Preparing for international trade shows

Most of us have heard the saying, Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance, but how can you put this in practice when preparing for trade shows?

Posted on: 29/11/2017

Trade events are a great way to make connections and to find new markets, but you will want to make sure that you maximise the return on your investment.

Airplane taking off

Planning your visit

Before you start planning a visit, research the event and make sure it is right for you. Start by looking at exhibitor lists, request the latest floorplans, examine visitor demographics, and check if your competitors are attending. Gather feedback on previous events, speak to colleagues and connections, do they have any feedback?

If you decide on an exhibition space, consider where the stand will be located, examine the floor plans, evaluate the potential for passing traffic and find out where your competitors are located.

Have you thought about attending as a visitor? Plan prior to the event, examine the exhibitor list and prioritise, find out who of your existing contacts are visiting, explore social media, draft a list of leads and make contact beforehand.

Special mention to companies in my patch in Wales who can benefit from Welsh Government support to either exhibit at, or visit selected international events, through subsidised costs and joint exhibition space. Find out more about the upcoming visits on the Welsh Government Export Events Calendar.

Promote, promote, promote

Committing to an international trade show is a sizeable investment, so remember to promote your presence. Use social media to connect with other delegates, invite guests to your stand, or make plans to visit other exhibitors. Follow any official hashtags /streams, share and interact with posts to drive engagement. Are you listed in show guide, or have you thought about placing an advert in the show guide? Make the most of any PR opportunity that comes your way.

Are EEN holding a brokerage event?

EEN brokerage events are designed to allow delegates to book 1-2-1 meetings with other participants. This is a great way to maximise the value of your trip, not only can you post an online profile, but you can also secure meetings, providing structure to your visit. See our Events Listing for more details.

What do you need?

Will you be translating marketing materials? Think about the event, the visitors and your objectives, will there be a mixture of languages or is the event focused on one market? Whilst online translation can help us get by, it’s certainly not perfect. Use a professional agency to avoid any embarrassing and costly mistakes. Do you have any colleagues who could assist with translation at the event?

Check the information on your business cards. Does it make any assumptions that could cause confusion? Have you listed your address in full? Have you included the country code (+44) on your phone numbers? Ensure that you are fully stocked up with plenty of time before the event, the last thing you will want is a last-minute rush!

Will you need product samples? Make sure that you give yourself enough time to plan the logistics. Think about how many samples you will need, how will you be shipping? Where you will deliver to? When will they arrive? You also need to check the regulations for your products and market. For example, to send food and drink samples to the US, companies must register with the FDA and nominate an agent. Avoid being caught out and losing your shipment by doing your research!

How will you capture leads?

Plan your follow up before the event. Decide what information you need to capture, and how you will be prioritising follow-ups. Brief your team on what information to gather and use a lead capture form during the event.

Spend 5 minutes at the end of each day making notes on the day whilst it is fresh in your mind. Summarise anything you have learnt about your leads that will help you build a more personal relationship. Decide how you will be following up with each type of lead, this will help you gather the most important information and will allow you to be clear on what type of follow up they should expect from you e.g. samples, phone call, email etc..

Set research objectives

You can also maximise your time by conducting some research at the event. Perhaps you want to take the opportunity to hold research with customers on a new product feature, perhaps you want to explore new opportunities in the market, or perhaps you want to research want tactics your competitors are using? Whatever your research aim, ensure that you plan out your research objectives prior to the trip. Having a clear understanding of what you want to learn from the visit, will help keep you focused and support you to reach your goal.

How can we help?

Whether you are exhibiting or attending an international trade fair make sure that you maximise the support available to you from local or national government. To find out what support is available to you, why not get in touch with your local Enterprise Europe Network, who will understand the support available in your area.


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