Exhibiting at a trade fair can be prohibitively expensive, so why not consider going as a visitor? If you decide to attend as a visitor, make sure that you make the most of your time there, which means planning your day in advance and following up with contacts after the event.
Here are 10 of our top tips
1) Choose the trade fair carefully: Make sure in advance that the fair will be of interest to you – that the exhibitors really are people you can sell to or want to talk to. This is especially important if you are coming from abroad and if the cost of attending is quite high.
2) Meetings: Take a thorough look at the exhibitor list. Every well-organised trade fair will publish a list of all the exhibitors at least a couple of months in advance of the event. Study this carefully and make appointments with the companies that you really want to speak to.
3) Arrive early: Don’t view your day at a trade fair as a day away from the office and a holiday. Arrive punctually and set your sights high. This can be a really effective way of gaining new clients and meeting interesting new contacts.
4) Approaching new contacts: Remember that everyone who is at the fair is there for a similar reason – to make interesting and useful contacts. The chances are that the people who you think are interesting will find you and your products / services interesting too.
5) Skipping: Don’t be shy about passing by the stands that are not of interest. The exhibitors won’t mind – they want to devote their time to potential customers.
6) Know when to move on: Let exhibitors know that you are on a tight schedule. Remember that they also want to make the best use of their time, and will gladly cut to the chase with you.
7) Old and new: Trade shows are a great opportunity to get a first glimpse of new products, services and fresh marketing initiatives. Make a point to talk to potential new clients and suppliers, but don’t forget to consolidate your relationships with existing suppliers and clients.
8) Don’t lose your bottle: Drink a lot of water and carry about a bottle with you. Exhibition halls are notoriously dry and hot environments – so be prepared!
9) Take notes: When you have met an interesting contact, take a few minutes after the meeting to make a few notes of what was discussed. After a few hours, the new faces you have met will merge in to one, and all the interesting information you have gathered will get confused.
10) Following up: On the days following the exhibition, write to each of the people you saw at the fair to thank them for their time. Even if you do not have a clear plan of action with them in the immediate future, not only will they appreciate a short note, but it is also good to remind them of your meeting. They, like you, will have seen many people at the trade fair. Remember, a trade fair is only a starting point for developing relationships and future business.
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