31k exhibitions

31,000 trade fairs a year… but only 365 days… how can businesses maximize their presence?

Did you know there are 31,000 trade fairs happening every year? So, that makes 85 trade fairs a day on average.

Now… we know that trade fairs are not popular in the summer and December, so the real number is probably closer to 130 a day during trade fair months.

When thinking about this, it is honestly unfeasible for a business to be represented as an exhibitor in all of the trade fairs relevant or even specific to their industry. This is because a trade fair has 5 distinct phases that make it valuable to exhibitors. These phases are both valuable and time consuming.

Broadly speaking, these phases are:

  • Annual trade fair activity plan and communication
  • Preparation that begins 3 months prior to the trade fair
  • Attending and exhibiting at the chosen trade fair
  • Initial follow-up to warm sales leads roughly 14 days after the trade fair
  • Re-marketing & second follow-up 1 to 6 months later

Choosing, planning, communication & preparation ahead of the trade fair

The first two phases are passive but require collective work by the company. They require input from many stakeholders from the exhibiting company and clear communication from the trade fair host.

What is good about this phase, is that all of the moving parts can be done in the background of your daily tasks. None of this is time critical as of yet, but taking on too much can be detrimental to the effectiveness of your trade fair presence. This is probably why 46% of trade fair attendees only attend a single trade fair in any given year.

They might be able to clear a week or a few days to attend an event, but preparing to be physically present in a trade fair takes a lot more than booking a flight and clearing your meetings for a week.

Attending and exhibiting at a trade fair

This is the most commonly known phase of benefiting from trade fairs, as you are actually there. This is the week or a few days that pass by in a haze of coffee and sleepless nights. It is the most and the least important phase in trade fairs.

It is the most important, if the preparation has been great and you know exactly what is YOUR goal in the trade fair.

It is the least… because trade fairs rarely lead to direct sales. Rather they lead to new connections or deeper connections with your chosen targets.

This is the phase that you will look back at the most as it is the most memorable. But done poorly, this is the least effective phase as it is as likely to yield great results as it is to yield no results for your company’s bottom line.

Follow up and remarketing

This is a vital part of trade fairs that newcomers rarely think about. If you made a connection in the trade fair, it is absolutely vital for you to have the system in place to follow-up multiple times. Because the connection you made can be forgotten easily if not given enough care.

This is because the attendee that you thought you had a connection with, likely spoke with over 200 people at the event. Of those 200… they are likely to remember 10. So, if you happened to be one of those 10, don’t let that slip away!

So much work required means that most of the trade fairs go unvisited

Now it is clear that to complete the 5 phases effectively takes time and effort far exceeding the few days the trade fair actually takes place. This is why it is not realistic as a company to benefit from all of the trade fairs meant for them. Thus, they pick and choose. However, lowering the amount of work required can lead to more trade fairs to be visited.

One of the easiest barriers that can be mitigated with today’s technology is the requirement to be physically present.

First, this would dramatically lower the time requirement during the trade fair, as there is no travel or hotel nights involved.

Second, it would lower the choosing effort as you are no longer restricted to attend the one or few trade fairs. Rather, you can attend many more, so carefully choosing the perfect trade fair is not needed.

Third, by being only virtually present, the trade fair needs a digital service that keeps tabs on which attendees had a prolonged chat and who was browsing your offers. This makes following up easier and much more straight forward than simply attending the physical event.

As a bonus, you get to benefit from more visitors when a trade fair allows for a virtual presence. As many attendees can tune in effortlessly at the comfort of their offices.

Virtual trade fair layers crowd in people to trade fairs

We as people and as businesses want to maximize output, improve efficiency and get more bang for our buck. Thus, we want to be present for all the important events, gatherings and conferences to promote our company, service or new product.

But we all have 24 hours, 365 days and just 1 life that is carefully being balanced between work and life. So, whenever possible we look to cut a few corners. If that means turning a few face-to-face meetings in trade fairs into face-to-face video calls and virtual booths then so be it.

Because ultimately, making trade fairs also virtual leads to more eyes on exhibitors’ offers, more chances of value derived and less potentially wasted time.

Because virtual booths do not destroy physical trade fairs. They simply add an outlet to the 130 trade fairs held every day. The trade fairs, where you and your company want to be, but physically just can’t.

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