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How Can a Trade Fair Help an Entrepreneur?

7 May 2019

In the past, we have talked about trade fairs broadly and have given advice for companies who are off the ground and active agents in their market. We’re not necessarily talking about corporations with an international reach, but those middle-sized and small entities that are operators on a local level. They are stable, have a dedicated client base and can extend the funds to attend trade fairs and conferences easily. What about the entrepreneur? Is the same advice applicable for a start-up company?

Yes, but it’s a bit trickier when you’re just trying to get off the ground and want customers to take a chance on you and your products. You have to do some considerations before you can commit to reserving an exhibition booth at one. After all, an established company might spend upwards to a third of their annual marketing budget on trade fairs and exhibitions:

  • Do you have the necessary funds to showcase at a trade fair and not threaten the wellbeing of your start-up?
  • Do you have the time to take away from your work on giving your startup the needed push to get off the ground?

Time, staff and money are in shortage since more often than not, there are a handful of people that have to fill numerous functions, but if you have the situation under control and a three-day event won’t destabilize you, then you definitely should go to a trade fair. They’re the best platform to gain traction in your industry. Before we give you a detailed breakdown of why, it’s best we open with some caveats:

Caveat 1: Before you decide to exhibit at a trade fair, you should visit the fair in the capacity of a visitor and scout out whether this is the right fit for you and talk with organisers in person.

Caveat 2: Do your due diligence in terms of which trade fairs are more affordable (the best way is to start with regional events, because you’d like to make a presence in your market first) and are friendly towards startups (they will have special shows or areas dedicated to startups).

You need to be sure that the first choice is the right choice from the get-go or you might be in for a significant loss rather than a substantial return on investment. It’s high risk. We won’t sugarcoat it for you.

Trade Fairs Illuminate the Market for You!

Attending the right trade fair will give you an in-depth overview of your market, because you will be able to see exactly what innovations are prepared to enter the market and what your competitors are doing. You need to scout the competition to see how you compare to what you offer and address areas where you could improve. Not to mention the fact that you’re able to better identify a niche that’s unoccupied, where you can push into and come up with a competitive feature or service that does not have an immediate direct competitor. You can also understand how your regional market is performing right now and what are the best times to make a move for your brand.

You Get to Think Outside the Box

Out-of-the-box thinking is the way business is done these days, especially for startups. You have to take on the role of a disruptor or at least a visionary that flips everything a customer knows on its head about a service or a product. Trade fairs gives you an excellent opportunity to sit down for a research task, where you’re able to see how your competitors sell their products and how they approach booth design and branding. You’ll have a feel of what’s been done and then push into a fresh direction so your vision, branding, color schemes and sales pitch are entirely unique. This is the way to build a company worth remembering.

You Capitalize on Brand Exposure

You’re as good as nonexistent, if customers don’t know your brand. When you first start out, there is much to do to gain visibility and while being easy to locate online (have a smart website with a mobile-friendly design, and are on multiple social media platforms) is a good first step, you need to catch the attention of prospects and earn real customers. You tick off all these boxes with a spot at a trade fair, because you’re sparking off curiosity in trade visitors. They’ll want to check you out and the first trade fair can result in sales leads, then direct orders and a start-off point for your client list. That’s not a small achievement. Also, in a B2B setting, it’s good to create a presence among peers and experts and gain coverage from industry journalists.

You Become Friends with Your Customer

A company needs sales to survive. That’s easy to do, if you have a good sales technique. However, it takes trusted friendships for a company to grow and evolve. Startups, more than anyone else, is in need of early champions that are there for the long haul and these champions don’t happen by accident. You don’t receive a call from an influencer or a big buyer just because they’ve seen your website and think what you do is brilliant. You have to meet those people and not just pitch at them, but also get to know them. Understand them and their needs as customers, and be a genuine human being. An honest, human interaction pays off with loyalty and mutual growth. Keep that in mind more than anything else in this article.

We’re going to end here. Even though the topic offers a wealth more to discuss, these are the big pillars that will support your startup from an idea through its launch and then its first years on the market, trying to position itself amongst the bigger competition in your region. It’s still difficult, but a lot more rewarding and efficient when you add trade fairs to your strategy early on.

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