We raise the question that Trade Fairs, just don’t deliver any more. Or maybe it’s just you and me. We’ve had enough. And if that’s the case, then why do we bother going?

You know you’re in trouble when the lady opposite you on the bus from High Street Kensington tune station, is already practicing her speech for the people she is not going to meet. The Olympia conference centre is just a few stops away, – but her chosen partner targets, will already be in other meetings. Like so many visitors, she has made no preparation, fixed no advance meetings.

And the Exhibitors too, at the Cyber conference at Excel across the other side of London just a week or so later, and made so easy to get to by the Elizabeth Line rapid transit – must take an equal share of the blame.

I walk up to one of them:

“I’ve no money to spend on sustaining my product” they say, from a minuscule scrap of space that is their Booth, their home for a few days. “I’ve spent it all just being here”.

I feel sad for all of them, for a fleeting moment, but then wonder – “how can you be so naive?”

At the just recent Imbibe drinks fair, just a few days ago, we counted near enough 50 vendors of new drinks, almost all of whom we had never heard of, and all of whom were hoping to meet their new Distributor, their new Opportunity, and almost none of whom had any plans as to how to capitalise on the momentary relationships they will generate – when the music stops and everybody goes home. Few vendors had considered whether or not there was even space for their own product, in a market that surely has enough brands already?

It is not the fault of the Trade Fair organisers. Their job is to sell space and to give you a marketing opportunity. What you do with that, frankly mate, is your problem. But exhibitors just do not seem to “get” it; when I walked out of one of these Fairs, the girl behind the desk of one vendor was openly yawning.

Which gives rise to the question. Is it actually worth it? And if so, what are the rules of the game, that can deliver you a commercially worthwhile experience? Probably there are five pointers:

  1. If you are a Vendor, then pick the Event where you can be seen as a Leader. The fact that you might “think” you are a leader, does not mean you are so.
  2. Social media does not help you at these Events. This is all about face to face smiling and welcoming. This is the first impression people will have of you,. So make it work.
  3. Keep absolute records of every conversation. You will need these for the personalised responses you will make later. Do not send a standard response, people do not read these.
  4. And if you are a Visitor – book your meetings well in advance, and research who you are going to meet. Every vendor will see at least 47 people over a two day period, and you want to be the one person that they remember.
  5. Never go to a Trade Fair that is not absolutely your market. It will be obvious, and it will be a waste of your time.

You might as well have not gone in the first place, – which is what I should have said to the lady on the bus who by the time we both got to our stop, she was pitching her idea for a new book, to me.

“I’m just there to write an Article”, I said.

“So, you’re not famous then?, she enquired. She looked crestfallen.

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