You’ve heard peers and colleagues talking about trade shows and expos, and you’re starting to consider bringing your business to one to capitalize on your ongoing success. As with so many other things in business, there are a great number of variables to consider when planning to head to a trade show. Doing your homework ahead of time can be the difference between heading home with new business and a sense of rejuvenated enthusiasm, and feeling like you’ve wasted your time and money.
Call attention to yourself
The best thing that you can do to make your trade show or expo experience a success is make yourself stand out in a positive way. Janice Byer, writing for The Balance Small Business, suggests doing little things like paying attention to the color of your tablecloth and taking the extra step to make your own presentation board that calls attention to the upshots of your products and services. Timothy Carter of the American Marketing Association advises that your table should be visible from 20 feet away and immediately tell a passerby the bulk of what they need to know about your business.
Know your audience
One of the worst things you can do heading into your first trade show or expo is go in without a goal in mind. Carter suggests focusing on achievable metrics like generating sales, building your brand name and marketing. The best way to set your goal, writes Susan Ward of The Balance Small Business, is understanding the audience for whom you are attending. Your presence should be different if you are looking to appeal to other businesses within your industry than it would if you are attempting to generate wholesale or retail sales leads.
Start as a visitor
If you’ve never been to a trade show or expo but are curious as to how they could help your business, Darrell Zahorsky of The Balance Small Business suggests attending your first as a visitor rather than an exhibitor. Not only will this allow you to take the time necessary to budget for a potential trade show exhibition, but it will allow you to get a sense of what you can expect all around. You might even be able to get a spot speaking on a panel or as an expert, which can help to build your profile just as much at a fraction of the cost.
Research is key
Just as it would be foolish to wander into a trade show without an agenda, it would be as silly to attend one without having done your due diligence. Ward suggests that you research any show or exhibition you plan on visiting to ensure that it aligns with what you intend to get out of it. Going to a large, crowded trade show may not be the best choice if you want to stand out, but it might be your best bet if your aim is to make new connections. Zahorsky suggests altogether avoiding any trade show or exhibition that is untested or new, as they often present too great a risk and don’t typically provide great returns on investment.
Heading to a trade show or exhibition can be a big win for your emerging business if handled right. Approach it with cautious optimism and do your research to ensure your success, and you may just come away with more buzz around your brand than even you could have imagined.