Trade shows or fairs are a long-standing European tradition and one of the most significant cost items in a global marketing budget. A trade show is typically an event at which manufacturers, distributors, and other vendors display their products or describe their services to customers, prospects, suppliers, industry associates, and the trade press. Whether or not the company should participate depends on the type of business relationships desired within a particular country. When looking only for one-time or short-term sales, the expense might not be worth it. But if the goal is a long-term investment, it is probably worth the cost.
Companies participate in trade shows because:
- They provide an excellent opportunity for introducing, promoting, and demonstrating new products to many people efficiently.
- Appearing at shows helps generate goodwill and face-to-face customer contact.
- It provides an opportunity for “[waving] the company flag” in front of the competition.
- Participating helps boost sales force and distributor’s morale.
- It is a cost-effective way to meet with and screen potential intermediaries in a new-to-the-company-market.
- Attending a show is an excellent way to meet government officials and decision-makers. In fact, the host government of the Chinese Export Commodities Fair held twice a year expects exporters to participate.
- They offer potential for market research and gathering competitive intelligence because rivals are participating in shows, too.
- There are opportunities to obtain data that helps marketers evaluate the effectiveness of a promotional campaign.
- They can reach a large number of sales prospects in a brief period of time at a reasonable cost per contact. Some 82 percent of all attendees of the average trade fair have the power to recommend or making final purchasing decisions. In addition, people are there because they have a specific interest in the exhibits.
- It can be a good place to find suppliers.
Capitalize on trade show participation by inviting key prospects to visit the booth or even better, the company’s hospitality suite where there is more privacy for negotiations. Use incentives to attract people to the booth; have systems in place to track leads generated and to evaluate show performance.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.
Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 130-132.
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