Connect with us

Marketing Tactics

Make Exhibitions Work for You

You can’t just buy exhibition space, put up a table and chair, and a poster or two, and sit back while the world beats a path to your door.

John Thomson




You’re going to have to do some work, you know, that hard stuff that occasionally puts some money in the bank.

You need to have a strategy; something that maximises your business exposure before, during and after the show. Your goal here is to exploit ALL opportunities to generate new business. And believe me, there are plenty, and they don’t all cost money; just some effort on your part.

Know before you go

Preparation for an exhibition starts long before the show opens. Check online – visit some exhibition websites to see what’s on offer.

You can also set up appointments ahead of the show. With SAITEX and AB7, my company Exhibition Management Services – aka EMS- offers a free, online matchmaking service on our website…  no, it’s not an online dating site…  where you can find visitors from your industry or sector and request meetings. These contacts are pre-profiled, and you can pre-select and pre-schedule meetings with them. Remember, SAITEX and AB7 run simultaneously, at the same venue – Gallagher Convention Centre – for three days. That’s plenty of time to see dozens of potential customers.

You will also have to book and pay a deposit on your stand early rather than late – whether it’s a small 3x3m cubicle or a million-buck, custom-built extravaganza. If you wait too long, your masterpiece could end up in a gloomy corner far off the beaten track.

You will need to decorate it and equip it with certain vital items. Spend a bit of money on this; first impressions last. Business cards are a must before anything else. Seriously!

Filling your stand

If you’ve got any cash left over after that, you can hire good furniture for reasonable rates. Potted plants fill bare corners and add a touch of serenity to the vibe. A product display is very effective; people want to see; people want to touch, even taste if possible. Product brochures add a bit more substance to your presence. So do free samples if applicable to your product.

Price lists are optional; you can offer a special show price, but settling on prices comes near the end of a negotiation – price depends on quantities, delivery time, and many other possible factors.

It is useful to attract interest before day one. Look at ways of announcing your participation to existing customers so they visit your stand. Emails with your products, hall and stand number will give you some pre-publicity. Update these during the show, and also after the event.

If you intend to offer specials during the event, make visitors and customers well aware of this. Use signage but make it classy, not handwritten messages on scraps of paper.

The time to shine

Your stand must make a good impression. You must stand out, especially with 800 other exhibitors around… For those of you with bigger budgets, make your stand visually appealing so it immediately catches the attention of people passing by – even if your product is not what they are specifically looking for… a new opportunity might arise from the interaction.

Enhance your display by adding lights, audio-visual presentations, graphics and interactive features. Also, provide visitors with something to sit on, especially if you’re going to be talking to them for a while. There is nothing worse for visitors than standing around after spending all day on their feet.

Make a good impression; be approachable and personable; not overbearing. Project professionalism, and be part of your corporate identity. Make sure all your business stationery is up-to-date, consistent and accurate. If you have staff or casuals, ensure they are appropriately dressed, or better, wearing your company’s branded clothing.

Perhaps the most important item on your show stand is an order book and, if possible, POS pay station. Many visitors will buy your goods there and then – be prepared. If possible, give visitors something to take home – a freebie – make sure it’s branded.

Keep a record of visitors that take a real interest in your business. Ask for business cards. Have a pen and notebook handy for visitors to write down their contact details. This will enable you to engage them later.

The show’s not over

Follow up, follow up, FOLLOW UP with visitors! Don’t let time pass. They will quickly forget your business, or go with someone else who beat you to it. Be proactive!

P.S. SAITEX and AB7 take place from 15 to 17 July 2012 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. If you’re not an exhibitor, at least visit these shows. You never know what you’ll find or who you’ll meet there!

Trade show guru John Thomson established Exhibition Management Services nearly 30 years ago and has pioneered the development of trade exhibitions in African countries. Born in Malaysia and schooled in Britain, Thomson has travelled to over 85 countries and organised over 200 events in Africa. He is the longest-practising practitioner in the exhibition industry in South Africa.

Marketing Tactics

Ask These 3 Questions To Determine Where To Spend Your Marketing Budget

Stretching your marketing budget is imperative, especially when there aren’t that many marketing rands to stretch.




As you grow your business, it’s important to be creative and efficient with your money. When it comes to marketing, there are a number of cost-effective ways to spend and save your money. So, if you’re worried about marketing on a limited budget, here’s some helpful info to know.

First, great marketing is about highlighting wants and needs and attaching them to desired outcomes. It’s possible to do that regardless of budget — and every company’s strategy will be different.

For example, when my consultancy worked with Dollar Shave Club to grow its platform beyond viral videos, we focused on establishing a unique voice, which led to creating an editorial component. When we worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his fitness and nutrition products, we focused on creating a core mission and understanding why he was involved in the product. And when we worked with Four Sigmatic to market its coffees and teas, we focused on customer acquisition and retention.

Related: 5 Ways To Market Your Business On A Limited Budget

3 Questions that Cut Through the Clutter

Those projects all started with the same three questions: What is the value and purpose of your product or service? Who is your target audience? And what is the best platform on which to reach them? That’s where you’ll want to invest most of your attention before you determine where to spend your money. (Notice my word choice: Your planning is an investment; where you spend is a cost.)

1. In general, we prefer to use digital campaigns

It’s easier to track what works and what doesn’t. Plus, digital creates multiple opportunities to engage. Think of it this way: 10% of your audience will buy, 10% won’t and 80% will be on the fence. Would you rather have one shot to convince that 80%, or multiple? By retargeting through something like Facebook ads or Google, or even creating a distribution channel like an email list, you can communicate repeatedly.

