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In a global economy, international trade shows play a big role

by chocieni
Mon, Nov 21st 2011 12:00 pm
Business First  [ View Original Article ]

Orginally printed at:http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/print-edition/2011/11/18/showtime.html

In a global economy, international trade shows play a big role


Think about the time and money that goes into creating an effective booth or display area for a trade show at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center or the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center.

Now think about doing that on an international scale, just as 2,113 exhibitors from 45 countries did at the 49th International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in June. Organizers say the aerospace-industry event featured 28 international pavilions and 131,000 square miles of covered exhibition space.

Then there's MEDICA, the international trade fair that wraps up Nov. 19 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Described as the world's largest medical exhibition, the annual four-day event attracts 4,400 exhibitors and some 138,000 visitors from more than 100 countries. This year, an estimated 450 of those exhibitors were from North America.

"Whether you are a market leader or an innovative newcomer, use the opportunity to present your products and services to an informed audience," organizers urged business owners on the MEDICA website.

The modern economy is a global one that is yours to explore, according to Maryann Stein, director of international programs for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

"International trade shows are a great way to expand your sales by increasing your contacts immediately. You can accomplish in a few days what it might take you years to do sitting in your office," she says, adding that:

• "You have an opportunity to meet face to face with your customers who may also be attending the show.

• "You can display and get feedback on your designs and products from the public.

• "Testing out marketing material and approaches is easy to do during trade shows due to the high, concentrated volume of attendees.

• "You can view what your competition is doing and what they perhaps changed or incorporated from last year's show.

• "Shows also give a pulse as to what is going on in your specific industry regarding trends, technology uses and leaders."

Stein reminds growth-minded businesses that "95 percent of the world's customers lie outside the U.S. ... Ignoring them diminishes your revenue opportunities and market share."

Start planning early, advises Ted Johnson of Hadley Exhibits Inc.

"I would plan three months, at a minimum," he says.

The Buffalo-based company offers exhibit-related services such as engineering, fabrication, installation and project management. Customers include New Era Cap Co., Cliffstar, Multisorb Technologies, Koike Aronson and Ericsson.

Hadley has created displays for trade shows everywhere from Beijing to Dubai - "pretty much every city in the world," Johnson says.

For his staff, part of the job is educating clients about different cultures.

"The European shows (for example) are different in that they actually close sales at those shows. In the United States - because of our taxes and everything - generally you aren't allowed to sell at the actual shows. In Europe, it's different. So they have a tendency to spend a lot more. The shows are longer. The rules are completely different."

When it comes to spreading the word about what your company has to offer, however, some things never change. Successful exhibiting requires a refined message, high-impact graphics, keen planning and attention to every detail.

"When it comes to selling, you need to be able to show your product, what it actually does," Johnson says. "People really want to see and feel what you are selling. That's what they're coming to see. It's more of you want to kick the tires."

And remember the three-second rule. That's about all exhibitors get when trying to get noticed by potential customers, according to industry experts.

"See what fits your budget," says Stein of the ECIDA. "If two days of a trade show fit the budget, then start there and get a feel for it. Watch and learn."

Following are international exhibiting tips from various Internet sources and trade show expert Susan Friedmann:

• Thoroughly research opportunities to find the ones that represent the highest potential for your business. A good starting point is the Foreign Commercial Service, part of the International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce.

• Book space as early as possible.

• If possible, seek a native-born translator.

• Determine that your product complies with international technical and safety standards.

• Coordinate shipping arrangements.

• Set a budget and stick with it. Costs of overseas trade fairs vary.

• Get to know pricing.

• Make arrangements for credit and payment.


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