Making the most of your exhibition: planning

Article posted by DIT Digital, on behalf of Department for International Trade

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Taking part in an overseas exhibition can be a great way to generate international interest in your products and new develop export business. DIT has put together a three part guide to trade fairs and exhibitions to ensure you make the most of this valuable experience.

The earlier you prepare, the more you’ll get out of the event. Here are some things to think about ahead of time:

Objectives

What is the purpose of you attending the event? Think about whether any or all of the following apply:

  • To seek agents and distributors
  • Assess the competition
  • Maintain existing sales and contracts
  • Introduce and promote a new product
  • Increase your market share for existing products
  • Target a set number of new potential customers
  • Aim for a set target of sales resulting from the event
  • Cement and improve relations with existing customers or agents
What will be a successful outcome and how will you measure this? It’s a good idea to set clear, defined objectives for the exhibition that fit in with your overall marketing strategy too.


Thinking ahead: planning

  • Appoint a co-ordinator with overall charge of planning and logistics.
  • Decide on the stand area required. Think about the layout and display aids you may need.
  • Check the facilities you need to exhibit your products will be available on the exhibition site, such as power, water, compressed air, adequate ceiling height and floor loading.
  • Ensure you have adequate supplies of your sales literature in the appropriate language(s).
  • Select the staff who will represent your business on the stand and Involve them in the planning. Ensure they receive the necessary training (including any specialised language requirements) to do the job effectively.
  • Make sure all those travelling to the event have a current passport; necessary visas; appropriate travel and medical insurance; driving licence (if required); and that advisable vaccinations are up to date.
  • Make your travel and accommodation arrangements in good time – hotels close to the venue quickly become full with exhibitors and buyers. Consider arranging “open” return travel to allow for follow-up meetings after the event.

Thinking ahead: marketing

Select your target audience and consider if any or all of the following marketing initiatives would be appropriate:

  • Pre-show email/invitation
  • Promotional telemarketing
  • Advance advertising (for example, in trade press, show catalogue/grounds)
  • On-stand catering/prize draw/reception
  • Press opportunities
  • Photography – recording of proceedings
  • Company business cards

Before you go: exhibits

  • Check with your production team that your exhibits will be ready in good time to meet your shipping deadline.
  • Ensure that:
    • You are fully conversant with any charges that may be levied by the authorities
    • Your products are permissible exports/imports
    • You can comply with any export or import regulation/documentation; if you need a licence apply in good time
    • You can comply with any local technical, safety, labelling or other regulations (contact Technical Help for Exporters for advice). Where appropriate, consult your local office of HM Customs and Excise.
    • Space booking and stand construction arrangements must be made in good time.
    • Confirm that:
    • Your exhibits comply with any local regulations
    • Early application has been made for any Customs or other documentation/licence which may be required.
    • Be selective in what you choose to display.  Bear in mind that photographs are not as effective as models and models not as effective as the real thing.
    • Select the appropriate products from your range for the particular market.
    • Make your shipping arrangements early.  Carefully arrange shipping details so that your exhibits arrive in good time before the opening date.  In some cases there may be congestion at ports or airports at the time of an exhibition.  Make special allowances for large and heavy exhibits which need to be on site before stand construction begins. (The ATO may make arrangements for the group).
    • If local regulations permit you to sell your exhibits and you intend to do so, seek advice from your shipping agent or ATO on the most suitable Customs entry arrangements.
    • Make sure that the correct electrical power and other services and facilities needed for demonstrating your exhibits have been booked. (The ATO may make arrangements for the group).  Source appropriate power cables and adaptors.
    • Arrange proper insurance in good time. The ATO might make arrangements for the group.
    • Make absolutely sure that you can quote delivery dates and prices in the local currency or Euros (or on whatever terms are normal in the particular market), and for other markets whose buyers may attend the trade fair.

    Read the rest of this guide here:
    Part 2 – Making the most of your exhibition: at the fair
    Part 3 – Making the most of your exhibition: after the fair