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Spring 1997 - Volume 2, No. 4

Making Trade Fairs Work For You
by Bob Pawlick and the U.S. Department of Commerce

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 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:
About 80 international worldwide events are selected annually for recruitment by the Commerce Department or by the private sector under Commerce's Certification Program. Exhibitors receive pre-and post-event logistical and transportation support, design and management of the USA Pavilion, and extensive overseas market promotional campaigns to attract appropriate business audiences. Contact: Trade Show Liaison office (202) 482-2525.

U.S. Department of Commerce Catalog and Video Exhibitions:
These events provide a low-cost, low-risk vehicle to generate leads, whether the company is looking for sales or representation overseas. Using the resources of U.S. embassies worldwide, product catalogs or videos are shown by Commerce commercial officers to potential agents, distributors or buyers in selected world markets. Contact: Export Promotion Services (202) 482-3973.

U.S. Department of Commerce Foreign Buyer Program:
The FBP supports major domestic trade shows featuring products and services of U.S. industries with high export potential. Qualified foreign buyers worldwide are recruited to attend the shows. The shows are extensively publicized through embassies, government agencies, travel agents, regional commercial newsletters, catalogues and magazines, and foreign trade associations. An international business center is sponsored at each foreign buyer show, providing interpreters, multilingual brochures, counseling and private meeting rooms. Contact: Export Promotion Services (202) 482-0871.

Other Resources
The Internet offers several sites that list trade shows. Using any Internet search engine with the phrases "trade event", "trade show", or "trade seminar", you can find hundreds of sources for shows.

TradeshowWeek Data Book
$299 for U.S. and Canada, $190 for International version.
Reed Reference Pub. 12233
W. Olympic Blvd.,Suite 236
Los Angeles, CA 90064-9956
(310) 826-5695
A weekly source of statistics and new trade shows.

Tradeshow Report International DM.50
M and A Verlag fuer Messen Ausstellungen und Kongresse GmbH
Postfach 101528, 6000 Frankfort A.M.1, Germany
A trade magazine for international fairs and exhibitions.

Trade Shows Worldwide $205
ISBN: 0-8103-8079-X ISSN: 1046-4395
Gale Research Inc.
835 Penobscot Building
Detroit, MI 48226-4094
(800) 347-GALE or (313) 961-2242
313) 961-6815 (Fax)

Trade Show & Convention Guide $85
BPI Communications Amusement Business
Box 24970
Nashville, TN 37202
(615) 321-4250
(615) 327-1575 (Fax)
Includes dates for 5 years.

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