In this part of your plan, you need to sit
down and prepare all of the activities that you need to
undertake to ensure that the fair is a success. These activities
are discussed below:
Preparing presentation materials (Powerpoint
slides, brochures, etc.)
In preparing for your exhibition, you need
to think what it is that you want to achieve and what the
core message is that you hope to carry over to your stand
visitors. The trade fair objectives that you set for yourself
earlier on in your trade fair planning will indicate what
you hope to achieve, but from this you still need to distil
a core message (be it "reliability", "quality",
"adaptability", "innovation", or whatever).
This is the message that you will incorporate in your promotional
materials, stand design and interaction with potential
customers. It is the message that you hope will attract
potential customers to do business with you.
Once you have decided what this message is,
you need to prepare a presentation that outlines what you
want to carry across to your customers. You will probably
use a program such as Powerpoint to prepare a number
of slides highlighting the key points that you want to
make (about your company, about your products, etc.). This
presentation you may use at the stand either on an ad hoc
basis to example things to a potential customer, or you
may use it as a perpetually running background display
about your company and products.
You will also use aspects of this information
in your other supporting promotional materials and these
need to be prepared as well - brochures, flyers, catalogues,
price lists, posters, etc. Today, CDs are a powerful way
of promoting companies and their products and don't take
up much space. Make sure that your promotional materials
are professionally produced - after all they reflect your
company and its products.
Preparing your samples
With your objectives in mind, your core message
outlined and a framework of a presentation at your disposal,
you can now focus on other important issues. One of these
is deciding on what samples you will take with you. For
some companies, it is sufficient just to have brochures,
videos and catalogues available to show clients, but in
many other instances, it is much more effective to have
actual products to show potential clients. This is especially
true if the product has some unique feature which can really
only be appreciated when seen and touched by the customer.
For this reason you may want to have one or two samples
with you for display. In some cases (if the product is
small and cheap enough and won't be duplicated), you may
want to give away samples and so you want to have enough
samples on hand to give to potential customers. In the
case of heavy machinery, you may also want to have this
machine on display for visitors to see.
Deciding on what samples you plan to have
available at the fair is the first step. The next step
is to prepare these samples for the fair - for example,
there may be some thing you need to do to the product to
ensure that it cannot be copied or to make its unique features
more visible (a machine may have a cut-away so that you
can see inside the machine). You may also have to specially
produce these samples for the fair (perhaps printing your
company details on the sample).
You also need to think about how you will
package the sample(s) to get them to the fair. A engine
may have to be crated, while other samples can be carried
in your luggage. You may also have to arrange for the freighting
of the samples to the fair, but this we discuss later.
Printing your promotional materials
As we have already prepared the promotional
materials, we now have to print them or produce them (in
the case of CDs or videos). You will need to make the necessary
arrangements for this. Bear in mind that you do not want
to run out of promotional material on the stand, so you
need to print/produce enough materials to last the time
of the fair (and longer, if you will be doing some sales
promotion after the fair). At the same time, you don't
want to waste your promotional materials by having them
left over and having to either take them back home with
you or throw them away. For this reason, the numbers you
print or produce need to be carefully thought about, but
too much is better than too little. If you see that you
will have promotional materials left over towards the end
of the show, be more generous and hand them out to everyone,
but if you see that you will be short, then hand them out
only to the more promising customers. If you have materials
left over at the end of the show, these could be passed
on to an agent or other representative that you appoint.
Arranging for the design and construction
of the stand
Your next big task is to design your stand
and arrange for its construction. At this point, there
are several possibilities that you could follow. The first
possibility is not to make use of any special design features,
but only to have a desk and couple of chairs available
at the stand, supported by some posters and other promotional
material such as pull-up screens that you place on the
walls and around the stand (a lot of smaller companies
follow this route). Although this may be the cheapest route
to follow, it may not carry across a very good impression
and needs to be considered as an alternatively only if
you are really have serious budgetary constraints.
