How to participate profitably in a trade show

Determining your Trade Show Objectives

Millions of individuals attend and thousands of companies participate, but relatively few who are involved in trade shows fully understand the exhibit medium. Many exhibitors at the average trade or industrial show make gross errors in their exhibits because they do not know what the medium is or how to use it wisely.


There are many reasons why a company enters a trade show, and it is important that a company spell out its objectives before making
this decision. 
These objectives can include: to make sales; to maintain an image and continuing contact with customers; to initiate contact with
new customers; to introduce a new product or service; to demonstrate equipment; to offer an opportunity for customers to bring their technical
problems and obtain solutions; to obtain feedback from booth visitors; to relate to the competition; etc


The most common objective, of course, is the first one: to make sales and the trade show can play a unique role in leading a prospective buyer
from mild interest to the decisive act of placing an order. While making sales and sales contacts is the most common objective of an exhibit, it is
certainly not the only one. Participation in a trade show is a good way to sharpen one’s sensitivity to the conditions of the marketplace.
At a trade show, you can sense the general attitude of people more rapidly than any other way.



Pinpoint your objective:


In order to utilise the special characteristics of the trade show exhibit to their maximum, you must make it an integral part of the marketing
program. You must define exactly what you want your exhibit to accomplish, and then see that all decisions about design, copy, scheduling, and so on, are based on these decisions. It all starts with the company’s marketing goals, which are broken down into goals for each division or perhaps for each product or product line.


When you set an objective, be sure it is meaningful and measurable. Objectives are written statements of measurable goals, prepared before
participation in a trade show. Putting these objectives in writing not only helps you, the exhibitor, clarify your planning, but provides specific guidelines to everyone else involved: design; implementation, participation
and evaluation.


These objectives have two components:

(a) Target audience (to whom, specifically are you communicating?) and

(b) Quantifiable objectives: It is not adequate to say ‘My objective is to display our new product’. This is not measurable.


These statements are measurable:


·         To attract 15% of the total attendees to our booth to see a demonstration of our new product.

·         To communicate Benefit 1 and Benefit 2 about our product to attendees and to obtain 1,200 literature requests and 750 requests for
demonstrations of our product.


With proper research these can be measured and the data will pinpoint a contribution of the show, will help justify the cost and, will be a benchmark
of accomplishment against which future participation can be compared.


Plan your objectives:


The first groups of question to ask are basic: “What shows shall we enter?” ”How much space do we need in each?” “ What do we want to say?”
“ Whom do we want to reach?” “What do we want to accomplish?” “What kind of an exhibit design do we need to achieve our objectives?”
“How do we tell our story?”


Once these are answered you need to ask: “How much will this cost us?”

However, the most important questions to ask and really the place to start, because they get to the essentials of your marketing plan are:
“what is the real reason for going into this show at all? “What end do we wish to reach?” and “What are our goals?”






Next article: Promote your trade show product story



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How to participate profitably in a Trade Show.







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