Trade Fairs - Many opportunities


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Action plan

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Exhibitor or a co-exhibitor?

At the fairs, you can opt for an individual stand or share it with another company.

Being a co-exhibitor lowers your participation cost and increases the chance for a more suitable location.  If you organise a multi-company stand, its size will automatically grow.  Fair organizers will be more prone to sell you an attractive location.

If you choose a group form of exhibition, see about the thematic integrity of the presented offer.  Optimally, products of the companies exhibiting at the same stand should be complementary to each other.

An individual stand is more comfortable and provides you with a lot more opportunities.  You can fully expose the uniqueness and individual character of your company and at the same time have total freedom in planning the stand layout and your activities.  Not to mention, that you will be easier to notice and remember.  However, the cost of participation in the fairs definitely increases.

Formulate your goals

First, analyse profiles of the target groups, you want to reach at the fairs.  It’ll make formulating marketing goals much easier.  We suggest the choice of 2-3 goals at most.  If there are more goals, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to realise all of them due to the constraints of time and abilities.  Secondly, the choice of specific goals will make the communication with customers easier.  Bombarding your guests with overdose of information will make them feel confused and lost.  Keep in mind, that visitors look at hundreds of stands and will be able to remember only 2-3 main elements from your presentation.

Naturally, every company should underline its own goals.  The most frequently chosen goals are:

  • Emphasising the company’s presence on the market.
  • Increasing the company’s brand awareness.
  • Perfecting the company image.
  • Improving the company image.
  • Presentation of new products or services.
  • Increasing the recognition of products and services already on the market.
  • Supporting distribution channels.
  • Acquiring new customers.
  • Sustaining contacts with regular customers.
  • Sales.
  • Market research (incl. verification of current market needs: customer wishes and opinions as well as comparing the offer of the competition, which may be an inspiration for you to introduce innovations).
  • Influencing the customers’ decisions.
  • Contact with media.

First of all, your assumptions must be realistic and internally coherent.  They should be defined very precisely, for you to be able to measure later on, whether they have been met by your participation in the fairs.

Cost estimate

The size of a budget is affected by the goals defined, but also by the company image, you want to imprint on the market.  Notice the way your competition advertises at other exhibition shows.  This will let you determine certain standards, disregarding which could bring your company more harm than profit.  Think about what is your current position on the market and how you would like to change it.

When creating a budget, you should consider the following elements:

  • A stand (design and construction, disassembly, renting the stand space, ordering stand decorations and furnishings, connection and operation of:  a telephone, a fax machine, electricity, running water).

  • Participation in the show (registration fee, cost of samples, cleaning the stand, ordering additional space, drinks and snacks at the stand, representation expenses, such as a dinner with a customer).

  • Stand personnel (salaries, board, accommodation, transfer, cloths - if you want to make them uniform, hiring interpreters).

  • Transport and logistics (transport of products, samples and stand furnishings, storage of materials, parking fees).

  • Insurance and security (hiring additional security personnel for your stand, insuring the transport, fair personnel and the stand).

  • Promotion (entry in a catalogue, promotional materials, business cards, leaflets, racks, invitations for customers, ordering ads in mass media, stand decoration).

When participating in foreign exhibition shows, check, if there’s any chance to get partial coverage of expenses from national funds.  In some countries, including Poland, participation in foreign fairs is considered the promotion of export and allows you to obtain governmental subsidies.  When going abroad, also check if you are eligible for the VAT exemption (EU countries) or a possible tax refund (bilateral agreements).

Action Plan

Carefully plan all the actions you have to take before the fairs, things you have to take care of during the show and steps you have to take after the exhibition is over, in order to make it fruitful.

Actions that will prepare you for participation in the fairs:

  • Defining detailed goals for the fairs.
  • Choosing a simple and easy to remember slogan for the fairs.
  • Designing the exhibition, which will warrant the achievement of the goals.
  • Preceding participation in the fairs with promotional activities: advertisement, public relations, website promotion.
  • Inviting potential customers to visit the stand.
  • Training employees, who will participate in the fairs.
  • Logistics (transport, insurance, board and accommodation for the personnel, etc.)

During the show take into consideration:

  • Motivational meetings with personnel with short description of their work.
  • Meetings with customers.
  • Contacts with journalists.
  • Conducting various market research (we recommend an article of Rafał Janowicz from Opinion and Market Research Institute entitled  “The best source of information about the market”, located at “Experts about fairs").
  • Socialising with industry representatives (at various meetings and banquets organised at the fairs in the evenings).

