When you go to exhibitions and trade fairs, do you ever wonder if you should be setting up your own stand, instead of attending as a visitor? Companies stand to gain a lot of potential benefits from having their own exhibition stands, but there’s one downside: results are not guaranteed.
Pro: Gain Brand Awareness
This is often a primary concern for new businesses, as well as existing ones that want to expand their market to include new customer demographics. These types of events can be a great opportunity to do just that, but for new companies this can be a big financial commitment—so make sure that attending a fair or exhibition is truly the best way to spend the money. If you’re only attending for brand awareness, are there any other advertising methods that would achieve better results for the same cost?
The networking opportunities at fairs and exhibitions can be huge, and if your primary motive for having a stand at such an event is to make new client, customer, and business contacts, then this is a great use of money and time.
One important thing to remember, however, is that while the contacts you make can be useful in important and often
unexpected ways, they don’t necessarily translate into an immediate profit. If your company is a startup with a tight budget, you don’t want to have to wait months for the financial payoff to arrive.
Pro: Get a Feel for the Competition
This is a good reason to attend a trade fair or exhibition, but it should not be your main motivation for setting up your own stand—checking out the competition is something you can do just by attending.
Pro: Sales Opportunities
This is probably the main reason most companies have stands at exhibitions and trade fairs: to display products or provide information about services, with the goal of making immediate or future sales. When this is the case, the additional benefits are just icing on the cake.
Don’t forget, however, that having your own stand costs money, and you need to generate a certain number of sales before you break even on what it costs you. Once you rent a stand and pay for other exhibition services, factor in travel and accommodation costs, and other incidentals, you can be looking at an outlay of several thousand pounds at the larger events.
Con: Results aren't Guaranteed
Setting up a stand at a trade fair or exhibition does not in any way guarantee increased sales, the establishment of network contacts, or improved brand awareness. It doesn’t guarantee anything, except the fact that you spend the money and have your own stand. The results you achieve are partly up to you—and your end involves a lot of work and preparation.
Your results are also partially determined by the success of the event itself, so it’s important to do some careful research before deciding whether to attend as a visitor or as an exhibitor. For example, if an event doesn’t have any big name brands attending, it might not attract a lot of publicity or have many visitors, and that will impact how much you benefit from exhibiting there.
Minimize Risk and Maximize Gain
There are some downsides associated with attending trade fairs and exhibitions, but does that mean they’re best avoided? Definitely not—what it does mean is that it’s important to do your research first, and make sure you’re well prepared for the event. It’s also important to decide exactly what you want to achieve at the event and target your exhibition accordingly.
Reno Macri is a Managing Director of Enigma, a leading exhibition design company in the UK, specialising in tradeshow and exhibition stands, retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, event design, conference set design and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He would love to share his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Join him on Facebook and Twitter.