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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

Top Marketing Trends For 2019

When you reflect on marketing trends that have taken centre stage in 2018, what stands out?

Emma Donovan




Maybe it’s the proliferation of Instagram stories or  influencer marketing? Or the fact that video content has become even shorter and simpler with the rise of GIFs.

The real question is how have you incorporated these trends in to your marketing strategy, and what should you focus on in 2019? Here are six up and coming trends that you don’t want to miss:

1. Say hello to the social CEO

Customers want ‘real’ brand stories and to know what drives them. Leaders who are successful on social media show their companies’ human side and give their brands’ credibility and personality. This builds loyalty and, in some cases, an emotional connection that goes beyond the product or service.

Customers who feel this connection may even go on to become brand ambassadors.

Tip: Share stories that demonstrate your leadership style as well as company culture.

2. Initiate conversations

While 2018 brought the chatbots, the trend for 2019 is really using these bots to gather information about consumers by engaging with them on a personal level and steering them towards a sale. Bots are being trained to be authentic and sound more like people than the robots they are.

For example Facebook Messenger becomes more and more useful for brands as the platform allows customisation of automated messages and the ability to initiate a conversation at the right time.

Tip: You can also integrate this with Facebook shopping and increase conversion rates by enabling the bot to sell products to a consumer through the Facebook platform.

Related: Pay Per Click Advertising. When, How And For What?

3. Keep it local

Influencer marketing can be short lived or a little superficial. So try to identify and partner with local influencers that are happy to work on long-term campaigns. Also use multiple touch points including podcasts, YouTube and Snapchat as well as Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Before you reach out to an influencer, follow them and learn a bit about the way they represent brands and engage with their fans to see if they’ll be a good fit. 

4. Try Instagram ads

As Facebook ads continue to dominate our feeds, advertisers are looking for a new place to stand out and get noticed. Instagram ads are on the rise, according to the Merkle report that showed that while Facebook ad spend grew 40% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, Instagram ad spend jumped 177% in the same time period.

Tip: Do some A/B split testing with different styles of images and calls-to-action.

5. Personalise email communication

Make sure to use automation and personalisation to really make your customers feel that you are listening.

Using hyper-segmentation, you can target very specific parts of your market. This will ensure that they receive personalised emails based on what they have expressed interest in or actions they have taken with regards to your brand.

Tip: Use automated campaigns after a first purchase; to request a review on social platforms; or just thank customers for shopping and remind them to share their purchase online.

Related: Free Sample Marketing Plan Template

6. Post in real time

In an effort to bring offline marketing into the online world, Instagram TV or IGTV allows brands to create a place for consumers to watch live events or brand content in their own time.

In addition, IGTV replaces the need for YouTube in some cases as brands are able to upload 10 or more minutes of footage directly to Instagram for consumers to watch as ‘episodes’.

This will become more prevalent in the years to come as businesses include this in their strategy. IGTV videos are less formal and will typically cost less than a traditional TV advert to create.

Whatever trends come our way, the key is to remain agile and adapt to how customers engage with your brand. And more than ever before, it’s important for all marketing touch points to align and communicate the same message.

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Marketing Tactics

4 Young Marketing Influencers You Can Learn From

Whether you’re a CMO or just trying to build your own brand, these influencers can help you reach your goal.

Jonathan Long




Today, social media is a very crowded and competitive ecosystem – it can be extremely difficult for brands to break through and spread their message to a large number of potential new customers.

Marketing via social media has become a necessity. According to a post by DMA, 45 percent of surveyed marketers are looking to increase brand awareness through social media. The same post stated that spending via social media is expected to increase 18.5 percent in the next five years.

This article was originally posted here on

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Marketing Tactics

The Fifth P Is The Most Crucial

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers.

Kyle Rolfe




The four Ps of the Marketing Mix (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) have defined marketing campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful, for many years since E. Jerome McCarthy came up with the concept in 1960. And while there have been tremendous advances and innovations in marketing, the four Ps (4P) are still first on the list in any marketing course.

In the brand conscious society in which we live today, however, a fifth P has become the cornerstone to all marketing and branding exercises, whether you’re in the business-to-business or business-to-consumer market. The fifth P is People or is also referred to as Personalisation.

The reasoning is simple. If you don’t know your market, you will never be able to understand how the 4Ps apply to your potential customers:

  1. What products do they want?
  2. Where should you make them available?
  3. How to price your products to meet your market’s requirements and budget?
  4. How and where to promote your product?

The first step in defining your marketing strategy should be should be getting to know your customers. When you know who you are targeting and put people at the centre of the mix, you can more easily decide the optimal strategy that will deliver the most favourable results.

Airbnb example

Airbnb has built a valuable brand by making the 5th P a focus of it’s branding activities. They typically target millennials born 1980-2000 and it’s understanding their traits (needs and principles) that has been the key to their success. Let’s look at how this impacts each subsequent P individually.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb

1. Product

Spending with a conscience is core to most millennials and they tend to opt for products that allow for transparent traceability throughout the supply chain. Airbnb is not seen as a large corporate ripping off the little guy, but creates a community where everyone contributes and benefits from something seen as open, transparent and disruptive to the status quo. The company has no real assets, but its brand has the visibility of a Coca Cola or Starbucks in the millennial market.

2. Price

While its market is cost conscious, Airbnb knows they place a higher value on products and services that have been designed and developed in a manner that is good for people and the planet. Hence, by consuming the brand they become“part of the solution”.

Airbnb is, more than anything else, including its multi-billion dollar valuation, a community organisation that includes everyone from anywhere. Add to that the lower costs and almost limitless offerings, in general, and you have something their market can’t say no to. Airbnb is a real part of their culture and value system, not some fake corporation pretending to be ‘cool’.

3. Promotion

In terms of promotions, understanding their market is apprehensive of contracts and long-term commitments. Airbnb has none, you make a deal with an owner or someone looking to rent for a while and that’s it, no fuss. In an interview with Fast Company, Airbnb’s head of brand, Nancy King said one of the key reasons for Airbnb’s success “is all about emotional connection, and that is really the root of it”. She continues that,

“Iconic brands have a disproportionate share of cultural voice, and they hold the internal culture of companies.” And it’s clear that Airbnb has developed that cultural integration with millennial values.

Related: How To Drive Customer Referrals (When You Aren’t Airbnb, Dropbox or Uber)

4. Place

Convenience and accessibility is important to most markets, but millennials place an even higher priority on it. They want information right away, especially for online sales, and once bought they want to know where their product is in the supply chain until it arrives at the door.

In the case of Airbnb, your booking information is available everywhere and anywhere, on any device. And as part of the community culture it drives, its biggest brand builders are the word-of-mouth promotions its customers created in the natural flow of conversation, online and offline

“Airbnb is an amazing example of how a brand is the value of a company, in this case valued in the billions of dollars ($38 billion at the time of writing, according to Forbes),”  adds Rolfe. “This value is based on the value of its community, its culture and the way its partners (buyers and sellers) value what the brand can do for them, not the value of sales pipelines or fixed assets.

“This is a $38 billion valuation based on brand alone, based on the company’s ability to identify its market and create the community (not the business strategy) that appeals to them. In other words, the other four Ps are determined and led by a clear and intense understanding of the 5th P, the people who give Airbnb its value.”

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