful stand is part of a trade fair presence, visitors and best of all the right trade public are what make it a success. As an exhibitor you should not count on the visitor being able to find you. You have to develop own activities.
An absolute requirement, as always, is a proper catalogue entry with the correct product group entries. This information forms the foundation for all Internet entries on the event organiser’s trade fair web pages and also for the information systems at the trade fairs.
To entice visitors to the trade fair, all event organisers offer free advertising material ranging from posters to flyers to stationery stickers. These can be integrated relatively easily into existing corporate communication measures. If one of the trade fair objectives is the fostering of existing contacts, it is important that they also be invited – best of all with an admission ticket because, in the meantime, most trade fairs offer easily understandable and inexpensive packages and even electronic invitation cards. Or you can set up a special product presentation during the trade fair time period as a supplementary programme.
If the company is out for new contacts and addresses, a mailing about the trade fair or perhaps a raffle at the trade fair is quite a good tactic. If one has an Internet-friendly target group, it is worth advertising one’s trade fair presence using online media. The advertising or invitation measures to be used depend on the trade fair budget and the trade fair objectives. Even with a small budget attention can be drawn to a trade fair presence. The budget calculator, either the printed version or online https://www.ccvision.de/en/ offers help with calculating.
Public relations work has its own rules. An important success factor here is that it actually be about an innovation. If it is an exciting topic or a brand new product, then it might even be worthwhile to invite the press to a stand tour or a press breakfast at the booth.
Booth Personnel as a Factor for Success
What differentiates a trade fair from other marketing instruments: Visitors can ‘experience’ the company and its products. They can exchange ideas, get information, express criticism or praise and get to know the product up close. Conversely, it is also an opportunity to get to know potential customers and to work through their criticism or even their ideas and recommendations. Good booth personnel are not only good presenters, they are also good listeners. But in order for the booth crew to be able to work well, it is important to provide them with all important information pertaining to the booth in a timely manner: products, objectives, travel information, telephone numbers, booth location, concept. Everything should be concisely summarised in a folder and passed on in a timely manner in preparation for the trade fair: even better shortly before a briefing prior to the trade fair. If the budget allows, trade fair training with a professional is certainly a good investment. The better the personnel are prepared, the easier the work at the trade fair will be.
Each visitor to the stand is recorded with a conversation form. This makes follow-up and an evaluation of trade fair participation easier. The forms can contain different information depending on the company and should be able to be marked with a tick to the extent possible. It should contain room for a business card (don’t forget a stapler), notes and campaigns for after the trade fair. Interesting for later evaluation are, for instance, the trade fair day, the industry, the size of the company etc.
By the way: periods of time with fewer visitors can be well used for your own trade fair rounds to observe the market or make acquisitions. But to make sure the booth is always well staffed, plan for sufficient personnel.
After the Trade-Show
Home again, soon be ready to start the post-trade-show evaluation, set schedules or confirmations ans send information sets. The conversation forms are to be set into the statistical summary and added to the execitive summary of the trade-show für further analysis and evaluation.
In bigger trade-show teams it makes sense to allow the staff to evaluate the trade-show presence through questionaries.You may ask good customers of yours how they’d liked your exhibtion. All of these results are to be confronted with the late objectives. Alll trade-show costs and the budjet-plan have to be compared for effectivity. These facts will be the planning basis for your next trade-show exhibition. Trade-shows respond to the same principles as football/soccer: After the fair is before the fair!
A fair lives on the activities of their exhibitors. The organisers offer the phrame work: the exhibitor enables the contents. You are the one to change the trade-show into an interesting trade meeting point!
Susanne Pichotta, ps-communications
This article was also published in LivingXL - Interior Decoration Fairs 2010 worldwide