Spring 1997 - Volume 2, No. 4
Making Trade Fairs Work For You
SOURCE: Document ID: 3621, National Trade Data Bank and Economic Bulletin Board - products of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Trade shows are offered throughout the world. While many reputable overseas shows are sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce, there are numerous private sector organizations that also sponsor quality shows. It is always wise to research those trade events that interest you and make certain that they support your company's marketing plan.
Just as with any transaction, there are varying degrees of risk associated with each trade event. Some shows are free, some are local, and some can be attended at a very low cost to you; and thus, are low risk. Others require weeks of preparation, may entail weeks out of the country, and may be very expensive to attend. And in the end, you may not end up making even $1 as a result of your participation in a trade show. Any trade event must be evaluated based on your business' ability to assume risk.
There is no magic formula that will determine the return you will receive. To help minimize the risk, do your homework. You must develop a plan; whether it be to make immediate sales or to enhances your presence in that market. Make your booth appealing to the market you are targeting. Maintain a professional appearance whenever you are out on the booth floor. Create lead sheets that ask specific questions of the people coming into your booth. If you give a premium item away in your booth, give it to the person AFTER they answer the questions on your lead sheet. Don't just leave premiums out on a table for anyone to grab. It may sound corny, but when you think it through, you should make people work for that premium. Premiums are another cost you incur. How you maximize your return on all the costs is your measure of success.
As soon as you get back to your office after the show, FOLLOW UP ON EVERY SINGLE LEAD and DO IT NOW. It is too easy to return from a show and toss all the business cards and lead sheets into a drawer...to be addressed later. In the majority of cases, these opportunities are never investigated further and can be lost forever if not acted upon quickly. This is a common mistake and one that negates all of the positive effects of your preparation.
After all is said and done, orders are entered, and all leads are followed-up on, create a summary of your impression of the event and include recommendations for the next time you work this show. Analyze the show's budget against it's actual costs and don't forget to analyze the answers to the questions from your lead sheets. It's all research that will enable you to determine this trade event's performance for your business.
What follows is contact information concerning the U.S. Department of Commerce's trade events along with a short list of resources.
U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Fairs and Exhibitions:
U.S. Department of Commerce Catalog and Video Exhibitions:
U.S. Department of Commerce Foreign Buyer Program:
TradeshowWeek Data Book
Tradeshow Report International DM.50
Trade Shows Worldwide $205
Trade Show & Convention Guide $85
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