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Pt 3 – A Fair To Remember – Surviving Your First Trade Fair

Part 3 – During 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 previous article discussed how to ensure that you know how to deal with issues that turn up during setup. This article will give you valuable tips to ensure success during the Trade Show.

During The Fair:

Attending a Trade Fair can be an exciting opportunity if you are using it as a means to catapult your business forward. Here are some pointers we learned:

• Have fun: You have invested a lot of time, money and resources – now it is time to enjoy. Don’t take things too seriously. Sure, you may have your projected budgets, and know what your break even point in sales is, but remember the best way to attract customers to your store beside your actual stand is your ATTITUDE. We all are attracted to people who look happy and excited – be happy and excited!

•  Comfort: Remember that Fairs can be quite physically grueling especially if you aren’t used to standing on your feet all day.

• Comfortable shoes: Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. If you are a woman, wearing high heels may look stylish, but after the first day you’ll be in agony.

• Nutrition and sleep: Long days at a Trade Fair can wear you down quickly. You often have early starts and late finishes, so it’s important to plan what you eat. Pack some wholesome sandwich and fruit to keep you going throughout the day. This will also save you buying expensive and often fast food at the Fair. Also, pace yourself – avoid late nights and excessive drinking of alcohol.

• Sales: Don’t be disappointed by the lack of actual orders at the Fair. If you are new to a Trade Fair or your business is brand new you need to expect that it takes time for customers to get to know and trust you. Most regular Trade Fair customers like to deal with their regular suppliers – you are seen as a risk, an unknown factor. Most people fear the unknown. In time you will be known.

• Customer Contact: Especially if you are not particularly a ‘people person’ you will gain invaluable knowledge and experience about how to deal with customers.

• Product testing:Trade Fairs are a great opportunity to ‘hothouse’ new products before you go into full production. In other words, because you have a large amount of focused traffic coming to your stand you have the opportunity to gain priceless feedback in a short period of time. Additionally, you have the opportunity to gain feedback from your customers and the perspective that they provide of their customers about existing products you may have.

• Lead Generation: Be realistic in your expectations: Before your first Fair you may have dreamed up unrealistic expectations of how many orders you may get.  It is far better in order to avoid potential disappointment to focus on how many leads you can get.  You may get one lead that will be worth all the hours on your feet and it may just happen on the last day.

Corporate Stationery & Lead Generation Journal: As previously discussed, because you are new many regular trade show buyers may need time before they buy off you. Ensure you write in a journal a customer’s details and ask customers for their business cards. This is the most important thing you can gain from the Fair. Also make sure you give the customer enough printed information so that they may go away and possibly order from you after the Fair. Make sure you have business cards, brochures and order forms that all contain your details including website address.What you may find is that some customers need time to digest everything, and it is quite normal after a Fair to begin to have orders come in.

• Your hook: What is going to be your hook to get people in? How do you approach potential customers walking by? Do you make eye contact with them? Do you say ‘Hi’? Do you offer them a brochure and then draw them into a conversation to view your stand? Once you have caught their attention do you have a short 10 second elevator pitch? If you imagine the number of stands that a customer must decide to stop and investigate, and the amount of time they spend at a Fair, and how they may feel after an hour or so, it is important to keep what you say short and simple and ALWAYS ALWAYS be enthusiastic.

• Don’t take it personally: Customers are often so overwhelmed with information that they may ignore you. Don’t take it personally. You are at a Fair and it is a numbers game.

• Be aware of the resources available to you: Trade Fairs often provide resources that many exhibitors fail to make full advantage of. For instance, Trade Fairs often have an exhibitor catalogue, make sure you provide clear product photos, logo, and a catchy and engaging description. The Fair that we recently attended, many companies failed to take advantage of providing any information, product photos or logo in the catalogue or the online website.You are paying big money for a focused audience to see you and gain valuable exposure – make sure you make the most of it.

• See everything as an opportunity: Even if things don’t match your expectations, don’t be disappointed, make the most of it, as your attitude during the Fair will determine the altitude your reach. Hold onto your enthusiasm, and see opportunities where others see problems.

In the next article I will discuss what you need to do after the Trade Fair is over to ensure that you maximize your success.

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