Help Your Exhibitors Succeed

I recently returned from CONEXPO Russia, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) annual construction event held in Moscow as part of the Construction Equipment and Technologies (CTT) Expo. Working on international events really makes you value the additional services that are so standard in U.S. shows, but can make every difference to exhibitors’ success. Making registration data available to exhibitors, offering lead retrieval for sales follow-up, providing pre-show marketing opportunities to help drive traffic—these are all generally unheard of at most international shows.

So how can U.S. show organizers partnering with international events help their exhibitors succeed when these services are not available?

Determine the Objective
It only makes sense to identify the objective for exhibiting before paying for the space. It could be to launch a new product, find a local distributor, brand awareness, sell, or all of the above. Knowing this about your exhibitor can help you, together, create a path to success.

One prospective exhibitor wanted to exhibit in CONEXPO Russia, however he was very discouraged by the cost of shipping freight to Moscow’s Crocus International Exhibition Center. His main objective for exhibiting was to investigate the market and possibly find a dealer. Together, we determined it would be more cost-effective and meet his goal if he exhibited with only product literature and graphics. I was able to increase participation in the show by adding this new company, and he was able to explore the market. He ended up finding a dealer and considered the show a success.

Invite People to Your Party
We use this phrase around the office in reference to exhibitors inviting and registering customers for a trade show. But it is never more essential to invite customers to visit than at international events. If the exhibitor has a local distributor, they should work together to create a customer list and drive traffic to their stand.

The busiest stands I see at international shows have a mix of existing customers and new business. Show organizers can offer e-templates to assist with the invitation process.

Do Something!
I always encourage my international exhibitors to find something that will engage the attendees walking by their stands. Gimmicks and ‘booth babes’ don’t work (although they certainly were in abundance in Russia). The stands that received the most traffic were the ones that had product demonstrations happening during the show.

So, not everyone can do a demo—what if there is only literature and graphics? Then it is absolutely key to have someone in the stand that can speak the local language and is knowledgeable about the product. The right booth staff, even a hired translator, can make all the difference in attendee engagement.

Press conferences and news releases sent during the show are other effective ways to increase traffic to your stand. While AEM is not responsible for the promotion or registration process at the Russia show, we do have connections with media personnel in the region to whom we promote our exhibitors’ press events.

Would it be easier for exhibitors if international events offered the same type of data and marketing services as U.S. shows? Possibly. But with just a little extra effort and assistance from show organizers, exhibitors can achieve their goals internationally and become loyal exhibitors to the event.

Melissa Magestro is Senior Director, Exhibitions for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), responsible for overseeing all exhibit sales activity for AEM trade shows, including CONEXPO-CON/AGG and ICUEE -The Demo Expo. She is also Show Director for the IFPE exposition and for CONEXPO Russia at CTT (held in Moscow). Reach Magestro at mmagestro@aem.org.