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Events and tradeshows

Take a stand to win new business

If you are searching for a more effective way to win new business, then taking a stand at a trade show could provide the solution. Pick the right event and you will have the chance to sell directly to your target market. Tom Whitney discovers how to decide which events are best and how much you can expect to pay

Aside from helping businesses to find new sales leads, trade shows provide other benefits, including the chance to strengthen existing customer relationships. You can also network with other businesses, find better suppliers and check out what the competition is up to.

They can also be the perfect place to launch new products and increase your firm's profile from any press coverage generated.

Quote�Although exhibiting might seem like an expensive option, it is targeted marketing.�End Quote
Neil Walker, AEO

But, financially-speaking, are they worth it? "Although exhibiting might seem like an expensive option, it is targeted marketing," says Neil Walker, adviser at the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO).

"It's easy to spend a few thousand pounds on advertising or a direct mail campaign, but with a trade show attendees are there specifically to see your type of business. As a result, it's usually a better return on investment."

Graham Bell, small business adviser at Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce says to get the most out of exhibiting: "Set goals that are specific and measurable, for example, to sell X-amount of products from your stand or generate X-amount of new sales leads. Too many companies go along and just hope for the best."

It is wise to keep your sales objectives realistic. Most exhibitors aim to make introductory contacts rather than completing sales there and then.

Taking a stand

Be careful when weighing up which events are suitable. If a show's scope is too broad it could fail to attract potential customers you want to meet and you'll be frittering away your hard-earned marketing spend.

"If you aren't sure, talk to others in the trade," Bell continues. "Find out which exhibitions are the best. Look at past attendance figures and delegate profiles, too."

You have two main options when booking a stand. The first is to rent floor space and a basic stand from the organisers. This is called a "shell scheme", and typical costs begin at around a couple of thousand pounds. Alternatively, you can just rent the floor space and use your own display stand.

Plan the details of running the stand in advance. List your objectives and, if a couple of staff members will be on duty, decide roles and responsibilities in advance - including who will make any demonstrations you might stage. Draw up a rota, so that everyone can take an occasional break. Of course, you should aim to have a good look around the venue and speak to others on their stand.

"Let your target customers know you will be there," advises the AEO's Neil Walker. "You might want to send a press release or organise a direct mail campaign." In addition, you could simply phone your most valued customers or those you hope will be attending.

When you contact the event organisers to tell them you are interested, it is likely that you will be sent further information - including details of cost. How much you pay will depend on profile of the event/venue, position of your stand and how much floor space you reserve.

What next?

You can find your trade association's website from the Trade Association Forum.

Trade Fairs and Exhibitions UK have information about forthcoming shows, as do the British Chambers of Commerce.

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