One might think that trade fairs have lost their appeal in the 21st century but this assumption is outright wrong to make.
In a world where digital marketing is the buzz word, it seems that offline marketing strategies like attending trade fairs have little to no importance.
Although participating in a trade fair is no longer the number one deal-breaker, it is still an important segment if doing business. You might not make a single sale but you will make valuable leads and establish partnerships there.
How to Use Trade Fairs to Effectively Market Your Business
Taking the time to develop an efficient strategy to market your business at trade fairs is definitely with the effort. Here are some tips to start with when using trade fairs to market your business.
1. Who gets to go to a trade fair?
One of the most important questions regarding your firm’s participation at a trade fair is who gets to go.
If there are only a couple of people in the firm, it is all hands on deck but you have a pool of employees to choose from, take the time to make the right selection.
In general, choose people who have a friendly look and an easygoing, laidback personality. Although this rule does not apply for other business spheres, you want an extrovert, rather than an introvert to represent your brand at a trade fair event.
Prospective clients and business partners that drop by your stand will form the image if your company based on the faces and people they meet there.
2. Crowds attract crowds
This is so old-school marketing that people who work in digital marketing have probably forgotten it altogether.
Every street vendor will tell you that crowds attract crowds, which is why they sometimes introduce fake customers, as comically depicted in the British TV sitcom Only fools and horses. We are not suggesting you adopt the same dishonest practice but you can create a buzz around your brand that will have people flocking to your stand.
Organize a promotion or a giveaway that will get shared on social media a couple of days prior to the actual event. Another neat tactic is to apply for a program that trade fairs usually feature. You could host a speaker at your stand or one of your employees might give a talk on the main stage.
3. Make your trade fair presence stand out
As SEO is important for your digital marketing strategy, the stand is very important to your offline trade fair presence. A simple stand with the logo and the title of the company is not going to cut it because you are competitors will have better presentations.
Don’t get us wrong, there is no need to waste money on fancy stands because there are affordable exhibition stands that promise to grab the attention of visitors for less. Sometimes a simple rack with leaflets and magazines will engage people more than a robotic arm or a similar gizmo.
4. Make a list
You write everything down when you go shopping, right? Well, believe it or not, but the same principle should be applied when it comes to trade fairs.
You often drive for hours or fly across an entire continent to reach the venue so it would be a blow to find out you forgot a vital printout in the office.
It might seem silly but create a list of the things you’ll be bringing to the fair but this will prevent nasty surprises from occurring. The item that you are most likely to forget to pack includes extension cords, business cards, tape, zip ties, markers, small signs, etc.
5. Size is (not) everything
As far as the size of the ideal stand is concerned, you should test-build the stand in the office before you depart for the trade fair.
You have to see if there is enough room for all the promo materials you plan to bring. There should be enough space for interested parties to enter the stand and look around.
Even if you get the surface area of the stand wrong the first time, don’t sweat about it because you can always lease out a bigger space next year. Like any other promotional activity, trade exhibitions are something that you will improve yourself as the years go by.
6. Support from the web
The essence of a trade fair is to network online and offer products and services the old-fashioned way. However, this doesn’t mean that an online campaign should entirely be omitted from your marketing strategy.
Promoting your presence at the fair on social media and the company website should go without saying. Your business can invite clients, customers, business partners, and all followers, in general, to come and check out the stand in person.
In order to entice them into visiting the fair, offer them some sort of a discount or a coupon.
7. Burying the hatchet
We’ve mentioned earlier that trade fairs present an ideal opportunity for networking.
Apart from prospective clients and your business associate, there are going to be a lot of competition and colleagues in the business on the fair. The rivalry will be evident but don’t let the negative ions in the air get the better of you, as you should bury the hatchet for the duration of the fair.
In terms of market competition, think of the fair as a truce of sorts. Your competitors in the outside world are actually your partners at the fair.
Use this opportunity to network and share experiences with other players in the industry. After all, this “ceasefire” will last less than a week so take full advantage of it to meet as many business people as possible.
8. Getting in the spotlight
Owning a great stand that that engages visitors is a huge plus but there should be more to your participation at a trade fair. Your aim should be to have your stand media covered, at least by the local news agencies.
Sure, you have a flashy company title and social media activity but if the press gets interested in what you have to offer, then your impact increases dramatically.
There you go, these are the top strategies you can apply if you want to start using trade fairs to market your business successfully.
Trade fairs remain relevant in the digital age. They help generate leads and partnerships. To maximize their impact, choose friendly, outgoing staff, attract crowds with promotions, and make your booth stand out without breaking the bank.
Prepare a checklist, ensure adequate space, and promote your presence online. View competitors as potential collaborators and aim for media coverage to boost your impact at trade fairs.
Again, don’t focus too much on the actual act of selling goods and services but on networking.
Neil White is an HR Specialist and business journalist from Sydney, Australia. He likes to write about a lot of stuff but business articles are his favorite. Huge soccer fan