The Benefits of Participating in Trade Shows for Small Businesses
Small businesses have so many things to consider when it comes to marketing. Setting the right budget, defining where an active audience is and planning an effective strategy are challenging – but there is a straightforward solution that many people overlook.
The trade show might not be as modern as the internet, but despite the current technology, nobody can deny the opportunities these shows offer, even for small businesses.
If you’re curious about how these trade shows might benefit your business, stay tuned because we’re about to reveal them and show you how to get started.
The Benefits of Participating in Trade Shows for Small Businesses: A Guide to Getting Started
There are many benefits associated with attending trade shows, and small businesses can save money by using this form of marketing. From showcasing your business to the right audience and saving money, let’s take a look at them in more detail.
Get face-to-face with your target audience
There’s no denying that the internet gives businesses a viable and profitable way to connect with their audience, but trade shows can cut out the middleman. For example, when you attend a trade show, you already know that everyone attending is interested in what you do.
As people take time to trust a business, you can save a lot of hours and hard work by being present and ready to communicate with your target audience.
Once you make the right first impression, you’re more likely to hear back from people and could generate qualified leads on the day.
Showcase yourself as a worthy competitor
Some of the biggest brands in the world appear at trade shows, and if you can get a booth at one of the larger – or more specialist – events, it will boost your credibility.
For example, if a nationally known company is at the event, people automatically assume your business is just as important.
When scaling your business, the extra attention you receive from your target audience will make a big difference.
Know what your competitors are doing
Remember that trade shows are ideal places to spot and evaluate the competition. The other businesses with booths will all be out to impress, so why not walk around and see what they’re doing?
Are their signs more vibrant? Is there a special offer to entice visitors to the booth? Knowing these things can make a significant difference to your business, as your competitors will leave nothing unsaid when they set up their booths.
It takes months of planning to attend a trade show, and you’ll have the perfect opportunity to see where you can shine.
Maximise your budget
It’s a well-known fact that digital marketing will always be the most effective way to scale your business, but many small companies find it near impossible to compete against larger companies.
For example, even with SEO, you’ll have to target lower competition keywords, and generating organic traffic can take months – even years – of investment.
Trade shows can fill in the gaps between your investment in marketing and the results it offers. You’ll have the same opportunities as all your competitors at the event, so it’s your chance to reach your dream audience and generate more leads.
Not only will this ensure your business has short-term success, but it will also enhance your digital marketing efforts.
Getting started with your trade show
So, now you know the many benefits of trade shows for small businesses, it’s time to look at how to get started with yours. The first time is bound to be nerve-wracking, but these brilliant tips will help you navigate the experience and gain confidence.
Choose the right trade show for your goals
Not all trade shows are the same, and it’s essential to determine which one is best for your business. Do some research, ask around and even reach out to people who have attended similar events. When making this decision, you’ll need to consider your goals, budget and target market.
For example, if you’re a small business, you don’t want to attend an exhibition where international brands are appearing. Instead, it’s best to start with something more manageable and work your way up to the big events.
Get an attendee list
When you’ve chosen the right trade show, it’s time to get an attendee list to see who will be there. Doing this is essential because if you know who is attending, you can plan your approach and prepare better for conversations when the day arrives.
More importantly, you can see which businesses are setting up booths at the trade show, allowing you to plan where to visit. The great thing about these shows is they let you spy on your competitors for free – all you need to do is visit their booth.
Whether you ask questions or see which special offers are available, you can use this valuable information to develop your business and find innovative ways to stand out.
Plan who you’ll take with you
No matter the size of your business, having a team is important when attending a trade show. This could include employees, family members or even friends – as long as you’re prepared for the day and everyone knows their roles.
Your team should also be friendly, approachable and well-dressed to communicate with visitors and represent your brand well. While all this sounds easy enough, choosing who you want to go with is different.
These people will be representing your company, so they should always be personable, friendly and professional.
Designing your booth
Once you know what you’re doing and who will be attending, it’s time for the fun stuff; designing your booth.
Whether you’re going for a professional look or want to create something fun and quirky, it’s essential to plan every element of your booth – because that’s what will matter most on the day.
