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Trade Shows - Are they any good?

During the coming months, exhibitions are popping up from small hotel type events to larger events held at purpose-built centres. You may even be contemplating whether to exhibit at such an event this year.

The preparation for either of these two events is primarily the same, the difference being the scale of the event.

When thinking about exhibiting, there are a few things to consider:

* Why do you want to have a Stand?

* Do you have a new product you want to showcase/promote?

* What do you want to achieve?

* Do you want a Stand at a national or local event?

* How will you capture the delegates' contact details?

* Will you offer a prize for receiving the delegates' business card in exchange?

* What is your budget?

* Do you need a back-drop?

* What do you need on the Stand to give away?

* Does your promotional material need updating?

* How will you contact delegates from the list you have obtained?

* What is the footfall at the previous exhibition?

* Are there similar businesses to yours who will bring in your type of clients?

These are just a few questions to help you decide on the type of exhibition which should suit your business needs. The larger events will need you to complete online forms and provide your current Health & Safety Policy and produce specific Risk Assessments. The event organisers prefer to receive this information during a specific timescale.

When considering the layout take into account the positioning of your Stand - is there adequate flow of visitors to pass your Stand?

Don't forget too, to budget the cost of the Stand together with the cost of staff, cost of travel, cost of accommodation and the cost of additional promotional material.

How will you keep in touch?

Once you have the names of the delegates who are interested, think how quickly you can follow up.

How will you do this? Will you call them, send an email or write a letter? Whichever, you choose have a system in place before the exhibition.

I remember working for a company in the '80s and they were good at communicating with their potential customers. They exhibited and made arrangements for a packaging machine to be on the Stand so they can talk to the visitors about this. They took various brochures with them to last the 3-4 days that they were there.

Each evening they would spend time dictating into a hand-held recording device, the letters they wanted me to send out. The cassettes were popped in the post for me to get in a day's time (post was quicker then!). They knew that the quicker they reacted to the request for more information, the better the impression it would make on the company.

Nowadays this can be done by digital recording and the files are emailed to be transcribed.

Planning beforehand could save time; knowing the content of the email or letter, then all that needs to be done is personalising the document.

Preparation is the key; knowing your budget, know whether a local or national event is suitable, knowing whether your competitors are exhibiting too and knowing what, when and how you plan to follow up. Allow time in your diary to contact your new potential customers when you return to your desk.

If your exhibiting this year, have a great time and remember to plan ahead and ensure you follow up each delegate. Trade Shows are a good way to get known and having potential customers come to you, but you must follow up to make it work for you.

Take care.


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