Trade Shows and Exhibitions for the Marketing of Photonics and Laser Technology Products
The biggest event of the year is for many companies a trade show, where many suppliers and potential customers come together for a couple of days and can intensively interact with each other. There are also other industry and scientific events with exhibitions where laser and photonics products can be displayed. Obviously, the use of such events can be an essential part of a photonics marketing strategy.
By the way, you may also interested in my more general article on photonics marketing.
The Large Exhibitions
The largest photonics trade shows, which have tens of thousands of visitors and more than 1000 exhibitors, are:
- SPIE Photonics West: a large industry event with the largest photonics exhibition worldwide, also including various scientific conferences, courses and various industry workshops and the like.
- LASER World of PHOTONICS, which occurs at various places like Munich (Germany), Shanghai (China), Bangalore (India). In Munich, there is also the World of Photonics Congress, including CLEO/Europe – EQEC 2019 and various smaller conferences.
There are also substantial exhibitions around the bigger scientific conferences like CLEO.
Exhibitors can reserve space for a booth in the exhibition. Many large companies invest enormous sums into making impressively large displays, a few of them even demonstrating heavy machinery e.g. for live demonstrations of laser material processing. Obviously, the demonstration of a large, widely visible presence is not only for lead generation, but primarily for branding. The cost per lead would seem to be prohibitively high, but it is so important just to be seen.
Most smaller companies have much smaller, but nevertheless often carefully designed exhibition booths. Even a booth covering only a few square meters can give plenty of opportunities to interact with people, but of course you need to have suitable personnel which is around all the time and serves people.
Exhibitions give additional opportunities in the area of print advertising, e.g. a listing in the exhibition guide (possibly improved with ads); the question is just how likely it is that somebody orders because of an exhibitor listing. Other opportunities, partly reserved for exhibitors, are big posters in the exhibition hall, ads mounted on the floor, sponsored coffee breaks etc. Essentially, this is all for branding, not really for lead generation; it can just somewhat support the effect of the actual presence in the exhibition.
There are also various much smaller, usually more specialized conferences like ASSL (part of the OSA Laser Congress, occurring in the United States, Europe or Japan) and Europhoton (at varying locations in Europe). Such smaller conferences also often organize an exhibition, but usually at a much smaller scale. This can be a good opportunity for small companies which address a very specialized market where scientists in a particular area are important buyers. Typically, one can obtain some minimum set of facilities – a small table, two chairs, electricity and little space for mounting posters near the conference hall – for a moderate fee of the order of 2000 USD, including the listing in the conference program and on the conference website. That can be absolutely worthwhile provided that one can present something of high interest for a significant part of the conference attendees. In some cases, however, it is a problem that the exhibition is attended only during short time spans, e.g. those for coffee breaks, and there may be only limited opportunity to really get into contact with people.
It is important to understand that small exhibitions are often suitable for small companies not just because the participation is affordable. The point is that small companies are often focused on a narrow range of products, which may fit well to such a specialized event. Wherever a small company needs to address a large audience, participation in a bigger show may be appropriate, even if it is substantially more expensive.