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Finally, the opportunity to participate in fairs and conferences is back. Forecasts indicate that in 2022 there will be a gradual return to the economic state before the pandemic, and the market will grow steadily in the coming years.
Trade fairs are always a unique opportunity to show the world what we do on a daily basis, present the methods of our work, and pass on our experience to others. It is also an opportunity to acquire new customers and business partners. So how do you prepare for participation in the fair and make the most of this time? The most important thing is to choose an event, including the decision whether to come to one in Poland or go abroad. If you want to go to a different country, you should first know whether the company is ready to show up in international markets. There are more questions regarding the choice of the fair. I encourage you to do your homework and answer them.
The level of satisfaction – for both image and financial – depends on how much time you devote to preparing the answers. Below, I’ve shared my checklist, which will help you in deciding on participation and choosing the right trade fair:
- Are we ready to acquire new customers?
- Can the team going to the fair tell about the technical aspects of the product? Do they understand the technology, and can they present its business application?
- Can the team talk about the product not only in Polish but also in English? How about other languages? (For example, if we decide to go to a fair in Italy, you can be sure that the talks will begin in Italian.)
- Do we have an idea for a booth arrangement? Stands and roll-ups alone may not be enough to stand out. They often act as a deterrent and do not attract attention at all.
- Do we have any idea how to attract people who don’t know us to the booth? What’s going to happen in it?
- Have we informed customers and business partners that we will be at the event? Perhaps it will be an opportunity to meet and expand cooperation.
- Have we defined success rates? How will we know that participation in the event was successful? (Believing that inquiries will start coming is not enough. Define precisely how many queries you would like, and then calculate how much they actually cost you to obtain).
- Does marketing cooperate with sales well enough that people working there can communicate information about companies interested in a partnership?
- Have we chosen people who will contact new customers?
Fairs? The Team Is Key!
The fair is first and foremost a meeting of person to person. And although the location of your booth and the idea for the arrangement is extremely important, the team that will go to represent the company will be the most important factor.
Even the best location and the most creative presentation will not give as much as a brave and personable team. Why? Specialists who are too shy to approach and talk to a stranger and encourage them to visit your booth will not do much.
What is the perfect set of personality traits for the fair? You should decide on people who are communicative, curious, and cheerful, who like people and talking to them. Participation in the event should be good fun for them, not torture. The above questions also clearly indicate that you should be represented at the fair by people who know technology well, as well as those who understand business.
During the event, there will certainly be a lot of fans of technology and fans of the most complex solutions. But there will also be people who will be oriented towards business and its development. Not everyone combines knowledge in both areas, so it is worth choosing people who will complement each other in this area.
The fair is a real holiday for the industry. Under one roof, you can meet the companies that create it, as well as listen to interesting speeches and take part in workshops or discussion panels. I wrote about how to prepare for the latter in Discussion Panels: How to Use Their Potential.
The conference is often a great opportunity to share the conclusions of implementation, observations, or lessons learned. This is when you have a chance to invite potential customers who visit your stand and encourage them to get to know your work better. It is worth choosing a person who will present the company from its best possible angle. Ideally, they would be trained in public speaking and would feel comfortable in this role.
If more people participate in the event, it is worth dividing your team, taking into account the diversity of the audience. One person could join a workshop with an interesting topic, someone else might want to see what the competition will talk about, and a third representative can visit individual stands and look for partners.
Of course, roles can be assigned on the spot. However, planning and deciding who does what and when will allow you to control the team at the booth. You’ll avoid a situation where suddenly there’s no one around.
The fair may prove to be a very good sales and promotional tool. The keys to success are adequate preparation for participation, planning how you will show up and what you will say, and knowing how you will stand out. The better you plan all communication before the event, the more satisfied you will be with the work, during, and after.
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