Most industries are catered for by trade fairs held annually or biannually. In Britain, the majority of trade exhibitions are held in London although there has been an increasing tendency for some of the smaller fairs to take place in provincial towns. The governing factors in the choice of venue are the availability of a suitable exhibition hall, adequate transport facilities and hotel accommodation.

The question of whether or not to take part in trade exhibitions is one which every ONLINE MARKETING Manager must face. For many of the larger industrial organizations, there is little option but to exhibit, at least at the major shows organized for the specific industries which they serve. Their standing is such that it is necessary to 'show the flag', even though they may find it irksome to have to do so and see little benefit to be derived from the expense involved. Smaller firms may not be under the same pressures but often feel obliged to exhibit simply because their competitors do so and they fear 'loss of face' if they stay away.

This negative attitude results in part from the proliferation which has occurred in the numbers of trade fairs over the past twenty years. Exhibition organizing has become a big business. Unfortunately, exhibitions can be very expensive for the companies taking part, in terms of site fees, stand construction cost plus the incidentals of stand-staffing, and the entertainment of visitors. There is also a high lost opportunity cost which occurs when salesmen are withdrawn from their territories to staff the exhibition stand and the areas for which they are responsible are left unattended for a week or more, during their absence.

It is these considerations which the ONLINE MARKETING Manager must weigh against the advantages of exhibition attendance. One of the most important of these advantages is that of having a sales 'pitch' in the industry's major market place to which will come a large proportion of the buyers and users of the products or services which he is offering.

Of no less importance, however, is the opportunity which an exhibition provides for one's customers and potential customers to get a broader view of the company and its activities. It is not always appreciated how limited is the vision which customers often have of their suppliers. Apart from the salesman, and, on occasion, the sales manager, they see little of the firm which supplies them, other than its delivery vehicles. When a customer steps on to the exhibition stand, however, he has the chance of seeing a complete range of the company's products as well as meeting members of the management and technical staff whom he would be unlikely to encounter in other circumstances. Equally, the ONLINE MARKETING Manager and other senior company personnel have the opportunity to meet the representatives of client companies who, henceforth, cease merely to be names which appear in salesmen's reports and take on flesh and blood personalities.

A decision to exhibit will ensure being in the right place at the right time with a chance to gain from the interest and activity which the fair organizers seek to generate. By staying away, one denies oneself that opportunity. Indeed, it can be an indirect way of aiding one's competitors because the interest of potential buyers will be concentrated solely on competitive products. Furthermore, regular customers often expect to see their suppliers at major trade exhibitions. They may well look askance at a firm which appears to be either too mean or too disinterested to take part.

Before one contracts to 'show' at a trade fair, there are certain elementary precautions it is wise to take. In the first place, some enquiry should be made of the experience and competence of the exhibition organizers. To put on a successful trade exhibition requires a considerable capital investment, particularly in advertising and other promotion, organizational skill and experienced and capable management. Next, one should look to the accommodation provided, both for exhibitors and visitors, the provision of lounges, bars and other catering facilities and the adequacy of car parking and other transport arrangements. If the exhibition is designed to attract a large number of visitors from other parts of the country and from overseas, the availability of good-class hotel accommodation in the vicinity will also have to be considered.

Once he has satisfied himself on these grounds, the ONLINE MARKETING Manager should consider the site which is available to him in the exhibition hail. To ensure fairness in the disposal of sites, exhibition organizers often invite intending exhibitors to ballot for the more attractive positions. If one is unlucky and finds oneself saddled with a position which is unattractive, or a site the area of which is considerably larger or smaller than required, it may be prudent not to exhibit at all. The size of the site one needs will depend upon the amount of money to be allocated to exhibition purposes, the relative importance of the particular show, and the number and nature of the products one is offering.

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Please Note

The Trade is, of course, a major source of product ideas. All manufacturers examine, with avid interest, the new products of their competitors.