5 Aug 2016

It’s August and with fall approaching, there’s a new crop of events waiting in the wings to open their doors to thousands worldwide. All the more reason to continue our educational series of articles called Beginner’s Guide to Trade Fairs. It’s important you know your way around the trade fair of your choosing! Last week we broke down the questions you should be asking yourself to pick the right industry event for your company.

Now that you know, there’s another important decision you have to make before you can start organizing your business trip.

Do I go as an exhibitor or do I go as a visitor?
Visitors tend to be more mobile since you don’t have to man a booth. You’re free to explore the event, talk to people and participate in the events and congress sections. But you’re not necessarily making sales leads or building brand recognition since you’re a face in the crowd.

Exhibitors, on the other hand, are able to make a more lasting impression since you have promotional material and marketing to convert customers. But you can’t take full advantage of all resources made to benefit your company in the long run. You’re far less likely to see the overall trends in your field.

Ideally, with the right resources, you can have a large enough team to function as both. But that’s not the case in the beginning. If you have a small team or a small budget, it’s a matter of either-or.

So how do you decide?
Visitors Are There to Do Research
If you’re attending an exhibition, trade fair or show for the very first time, it makes a lot more sense to go as a visitor first. You get a better idea about the type of exhibitors who sign up and the type of visitors, too. It’s a very important process of discovery to make sure you’ve picked the right event for your goals as a company. You also have the freedom to be present at shows and conferences geared towards imparting crucial discoveries, policy changes and innovations in technology.

Research also extends to product categories and launches. What is bought? What isn’t? What presentations work and what don’t? From all this, you learn about the finer points of pricing in the industry as well as gain a better perspective on what trends are on the rise. Once you have the experience as a visitor, you’ll know how to best prepare your debut for the next edition!

Networking comes incredibly easy to visitors given their mobility. Most trade shows either provide dedicated spaces to conduct meetings or will organize a matchmaking event within the official programming. Use this opportunity to build new connections, especially with the people who are long-term goers!

Exhibitors Are There to Do Business
Exhibitors know what they’re doing whenever they attend a trade fair. They’ve done their homework, learned what works and know exactly what audience to attract. They’ve boiled down their product and sales pitch and are ready to conquer new hills. If you have a product that’s ready to launch, there’s no better place to draw attention to it and create an immediate buzz before it’s released on the market proper, than a launch event during an exhibition! It’s a sales trick that will return on your investment almost immediately.

Travelling to trade events outside your country also increases your reach. Exhibitors, in this case, have a chance to test the waters in new regions and with some luck establish a profitable presence. You also have better chances to build brand recognition, schedule meetings that concern distribution and export. All worthwhile long-term goals!

Nothing Is Set in Stone
Of course, there are plenty more goals and strategies to chase when you’re planning to visit a trade fair. Given the right amount of caffeine and dedication, you can do almost everything we mentioned above (in moderation), if you plan your visit well.

As always, we want to hear from you. Have you found this advice helpful? Is there something else you’d like to suggest on this topic? If you have comments, share! We’d love first-hand experiences to make it into these articles. Email ideas at [email protected] and maybe you’ll be featured in our next article.