Trade shows are important marketing tools that are able to reach a huge target market at one go. Over the years organized trade shows have provided an even playing field in which small business and large ones come together to determine the trade show effectiveness. Trade shows are considered as vital communication technique for all those companies that operate in international markets. They are a huge platform to discover which markets will be lucrative for your business- and to know how to sell yourself to prospective buyers. Making them an integral part of the marketing communications strategy of an export business enables companies in developing customer relationships, offering possibilities for sales and sales promotion; undertaking and maintaining good international business relations; monitoring international competition, as well as, minimizing entry barriers in new markets. The two major trends in international trade shows are growth and specialization. Exhibitions help firms obtain representation if they are new to the market and help firms already in the market to increase their share or introduce new products.
Major reasons for businesses to participate in trade shows include building awareness, introducing new products, reach customers cost effectively, generate additional sales, gain information about competitors among others. Trade shows bring together suppliers, buyers, and the media among others. Exhibitions being a direct fact-to-face medium provide a good platform. Participation in a trade show can serve multiple purposes while attaining several objectives of promoting a company.
Trade shows are a cost efficient, quick way to promote exports and to gain a global view. They deliver a high quality audience to exhibitors in an extremely efficient manner. This is particularly important in an overseas context where it is even more expensive to communicate with a customer or a potential customer and where other forms of promotion may be restricted. Overseas markets can be developed by businesses by participating in trade shows as foreign buyers attend these. Many active exporters participate regularly in shows held overseas, in order to learn more about the buyer’s needs and to seek potential customers. Exporters who are more committed to international markets and who have overseas partners, licensees and subsidiaries may focus more on non-selling and image building activities at international shows. Exhibiting at a trade show can be a great way to advertise to a target market and create brand awareness.
Increasing country-specific experience at such shows leads to better understanding of market mechanisms and a network of personal contacts. Consequently, product decisions, distributor choice and communication with market participants are improved leading to better performance. Participating in international trade shows can provide Indian exporters with valuable information through overseas experience and personal contacts. Thus, exporting barriers can be overcome to some degree through international trade show attendance.
Indian companies have started to assert themselves in the global market through the export industry. In such a scenario, international trade shows provide the ideal vehicle for export promotion. Trade shows are ideal for expanding market knowledge, establishing products and interaction with new and former clients. Data on international trade events are available on Government sites.
REPRESENTING AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS IN A TRADE SHOW
Trade shows present a wealth of opportunities to promote businesses, their brands, and their products and services. Attendees of a trade show have a genuine interest in the products and services on display. The following are 7 ways in which businesses can effectively market themselves at a trade show:
1. Attention. Attract attendees to its booth through banners, banner stands, giveaways, contests or prize drawings, literature, and interactive elements such as touch screens to gather customer information, demonstrate a product, or conduct a survey. Key sales and marketing messages, eye-catching signage, informative literature, appealing giveaways, and engaging elements will generate a higher volume of booth traffic.
2. Research. While it is important to thoroughly plan a trade show booth, it is equally as important to conduct some research long before trade shows take place. A business should determine which trade shows are appropriate for its business sales and marketing goals and carefully evaluate the details of each trade show including: the number of businesses who exhibit, the average number of attendees (potential customers), attendee demographics by job function, and so on. . Some of the important criteria include relevancy, a solid website, active social media channels, big name speakers, past media coverage and the profile of the attendees. If possible, companies should interview businesses who have exhibited in past years, and ask for their feedback and opinions about the event. Exhibiting at trade shows can be costly. You need to research all details and gauge which trade shows will yield the highest return on investment.
3. Registration. Once a business has decided which trade shows to participate in, it should register as early as possible.
4. Objectives. A business should set objectives for itself and its trade shows and its booth staff at the trade show and create a list of objectives in order of their importance.
5. Publicity. An international business should advertise its attendance at the trade show through a direct mail piece to confirmed attendees (or a targeted list drawn from the list of confirmed attendees); and announce it on its website, through email campaigns, newsletters, blogs, social media sites, and email signatures.
6. Preparation. Businesses should make sure to bring a good amount of supplies to the trade show so that they do not run out of important literature, brochures, business cards, and giveaways. Research should be reviewed to know the number of attendees and the percentage of those attendees who may visit its booth should be calculated to bring that number of materials. Businesses should make sure that their staff is knowledgeable about the company, current and new products and services, market trends, and competitors, so they can carry on an intelligent conversation with prospective customers. Staff should be encouraged to interact and engage with attendees, gather contact information with the leads qualification survey, and visit competitor booths.
7. Follow up. Following up on leads made at shows is of paramount importance. They are as fresh as leads come, and the business will still be alive in the mind of the would-be customer. Exploiting these golden leads will, if not result in a direct sale, cement the relationship with a business and/or potentially add value to its network.
A business should only attend an exhibition if it fits in with its overall plan and assists in obtaining its set objectives. Two sets of objectives are: selling and non-selling. Non-selling objectives include identifying new prospects, servicing current customers, enhancing corporate image and gathering competitive information. Selling objectives include introducing new products, selling at the show and new product testing. Managers usually view non-selling objectives as more important. While sales are always the ultimate objective, important intermediary objectives of committed and experience exporters are supporting the efforts of overseas partners and improving the global image of an international business. The decisions to be made by an exporter before attending a show involves selecting the right show in which to participate from the multitude available, budgeting for the international trade show, and ways of displaying merchandise and staffing the booth.
To develop a strong global orientation, Indian exporters should continue participating in international trade shows. Managers can benefit by gaining valuable market knowledge and building relationships with prospective buyers. Through careful planning, the use of committed and knowledgeable staff and adaption to market demands, such shows can prove a huge success.