There’s still a lot of things to do after the show is over in order to call the fairs a success for the company:

  • Keep in contact with everyone, who visited your stand during the exhibition (customers, contractors, vendors, journalists).
  • Create a database of contacts made at the fairs.
  • Analyse your participation in the fairs and verify realisation of goals.

Having an action plan doesn’t guarantee, that everything will go strictly according to it.  Simply, it’s just not possible to program everything.  You can however prepare for various crisis situations, by creating action scenarios for this kind of situations and making a telephone list of people, who would be able to help you in case of a problem (e.g. a computer malfunction, illness of one of the employees, lack of promotional materials, etc.).

fair public relations

Inform all interested parties about your participation in the fairs, especially those dealing with the same subject matter.  Mass media will be very helpful here.  Think, which newspapers, radio stations or TV stations could be interested in your activities and would gladly publish any information about your company.  Create a list of media, which reach your potential customers, contractors and other attractive target groups.  Draw media attention, informing e.g. about a new super-product you are planning to showcase, a celebrity visiting your stand, an interesting stand arrangement, etc.  Information submitted to each of the newspapers should be profiled in such a way, as to focus on elements, that fall into the field of interest of a given medium.

There are often separate press rooms organised at the fairs.  Fair organizers let the companies leave their promotional materials, press info and gadgets there.  Take advantage of each of such opportunities.

Consider organising a press conference.  Sometimes it’s possible to organise it together with the fair organizer’s conference. This way the organizer can help you to distribute information about the event: take up distribution of invitations among journalists, with whom he co-operates, pass them on during accreditation.

Another way to attract media attention worth considering is to invite journalists to your stand and organise a presentation or a treatment involving distribution of materials.  The advantage of this type of contact is that everyone is gathered in one place. This place represents your company and demonstrates its character, and at the same time it strengthens or modifies the image of your company in the eyes of journalists.

Remember, that one of the company’s top executives or a person authorised to provide information should always participate in such meetings.  A conference or a presentation is an excellent way to deliver vital information to journalists, saving precious time.

pre-fair publicity

Invitations. One of the most essential activities, which must be done before the fairs is sending out invitations.  First, you have to determine the list of people, you’d like to meet with at the show.  Text of an invitation should be short and coherent, and worded in such a way, as to convince its recipient, it's worthwhile to visit your stand.  When thinking up the contents of an invitation do not forget, that not everyone knows perfectly both your company and its range of business activity.  An invitation should include the number of a stand, where the company can be located during the fairs.  Sending an invitation through Internet guarantees swift and usually effective delivery.  However, an invitation should always be sent to the direct address of an interested party, and not to a general office e-mail address.  Be warned, that your e-mail may be considered spam by some companies.  Give your invitation an appropriate title and take care of proper correspondence settings.  For instance it’s advisable to put the contents of an invitation in the body of an e-mail message and not as an attachment, since the recipient’s antivirus software may block messages with attachments or prevent attachments from being opened by users.

Fax is another quick and inexpensive way to let people know you're going to participate in the fairs.  It’s additional advantage is its almost instant delivery.  Fax however offers only limited graphical capabilities, often comes unreadable and not always to the right person within the company.

Traditional mail correspondence is considered the most serious and elegant form of correspondence.  The letters that arrive quickest are those with a name and surname of its recipient and not just a name of the company or the whole department.  An envelope is a factor of fundamental importance here.  The more unique an envelope the better the odds, the addressee will not throw it away right upon receiving it. An envelope should tempt the recipient to look inside and make him feel positively about the sender.  Depending on the rank of the recipient, invitations can be printed on a special paper, i.e. classic laid. The main disadvantage here is the high production and distribution cost of paper invitations.

Other ways to inform about participation in the fairs.  You can publish an ad in a newspaper, place it on industry websites, attach information about participation in the fairs to a newsletter, etc.  One of the effective methods of reaching people interested in the show is a banner, a pop up, a button or any other type of advertisement on the website of the fairs you want to participate in.


