6 Trade Show Tactics for Small Businesses
Small business owners everywhere know that it is difficult enough to run the daily operations of a company when the need to be frugal is always present in the background. Often, business owners get so wrapped up in running things that they neglect to leave room in the budget for marketing. But this creates a cycle whereby the company stays small because it is not being properly marketed.
Trade shows are an excellent way for small businesses to get their names out there in their industry while doing some direct, face-to-face marketing along the way. But the key is knowing what to do at the show and how to do it effectively.
Here are six trade show tactics for small businesses.
1. Set a Goal
You won’t be able to succeed at any trade show unless you know what you want to accomplish there. Your goal for the show will depend on several things, including the type of business you own and how you choose to scale that business. Selling more products will make sense for a commerce type of business, but not for a service-based company. Maybe you want more website traffic, or to teach new customers about a new piece of technology you have created.
It’s worth mentioning that, whatever your goal is, your mere presence at a trade show will likely not be enough to accomplish what you want. You might have a phenomenal product or service and then find all the attendees at your trade show walking right by you.
Knowing your goal but not how to present it could be the reason for that, so it then becomes time to think about your marketing strategy.
2. Project a Captivating Image
Trade shows might have hundreds of participants, and you need to stand out among them all. Doing so requires a multi-pronged approach that will involve both marketing and an effective booth design. You might want to consider having audio and video at your booth to bring people in from across the room. A demonstration would also serve customers well, such as if you have software that lends itself to a touchscreen demo. Or, if you have a product, have one on display for people to try. Also, be sure the employees you choose to staff the booth have the right personalities for engaging in direct marketing and sales, since people come to trade shows prepared to learn and buy. Meanwhile, the booth itself should also strongly project your brand and motto so people know at a glance what you are all about.
Summarized, your marketing plan first needs to draw people in and then quickly sell them on what you have to offer.
3. Advertise Your Participation
This point is a given for any kind of public-relations type of event your small business takes part in: it is vital to self-promote your appearance there. Participating in a trade show makes your business known to the thousands of people at the show, but think about the millions of additional people you can reach by jumping on social media and posting photos of the crowds around your booth. Share your photos and blurbs about the event on every platform you can, using appropriate hashtags to get them seen by as many people as possible. This strategy can only help you, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
4. Get Contact Information
Direct marketing and sales are effective at a trade show, but they go only so far if you do not follow up with these people after the event. Individuals who have already expressed interest in what you have to offer are clearly people you want to target with further marketing. Asking people for contact information, such as names and email addresses, is the most straightforward way of following up. Send email blasts with promotions and offers, or let these people know when you are going to be at another local trade show or similar business event. This is how you build up a solid customer base, and you are going to need it to grow your company.
5. Network with Other Participants
Particularly if you are a small business, networking is going to be vital to your success. Why? Because business relationships matter. They spread good feelings about your company and you personally among others in your field, and you may just get a recommendation or two from a contact you have in the industry. Additionally, you never know when one of those friendly relationships can turn into a partnership. Take the time to get to know others at the trade show, and definitely pick up some business cards. They can be your ace when you need something later on.
6. Don’t Forget the Free Stuff
Like job fairs and other types of professional conventions, trade shows are meant to project positive images about participants to the attendees. Toward that end, remember that everybody likes getting free stuff, so it may be worth it to set some of your marketing budget aside to create branded merchandise such as pens, keychains, water bottles, and hats. It is also not unreasonable to provide some food for potential customers who stop by the booth. A plate of cookies or brownies can go a long way toward making people feel good about your business.
Expert Convention and Show Services
To do all of this well, you may find you need the help of an experienced convention and show services company such as Alliance Exposition. For years, we have helped both trade show participants and organizers to plan, prepare, and execute for their small to mid-sized trade show events. The logistics of arranging all the moving parts can be daunting. Why not leave it to the longtime professionals who take the time to learn about your situation beforehand? That’s what we do at Alliance. Our method has allowed us to build a firm base of customers who return to us again and again. We will do the same for you.
Contact us today to get started on planning your next big trade show event, and start reaping the benefits.