Trade Show Participation
A trade show is an exhibition at which businesses within a specific industry demonstrate their products and distribute information about their goods and services. Trade shows offer a unique opportunity for businesses to market their products and services to a large, targeted audience that tends to be seriously interested in purchasing the types of products and services that the organization offers. However, exhibiting at a trade show is not an inexpensive proposition. To maximize the success of the trade show experience as well as the return on investment from trade show participation, one must choose the right show, design an eye-catching exhibit, participate in targeted pre-show marketing efforts, actively work the show, and follow-up on all legitimate sales leads. By using such a concerted approach, participation at trade shows can be an effective addition to many marketing strategies.
Keywords Globalization; Market Niche; Marketing; Marketing Mix; Return on Investment (ROI); Strategic Marketing; Target Market; Trade Show
Marketing: Trade Show ParticipationOverview
As globalization widens the markets for goods and services in many industries and fast-paced advances in technology make it essential to stay on the leading edge of the industry, it is increasingly important for organizations to get information about their products into the hands of potential consumers as quickly as possible. One of the ways that an increasing number of organizations attempt to market to customers is through integrated marketing communications, an approach to marketing that combines and integrates multiple sources of marketing information (e.g., advertising, direct response, sales promotions, public relations) to maximize the effectiveness of a marketing campaign. This approach to marketing allows an organization to change its strategic marketing plan to better reach different target markets or market niches.
One popular element of the marketing mix for many organizations is the trade show. This marketing venue is an exhibition at which businesses within a specific industry exhibit and demonstrate their products and distribute information about their goods and services. Typically, trade shows are not open to the public but are restricted to representatives within the given industry. Trade shows help organizations and individuals within an industry keep current with the state-of-the-art products and services within the industry as well as offer a single venue for businesses to market to a wide range of customers within their market niche. International trade shows can attract millions of participants. For example, 2007 Cairo International Book Fair — the largest book fair in the world — had 2,000,000 attendees (Voice of America, 2007) and the 2006 Bologna Motor show had 1,123,649 attendees (Motor Show, 2007). Although these trade shows have more attendees than most, many trade shows frequently attract thousands of visitors.
Despite the fact that trade shows offer businesses wide exposure to a specific market niche, trade shows should be only one part of a good marketing strategy. Marketing strategies typically include other media such as advertising, direct response, sales promotions, and publicity to maximize the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. Through an integrated marketing communications campaign, the organization can coordinate its marketing efforts to present a consistent face to customers while focusing the marketing campaign in an attempt to give the organization a competitive edge.
However, the trade show remains an enduring marketing technique with good reason. It has been consistently found that an average of 85 percent of the typical trade show audience comprises final decision-makers or others who influence the products or services that are purchased by the organization. Similarly, 50 percent of qualified sales leads are closed at trade shows (Keobke, 2004). There are a number of reasons for these impressive statistics. First, trade shows offer an opportunity not only to make face-to-face contact with potential customers, but to do so with a self-selected group that has indicated by their presence at the show that they are interested in the general types of offerings that the business is trying to sell. Although some attendees at trade shows are merely gathering information, many of them are ready to purchase. In addition, trade shows offer marketing personnel the opportunity to not only make a contact, but to establish rapport and present their products and services in one encounter.Applications Ensuring Success at Trade Shows
Although trade shows offer a unique opportunity to businesses to market their products and services to a large, targeted audience, exhibiting at a trade show is not an inexpensive proposition. In addition to the cost of leasing space on the exhibit floor, the business must also develop and print brochures and other literature, design and build an exhibit, transport the exhibit to the venue, hire people who can physically assemble and disassemble the exhibit, transport exhibit staff to the venue and pay for their expenses, as well as other costs. In addition, success at a trade show requires careful planning starting a year before the event. Further, trade show participation is not a passive marketing tool. It requires an on-site trained and knowledgeable staff that can demonstrate products, answer detailed technical questions, and present a polished image to represent the company throughout the show. Despite these costs, however, trade show participation continues to be a popular marketing tool in many industries because of its relatively high potential return on investment.Choosing a Trade Show
Successful participation in a trade show requires much more than merely setting up a booth and expecting potential customers to walk in. Before even considering what information one will present, it is important to choose the right show. Obviously, one needs to choose a show whose attendees will likely be potential customers. To do this, it is helpful to familiarize oneself with the upcoming trade show opportunities within target industries, and then to choose those that are directly related to the organization's marketing strategy. However, even within an industry, there is often a wide range of shows available. For example, although there are many book fairs available, a publisher of medical books would be unlikely to be successful at a book fair that focused on children's publications or even at a trade show that focused on medical equipment. On the other hand, the same publisher might be very successful at a medical trade show targeted toward physicians or at a medical conference even though the show was not specifically focused on medical books. To choose the "right" trade show to attend, there are several things that need to be taken into account.
- First, one must investigate the reputation of the trade shows under consideration. The potential exhibitor must ask whether or not the trade show is in keeping with the organization's image, budget, and overall marketing plan. A manufacturer of high end goods is unlikely to get much business from exhibiting at a low end trade show just as a manufacturer of low end goods is unlikely to get much business from a high end trade show.
- Another question to ask...
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