Forms of promotion at the fairs

At the fairs you can promote your company through a multitude of advertisement forms:

The fair catalogue. Show participants make use of the fair catalogue not only at the show but long after it's over - it provides an excellent source of the industry information.  Place your entry in the catalogue (it’s usually obligatory, anyway). Remember about a footnote, containing all company contact details, including: address, telephone numbers, fax number, company website address. It’s a good practice to include the name of a contact person, as well.  Apart from a basic entry, the publishing house offers a multitude of other opportunities – a colour advertisement, an insert, a book-marker, non-standard ad, etc.

Wire broadcasting system advertisement. At the fairs the organizers usually install a wire broadcasting system, through which you can transmit information to all participants and visitors.  It’s a rather simple and effective method of inviting people to your stand, letting them know about a presentation or other events relative to your fair activities.  Using a wire broadcasting system you can also advertise your products and services or plan an image-building advertisement.  Wire broadcasting is a very effective way to reach fair visitors.

Sponsoring. The fair organizers prepare various meetings for industry professionals, ranging from symposiums, seminars and trainings to evening banquets.  An excellent way to promote a brand is to sponsor one of those extra events.

Presentation, conference. Organising a presentation or a conference for your customers can be an effective form of promotion, as well.  Sometimes the fair organizers dedicate a special room for this purpose.  If you plan to invite foreigners, do not forget to hire an interpreter.   Pay attention to the furnishings of a provided or rented room, the placement of promotional materials, ability to connect multimedia equipment, available audio system and the quality of sound.

Advertising on tickets or multi-day pass cards One of the simplest but at the same time a very effective way to reach visitors.  There are many options to advertise on entry tickets:  ranging from a logo up to an invitation to visit your stand.  Remember however, that the space available on the back side of tickets is usually rather small, so your message should be designed accordingly.

Banners at the fairs. It’s best to place them at the entrance to the fairs.  Apart from the information on the company or the product they should also contain your stand number.  You can also take advantage of the large screen displays at the fairs to display your banner or a spot.

Leaflets. Distribution of leaflets by hostesses is one of the most universally used method of advertising at the fairs.  Hostesses who distribute materials should be dressed properly. It will reinforce this form of promotion.

Advertising on the fairs’ internet website. Internet reinforces the impact of the fairs.  Visitors often take a look at the fair website before the show starts.  A banner, a pop-up, a link, a skyscraper are just a few forms of website advertising worth making use of.  Moreover, if the organizer publishes a list of exhibitors on his website (which usually functions until the next fairs), it’s a good idea to ask the organizer to supplement your entry with some info concerning your company's range of activities.

Non-standard ways to advertise at the stand. Your exhibition stand should draw attention of the general public.  The more original and interesting ideas, the more fair visitors will stop by your stand.  It’s important those ideas were somehow related to the company activity.  One of the good ways to draw the visitors’ attention is to invite a celebrity, e.g. an actor, a presenter, a singer, a sportsman, a traveller, etc.  This person could sign autographs, promote a new book , etc.  A celebrity will draw crowds of people to your stand, some of them certainly your potential customers.


Promotion materials for the fairs

Folders, catalogues. All publications should be coherent with the stand design and with the general image of your company.  Depending on your financial capabilities you can re-use existing materials or think about creating new materials for the fairs.  It happens frequently, that all employees at the stand are busy and there’s no one at the moment to take care of a new guest.  Visually attractive materials with the range of products exhibited at the fair, information about discounts or promotional offers for the fair visitors will make your guest return to your stand. If there no place in your budget for unique promotional materials for the fairs, take standard catalogues with you and inform visitors about promotions and special offers using leaflets.

CD-ROM. A CD-ROM disc offers enough capacity to include information, that wouldn't fit in a catalogue.  You can put there your company’s presentation or a presentation of the newest product, you want to showcase right at the fairs.  Remember however to mark the CD-ROM with your logo and a proper title.  Do not forget about a suitable cover, as well.

Gadgets, souvenirs. First of all they must contain your logo and feature the level of functionality high enough for the visitor not to throw them to the nearest trash bin.  Visitors just love receiving various souvenirs and gadgets.  And the more innovative and useful they are, the better.

Internet. Publish the information about your participation in the fairs and coming attractions on your company’s internet website.  Taking advantage of interactivity – a very important feature of this communication channel – might prove beneficial.  You can organise a competition on your website - the winner would have to collect the prize personally, at the fairs.  It must be attractive enough for the winner to want to come for it.  Next, you should make room for the prize at the stand and choose a suitable moment to have a ceremony of giving the prize to the winner (e.g. after a special presentation or a conference taking place at your stand).