Despite a poorly performing economy and the rise of digital media, the trade show is still alive and kicking. A trade show or trade exhibition has proved extremely useful for both exhibitors and attendees, helping to raise the profile of businesses and increase sales.
What are trade shows?
Trade shows, sometimes known as exhibitions, are a gathering together of manufacturers and retailers from one particular industry, such as the London Book Fair for literature, the Ideal Home exhibition for home and garden products, and the BBC Good Food fair for food. Often, companies that have a related interest to the main offerings will supplement them. Trade fairs are open to other members of the same trade, as well as to the general public.
Vendors will compete for the general public’s attention as they walk around the exhibition, which is usually held under one, very large roof, such as the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre in West London. Vendors hire stalls in the exhibition space and attempt to attract attention by careful placement of advertising tools, such as flags, posters, and roller banners.
For the buyer, a trade show provides an opportunity to see different versions of similar items, thereby making a purchase decision much easier by being able to make comparisons all under one roof. It also provides a hands-on demonstration of a product that is impossible to achieve in a virtual environment. However, it has to be said that often a trade show is so big that the buyer is overwhelmed by the choices before them, which is why a little bit of research into products of interest prior to the event can be extremely helpful, not to mention time-saving.
For the exhibitors, a trade show can open up their products to a far wider audience, enable them to launch their new products, and give businesses the opportunity to check out what the opposition are producing and how successful they seem to be. Retailers will probably be wandering around considering which items they would like to stock in their outlets, and useful contacts can be made in this way. When exhibiting, always ensure a good stock of business cards is available to hand out to prospective distributors, as well as potential customers.
In order to get the attention of both buyers and distributors, vendors should make careful choices in their advertising material. Advertising works best when a message is conveyed in as simple a manner as possible. Avoid long-winded explanations or descriptive passages on posters and roller banners, as these can be difficult for a passer-by to take in all at once, and once they have passed a vendor’s stall they can be considered as good as lost. Short, impactful words or phrases work best when combined with clear images and graphics. Colours should be kept to a maximum of three to avoid advertising appearing cluttered and confused. Advertising tools should tell passers-by immediately what is on offer inside a vendor’s stall, so they can decide whether to stop or not.