Trade fairs are among the largest budget items in the marketing budget. Only those who strategically plan and professionally implement trade fair appearances can profit from long-term success and justify the costs. We have developed a trade fair guide for you that gives you orientation before, during and after the trade fair.
1. Think strategically
Precisely because the costs for the trade fair appearance are relatively high, there is no room for the principle of “trial and error goes over study”. Think in advance why you want to attend this trade fair. Is it a public fair or a trade fair? Which audience do you want to meet? What are your goals? What financial resources are available? Do you have enough manpower to manage the trade fair project yourself? A specialised communications agency can not only support you in the conception phase and deliver creative ideas. It is also able to take over the entire project management for you, as well as the responsibility for deadlines and budgets.
2. Write a trade fair concept
Put yourself in the shoes of your existing and potential customers. Looking for this information? Or a specialist consultation on a product or service? Do you want to buy? Or is it more about deepening and cultivating relationships? Think carefully. Choose a trade fair strategy that optimally meets the needs of your customers. A coherent trade fair concept helps to recall the objectives you have set yourself and to clearly communicate to third parties, e.g. stand builders or stand personnel, why you chose this particular trade fair.
3. Plan ahead
Good preparation is half the battle. If you are taking part in a trade fair for the first time, you should start planning at least 12 months in advance. If necessary, relieve your communications department by calling in a communications agency at an early stage. This way you can be sure that experienced specialists will lead your project safely and on time.
4. Choose your stand carefully
Study the hall plans. How many square metres do you need? Should the stand only be open on one side? Or on two, three or four sides? How do the streams of visitors run? Do you want a trade fair stand to the right or left of the streams of visitors? Take a close look and choose your stand location carefully, also with regard to neighbouring stands and competitors. A good stand has a huge influence on the success of a trade fair. Stand design also depends on the choice of stand location.
5. Keep an eye on your competitors
Take a look around. Which of your competitors are also at the fair? How do they appear? How can you stand out? Remember that your competitors at the fair are fighting for the same customers as you. Before the fair, inform your customers why a visit to your stand is worthwhile. Make appointments, organise an attractive competition or get involved as a specialist speaker at supporting events organised by the trade fair management. The more time customers spend with you, the less time you have for your competitors.
6. Orchestrate the trade fair communication
Don’t just think of advertisements in the trade fair newspaper or customer invitations when you think of trade fair communication. Think also of your in-house media such as website, customer magazine, customer mailing or social media. Communication also takes place via stand design. Distinguish yourself from your competitors with an individual stand appearance. Present yourself unmistakably, but authentically. Your goal should be to leave a lasting positive impression in the minds of your relevant dialogue groups.
7. Do not forget the media
Invite journalists to the fair, send a media release or plan a media conference. The latter, however, only if you can present a real primeur to a broad public or a specialist audience.
8. Show your colours at the trade fair
Buy advertising space on the exhibition grounds. Show your presence on posters, advertisements or in editorial articles.
Design your exhibition stand to be open, bright and inviting. Show your courage and try something new.
9. Be a good host
It’s finally time. Customers, prospective customers or potential employees visit you at your stand. The moment of truth has arrived.
Stand personnel: Only entrust your stand to competent and friendly stand personnel. Even at the end of a long trade fair day, guests want to be treated with courtesy. Avoid the typical mistakes in customer service. If in doubt, send the stand personnel to a professional trade fair training course.
Drinks and seating: A visit to the trade fair is exhausting. Be a good host. Your guest will appreciate a seat and a little refreshment. Use the time for a sales talk or for cultivating relationships.
Information brochures and give-aways: Keep suitable information material at hand and give your guest a small present on the way.
Competitions and trade fair games: Both create a good atmosphere, are extremely popular and attract visitors to the stand.
10. after the fair is before the fair
For an investment of this magnitude, it is important to review the targets that have been set. Manoeuvre criticism helps to identify critical factors, record them in writing and optimise them at the next trade fair presentation. What else can you do?
Visit reports/leads: Many companies are familiar with this form of success measurement. It is important to electronically record the contact data of the leads (prospective customers) so that they are available for later marketing activities. It is just as important to get in touch with visitors promptly and keep promises. Does a trade fair lead also generate sales? This question can only be answered by those who “track” leads in the weeks and months following the trade fair. In practice, leads are usually forwarded to the sales department and the sales success is not documented.
Final calculation: Make a summary of all costs after the trade fair. This creates cost transparency. It also helps to budget upcoming trade fairs correctly.
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