Exhibition, in the most general sense, is an organized presentation and display of a selection of items. In practice, exhibitions usually occur within museums, galleries and exhibition halls, and World’s fairs. Exhibitions can include many things such as art in both major museums and smaller galleries, interpretive exhibitions, natural history museums and history museums, and also varieties such as more commercially focused exhibitions and trade fairs.

The word “exhibition” is usually, but not always, the word used for a collection of items. Sometimes “exhibit” is synonymous with “exhibition”, but “exhibit” generally refers to a single item being exhibited within an exhibition.

Exhibitions may be permanent displays or temporary, but in common usage, “exhibitions” are considered temporary and usually scheduled to open and close on specific dates. While many exhibitions are shown in just one venue, some exhibitions are shown in multiple locations and are called travelling exhibitions, and some are online exhibitions.

As observed by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI, on the importance of the Exhibition Industry, “Exhibitions are an enormously important part of the marketing activities of most types of business, ranging from the largest multinationals to small family businesses. All evidence of the research confirms that opportunities to get face-to-face with customers and potential future clients remain an incredibly valuable tool for developing new business.

Even in this day and age of exciting multi-channel and internet-based communication, the need for personal interaction has never been more important. There is a significant value of meeting with clients and future customers in person, experiencing that business is conducted between “real” people and moreover based on trust. The combination of exhibitions and virtual marketing are essential components to any company’s communications strategy and ideally go hand in hand.

The word “exhibition” was mentioned as early as 1649. It is a derivative of the Latin word “expositio”, meaning “displaying” or “putting on a show”.

Exhibitions are not just collections of interesting objects brought together at a certain place and time. They are human activities, human enterprises, undertaken for definite reasons and in order to achieve certain specified results. They are a form of human exchange, whereby the promoters and exhibitors on the one hand communicate with the visitors on the other. Their results can only be told in terms of further human thought and activity.

The word “exposition” goes back to the same origin as “exhibition”. Expositions, rooted in old French, tended to be very similar to their English cousins, exhibitions. Expositions were then held in facilities built specifically for them. They were organized by either government departments or groups of entrepreneurs for the express purpose of promoting trade. Manufacturers were invited to show their goods.

Tunde Obokhai, President/CEO, DCS Integrated Media Limited, organizers of Nigeria International Print Expo, in his Executive Watch piece of Volume 79, August – September, 2015 edition of Printers Digest magazine titled ‘Successful Participation in a Print Show’ argued that print exhibitions can be a very good platform for print companies to showcase their products and services for the purpose of increasing sales and growing their market share.

In his words, “for any printing company to achieve the feat of increasing sales and growing market share, it must engage a marketing tool that will create awareness of its products and services to the right audience and at the same time”.

Trade shows or exhibitions enables you to achieve this. Undoubtedly, participants in print shows have an edge over other sales and marketing media like television, radio, press, direct mail etc because it enables a company to reach out to a highly defined or profiled audience via a business-to-business (B2B) approach as companies in a specific industry showcases and demonstrates their new products and services.

Historically, trade shows have been conceived as vehicles of communication with exhibiting company(s) fulfilling an advertising and display function. Although this view was challenged in time past and replaced with the view that trade shows are primarily events where products and  services are sold, or contracts and rights, however, in some instances, product or service offerings and buying processes are regarded as too complex to permit full assessment or commitment to be made on-site. In such situations, it is believed that trade shows, at best, will provide needed sales lead for follow-up afterwards.

In Nigeria, there is a growing awareness of the importance of participating in trade shows and the Nigeria printing industry is not an exception as printing and allied service companies are using this avenue to create brand awards, generate and increase sales leads and marketing shares. For example, since the introduction of Nigeria’s foremost print show Nigeria International Print Expo (NIPEX) in 2001, there has been an increasing awareness of this marketing tool. Today, several other print shows exist which also include mono print shows by individual organization like Digital Print Solutions Expo organized by Skysat Technologies Nigeria Limited.

NIPEX, over the years, has been established as a reliable printing business platform in Nigeria, where products are launched, business networks are made – and a great business day out is had! Adjudged as the largest all print exhibition in West Africa, the show has risen to be the only Nigeria international print show that brings together the largest collection of leading companies in the printing, sign and graphics industry in this part of the world.

According to Obokhai, “NIPEX as packaged for the printing and allied industry, is designed to bringing industry operators in Nigeria face to face with current trends in printing technology. Since first premier between October 30th to November 1, 2001, it has remained the biggest and largest print show where industry practitioners, resellers and distributors of printing equipment, machineries and consumables, policy makers come for great printing business experience”.

“Today, NIPEX which is an annual print show, is hosted in two major cities of Nigeria – Lagos, which is the commercial city of Nigeria and a State with large concentration of industry practitioners as well as Abuja, the nation’s capital city and seat of power of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. He added.

The reason for this alternation cannot be far-fetched. As revealed by Obokhai, owing to growing awareness of the progressive gains in doing printing business and the enormous potentials of the printing industry, it was key to communicate effectively to policy makers and help put blockage to possible loopholes that bring about capital flight in the sector.

In his words, “Like I identified earlier, there is a growing awareness of what doing printing industry can help an individual and even a nation achieve. This business boasts of anormous potentials to correct any wrongs be it as a result of maladministration, corruption and whatever. We have identified that as long as people continue to breath, they will need to use paper, they will need to write with a pen, they will need to put on clothes even trending fashions. We have also noted that all of these listed are primary work of a printer, call it a designer. This automatically present us with undeniable fact that in every minute, seconds of a humans life, we are human beings need the craft of a print practitioner”.

“Again, printing does not work in isolation. Printing business actually thrives in a densely populated region or area. A very good analysis of Nigeria has already dictated it that virtually every state is well populated with good number of persons and equally having related capacity to meet their printing needs”.

On alternating between Lagos and Abuja, this is what Obokhai has to say: “It all started as a vision and we hope we can achieve more soon. When we started, we where only in Lagos and this stretched for about a decade plus before we said to ourselves, we need to decentralize and give equal opportunities to other persons, at least consider the four cardinal point of our federation Nigeria. Whilst doing this, we have to also consider the interest of our exhibitors because they will need to make sales and generate market leads. This was what brought about the decision for Abuja first. Also is that fact that in policy making, Nigeria is the homestead of the Federal Government and all of her agencies. While we try to communicate to the ordinary citizen, we are also careful to echo it very loud in the ears of our leaders”.
NIPEX has grown in status since inception. As the largest print show in West Africa, it had ensured direct access to top printers, sign writers, graphics designers, print machine dealers and consumable marketers among others. Stakeholders in the Nigeria printing industry who have attended other exhibitions and indeed, international print expos have continued to stated that NIPEX is a must attend for anyone who wants to grow his or her print business in the Nigeria competitive business environment.

According to Mr. Jesubanjo, Managing Director, Serolaks Concepts, “NIPEX has indeed make me a testimony. I will forever be grateful to God that I made it to NIPEX 2015 in Abuja last year. Apart from the quality visitors that graced the show, it presented me with a mind-blowing business sales and experience. I least expected the kind of visitors that came to my stand. It was an awesome experience and a very rewarding one for that matter”.

Though exhibitions are common events, the concept of an exhibition is quite wide and encompasses many variables. Exhibitions range from an extraordinarily large event such as a World’s fair exposition to small one-artist solo shows or a display of just one item.