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Merry Marketing
Overlands
North Curry
Taunton TA3 6JL
Tel 01823 490782

Safety sign

Make sure whoever does the sign can spell.

Kelvin Cave caravan

Mobile stand used at agricultural shows around the UK.

Grassland Show

Make it busy, busy, busy.

Somerset Willow coffins

Yes you're right: coffins, willow. Book now to avoid disappointment.

Sandwich board

Updated sandwich boarder – this one in Berlin.

Show pole Melplash

Get noticed.

Trade shows and exhibitions

Henshaw Inflatables trade stand

Trade exhibitions and local shows are an important part of many small firms' marketing efforts. At one leap you can be in a major selling arena alongside giants of your industry. The visitors may have set out to meet their customers, but it is your job to make the best of that opportunity to lure them onto your stand as well. The exhibition calendar splits into a number of different sectors. There are the well-known public (consumer) shows such as Ideal Home, The Motor Show, Boat Show, etc, that can run for weeks. But by far the biggest number of exhibitions is in the trade show sector where the public is generally not admitted, but where serious selling is done within that trade sector. So for the motor trade there are such shows as Commercial Vehicles and Automotive Trade, Vehicle Dynamics and Automotive Electronics, and International Commercial Vehicle Bodywork Show. Lastly there are the local agricultural, balloon festival, steam rally and craft shows held in every county, where the biggest (The Royal at Stoneleigh) attracts some 300,000 people.

Before booking space, there are a number of questions to be answered.
1. What is the audience? Trade only, consumer, general or specialist?
2. Venue. Can you visit beforehand?
3. What is provided by the organiser.
4. Cost, length of show.
5. Why are you going to exhibit?

If you do your homework properly a high proportion of the right audience will have been selected for you. Choose the wrong show and you may waste a few thousand pounds (if you exhibit at the National Exhibition Centre or other major venue) as well as all your time.

Middleton Engineering NEC stand

It should be obvious that the main reason to exhibit is to meet a large number of buyers under one roof within the space of a few days. The average salesperson will be lucky to see more than six prospects a day. An exhibitor can manage a couple of hundred in the usual four- or five-day show.

You should appreciate that the psychology has subtly shifted. From being the wooer calling at the purchaser's door, and wheedling past the protective personal assistant, you are setting out your stall to lure the punter onto your stand. But make no mistake: taking a stand at a show is a significant and expensive step that needs considerable planning to make the most of the opportunity.

Here's a quick summary

The best sources to find what's on is for trade and consumer shows: Exhibition Bulletin (www.expoabc.com), while for outdoor events – agricultural and family shows – see The Showman's Directory (www.showmans-directory.co.uk).