Are exhibitions useful for SMEs?

Are exhibitions useful for SMEs?


Why should SMEs participate in exhibitions?

This is a really good question.  Most SMEs struggle to expand their business as they have limited resources. At first glance, participating in an exhibition looks like big-bucks-big-risk but there are ways to minimise the risk and they are the best marketing value for money around.

Here are 5 great reasons why all SMEs should consider exhibiting:

  1. The foundation of marketing are two databases of equal importance: clients and prospects. You will never expand the clients database, without a steady flow of good quality prospects. What makes a good quality prospect is someone with a need for your product, with the authority and resources to buy; just the sort of buyers that  attend exhibitions. So exhibiting is the number one way to develop a great number of good quality prospects.
  2. Successful exhibitors set multiple exhibition objectives, everything an SME needs to expand their business with objectives like: Finding agents and distributors; Entering a new market; Launching a new product; Building press relations; Building a prospect database; Gaining export orders; Meeting clients and prospects from all over the country.
  3. Exhibiting well raises your industry profile, allowing you to compete equally with your competitors. In fact, if you are really smart, try and get the stand right next door to your biggest competitor and if you have the right products, pricing and service, you are sure to snag some of their clients. Exhibitions accelerate your marketing as it puts you face-to-face with top buyers who you would have struggled to name or get an appointment with.
  4. The stand is only one of the marketing opportunities, offered by a professional exhibition. Look for the other marketing opportunities at the event, like speaking at a conference alongside, press, radio and TV coverage if you have a great story, networking with industry experts, your web site linked to the organisers show site and the exhibition catalogue, can generate enquiries long after the show has closed. Stop thinking of an exhibition as a 3-day event, it is a 365-day event, if you consider pre-show promotions, lead management and post-show promotions.
  5. Exhibitions are the most measurable of all media and the most direct form of marketing. If you can’t measure it, it is not a good exhibition objective. The trouble with the other media, like advertising, PR, direct mail, web site etc., is that you spend a lot of money and then hope that someone contacts you, so it is hard to measure the return on investment. At an exhibition you are face-to-face with more prospects then you could visit in a year, making this the most cost-effective marketing media.

The more effort you put into exhibiting well, the better the results will be. You really do have to spend money, to make money and exhibitions are the best marketing value around.

Joy Donovan
Joy Donovan is managing director of Lester Donovan Group (Pty) Ltd., a well-known exhibition company, having organised over 200 exhibitions, designed and built stands and displays for thousands of companies and trained over 8 000 exhibitors, all over southern Africa, over the last 40 years. Their web site, is a mine of free information for exhibitors.