Magazine article International Trade Forum

Promoting Exports in Europe - Part II: Using Trade Fairs and Advertising

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Promoting Exports in Europe - Part II: Using Trade Fairs and Advertising

Article excerpt

Exporters in developing countries marketing in Europe can use a range of sales promotion techniques to make their products known to importers and buyers. Among these are sales promotion literature, sales trips, trade fairs and advertising. The selection of those to be applied in a particular marketing situation depends on the export company's long-term promotional strategy. Often several methods should be combined to produce the best export results. The use of sales promotion literature and sales trips was discussed in the first of this two-part series (see FORUM no. 1, 1992, page 10). This article focuses on the use of trade fairs in Europe and also looks at the option of advertising.


Showing products at trade fairs is one of the oldest forms of sales promotion in Europe, and is still very important for many companies. A trade fair offers an exporter the best opportunity to meet and display products to large numbers of buyers and representatives, who may come from all over Europe.

But exhibiting your products at a European trade fair will not assure you a continuing place in the market, even if you do score a sales success at the fair. Although exhibiting at a fair can often help an exporter start or expand sales in the European market, other forms of sales promotion will usually be needed as well.

As many an exhibitor has discovered, achieving successful results at European fairs is not guaranteed. Certain conditions must exist, and specific actions must be taken. The following are some of the keys to successful exhibiting:

1. Be sure that your products are ready for the market and competitive.

2. Have clear objectives.

3. Enter the right fair.

4. Plan and budget in advance.

5. Promote your exhibit to target visitors before the fair.

6. Have an effective representative on your stand.

7. Follow up promptly after the fair.

8. Exhibit at a fair repeatedly, not just once.

It is not always necessary to spend the time and money on exhibiting in a trade fair to take advantage of the marketing opportunities it can offer. Exporters can often gain much by simply visiting a fair, where many of their potential customers and representatives are themselves exhibiting.


Before deciding to exhibit at a trade fair, ask yourself the following questions.

* Which are our most important markets?

* Do the products that we wish to export meet the requirements of the market?

* Is our production capacity large enough to fill orders that may result?

* What are our objectives in this market, and what problems might we encounter in attempting to achieve them?

* Would our participation in a trade fair represent the most advisable means to attain these objectives?

* Is the fair under consideration the most appropriate one for us to take part in?

* What would the cost be to participate in this fair?

* If our company decides to exhibit in this fair, will the expected results warrant the expenditure involved?

* Is our company in a position to spend the time and money required to develop the market after the fair closes?


As already mentioned, selecting the most appropriate fair is one of the keys to exhibiting successfully in Europe. Most business executives in developing countries are more familiar with trade fairs in their own countries than with fairs in Europe. To select the most appropriate one in Europe, it is important to appreciate the differences in nature and role between fairs at home and in Europe.

Most fairs in developing countries are general in nature: all kinds of products are displayed. These fairs are also open to the public. For most of the smaller exhibitors, their main purpose is to sell directly to the public on the spot. For the larger ones, it is often to promote to the public, as a form of advertising support to their distributors. …

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