successful participation in trade fairs

Trade fair participation – GEPA criteria to participate

Yearly, GEPA participates in a big number of international trade fairs and events across the globe. It showcases Ghanaian exportable products and invites exporters to exhibit as well. Please note that several criteria apply in order to qualify for trade fair exhibitions. There are minimum criteria  and additional requirements.

Minimum criteria

You have to meet the following mandatory criteria in order to qualify:

  1. You have registered / renewed your registration with GEPA as an exporter.
  2. You have successfully completed the appropriate Export Readiness Checker (go here) within the last 2 years – all compulsory items are answered YES.
  3. You have acquired certifications from local authorities (eg. phytosanitary).
  4. You comply with minimum buyer requirements in the target market and has the required certifications where applicable (for food products globally: HACCP. In USA market HACCP + FDA).
  5. Your company commits to pay a participation fee of U$100 or equivalent in Cedis (not refundable).

Companies who answer all questions with YES, proceed to the next set of criteria (below). Companies who do not pass the criteria, may qualify for a trade fair orientation visit. Please contact GEPA for more information.

Additional criteria

In addition, GEPA applies additional criteria to define your trade fair readiness. A number of specific criteria are in place, which help GEPA in composing the trade fair delegation. These criteria may differ per market and product, but include for instance:

  1. Export performance of your company.
  2. Market potential for your product.
  3. Scores obtained in GEPA’s Export Readiness checker.
  4. Your company is in possession of additional certifications.
  5. Your company is in possession of promotion materials tailored to the foreign market.
  6. Product is a priority in Ghana National Export Development Strategy
  7. Performance, memberships, integrity and continuous learning

For more information and trade fair applications please consult GEPA’s Marketing Department.

GEPA’s 10 tips for effective trade fair preparation

Below you will find our 10 tips for effective trade fair participation. They help you in making your trade fair visit or trade fair exhibition much more effective. Enjoy!

1. Define your goals

It is important to have a clear understanding of your objective(s) at the fair. This helps you to be efficient and effective at the fair. Some goals for your trade fair participation may be:

  • Define goals - NEPC NigeriaAcquiring new customers
  • Building on existing business relations / offering customer care
  • Increasing company awareness
  • Presenting new products and services
  • Improving your company’s reputaion and branding
  • Concluding sales and contracts
  • Opening up new markets, discovering market niches
  • Forging successful partnerships and collaboration
  • Conducting market research at the trade fair (testing the market, collecting trends and innovations)

Please make to prioritize your goals and to make them specific and realistic. Clear and measurable goals will also help you to select the right trade fair. Furthermore, setting tangible goals contribute to a focused action plan and consistent communication towards team members. At the end, the goals can be used for measurement of success after the trade fair.


2. Check your export readiness

Export ready - NEPC NigeriaMake sure you are ready for the market(s) and buyer(s). Are you able to comply with the legal requirements of the target market…? Your export readiness is also determined by compliance with buyer requirements, standards, product & packaging requirements, promotion requirements, sales and delivery. Can you also compete with price?

Besides, you must ensure that all parts of your business are ‘export ready’. It requires a long term commitment to become a successful exporter. Check your readiness via the interactive GEPA checker and see where you stand and where you can further improve.

3. Select the right trade fair

Make sure you choose the most suitable trade fair. Some important decision criteria for trade fair selection include:

  • Select right fair - NEPC NigeriaResearch your preferred market(s) and buyers before selecting a fair
  • Make sure that the trade fair is a good market entry point in the market of your choice
  • Check the trade fair concept, period and cross-check with other events
  • Analyze exhibitors, visitor numbers, profiles and the products
  • Screen exhibitor and visitor numbers and profiles and the products
  • Calculate estimated costs based on type and location of space available
  • Check international trade show directories to find applicable fairs (see below for some tips)
  • Check the assistance that the fair may offer you (via the exhibitor manual)
  • Check exhibitor catalogues of previous years
  • Most trade fairs nowadays offer online tools to make appointments before the fair. Visit the trade fair website for more details. Highly recommended!

Recommended trade fair directories

We recommend the website of the German Trade Fair Association (AUMA) to identify international trade fairs. It contains a free trade fair directory for you to search trade fairs per market, product and month/year. The website also contains useful tools and guides on trade fair participation. Please visit for more information.

Likewise the website of Eventseye also contains a searchable trade fair directory with global trade fairs.

4. Prepare yourselves thoroughly

Another key for success is a thorough preparation for the trade fair. Make sure you start preparing in time. In order to properly prepare you should:

  • Preparation planning - NEPC NigeriaMake a concept exhibition plan
  • Set the goals
  • Prepare a budget
  • Decide on participation
  • Establish a project team and create commitment for the goals
  • Take into account a 12-month preparation period
  • Prepare a checklist and set deadlines

GEPA supports you to efficiently prepare yourself. Please contact us for more information. 