2. If you don’t have an audience, spend money fishing in small ponds where you know you can get a bite, and then set yourself up to communicate repeatedly

(This is where creating content as a form of acquisition or building an email list can be incredibly valuable.) Depending on your product or service, this could mean a very targeted ad to a small audience on Facebook — rather than attempting to reach millions — or setting up a pop-up shop, or getting a spot at a local farmers’ market.

Related: 4 Unique Marketing Ideas For SMEs On A Budget

3. If you already have an audience, turn them into super-fans who will bring their peers into your universe

Identify previous buyers and give them direct access to you through focus groups or calls. Reward them for their time with product or a gift certificate. When you show your consumer that you care about and appreciate them, it not only increases the likelihood of repurchase but also helps them personally invest in the soul of the business. Not to mention, their insights will help you understand why they bought and how to replicate that process.

Whatever you do — and no matter how big or small your budget — keep finding better answers to the core marketing questions and your success won’t hinge on any one platform.

Continue Reading

Marketing Tactics

Gen Z Is Coming! Are You Ready?

How do you market your company to this generation?

Stuart Scanlon




According to the CNBC, about 61 000 Gen Zers are on the verge of entering the workforce and consumer market in the US alone.

They are digital natives; they have grown up in a world of vines, txts (yes, we know) and internet. Their attention span is shorter than ever, they are more connected than any other generation, and they are brilliant multitaskers. Gen Z is a more tolerant generation but also more cautious; studies have found less risk-taking amongst this group and an increase in thoughtfulness and questioning authority.

So, on the one side of this coin, how do you market your company to this generation?

1. By being transparent

Be upfront about your business, what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They have lost faith in corporations. Thus, you must stop relying on and hiding behind small print. Yes, you need terms and conditions to protect your company, but when it looks like a miracle weight-loss advert of the 80s (“Eat anything you want just take this pill. Ts&Cs apply.”), you’ll lose customers.

Related: Investing in Young Entrepreneurs

Gen Z consumers want to see you are real; they don’t want models or celebrities but regular people who can assist them in a manner that speaks to them. And they will hold your business is socially accountable. Instead of producing millions of T-shirts at the cheapest possible price, they want local, equality and free-trade, and they want to know what businesses are doing for the environment and society.

Gen Z won’t accept your claims at your word; they want to see evidence in your company culture.

2. By offering options

A jewellery purchasing study has found that most Gen Zers don’t have a preferred shopping platform. What this means is your messaging, availability and culture need to be spread evenly across all contact points – sales, call centres, website and digital advertising. In fact, many Gen Z consumers rely on mixing their contact points.

That being said, they want immediate action. If they see something they want online, they will go to the shop just to have the item right now. More than immediacy, they also want custom-made or made-to-order products and services. They shy away from traditional made-to-stock methods, which creates plenty of room in the production industry.

3. By being forward thinking

We have to always remember what was mind-blowing inventions to other generations are the norm for Gen Zers. They hold brands and businesses to high expectations, and instead of being loyal to brands, expect brands to be loyal to them. As Gen Z is more focused on individuality, they are also proving to be a generation with a high entrepreneurial output. All this shows that they don’t want the norm; they don’t crave what’s new today, they want tomorrow, sustainability and innovation, and they want it now.

On the other side of the coin, how do you attract this generation to work at your company? In much the same way.

1. By being transparent

As much as you are hiring them based on what they bring to the table, so too are they looking at what you can afford them. But, they don’t just want to hear you tell them about the benefits, they want to see it – and they are not after just money. Gen Zers want to be financially secure, but also one that is fulfilling; one where they find purpose in their jobs and company.

2. By offering options

Gen Z employees don’t want to work eight to five, they don’t want to be chained to a desk, and they don’t want to be micro-managed. Give them flexibility on how they want to conduct their work and how they can communicate with their colleagues. Create an understanding workspace for their needs and help them improve their skills – for instance, it’s been reported that a stumbling block for Gen Zers is communication. Growing up with emojis and text messages make face-to-face conversations, business calls and writing emails difficult for them.

Gen Z employees want to work hard and grow their skills. Even though they’re growing up in a super-paced society, they want to climb the corporate ranks at the given speed. What they crave, with urgency, is gaining value from their jobs.

Related: The Z Generation

3. By being forward thinking

They are lateral thinkers, and their creativity is not just outside the box but has broken the box completely. Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy, and they will challenge the systems and procedures you have in place if these are not providing the needed speed and data required. Thus, they crave to work in an environment where they can push boundaries and ultimately help the company move forward. Hiring from the Gen Z pool can provide you with innovative insights into your business that can grow it towards tomorrow’s giants.

The only way to be sure you are future-proofing your business is by guaranteeing it caters for future customers and employees, by relying on forward-thinking enterprise resource planning software, for instance. Epicor ERP software ensures that their clients stay agile and innovative through trusting top minds to build and develop intelligent systems that open doors for Gen Zers. It’s Epicor’s innate tech-savviness that allows them to visualise the landscape of tomorrow and develop the software to support it today.

Continue Reading

Marketing Tactics

Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

You don’t need an MBA to write a marketing plan for your business. While no two businesses are alike, all solid marketing plans need to provide specific information. Use this sample marketing plan template to get you started on the right foot and cover all the essential information.

Tracy Lee Nicol




Your marketing plan should provide a comprehensive blueprint of the business, its market and associated market activity, its position in the market, target and expected customers, offerings, competition, solutions and contingency plans.

Using a sample Marketing Plan Template can save you a lot of time in creating your own marketing plan.

Download a Sample Marketing Plan Template

Use the free templates below to help make sure you’ve covered all the important bits:

Download Our Free Marketing Plan Template Here.


Recommended Marketing Reads: 

Related: Beginners Guide To Digital Marketing In South Africa

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.