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We should make the most of trade exhibitions

Both customer and client are there to exchange information. Just make sure it’s the correct information to the correct person.

Currently there is an emergency service conference at least twice a month throughout the Asia Pacific region. Accompanying these conferences is usually a trade exhibition with manufacturers and suppliers showing their wares. Having been to many of these exhibitions in my career I have seen that there are many, from both sides, that do not make best use of the opportunities that occur in such a forum. Many delegates just wonder round aimlessly, kicking the tyres, wasting their and the exhibitors’ time. Exhibitors think that their product is so good they only have to wait in their booths for the money to roll in.

Let me offer some gratuitous advice to those attending as delegates and exhibitors. Firstly, the delegates, you or your organisation has paid for your attendance, so don’t waste the money! Before you leave the office, you and your colleagues should get the exhibitor list and work out what you want to get out of the exhibition, delegate tasks so there is no duplication. There is nothing more wasteful than four people from the same organization asking the same question, travel in pairs to compare notes later. More importantly you can always carry out a better analysis of the product when you can bounce questions off each other and the exhibitor. Don’t waste time talking to exhibitors that have no relevance to your role. Just because morning tea and lunch is normally served in the exhibition area doesn’t mean it’s time to socialize. It’s about networking and if you don’t know the difference you shouldn’t be there.

Exhibitors come in all shapes and sizes, from the large professional firm that is well established, to the start-up trying to break into the market. A little market research goes a long way. The first question to ask, “is this the best use of my marketing budget”? and secondly, is the person staffing the booth outgoing and able to sell your product? Too often I see booth staff sitting at the rear of the booth not engaging with their potential customers. Do a similar analysis to that of the delegates. Get the list of delegates and target the decision makers and those that advise the decision makers. Don’t be shy, use the network to get an introduction, stalk them, button hole them and ambush them. If you haven’t ticked off everyone on your list or made arrangements to see them later you have wasted your scarce marketing budget.

Make sure you know why your product is better than your competition in the exhibition hall and make sure you can articulate the difference clearly, not a technical dissertation but what’s in it for the customer.

Then there are the trinkets that exhibitors hand out, every year it’s a new trinket, stress balls, pens, USBs, golf balls and many more. Don’t! Most of these end up in the rubbish bin and/or in a place (kid’s bedroom or bath) that will not raise your profile. If you must spend the money, do a daily, quality, business card raffle. Draw it at a high-profile time each day, if nothing else you get some business cards that may be of use.

In finishing, look at your booth set up through the eyes of the delegate. One of the big mistakes is having your name up front, unless you are one of the big companies in the industry a booth name such as Smith and Son Pty Ltd does not tell the delegates you make helmets. Show what you do, not who you are.

Both customer and client are there to exchange information. Just make sure it’s the correct information to the correct person.

For more information, email neil.bibby@mdmpublishing.com

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Asia Pacific Fire, Editor

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