With the 2017 version of the annual Ponoka Trade Fair this week, the monthly Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce meeting focused on how businesses can be successful during the trade show season.
The meeting, held at the Ponoka Community Golf Club on April 18, featured Strand Media’s Bruce Clarke as the guest speaker.
Using his expertise in marketing, promotion and the trade show circuit, Clarke explained that to succeed at any trade show a business has to ensure it maximizes the entire experience.
“A trade show is the most cost-effective way to market a business in an environment where you can meet customers and clients plus check out other businesses and competitors,” he said.
There are various types of trade shows, Clarke added, ranging from the more local and regional ones such as in Ponoka to major international events and company-specific shows where suppliers attempt to get their products onto the shelves of places such as Costco and Walmart.
In addition, businesses can participate in trade shows in different ways.
“One can take part as an exhibitor with a booth, but that isn’t always necessary,” Clarke stated.
“A business can save on all the associated costs by holding a presentation or a workshop or by speaking at a show, since many have stages and provide opportunities for such events.”
Clake pointed out an example of just that is Ponoka IGA, which sponsors the local trade show and gains exposure while not physically having a booth.
Gaining exposure isn’t the only way to go. A business should have goals set and a way to measure if they have met them in order to tell if the trade show was a success for that business.
Goals such as gaining business, learning about competitors, networking, generating leads, more knowledge about potential customers/clients and if the show is attracting the audience a business is looking for are all items Clarke mentioned need to be researched to see if participating is the right thing to do.
“If you don’t plan or have goals, then it can be hard to measure your success,” he said.
“My suggestion is developing strategies for what you want to achieve, which can include tracking sales and interest through trade show-specific digital and online means or a special toll-free number.”
Clarke also explained expenses such as booth rental, staff, the display along with promotional and other materials like giveaways need to be taken into account, none of which should be a last minute thing.