The better option would be to create a more
professional designed stand using either specially designed
exhibition materials or off-the-shelf materials. If you
think you are creative enough, then maybe you can tackle
the design task yourself. Design materials today are being
produced in such a way that you can use them off the shelf
without necessarily using a design service. Most of these
materials are collapsible and can be packed in carry cases
that you can take with you, or send ahead. However, if
you don't have the time of the design inclination, stay
away from this option.
The best option would be to make use of a
design service that is experienced with the needs of the
exhibition industry and it is likely that they will come
up with professionally designed stand materials that will
add impact to your status in the foreign marketplace. Of
course, stand designers are not cheap and this service
comes at a price, but the price may be worth it, considering
the cost and risk associated with exporting, especially
if the design helps you achieve your objectives. You may
also want to use a design company overseas. Costs are usually
higher, but they can not only design the stand, but construct
it for you. Your local company may know of a good exhibition
designer in your target country or you may want to search
for such a company on the Internet.
Exhibition stand materials are usually created
in an easy-to-carry manner which may allow you to carry
your stand with you to the trade fair as part of your luggage.
Alternatively, you may need to arrange for the stand materials
to be forwarded to the trade fair by a freight forwarding
company. This we deal with in a coming section.
At the stand, you may also need to arrange
someone to construct the exhibition shell for you especially
if it was designed by a South African company as an easy-to-construct
kit or if you bough it off the shelf. While they are not
difficult to construct, being in a foreign country and
under pressure will just make the construction of the shell
difficult and it may be worth it to hire someone to do
it for you.
Arranging for freight forwarding, delivery
You will almost certainly need to make use
of a freight forwarding company to deliver the samples,
promotion materials and exhibition shell to the trade fair
in question. Wherever possible, try to make use of a company
that can guarantee deliver of these items to the trade
fair itself. You do not want to be stuck trying to clear
the goods through customs and trying to arrange them to
be delivered from the airport or harbour to the trade fair
What is more, ensure that these goods are
delivered timeously (which means that you need to deliver
them to the forwarding agency in time). There is nothing
worse than arriving at the show knowing that your samples,
promotional materials and any other items haven't arrive
yet - it will put you under considerable pressure at the
An ATA Carnet is a document usually issued
by your local chamber of commerce that will allow you to
take your samples into the country without paying duties
on them, as long as you of course take them back out of
the country with you.
Booking your flights and other travel
Other arrangements that you should not leave
until the last minute are your travel arrangements - your
flights and accommodation also need to be booked timeously.
In the case of large, international trade fairs, it is
not uncommon for flights and accommodation to become fully
booked quite quickly. The earlier you book, the more assured
you will be of getting there and having a place to stay.
Prices are often cheaper, the earlier you book.
Arranging and preparing your support staff
Will you need staff to help with the trade fair and what will they do. The sort of tasks that you may need assistance with include:
- Assembling and dismantling your stand
- Electrical and technical installations
- Assisting with enquiries
- Undertaking research
- Handing out promotional material
Arranging for payments
If you plan to sell goods at the stand, then
you need to think about how you will be able to allow customer
to pay. Certainly cash is the best option, but many customers
may want to pay using credit cards - will you allow this?
It may be difficult to arrange and electronic point-of-sale
machine at the trade fair, but if you design your website
with a credit card facility as part of the site (and using
a payment gateway that will work in the country in which
the trade fair takes place), then you can use the online
facility to take payments.
You need to prepare yourself on how you will
deal with customers and handle queries. Will you position
yourself outside the stand and try and "attract"
customers into your stand, or will you remain within the
confines of the stand and wait for customers to come to
you? What will you use as an attraction to get customers
to come into your stand? If they have questions what will
you do? What will you do if you have several customers
wanting your attention at the same time? Will you hand
a brochure and/or sample to every visitor? Will there be
a facility (such as a running presentation or some exhibit)
to keep your customers occupied and to attract their attention?
How will you keep record of your discussions with potential
You will need to give thought to these and
other questions relating to your customer interaction.
You will also need to train any staff that you use to follow
the same procedures.