Following these tips will ensure you utilise your creative inspiration and make the right impression.
Know your sizes
Before you start designing, it’s important to know the size of your booth so you can plan what fits best. Most trade shows will provide the dimensions beforehand; the earlier you know them, the better your preparation.
The last thing anyone wants is to have an awe-inspiring booth that doesn’t fit their space. Not only does it look unprofessional, but you’ll also struggle to accommodate visitors.
Think about traffic flow
When planning how to use space in your booth, consider how people will move around it. You don’t want anyone to feel crowded or uncomfortable, so make sure everyone has enough room and plan for easy access.
Also, think about how you can lead visitors from one area of your booth to another. Having a clear route helps create an exciting journey within your space and encourages people to explore more.
People should also have a place to sit if required and feel at home within the booth. It might seem unimportant, but if you create a welcoming area, your visitors will be more likely to stay.
Choose colours and typography that reflect your brand
The last thing you want is a trade show booth that looks the same as everyone else’s, so choose colours and typography that reflect your brand and make it stand out from the crowd.
Remember to go big with your branding, too – if people can’t tell what company they’re dealing with at first glance, they might worry about the inconsistency.
After all, you wouldn’t expect Lloyds Bank to have a neon pink sign and fashion typography, would you? Brand colours should always be consistent and represent your brand, so consider the audience you want to appeal to.
Make everything interactive
The best way to create an exciting booth experience is by making it interactive. With so much competition, you need to stand out and give your visitors a reason to stay.
Think about the type of graphics you can use or activities people can do that will create fun memories and help them remember your brand. Something as simple as adding a plasma panel for TVs will make a massive difference to the booth because it’s excellent for explainer and demonstration videos.
Keep your messaging simple
When it comes to messaging, less is more. You want people to understand what you’re all about quickly and clearly, so make sure your message is short, snappy and gets the point across.
Consider using phrases or words that are easy to remember, like a slogan or hashtag. That way, people will know exactly what you’re trying to say, and it will stay with them long after the day.
The first trade show you attend might go differently than you’d hoped, but it’s all about experience, and the second time will be more successful. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan to ensure you get what you need out of the experience.
These practical tips involve taking extra time, planning and using common sense.
Rent an exhibition stand instead of purchasing one
While many people think buying an exhibition stand is more cost-effective, renting can be the best solution. If you own a stand, you’ll always be stuck with the same structure and size, but rentals cost less and are highly customisable.
Hiring an exhibition stand from a reputable company will also ensure you get the customisation features you want and can personalise the branding.
These stands are also highly portable and come in a modular structure, making it easy to assemble everything – and dismantle it.
Bring enough marketing collateral
You don’t want to run out of brochures, leaflets or other marketing materials at your booth, so make sure you have enough for everyone visiting and consider printing extras to give them as souvenirs.
These brochures could be the difference between sales because consumers today have lower attention spans, but even a simple reminder could make a significant difference.
Plan a follow-up system
Every trade show is an opportunity to meet new leads, so plan a follow-up system before the event. Collect contact details and create an automated email campaign after the show.
You can even set up a reminder to call each lead or send a personalised thank you note to those who took their time to visit your booth.
In today’s faceless and digital society, the little touches make the biggest difference, and personalisation is always where small businesses shine.
Write notes on your competitors
You can also keep tabs on your competitors by noting what they did at the show. It can be helpful for future events, as you’ll have an idea of what works and can use this information to plan better strategies.
By utilising this information for future shows, you can ensure your stand is better and offers something more unique for attendees.
Reflect on the event
Take a few days to reflect on the event and think about what worked and what didn’t. You can then use this knowledge to improve your booth design, marketing materials and overall strategy for future events.
It’s also a good idea to hold a team meeting where each person can discuss what they feel could be done better. Doing this ensures your next exhibition will have a higher chance of success.
The bottom line
Hopefully, this post gives you an idea of how trade shows can benefit your business and what you need to do to prepare for one. By following the tips in this post, you can create a fantastic display that encapsulates your business and helps you build a dedicated audience.
The first show is always a nerve-wracking time, but you’ll be looking forward to your next exhibition in no time at all.