International trade fairs are nowadays an essential marketing tool, a great commercial window that must be part of the company’s sales strategy.

The exhibition and launching of new products in this type of events is an effective technique to gain many potential customers, taking advantage of limited time and space. They also help to optimize the relationship between salesperson and client, in a privileged environment for professional relations. All marketing variables are involved in this activity: the company presents its 4 Ps (products, price, distribution, promotion) to visitors and takes the opportunity to showcase its sales force in public.

A good organization of the fair is essential since it is a strong economic and time investment and it is necessary to take advantage of all the benefits and opportunities that arise. In order not to leave any detail behind and to guarantee success, it is very useful to write down the steps to follow and control. First of all, the three stages that will take place must be clear:

– The pre-fair, the stage prior to the fair, in which the activities necessary to participate in the event are defined.

– The fair, that is to say, the participation in the fair.

– The post-fair, which will be the activities that take place after the fair, focusing mainly on the filtering and evaluation of data.

In order to better digest all the info that I put at your disposal here, I am going to divide it into two entries.

First entry:

The pre-fair

There are several criteria to consider when selecting the right trade fair.  Basically, the following questions must be defined, analyzed and answered:

  • What are the objectives for attending this fair and not another, i.e., the results and goals to be achieved with the development of the activities must be set. These objectives will be quantitative and qualitative and to achieve the desired impact both criteria must be taken into account.
  • If it is a sufficiently attractive market for your products. Information on potential demand, market profiles, the country’s macro-environment, etc., should be gathered.
  • If your products meet the market requirements: product quality, presentation, if it complies with the standards or requirements demanded by the buyer and/or the country of destination, etc.
  • Do you have production and supply capacity?
  • What are the marketing channels available?
  • How much will it cost to participate in the fair.
  • How do I estimate the return on investment.
  • If you have negotiating power, that is, if you have elements in your favor and you know the cultural particularities of the country.

Once you have evaluated all this, you can choose the fair that suits you best. I consider it important to read, look for information and details of the fair in catalogs, magazines, Internet, press.  The opinion and experiences of businessmen who have participated in that fair in the past are also very useful.  Visiting the fair beforehand helps to prepare for it better. It would also be necessary to investigate the support that the organizing institution makes available, especially with regard to obtaining financing.

Before registering, it is essential to draw up a budget for participation in the fair to ensure that you can meet the costs.  To do this, you should ask the organizers:

  • Registration fee
  • The value of the stand
  • The available payment methods
  • The cost and time to take the products, samples, promotional material and stand to another country.
  • Duration of the fair and expenses for lodging, food, transfers, etc.

Before choosing the place where the stand will be located, the general plan of the fair is analyzed to obtain a good place with a lot of public circulation, taking into account the position of the possible competitors also participating in the fair.

International fairs develop in advance an extensive advertising campaign in order to motivate the attendance of the main buyers from the host country and also from other countries. However, the exhibitor should do the same with the contacts he believes should attend the fair. Promotional activities that can be carried out include the following:

  • Publish advertisements in the mass media.
  • Address directly, via telephone or email, to invite both regular and potential customers to visit the stand.
  • At the fair, the promotion can be complemented with technical meetings, workshops, information pills, raffles, screening of related films or any other type of activity that can attract attendees.

A fundamental part of the plan of participation in the fair will be to select the exhibition product to be presented to visitors. Before participating in an international fair, it is necessary to prepare well in advance the material that specifies the technical characteristics of the products: instructions for use, price lists, different categories, mission, vision, values, company data, etc. How? It is better to do it through printed brochures, infographics, etc. that contain the most important information in a very visual way. You will also have to be prepared with business cards, commercial references, etc.

More in How to participate in international fairs? (II)

Original source:   “How to participate in international fairs? (I)”, by Ruth Saiz.

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