Trade Fairs: A Powerful Marketing Tool

The Ghana International Trade Fair ended recently at the fair site at La, Accra and participants were seen busily packing their goods into big boxes and cars.

The exhibition stands were virtually empty with a few visitors trying to purchase some goods at discounted  prices.

About 900 companies participated in the fair, which attracted over one million visitors.

The exhibitors included 600 local and 300 foreign businesses.

High Sales

Isabella Akrashie, who sold all her locally produced Moringa products during the fair from February 23 to March 11, said she made adequate preparations to meet international standards.

“The customers were attracted by the attractive packaging and they kept asking me if the products were made in Ghana.”

Pointing to the empty boxes at her stand, she said “there are a lot of Moringa products on the market but this is properly packaged and it is a good product.

Though she put some of the empty boxes in the 20 empty boxes at her stand, she explained that each box contains 20 pieces of 140 grams Moringa product ranging from Moringa slim tea, Moringa gari Bblend, Moringa leaf powder, among others.

Some exhibitors, who spoke to the BUSINESS GUIDE, complained of low sales.

“We are happy that in the last few days more people attended the fair to see what we have here,” said James Akapo from Togo, who participated in the Ghana International Trade Fair for the first time.

He partook in the fair to take advantage of business opportunities.

 

The good, the bad and the ugly

 

A sales representative of ASADTEK Roofing, Jacqlyne Abban, who took part in last year’s fair said, “Every year patronage is slow for at least the first three days but this year it was worst and very boring.”

“Visitors did not buy at all and they usually said there is no money in the system.”

The lady, whose company displayed roofing sheets and cooking utensils said, “Though I have made some sales, I expected more than this.”

Desmond Kwame, a teacher, said he visited the site to undertake window shopping.

However, Mr. Star was displeased with the organizers of the fair and described the entrance fee of GH¢2 charged on ordinary days and GH¢5 on weekends and holidays as expensive.

“Many people did not receive information that the fair was on-going and we also had power cuts which forced the fair to close early at some point and there was loud music everywhere. You could have more than two close places playing loud music with somebody speaking into a microphone when there was no crowd to address.”

Abdul Rama, who brought antic furniture from Egypt to the site noted that “after three weeks of living in a hotel and waking up very early in the morning for the fair, I did not achieve my objective here.”

The distressed Rama revealed that “most people who visited the stand liked the designs and quality of the furniture but complained that it was expensive. I know they do not have money, but I will come back. I am sure next year will be better.”

Mr Rama confirmed that he would keep the furniture in a warehouse until the next fair, noting, “I cannot guarantee the safety of my goods in the warehouse but I will only have to live with hope because it would be expensive to ship them back to Egypt.”

 

Opportunities

 

Trade fairs offer the opportunity to businesses to meet their customers, potential clients and key decision-makers, among others.

Nana Kwame Ofori-Amanfo, acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited, was of the view that trade fairs provide the platform to assess, learn, interact and create business contacts.

Trade fairs provide excellent venues for initiating contacts with new customers and developing new trade leads.

They also enable the exhibitors to maintain and renew contacts with valued clients.

In addition to the product and service launches, exhibitors make presentations and demonstrated products and services to boost sales.

Other players also benefit from the holding of trade fairs.

Mr. Ofori-Amanfo noted that the companies should not use fairs to sell their products but create business links.

According to him, companies should put samples on display so as to enhance business deals.

 

Feedback

 

Clients provide feedback to the operators during fairs.

Firms assess the market in order to stay abreast with developments in their sector in terms of new technology and innovations.

There is the possibility of identifying new agents and distributors and recruiting new staff to undertake joint ventures and partnerships.

“We have found a local distributor for our goods,” said the exhibitor, who came from Togo.

Business Promotion

Trade fairs are effective tools that achieve great results in few days.

Companies embark on marketing activities that are relevant to their operation.

Exhibitors can promote their businesses through networking, customer contact, sales promotion and brand identity.

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