A trade show can be a great business booster, getting your brand in front of people who otherwise might not have found you. And even though online marketing has grown in popularity over the past few years, trade show attendance is still going strong.
According to a study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, the Internet has actually helped boost trade show attendance (by around 30 percent) among younger professionals. The reason: Attendees want to have that face-to-face connection with businesses they're considering purchasing from.
So how can you best position your brand to garner some of that attention?
Choose the Right Show
Nothing is worse than paying for expensive exhibit space at a trade show... and then finding that your product or brand really doesn't fit with the overall atmosphere or theme of the show.
Take the time to walk around a trade show before purchasing booth space. Determine whether or not your price is in line with other products at the show, what sort of atmosphere surrounds you, and get a feel for what type of attendees the show attracts. This bit of homework can save you a lot of time and money.
Show Your Personality
Think back on the last trade show you attended. What was the most memorable exhibition for you -- the one that just showed a display of the company's products and handed out some literature?
Or was it the one with a charismatic product demonstrator, who encouraged passing people to check out his wares, chatted everyone up in a friendly manner, and made people feel welcome at his booth?
Being outgoing and friendly is one of the more crucial parts of getting your booth noticed at a show. Make an effort to greet people passing by, strike up a conversation with them, and ask questions. Try to find out which of your prospect's problems your product could solve, then tell them about it.
And don't forget to exchange contact information or give the visitor your brochure or promo gift so they won't forget you as soon as they walk away. On that note...
Bring Along Promo Gifts
A promo gift that fits in with your product's theme and is branded with your logo and contact information is an invaluable tool at any trade show.
For best results, make your promo item something useful that relates to your company. For example, if you sell kitchen products, you could have inexpensive kitchen timers (or another related item) printed with your information.
If it provides some sort of added value to the visitor, they’re more likely to hold onto it instead of throwing it in the trash once the show's over.
Design Your Space
A visually appealing booth will draw in more visitors, and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune (which is a worry for many small businesses considering trade shows). All of your printed items should be of high quality (not cranked out on your home inkjet printer), but beyond that you don't have to spend a huge amount on your space.
Try using a banner stand or two next to a tabletop display of your product, brochures, and other materials. Banner stands are one of the more affordable display options at most trade shows.
Of course, if you have the budget for it, a fancy booth can be a great draw too -- but it's not a necessity for making your show appearance successful.
Trade shows can be a great source of prospects for small businesses, as long as you plan ahead.
What's your most successful trade show strategy?
About the Author
Angie Mansfield is a freelance writer covering a variety of topics for consumers and small business owners. Her work addresses topics and people of interest, including Gary Crittenden.