Testing foreign waters: International trade shows

March 2, 2011 - Tags: Export Marketing

Exhibiting at a foreign trade show can lead to a potential increase in sales, so it may be worthwhile for you to investigate whether it is time to take a trip.

One of the first decisions for you to make is whether you are ready to export. If not, it is a good idea to have a solid export plan in place before proceeding. Our section on Starting to export can help you begin. However, if you are already set, it may be time to think about attending a trade show in a country that you would like to target as part of your expansion strategy.

Which destination is the best fit for your plans? The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service can assist in finding out whether there are good business opportunities in the country you are considering. The free services provided can help you:

  • Prepare for foreign markets by arranging contacts here and aiding in the initial legwork
  • Assess market potential: information about market conditions, regulations, barriers
  • Find qualified contacts abroad
  • Handle problems by offering advice on common challenges

If time and resources permit, you may then consider a visit to the foreign market you plan to enter. Perhaps this will be a reconnaissance trip during which you establish relationships and attend a trade show as an observer before next participating as an exhibitor.

When you are well-prepared and have an effective strategy in place, exhibiting in the right foreign trade show can result in:

  • Making profitable contacts
  • Gaining new clients
  • Selling more goods or services

A careful use of time, effort and money can help prevent the opportunity from being wasted. Among points to ponder are the following:

  • Are representatives of your business thoroughly prepared for any cultural differences?
  • How can you adapt your message and materials to the host country and the scope of the event?
  • Can you follow up on leads in a timely manner?

Alternatively, if your initial legwork indicates that the time is not right for a foreign trade show, you may find a domestic one that is well attended by international buyers.

Find more tips on how to help make any trade show involvement successful in our section on Trade show marketing.

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