When it comes to tradeshows and small business, likely the first thought that comes to mind: it’s just too expensive. This way of thinking can be detrimental to any small business success.
While the cost to participate in a trade show can be steep, often the payoffs are worth it. Here’s a few reasons why you should participate.
Scope Out the Competition
As a small business owner, chances are most of one’s attention is focused on the quality of the product and customer service. It’s easy to lose track of what any competition is doing when trying to get through the day-to-day operations. Trade shows can be an incredible place to get an up close and personal look at what other industry members are doing.
With a specific concentration of trade in close proximity with one another, it’s much easier to note of the trends, innovations and new ideas brewing amongst the industry representatives. The chances are people are doing similar things, and likely are offering the same types of products and services. Events like these allow you to ask yourself, “What can I do that others aren’t?” and “How can I set myself apart?”
Use it as a Litmus Test
Trade shows are also great “business laboratories.” A trade show is an environment where you can try things out and see what sticks. Surveys show that nearly 90% of trade show attendees are looking for products to buy. This makes these events the perfect opportunity to see which of your products and services people are drawn to, as well as the ones that don’t seem to land as well. Use trade shows as a practice arena: a place to test the market and hone in on what you’re already doing that people love-as well as an opportunity to gauge any areas that could use some tweaking.
Go Back to Basics
Today, especially as business owners, we’re so incredibly plugged into our websites, social media channels and review sites. We’re laser-focused on how many likes we’ve gotten, our insights and metrics, and we’re so busy focusing on who’s visiting our yelp pages while mitigating the internet trolls and the haters. It’s easy to lose touch of why we do what we do, and worse, why we love it. Trade shows are a good opportunity to come back down to earth and reconnect.
They also help get back to the basics of marketing-just plain talking to people. Face-to-face, in real time. But in order to get there, you need to make sure to draw them in. Focus on making your stall or exhibit area visually appealing. You don’t need a lot, but you do need to be unique.
Make sure your brand messaging is consistent across your entire product line; ensure it’s clearly displayed, and both fresh and appealing. Part of the beauty of trade shows is getting your name out there and jumpstarting a following, so before you attend, make sure your visual branding is on point!
Train New Hires and Generate Excitement
If you’re running your own small business, chances are you have a relatively lean team. However, trade shows are excellent opportunities to train new employees or introduce fresh hires to the industry. There’s no better way to get your team members excited about what you do than by inviting them to attend an event with other passionate and creative entrepreneurs. But this also requires some coordination. Make sure your team understands the objective of the event as well as the sales and social goals. Dedicate at least one team member as note taker during the show so you can follow up with your most promising leads, and make sure no visitors goes unnoticed or un-greeted. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve included the names and information of everyone on your team for event check-in. Most trade shows will require attendees and exhibitors to wear different custom cloth wristbands, and sometimes require an entire team to be present before handing them over. So make sure to go over all the event details in advance!
Target Business Leads
So as we mentioned above, trade shows provide an opportunity to expand your customer base and increase your visibility. Go into these events with a strategy in mind. A solid trade show strategy will include a variety of goals: a sales goal, a social goal (introducing yourself to new industry folks, for example) and a business leads goal. You’ll likely find that most people who attend trade shows are motivated entrepreneurs themselves, even if they’re not exhibiting in this particular show. Many of these contacts will be much stronger leads than those found at random. So take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves.
Trade shows can prove to be invaluable for your small business. Consider the ways attending an event near you can transform your profitability in 2018 and beyond!