5. Implement proactive visitor marketing

Visitor marketing - NEPC Nigeria

Sending invitations to your potential visitors is among the most effective instruments for visitor marketing. Over 80% of all professional visitors plan their visits to a fair well in advance and arrange important appointments before the fair. You are advised to market your own presence at the fair. Try to draw the attention of potential visitors well in advance. Encourage them to visit your stand. Stand out from the crowd!

Make a long list of potential visitors by consulting:

  • The exhibitor database at the website of the trade fair
  • Relevant international business directories
  • The member lists of some relevant industry associations in your preferred market(s)

Consider sending a “Save the Date”-email and well written invitations. Try to be creative in your invitations. With an attractive invitation you will differentiate yourself and generate interest. Dare to be different. Additionally, you could also make a personal phone call shortly before the start of the fair.

Last but not least, make sure you use your website and relevant social media channels for promoting your trade fair visit. You can present an appointment form on your website to invite buyers directly making appointments with you at the fair.

6. Optimise your stand behaviour

It is critical to understand the needs of your visitors before you pitch your product and your company. Try to find out the needs and expectations of your visitors at the fair. Start asking open questions such as: What are you looking for? How can I help you? What do you need?

After exploring the needs and breaking the ice, pitch your product based on the customers’ needs. This includes specific info regarding e.g.:

  • Your solution to the needs
  • Your added value
  • The (unique) benefits: what makes you stand out from the competition?
  • Track record has convincing power
  • Supporting evidence (experience, record of clients)

Stand behaviour - NEPC Nigeria

Manage different customers effectively. Be well prepared when talking to invited customers. For the really interested ones, listen more carefully to them. Use the tips above and start the sales process! Be careful with giving too much detailed information to your competitors. However, take note of your competitors’ strength during the trade fair. Make appointments to get in touch with relevant press.

Key success factors for optimal stand behaviour:

  • Sell yourself first
  • Be approachable, honest, polite and hospitable
  • Don’t be too eager, don’t lean back either
  • It’s all about communication!
  • Understand the business culture of the visitors
7. Effective lead management (contact forms)

Manage your leads effectively. Make use of a quality contact form at the fair. This ensures that you document the needs of your (potential) client and the desired action. After the fair, select the right follow-up. For the contact form, we advice the simpler, the better. Find a sample visitor contact form that you can use.


Good follow-up means reacting quickly and addressing the actions agreed upon with the visitor. Preferably, try to exceed the expectations of your visitor(s) in terms of speed and the nature of your reply.

Letters follow-up - NEPC NigeriaYour contact form will ensure effective follow-up based on the needs of your clients. Create time after the fair for immediate necessary follow-up. This includes:

  • Sending ‘Thank You’ letters to important visitors and potential clients.
  • Making necessary follow-up calls.
  • Attending to the orders generated appropriately.
  • Inviting buyers to purchase from you again.
  • Developing a mailing list and use it for future purposes.
  • Sending the information you promised at the fair (samples, brochures, price lists, or any other). This is critical for building your reputation.

Please make sure you plan your follow-up timely after the fair, ideally within 2 weeks!

9. Monitor and evaluate your trade fair participation

Monitoring success of trade fair - NEPC Nigeria

Always measure the success of your participation at trade fairs. The goals you set up-front are your starting point. Document the results of your trade fair participation. This gives you the opportunity to filter information about the success of the fair. De-briefing sessions with your team are also recommended, as well as documenting of results and good practices. What were the strong points of your participation and what are points for improvement? The lessons learnt are good input for preparing your next trade fair!

10. Make use of the trade fair services provided by NEPC

GEPA offers support for participation at international trade fairs/exhibitions. These include:

  • Provision of stands/booth (the Ghana pavilion) – this is often supported by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI). Please note some minimum criteria apply, as described elsewhere on this page. 
  • Air-freighting of stipulated quantity of products samples.
  • Pre-fair training and coaching.
  • Other logistic assistance as may be necessary

To find out the fairs for which GEPA offers support, check out the GEPA event calendar.

TFO Canada’s online events calendar

TFO Canada’s online events calendar provides you with an ongoing list of Canadian and international trade shows. The events take place within the following sectors:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Gift, Home Décor & Furniture
  • Fashion, Jewellery and Apparel
  • Building & Construction
  • Floriculture & Horticulture
  • Cosmetics, Spa and Beauty Products
  • Services & Tourism
  • Electronics & Electronic Components

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AUMA ‘guide on successful trade fair participation’

The German trade fair organization AUMA has prepared a practical PowerPoint guide on successful trade fair participation.

Some of the benefits of the guide include:

  • Trade fair selection criteria
  • Checklists
  • The trade fair stand
  • Advertising and press
  • Organisation and monitoring of success

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A very comprehensive global trade fair database by the German trade fair organization AUMA.

  • The main benefits of the trade fair database include:
  • Over 5,000 trade fairs worldwide
  • Search by country, sector or product
  • Advanced exhibitor and visitor statistics

Take me there
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