CeBIT 2012

I just arrived back in Ramallah after my participation in CeBIT 2012 in Hannover, Germany, sponsored by CBI.  I felt that during the past couple of weeks, I’ve been away from my laptop and had very few chances to send emails and barely was able to follow up on some important work items.  Overall, I feel that iConnect’s participation in CeBIT 2012 was a very interesting and tiring experience, and I would definitely change a lot of things if I were to participate again.  While CeBIT 2013 is still far away, I think some of the lessons I learned can be applied to participation in any trade fair, while some may be more specific to Hannover.  Some of the general lessons I learned are:

1. Get comfortable: for any trade fair where you’re expected to be on your feet for 8-10 hours a day, I would say this is one of the most important lessons.  By the end of day two, the stress and exhaustion will already start to show.  This year I wore suits for the first four days and decided to dress casual for the last day.  Next time, I’ll take only one suit just in case I get invited to a formal event, but would mainly wear a nice polo shirt with the company logo printed on the back and front and some nice comfortable jeans and shoes.  Not only will I be much more comfortable, but it’s also a good way to show the company, especially if it’s a well designed shirt.

On the second day, I grabbed a stool from a booth that was close by and wasn’t being used.  Sitting on a chair isn’t welcoming to people.  They see you as uninterested and simply walk on.  It’s also more work having to stand up and sit down hundreds of times everyday.  With a stool, it seems like your standing while you’re sitting down.

2. Save the trees: Any way I look at it, brochures and company flyers are a thing of the past.  I carried around 500 brochures with me and boy was that a waste of time, effort and money.  Even a small legal size brochure takes time to design and costs money to print and carry on the plane.  What’s worse is that once you present them at a trade fair, no one takes them.  People don’t want to carry around brochures from every company they visit, so you end up with a big pile of brochures that you paid for, carried and now have to deal with.  From a financial and environmental view point, I see it as a waste and it doesn’t add much value.  I think a business card with a website and having a decent website with all the relevant information should do the trick.  For those people who seem interested, it’s always important to follow up with an email after the fair and remind them of your services and possibly send them more information about your company’s products and services.

3. Get into people’s faces: The first day didn’t go to well and felt really slow.  The lesson we learned on the second day (thanks to Paul Tjia and Mohammed Jaouni), was to get into people’s faces.  Don’t wait for them to show interest, walk up to people passing by and ask if they’re interested in the services you offer.  I was pretty amazed by how many people said yes, and asked for more information.  These same people would have just passed by if we didn’t stop them.

It’s also important to have flashy attractive displays that grab people’s attention.  Just offering an amazing service or having the best products doesn’t mean much if people don’t stop to see them.

These are just some of the points I want to list while I still remember them.  I’ll be adding some more soon including some more specific to CeBIT and Hannover.

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