Trade Fairs and Exhibitions
Trade fairs, trade shows or “expos” are a longstanding tradition of the commercial world. For the most part they are organised so that specific industries can showcase their latest products or services to potential clients and the competition, offering a substantial opportunity for valuable sales leads and marketing activity to any company that leases an exhibition stand at such an event.
Whilst some industry trade shows are open to both consumers – members of the public – as well as members of the industry itself, such as the famous E3 games expo or the Frankfurt bookfair, for the most part they are organised with an emphasis on the business-to-business (B2B) opportunities offered by such an event. By and large, attendance at such events is limited to either members of the trade or professionals in related industries or from prospective client companies, as well as to members of the press who can help make sure that expos and trade fairs have an impact beyond the few days they run for.
Simply attending a trade show can be a valuable means of retaining or building a reputation within the industry. For many, the key appeal to hosting an exhibition stand at industry events is as simple as a desire to be seen as an active member of the industry. On top of this though, there’s the opportunity to get an insight into the competition (even if the competition gets an insight into your company at the same time) as well as the chance to touch base with other members of the profession.
Often, this is of equal or perhaps even greater benefit to a company than the possible leads generated by their own exhibition stand. Even guarded casual conversations among competitor companies or other professionals within the industry can help paint a picture of wider trends within the market and inform company strategy in both the long and short term.
Beyond this though, most trade fairs or exhibitions also aim to directly engage with contemporary issues within their industry. Practically every industry exhibition will include a packed schedule of key note speeches, discussion panels and Q & A sessions where noted members of the professional community will offer their take on trends and developments and where attendees can gain tips on best practice or how to avoid typical mistakes. Another typically encountered aspect of such shows is a talk or product demonstration by a particularly influential member of the industry – someone who makes a product or provides a service used by practically everyone, even their competitors. One example of this is the software industry, where speeches or discussion sessions commonly feature at least one representative from at least one of the corporations which dominate the contemporary market – Apple, Google, Microsoft et al.