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Can Trade Shows Help Grow Your Small Business?

Published on Jun 24, 2011


Read 'Can Trade Shows Help Grow Your Small Business?' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
http://www.bizfilings.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Trade-Show-iStock_000016851417Small.jpgTrade shows can help you grow a small business by offering great exposure to new and existing clients, give you insight as to what’s happening in your market, and provide the opportunity to learn a whole lot. But these benefits come with a price. The cost to sign up as an exhibitor at most trade shows can be expensive, not to mention all of the collateral you’ll need to have a successful, engaging booth. Then there’s the time investment that goes along with being an exhibitor. Starting weeks (sometimes months) in advance, you’ve got to start planning and answering questions like:
  • How are you going to let customers know you’ll be there?
  • What kinds of giveaways and other collateral will you hand out, and who will produce them for you?
  • What’s your booth layout and design?
  • What will draw people to your booth?
  • What are your daily trade show sales goals, and how do you plan to meet them?
  • Does your small business have enough people to effectively staff your booth?
Before you can truly determine if a trade show can help your small business be more successful, two other questions must first be answered: (1) Can my company afford it? (2) Is this trade show relevant to my products or services? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then that particular trade show is probably not right for you. The Alternative Trade Show Plan Have you thought about participating in a trade show as an attendee? This option can have many benefits — especially if it’s a show chock-full of businesses that your company typically provides services or products to. The “attendee alternative” is a great way to make connections with potential customers and gain insight into their needs. It also gives you a first-hand view of what customers are up to – all at a fraction of the cost of being an exhibitor. It's definitely a shift in perspective, and it can be a daunting task — not to mention exhausting — to attend an entire trade show on your own. If your company can swing it, bring another member of the team with you. Working with a team mate makes it easier to talk with more people, stay fresh and remain motivated. Following Up After you’ve schmoozed with as many businesses as possible and gathered collateral from their booths, it’s time to follow up. All the hard work and time you spent at that trade show comes down to how you finish. If a company seemed “wow’d” by you, don’t assume that they’re automatically going to make contact. They’re exhausted from the show, and most likely busy getting back up to speed at work. Plus they may not need your services right now. Don't let them forget you. Contact them in a way you think will be most effective. These days, while everybody sends e-mails, I like to send a nice follow-up note. That’s right, a note that includes the use of ink from a pen — what a novelty! But it gets the customer’s attention, and makes them feel special. No matter how you decide to follow up, always remember to follow the golden rule: be pleasantly persistent without being a pest. Still not sure if trade shows can help your small business be more successful? Check out the related links below for more info. May your small business always experience abundance, growth and prosperity … Related Links - 9 Steps to Making Trade Shows Pay Off - 5 Tips to Grow Your Small Business Through Trade Shows Business Blogs blog