• QA 048
    Does it pay to exhibit at coffee trade shows?
    Is it really worthwhile for an exporter to exhibit at some of these annual trade shows? We have done so a few times but find the experience less than inspiring and have not generated the interest we expected.
    Asked by:
    Exporter - Ethiopia

    Success depends on what you were exhibiting, how you organized your exhibit, and what follow-up you made afterwards. This will be different for each individual exhibitor and so the best we can do is point out a few essentials.

    The main reason for having a booth at a trade show is to create interest in and sales for your coffee. Everything that you do, say, show and give away should support that one goal. All the graphics, the signage, the coffee, the presentations, the representatives, the brochures and the gifts you may offer should somehow work together to convince potential customers to make that purchase. And, if you do not expect customers to make purchases at the show without samples of the green coffee, then make them available at the booth, or collect business cards from those who show interest and send them the green coffee samples as soon as the show is over. Follow-up after a show is absolutely critical to maintain interest! 

    There are also a number of Do's and Don'ts at the booth…. 

    • Be as creative with the booth as the budget can tolerate. A few large graphics are more effective than a lot of little pictures.
    • Add interest by bringing items that are particular to your area of the world but be careful about customs clearance problems. Whole booths have been held up in customs leaving the exhibitor with nothing but floor space.
    • Make certain your booth is clearly identified. Do not give attendees any reason to be confused as to who you are, or what you represent. They simply may not stop.
    • Try and have at least two representatives at the booth at all times so that when one is busy with a serious conversation, the other can still be welcoming people and handing out materials.
    • Try to staff your booth with friendly people who know the coffee, and who can explain its attributes, its pricing structure, its availability etc. It does no good to spend money on an attractive booth if there isn't anyone there to answer detailed questions. Attendees must feel the exhibitor knows his product and his business.
    • Try to keep crowds that are not your potential customers away. Long social gatherings at the booth will prevent or discourage those who seriously want information from stopping. If possible meet friends elsewhere.
    • Take time to visit other booths at the show. Not only will this give you marketing ideas but it will also provide information about your competition. Sample as much coffee as possible from elsewhere. This will provide you with a better understanding of where yours fits into the market place.

    But without follow-up you will not capitalize on the interest your booth may have generated. Follow-up items include marketing kits. Designed to help the roaster/retailer sell your coffee such kits can be effective sales tools. They can include small or large posters, display-bin and bag labels, training videos, table tents, music, photo's on CD, information sheets that can be reproduced and many other items stores can use for promotional activities. Probably the easiest and least costly to produce is a CD-Rom with usable photos along with a logo if you have one. Many roasters/retailers produce their own marketing materials using their own company name but include your pictures. Good quality pictures of the farm, the countryside, the people etc will help the roaster and retailers sell your coffee.

    Consumer interest creates sales and visual images create consumer interest!\

    Posted 28 September 2005

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