It can be tempting to ignore trade shows as a technique for promoting your small business. They can be expensive, and may also be a lot of work. Getting the staff ready, planning the promotional material, traveling to and from the show…it all creates extra work, but it could well be worth it.
In this guide, we’re exploring the importance of participating in trade shows for small businesses, and some of the benefits that you may not have thought of. A trade show isn’t just about gaining a couple of potential leads, and it can make or break your business.
Greater Media Exposure
A lot of trade shows have media coverage, and this means that there is a chance for you to take advantage and get your brand seen in the media. This is largely about how inventive you are with your booth. Some of the most creative trade show booth ideas can allow your business to stand out and let people both at the show, and in the media, take notice.
This is all about creating a name for yourself and building buzz around your product or service. Take some time to create a plan for how you are going to capture the imagination.
Authority, Credibility, and Influence
Being seen at a trade show is not just about publicity, it is about building credibility and authority in the field.
For instance, if you have launched a new brand or a new product, then this is a way for you to show it to the world, and show that you are a serious player in the industry.
In the early days it can be hard to get any traction and foothold, but remember that many trade shows have a lot of important people in the industry. This means that there is always a chance for you to build your authority and get your name heard in these industries. Even if you are just sewing the seed, and making sure that your brand name is heard for the first time, people may start to take notice.
Of course, it could be the third, fourth, or fifth appearance at a trade show that finally lands you that big client or supply deal.
A lot of trade shows give their stallholders the chance to do demonstrations and talks, another way to show the world that you know what you are talking about and that your business offers something new and important for the industry.
Analyze the Competition
This is one benefit that a lot of people don’t even consider before they go to their first-ever trade show, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of espionage in the world of business.
Going to a trade show is perhaps the ultimate way to keep your finger on the pulse and see what is happening in other businesses. You can analyze so many different aspects of the competition, including:
- Branding. How are other companies branding their products and positioning themselves in the market?
- Other trade stalls. What have they done to stand out? Are there any ideas you can “borrow” for the next trade show you attend? What seems to work well?
- Price points. If your competition is selling products at the event then why not look at the prices and analyze how competitive your brand is.
There are so many opportunities for a peek behind the curtain at these sorts of events. Before you go, check out a list of the stallholders and see whether there are direct competitors out there. Work out what you want to learn about, do you want to know how much they are selling for? What the ingredients of their products are? How they are trying to create a unique place in the market.
Face-to-Face Interactions with Industry Insiders, Clients, And Customers
This is where it will be beneficial to have plenty to say about your business. Most founders certainly do.
A trade show is a chance to talk your business up, both to members of the public who have a general interest, and to potentially important and lucrative partners. For instance, if you are manufacturing a product or a service and looking for a new stockist then a trade show might be the ideal place to chat with those in the industry.
Making connections is often about playing the long game. If you don’t get an order straight away, do not fret about it, this is just a chance to get to know the industry, and who the key players are. Over time, these face-to-face interactions may result in new clients and customers.
Generate High-Quality Leads
This is a real win if you can manage it. Generating high-quality leads from your trade show is the ultimate positive outcome.
It is possible that a trade show might land you a big contract, an influx of customers, and warm leads that you can follow up on afterward. These are some of the crucial steps in building a business.
When you’re attending a trade show it is important that you have a way to capture these leads and keep the information, as well as follow up promptly and effectively.
Some people push too hard for leads at trade shows, and it isn’t all about selling, but if you can find a way to make connections with potential customers then a trade show might be profitable.
When you are running a small business it is a good idea to use every tool you have at your disposal to try and gain publicity and make a name for yourself in the industry. In the modern age of online business and networking, it can be easy to forget about trade shows, but you shouldn’t. They are a chance to make a much more profound impact than a LinkedIn post or cold email. Rarely will you find so many key players in an industry within one room, especially if you pick the right trade show?