“Exhibitions are a forum for demonstration, answering questions and overcoming objections. They allow exhibitors to show off products to the best of their ability and interact with exhibition visitors,” says Mandy O’Connor, General Manager of EXSA (Exhibition Association of Southern Africa). Exhibitions are dynamic, immediate, ‘five- es’ marketing opportunities, bringing your customers and most active prospects to you and allowing you to meet your market face-to-face. They bring together suppliers, buyers, purchase influencers, consultants and the media.
But, in spite of all the opportunity exhibitions present, many companies still fail dismally to get the most out of them. A huge part of the reason is that they don’t prepare properly. As O’Connor explains, “Spending a little time and thought planning before an exhibition will pay big dividends when show time comes.” She offers some sound advice about what to ask an expo coordinator before signing up for a stand: “The first thing any potential exhibitor should ask an organiser is if they are members of the EXSA. Find out if the organisers have organised an exhibition before, if it was a success and if it’s still ongoing – if the organiser is a member of EXSA this will be a given.”
She reminds exhibitors not to forget to enquire about the marketing campaign of the exhibition and who the targeted visitors are. For reassurance, she suggests companies find out if the organiser has any safeguards in place should the exhibition be moved or cancelled.
“And lastly, exhibitors should remember that they have an Association to turn to for advice and recourse should they need it,” she concludes, pointing to EXSA’s role, via collective representation, to provide a forum for all participants across the spectrum of the exhibition industry.
Exsa’s Advice Pre-Exhibition:
- Set specific goals: Do you want to generate 200 sales leads or launch your new product? The tighter the goals, the better your chances of achieving them.
- Plan the stand to meet the goals and people it with individuals who are suited to helping you do so.
- Make the most of pre-show PR and advertising. You can mail your own lists, buy in a list or mail the event’s list of pre-registrants (organisers often make theirs available).
- Talk to the organiser about sponsorship opportunities through bespoke programmes they design to meet your needs.