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A Fair To Remember - Before The Fair

Pt 1 – A Fair To Remember – Surviving Your First Trade Fair

Part 1 – Before The Fair

Exhibiting at your first Trade Fair can be an exciting and profitable experience. With proper planning you can gain valuable exposure in the market and skyrocket your growth and profits. The following series of articles will help you plan and prepare, set up and make the most of exhibiting at a Fair and after it’s over.

We attended our first Trade Show last week and it was a success from the point of view of all the planning we had put into it to the leads that were generated. Below are a number of tips that may help to make exhibiting at a trade show a success. I have broken up the information into 4 separate articles to make it easier to digest the information:

1. Before The Fair
2. Setting Up At The Fair
3. During The Fair
4. After The Fair

Before The Fair:

Planning:

• Start Early: Planning isn’t something you should leave to the last minute. It is a good idea to begin as early as possible preparing for your first trade show.

• Layout: One of the first things you need to keep in mind is the layout of the store. The Trade Show organisers will provide you with a plan of the exhibition hall. Although you may not be able to choose where you want to be positioned, you do have control to plan where you position certain products and displays within your stand to gain maximum exposure and visual impact with passing traffic. Some questions to ask are:

What first impression do I want to create with potential customers?
First impressions unfortunately do create lasting impressions simply from the fact that if your stand doesn’t capture the potential customer’s attention you have very little chance of drawing them in.
Therefore, take a good look at where your sign is positioned. Is your sign a generic sign that is provided by the Exhibition Organisers or do you have your own sign and logo so that you can stand out.?Is your stand inviting, in the sense that is open and approachable? Even tiny little stands if carefully designed can be a crowd attractor. Always layout your stand so that it is uncluttered both in the way the products are displayed and the message you want to portray. Too many graphics or a messy layout of products can confuse and deter potential customers from stopping. Always think SIMPLE. Better to have one BIG IDEA than many little ideas – many little ideas go over hyper-stimulated customers.
Circulation: Do your display stands form a ‘wall’ of stuff, a barrier that may prevent them from entering your space? Keep the stand as open as possible.
If you can find a space to set up your stand it may help you to determine any issues before you arrive at the fair.

Think Ahead: Always think about what could possibly go wrong and see how you can factor this in your planning. For instance, our stand at the Fair was 2 metres deep by 3 metres wide. We were given the internal dimensions of the stand but as part of our contingency plan we thought because we hadn’t been to a Fair before that if the measurements weren’t exact and the hard graphic panels that we planned to install were – we would be in a real pickle. So we decided to make the panels even smaller, as we knew that if the stand ended up being smaller than expected our panels would still fit. When we got there, the stand was in fact smaller, and this prior planning and allowing for variables paid off.

Final Preparations: As you get closer to the fair, write a checklist of everything you will need to take with you and everything you must organize before the big day. If you have organized a courier to transport everything down, make sure you contact the company ahead of time to ensure that everything will arrive at the time you need it.

Backup Plan: Besides having an exhaustive checklist that includes everything from taking tools to additional products in case that they get damaged or stolen at the Fair, always always have a PLAN B. As with life, things don’t always go to plan. Something is always bound to not happen exactly the way you planned. Having a Plan B will help you stress less and enjoy the Fair more knowing that even in a worst case scenario you have things sorted.

In the next article I will discuss the need for flexibility when things don’t always quite go to plan and the need to have set up the right resources to turn around quickly any potential problem.

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