A buyer who visits a fair will not leave anything up to chance. The more worthwhile fairs are usually big and gather many different potential suppliers that are most likely to compete fiercely for new business. Visitors do come prepared; they review potential opportunities beforehand so as to know where to go and what questions to ask. An exhibitor should therefore be prepared to stand out, to live up to expectations, make an impression and be ready to answer potential client’s needs on the fair grounds as well as after the fair. Fairs are also a place where competitors will probably unveil their latest innovations and ideas. Being there also contributes to keeping up to date wit what is going on in your industry.
The (Big) Canton Fair
A good example of a trade fair is the Canton Fair, which is held in Guangzhou, South China twice a year since 1957 and which is the biggest in the world and a great opportunity for world businesses to buy direct from China. The 110th Canton Fair was held between October 15 and November 4, 2011. It featured 58,714 booths and 24,231 exhibitors for more than 209,000 overseas buyers looking to source from China, and resulted in a total turnover of US $37,900 million. The event is split in three section according to industry which each last for five days. With close to 60,000 exhibitors, holding a booth is not simply about being there and having a few pictures and samples to show to interested visitors.
Companies have many reasons to exhibit their products at the Canton Fair since the event represents one of the most efficient channels through which products can be marketed in China. It requires comprehensive planning with clear marketing objectives under an overall business strategy framework. When optimally designed and carried out, the company can reap the fruit of its investment. The fair is in general a very good opportunity for the development of the exhibitor’s business and a very efficient tool for marketing and networking with many potential customers and partners. For visitors it is one of the best opportunities to start sourcing from China.
The Canton Fair is the place that allows exhibitors to:
- Expand their client portfolio and strengthen their relationships with clients by means of many face to face contacts,
- Increase exposure in the presence of domestic and overseas buyers,
- Get information about the latest branch-related developments and accordingly devise a strategy that copes with the challenges of the future,
- Get inspiration to take creative initiatives and tailored strategies so as to bolster business ahead of competitors,
- Network with key partners and suppliers to establish long term relationships
In addition, the fair presents an excellent opportunity that facilitates the positioning of one’s brand by:
- Exhibiting it to a specialized and professional public that purposely attends the fair to make a good bargain and strengthen business ties
- Giving the exhibitor the possibility to make use of different media outlets (online portals, magazines, etc.)
In general tying bonds with many key stakeholders so as to increase awareness of the brand and improve the company’s image.
Maximize your Appeal
Thus, such fairs usually do not last very long. But they remain nevertheless a great marketing opportunity and a good way to establish new contacts with suppliers and promote your products and/or services. But meanwhile, exhibiting efficiently, to reap all benefits of an exhibition, often requires expenses especially when one wants to get proper results at a big and well-known fair, such as the Canton Fair. Moreover competition can be fierce, especially at big fairs, which are also the most attractive ones since they provide the biggest pools of potential buyers and thus the most business opportunities.
One therefore has to maximize the attractiveness of a stand and plan a good communication strategy. Buyers and fair visitors are usually prepared and will not want to waste time anywhere as they probably have a lot of your competitors to go and see. A good stand should thus be able to provide detailed and clear information about the exhibited services or products and staff should be able to answer any question. Ideally the stand should be practical and allow exhibitors to demonstrate their competitive advantage over a competitor.
Communication is Key
As communication is key, visibility, attractiveness, availability should be the main attributes of a stand. You should try to stand out and your booth should appeal to as many potential clients and industry-related people as possible. It should also be practical and welcoming, and ideally an exhibiting supplier should be able to take care of visitors in different languages and always have someone available to attend to potential clients. In the end what matters is what one can harvest, and with a good exhibition strategy, it can really be a great way to develop business deals and business relations, and cash in!