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Taking the Exhibiting Plunge

When you have decided which fair is the one for you, here is an idea of the things you will need to do:

Preparation

  • Read this brilliant article all about a publisher's first exhibiting experience: Surviving Your First Trade Fair, by Jenny Price of Dandelion Jack.
  • Book your stand space and your accommodation. You may also wish to book accommodation for the last night of the fair - by that time (after packing up and loading) many exhibitors are too exhausted to drive home!
  • Bear in mind that you will have to part with a great deal of money before the event, so think about your cash-flow. Although payments will be in instalments, you will, nevertheless be tying up money on which you will see no return for at least a month after the fair ends.
  • It can sometimes pay to leave booking a stand until the last minute to enable you to negotiate a better deal. However, the top shows do sell their space very quickly.
  • Study the exhibiting manual that the fair organiser will provide. In addition to the mass of useful information it will usually include the critical order forms that remind you of things you should consider and possibly order.
  • Think about how you want to project your image. Remember, it is the eye that buys. Make sure that your stand is eye-catching and fits in with the ethos of your designs.
  • It is a good idea to have a central focus, a large image or a character to attract attention from a distance. As visitors will usually be approaching from the side, try to make your stand visible from each end of the aisle.
  • Give yourself a corporate image, from the logo on the back of your cards to the over-all design of the stand.
  • Invest in effective lighting.
  • You will need to do a fair amount of preparation beforehand, such as mailing and targeting customers. You need to ensure your cards are printed before you go and make contingency plans for sending things up that you have forgotten.
  • You will have to follow several health and safety guidelines, these cannot be ignored. Fire proofing materials, having spotlights tested by a certified person and doing a risk assessment are only a part of a myriad of compulsory regulations.
  • Once you have designed and built your stand, it is a good idea to have a dummy run at home.
  • Make sure your equipment fits into the vehicle that you are planning to take, how much you can carry and what sort of trolley you will need. Sort out beforehand which doors are going to be nearest for unloading. The more things you get sorted in advance the better.

 

During the Show

  • Dress in a style that matches your cards, you are on display too!
  • The first 1.5 metres from the gangway are the hotspots. Products displayed at eye level are the most noticed.
  • Less can often be more. Visitors need to see what you have on offer and will not bend down to look at cards below 3ft. They can't see above 6ft.
  • Make sure that there is someone to man your stand at all times, you will need to leave your stand for food and the occasional break.
  • Keep business cards in a box or folder or staple them into a visitor's book with comments that will help you to remember the buyer and what interested them.
  • If you do not have agents, your handouts need to be comprehensive with an easy to follow order form, so that they can order when they return home. Printed sheets showing all your designs can be reproduced for each fair with high quality computer printouts or photocopies.
  • You will always need to monitor the success of your advertising material to see what works for you. Having spent a lot of money on the stand you should have the literature to back it up.
  • Your stand will be your home for several days. You have to make best use of the space for storing necessities - all hidden from view so as not to spoil the effect.
  • Never eat on your stand.

Many thanks to Lynn Tait for her contribution to this page.

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