Lesley Batchelor OBE is an expert on international trade and a passionate champion of UK exporters. She is also the Director General of the Institute of Export, the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of everyone involved in importing, exporting and international trade.
Trade fairs and exhibitions are events where manufacturers and distributors place their goods or services on display for current and prospective customers, suppliers and other interested businesses.
They are a fairly traditional method of marketing goods and services, especially in Europe, and are a particularly valuable method of communicating with agents, distributors and consumers in your overseas markets.
They are also good opportunities for you as an exporter to view new products, and identify trends and competitors.
Usually the trade fair is associated with businesses but consumer exhibitions do take place such as the annual motor and boat shows.
Why are they useful?
There are many benefits to attending a trade show and exhibition, namely:
- Trade fairs can be valuable in marketing new products
- Some products, particularly industrial machinery, are difficult to sell without displaying them
- The exporter looking for an intermediary (agent or distributor) can attend a trade fair, and speak to the candidates prior to decision-making
- The exporter can meet political representatives who, at times, consider attendance by prospective exporters to be compulsory
- It is an opportunity for market research and to check out the competition
- Excellent chance to network and build contacts
- It can be an economical way to reach a wide potential audience. It is estimated that well over eight out of ten people who attend trade fairs are buying managers
- The audience tends to be motivated and have an interest in the exhibits at the trade fair.
The decision as to whether to attend a trade fair will usually depend on the type of contact and presence you wish to have in that overseas market. If you’re only interesting in short term involvement with that market it might not be necessary for you to consider attending, not least because the costs involved are usually quite substantial.
No matter what the exact aim of the exhibition, the firm that does not adequately prepare will lose out, so make sure you read this three part guide on making the most of your planning, the most of your exhibition at the fair and making the most of your exhibition after the fair, as well as this useful checklist and action plan for preparing to attend one.