This week I participated in a panel on Marketing Strategies for trade fairs, by invitation of APAS – Associação Paulista de Supermercados (São Paulo Supermarket Association in English), which has been holding the largest trade fair focused on the supermarket sector in the world for over 35 years. As time was limited, I decided to put here some important tips, especially for those who are starting a marketing career or participating for the first (or first times) of a major event.
My career is being developed in technology and software companies, and what I share here may be more useful for professionals in this sector.
Having a stand at a trade fair is one of the strategies to achieve some company´s commercial and marketing goals, such as increasing the pipeline through product exposure, experience and tasting, brand awareness and relationship. However, the participation strategy needs to be defined in a detailed pre-event preparation. Here are some of my steps, so you can stand out, be able to measure the results and increase ROI (Return on Investment).
1) Exhibitor’s Manual
Every trade fair provides an exhibitor’s manual containing the rules and obligations of the exhibiting company. It is a rich and detailed material that contain dates, deadlines, mandatory fees and everything you need to hire – in advance – for your stand. Read the manual carefully and be programmed to pay on time, as all tasks in the manual may be fined if requested late, which will compromise your final budget.
CAEX (Centro de Atendimento ao Expositor) is the Exhibitor Assistance Center, which works as a support point during the pre- and post-event, in the pavilion, so that the exhibitor can solve doubts, change or buy more credentials and make possible observations about problems or difficulties. However, during the fair days the lines get very long (the more exhibitors, the more lines) and you – as a good marketing manager – should not spend your precious event time in line. Define someone from your team to be responsible for requests and lines at CAEX, or hire the service of an agency that can provide a coordinator to perform these tasks for you. You must be available at your stand at all times to receive customers, after all, that is what you are there for, isn’t it?
3) Suppliers Choice
Each supplier hired by you will be representing your brand from the assembly until the last day of the event, so it is essential that these suppliers have posture, ethics and are fully professional. In my view, one of the best ways to define and choose suppliers for a fair is to open up competition, so you evaluate each one´s proposals with the same briefing. Some suppliers that you should consider: assembler, scenery, event agency, buffet, safety, audio and video items supplier. Hold as many meetings as you find necessary until you are sure you are with the best suppliers your budget can afford. Build a relationship of partnership and trust with your suppliers.
4) Storytelling and Communication
When we talk about a trade show, the exhibition strategies at a stand can be several. You can make a stand more brand oriented, or for a product launching, for example. In my experience, I realize that telling a story that involves all of this can be very attractive. By giving a theme to your stand, you can communicate your participation in advance, arousing the visitor’s curiosity. And when he/she arrives at the stand, he/she will expect to see this theme in practice, living a journey of experiences that will make him/her feel your product and decide if it is good for his/her business. This story also helps you to differentiate yourself in the post- event, so that the visitor will recognize you more easily.
5) During the fair
The great beginning of the fair has arrived. All set? Team defined and trained. But what if the visitors don’t show up? To ensure a healthy flow of visitors to the stand, you can choose to schedule prior meetings, design some campaign involving leads metrics for the commercial team, or take promotional actions. The most important thing is that your team is ready to receive the customer as soon as he/she arrives.
6) Promotional Actions
During a fair, one of the ways to generate an experience or reinforce the brand are the promotional actions. Try to choose actions that have synergy with your product/solution and with the target audience you hope to reach. Be careful when elaborating promotional actions such as sweepstakes for example, they require an authorization from external regulatory agencies, especially in the year LGPD (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais, or General Law on Personal Data Protection in English) enters into force in Brazil, more attention is needed to avoid being fined. Also understand if your action follows the ethics and respect for marketing guidelines, in order to avoid a negative buzz for your stand.
The fair is over, the work too? No. Now it really starts. Time to work on the leads spreadsheets and with the commercial team, with the support of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). If you have followed the above steps, you will certainly find it easier to follow the leads and you may have business opportunities for the whole year.
Soon we will start the communications of the Seal stand at the APAS Show 2020, follow us! We will be at stand 536, white pavilion. The show take place from May 18 to 21 and you are my special guest to follow this journey closely.
Published on February 6, 2020 for Denise Lefol – Marketing Director at Seal Sistemas e Tecnologia