Before social media came to the fore, trade shows were considered to be a hot ticket for small businesses. It was an opportunity to forge strong relationships with your peers, meet new customers, and learn more about the latest products and services being offered by competitors. These days, however, there are so many newer types of marketing to take advantage of that a trade show is seen by some as distinctly “old fashioned”.

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Trade show tickets are expensive, and for top events aimed at a global audience, the cost of attending can be astronomical. Not surprisingly, many businesses cut back on this type of expenditure during the recent economic recession. With your back to the wall and not enough money in the bank to pay the bills, forking out for a trade show pass is never going to be a priority. Now that things are picking up again, business trade shows are becoming more popular and if you want to make new contacts and introduce new products, it can be a worthwhile investment.

Start Off Small

For a small business, a large trade show is not necessarily the best outlet. It is easy to get lost in amongst the big names, so to start with target smaller trade shows that are specific to your niche. This will give you a better feel for how they work and afford you the opportunity to practise your techniques before you hit the larger events

Networking Opportunities

For new and not yet established businesses, a trade show can be a goldmine of networking opportunities. This is one of the few places where you are likely to see most of your peers and potential customers under one roof, so make the most of it. If this is your first trade show, canvas customers to find out if they are going to attend, and if so arrange to connect with them on the day.

Product Demonstrations

One of the primary advantages to attending trade shows is that it gives you the chance to give customers live demos on how your products work. A live demonstration is worth a thousand glossy brochures so make the most of this valuable opportunity. Practice your demo techniques before the event to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Presentations are also a useful platform for establishing your business as a market leader, but try and make them interesting and not too sales oriented.

Design a Great Trade Booth

Trade stands need to be well-designed, so if you don’t have a clue where to start, consider working with an experienced trade show designer such as Finesse Group.

A stock piece of advertising that will make your booth stand out from the rest is a banner. We’re not talking website banners here, we are talking professional banners made by a printing company usually. You can have roll up style banners, easy to dismantle your stand in the evening. Or a hanging banner, ideal for short term or long term promotions. These come equipped with hangers that are reusable and are easy to install and store away.

Follow Up on Leads

Don’t forget to take contact details during the event and once it’s all over, follow through on these to thank people for attending and keep your business’s name alive in the mind of a potential customer.

If approached in the right manner, a trade show is a worthy investment for a small business, but if you don’t have a huge budget to spend, only target the shows that are likely to be the most beneficial to your niche.