Exhibiting a product or service is a useful form of marketing as it creates the opportunity to publicly display information to interested parties. Many companies find that trade shows help to widen their customer base and build contacts for the future.

Exhibiting offers you the opportunity to:

Present your product to a large (often targeted) audience

Demonstrate how it works

Answer customer questions

Sell your product

Network

Research your competition

Planning

Research into what shows are relevant to your business through internet research, contacts or via your trade association. It is essential that you have a specific purpose for exhibiting at a particular trade show. It may be, for example, to launch a new product or to build brand awareness among your target market. Make sure that the exhibition fits in with the rest of your marketing strategy, and that you set realistic and measurable objectives for participating.

Choose the right exhibition

Selecting the right exhibition can be a challenging process. There are a lot of issues to consider:

Will the visitors to the show fall largely within your target market?

Does the show attract a large number of visitors?

Does it have a good reputation?

Is the location suitable and convenient?

What are the facilities like? (e.g. car parking, refreshments, business resources)

How much does it cost to exhibit?

Budgeting

Calculate what your company can afford in terms of space, equipment and furniture. Small companies can often participate as part of a group to achieve cost-savings. Ask your trade association or local business link if they offer this service. Other budgeting considerations include staff training (or hiring professionals), stand design and construction, publicity materials, pre-event promotions and transport.

Execution

Managing a stand effectively is critical to its success. Be sure to have a good supply of company literature, and anything else that you deem necessary. Train your staff to be friendly, helpful and approachable. If your product is of a technical nature it is a good idea to have someone with the necessary knowledge on hand. All stand staff should collect business cards and ask visitors to fill out an enquiry form – this way your salespeople can follow up on leads after the event.

Ask the professionals

Exhibition organisers can help you to plan, design, organise and run your stand. They provide a professional service so that you can concentrate on your core business objectives at the exhibition. Visit the Association of Exhibition Organisers to get a list of suitable companies or search one of a number of business directories, such as Yell.com or Thomsonlocal.com.