Selling yourself on a trade fair.

The cultural season is starting with mini exhibition in cargo container.

In Amsterdam every year at the last weekend of August the cultural Season opens with the Uitmarkt festival. The Uitmarkt is held from August 29 – 31 at the Eastern Harbour area in Amsterdam. Three days with over 400 previews of different artists, performing on 34 stages. And of course the Tropenmuseum is also present. This year our great cultural sponsor the BankGiro Loterij made a so called castle of cargo containers where a a lot of museums could present themselves. We decided to give a preview of our next exhibition called ‘Vodou, art & mysticism from Haiti’. We were showing a real Dutch Vodou priest, a Vodou altar and pictures of the objects that will be on display. To enhance the(marketing) experience people can send a vodou postcard for free to anybody they want.

A lot of people pass by on these days so this is a big chance to present ourselves to the public. But to be frank I really hate these kind of trade fair/market stall things. Why? I always wonder if it has any effectiveness at all. Since I am working, every year or so, some boss asks me to present his company on a trade fair or some market stall. In my experience selling your organization on these kinds of events is a different way of communicating. It requires a lot of effort/money to do this the right way. And money and time is always lacking. So what questions do you have to ask before you are going to present yourself on a trade fair:

1. What goals do you have?
What is the purpose of being on a trade fair? is it awareness(brrr) or a clear goal like collecting email addresses, selling tickets etc.

2. Who is the targetgroup?

3. What are you selling?
The Tropenmuseum has 7 exhibitions a year, 60 events, 20 educational programs, etc, etc. The best thing is to focus on one or a few of them.

4. Any way to give a follow up?
Maybe you can collect email addresses and send people an email when a specific exhibitions starts.

5. How can you stand out between other booths?
Maybe some great design will help…

6. Is your staff ready and knowledgeable?
Staff is very important to make a good impression on your potential visitors. A lot of time on trade fairs I see staff talking with each other, blocking the entrance of a booth, eating, badly dressed and being very rude.

Most of the time (in my experience) the only focus is on the design of the exhibition and all other questions are just forgotten or skipped.

And here some pictures of the Tropenmuseum at the Uitmarkt.

Some extra information:
Tips on attending a trade fair