THANOS magazine

February 2, 2023

Fair events are a relic. Are they?

By Marta Cała-Sturzbecher, founder of MOMA Marketing Strategy Agency

Where to get knowledge about current trends in the industry which are consolidated in one place?
At trade fairs. Where to learn about novelties, see prototypes, meet creators? At the trade fair. Where to have the opportunity to talk to and establish business relations with many industry players? At trade fairs. And as the trade fair season is about to start in spring, make the most of it!

You may still remember the days when business was conducted without the support of online tools.
It was mainly word-of-mouth advertising that worked, and advertisements - if any - were placed in the press or on the radio or in the form of flyers - at local transport hubs. During this period, trade fairs played a huge role: they were the only opportunity to establish new business relationships without having to travel from town to town with a phone book and visit one company after another.

Then came the era in which the internet became widespread, cushioning businesses in their efforts to establish new relationships, but at the same time stripping them of their personal touch. B2B became a reality. Communicating with each other stopped with people and started with companies. Through email, websites, then social media. Trade meetings became redundant. But they were not the only ones! The relationships on which we had learned to build our companies were fading away. They were replaced by the occasional email or telephone greeting. Fortunately, business has realised that without relationships between people, business relationships are much weaker, and organisers have skilfully exploited a new trend called H2H (human to human), making trade fairs a platform for relationship building and education. Today, trade fairs are still an opportunity to present offers; they are also consistently a place where trends are created. On the other hand, the relationships established and the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills have become more important than ever.

Therefore, if you are considering whether it is worth attending a trade fair, I say: it is worth it! And if your decision is "yes", it remains to consider whether you will turn up at the event as an exhibitor or a visitor. As an exhibitor, you have the opportunity to increase brand awareness among your customers and partners and to broadly present your offer - new items and unique solutions. What's more, trade fairs give you the opportunity to get feedback right away. By presenting new products on offer, you will already know on the spot how the market reacts to them.

If you are planning to attend a trade fair as a visitor - get the most out of this time. Trade fairs are a great way to find new products and services and see which vendors and distributors are on your way. It's also an opportunity to look at trends. Industry trade shows are also an ideal opportunity to get a sneak peek at the competitors. You can see how many companies offer similar services or products to yours, what solutions they use and how they promote them.

On the other hand, training sessions, lectures and workshops, as well as other events around the exhibition, are those parts of the trade fair that will benefit every participant.

It is also worth considering trade fair participation in a wider context. The trade fair is part of your company's strategy and as such cannot be separated from it. Both the form of your presence at the fair (exhibitor or visitor) and the shape and function of your stand must be subordinate to it.

Therefore, the first question you need to ask yourself is the purpose for which you are going to an industry meeting. Is it to attract new customers, research the market, analyse trends or strengthen your company's image? The goal will be a guide for building the tools: stand, attractions, materials and service.

Of course, everyone would like to present a huge, breath-taking and eye-catching stand. However, will this result in the goal being achieved? Perhaps the stand will be talked about, but if your aim is to reach distributors or entrepreneurs with your new product offering and encourage them to collaborate, rely on good product presentation and clear communication of the benefits of collaboration. Not necessarily with fireworks.

When was attractions mentioned, I mean all the events, additional elements around and on the stand and its additional (beyond the presentation of the company) functions. It could be a meeting with an expert that takes place in a narrow circle at your stand, combined with a product presentation and collecting business contacts. It could be a visually appealing photo wall where visitors take pictures of themselves with your logo. It could be an interview area where your employee will talk to visitors and the recorded interviews as educational material will be used to promote your company online. The possibilities are endless!

The word 'materials' includes everything you need to produce before the trade fair and what you will later distribute at your stand. Business cards are a must. But what else? A flyer, a folder, a gadget? How about a business card with a QR code on it, which, when clicked, will lead to a production page, would be the best solution? Match the materials adequately to your offer. A product catalogue is unnecessary.

The visual aspect of the stand is meant to attract, but its effectiveness will be determined by the people who work at the stand. Committed, well-informed and open-minded. And this applies not only to your employees, who know the products very well, but also to the hosts and hostesses who will join your team at the trade fair.

So are trade fairs a relic? In my opinion, it is an excellent tool for building relationships and strengthening the image and keeping up to date with industry news. It is worth being there, where the future of the industry is formed.


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