20 Trade Show Ideas for Small Businesses
Are you a small business that is exhibiting at an upcoming trade show? Good for you! Trade shows are a great way to increase trade show leads and brand awareness. But, when not prepared for, trade shows can do more harm than good. So, before heading off to that trade show, here are some trade show ideas that will help your team make the most of your time.
20 Trade Show Ideas for Small Businesses
1. Promote Your Brand through Social Media –
The importance of incorporating social media into your trade show marketing efforts cannot be overstated. Social media should be a significant aspect of your brand before, during, and after the trade show. By using social media at trade shows you will be able to increase your network, brand awareness, and be seen by attendees as an approachable brand.
2. Look Outside Your Industry for Inspiration –
One of the best trade show ideas for small businesses is to get inspiration from outside sources. Sure, we all keep an eye on our competitors to see what they are up to and what innovations they are developing, but what are other industry leaders doing? Take the time to see what they tactics and strategies they are incorporating into their trade show booth, then include them in your own. You can learn a lot by keeping an eye on some of the major and most popular companies in the world.
3. Focus On Quantitative Goals –
When creating goals for your trade show make sure they are quantitative. By creating measurable goals your team will be able to easily determine whether or not the goals were met and exceeded. Plus, it’ll give your event staff concrete numbers to work towards. When creating quantitative goals consider incorporating a friendly, internal contest among your event staff and provide a small to medium prize to the event staffer that collects the highest number of quality trade show leads. Here are more interactive trade show games to consider including in your trade show booth.
4. Attend Social Events & Round Table Discussions –
Other trade show ideas for small businesses is to participate in social events and round table discussions before and/or after the trade show. By participating in these gatherings, you and your brand will be able to reach a larger, more diverse audience and actively engage in important conversations with industry professionals and leaders. During these social gatherings, be sure to provide your personal experience and industry insight. The more you participate in these events and conversations, the larger your network will grow and the more leads you’ll generate.
5. Make Sure Your Offers Are Compelling –
When creating your service offerings for an upcoming trade show, be sure to give attendees the best deal possible. Having a truly compelling offer will not only attract attention to your booth, but it will help your team close more sales.
6. Have Different Pitches for Each Stage of the Sales Cycle –
When preparing your trade show pitches make sure you have a different speech ready for each stage of the sales cycle. By having a different hook for each stage, your team will be able to better target attendees and focus on needs that are most important to them.
7. Personalize the Process –
Similar to adjusting your pitch to every stage of the sales cycle, another important trade show idea for small businesses is to personalize the sales process. By taking the time to get to know individuals instead of the brand, your team will build lasting relationships and increase your ability to collect leads and close sales.
8. Listen to Feedback –
Whether your receive feedback from attendees about your trade show booth display, selling tactics, marketing efforts, or your product, take the time to analyze the feedback and tweak your efforts accordingly. Feedback, especially during a trade show, is a great way to improve your product to better meet the needs of your customers.
9. Time Management –
For all exhibitors, but most importantly, small businesses, time management is a must. Start by looking at the exhibitor and attendee lists. Which brands or people are you most interested in connecting with? Which leads are most important to your brand? Once you create a finite list of high-quality leads reach out to the brands or exhibitors beforehand and schedule a meeting with them during the show. Try your best to schedule as many meetings as possible in order to build relationships with brands and exhibitors that are most important to your business.
10. Network, Network, Network –
Another trade show idea for small businesses is the importance of networking at trade shows. If your brand is only exhibiting at trade shows to generate leads and close sales, then your trade show marketing focus is wrong. Half (if not more) of the value of a trade show is the ability of your brand to network and build relationships with industry leaders. The more you increase your network, the more visibility your brand will have, and the more sales you’ll close.
11. Arrive Early & Stay Late –
Unfortunately, in the trade show industry, large exhibitors tend to overshadow small businesses. So, in order to get your small business noticed, it has to work much harder than large exhibitors. One way your brand can do this is by arriving early and staying late. Arriving just a little bit early each day will give you and your team the time necessary to organize your booth, review your marketing strategies and goals, and correct issues that arise throughout the show. Staying late ensures your brand will be seen by as many attendees as possible, including the last few stragglers that wander by.
12. Hire Event Staff –
As a small business owner your job at a trade show is to focus on building relationships and closing sales. So, your valuable time should not be spent passing out product information or attracting attention to your booth. By hiring event staff to take care of basic tasks, like hosting trade show games, you and your sales team can spend the time necessary to build lasting relationships with clients.
13. Observe Exhibitors –
Another great trade show idea for small businesses is to observe trade show exhibitors. What marketing efforts are other exhibitors incorporating into their booth? What seems to be working and what doesn’t? By observing other trade show booths, you will be able to modify your trade show marketing efforts and create the best ROI for your brand.
14. Be Clear & Concise –
Trade shows are loud, chaotic, and busy gatherings. Not only does your small business need to attract attendees to your booth, but they need to keep them there long enough to collect a lead or close a sale. Because of this, your brand’s message needs to be short and to the point. Find a catchy, clear, and concise way to explain your brand to attendees in 2 minutes or less (think elevator speech).
15. Be Passionate About Your Brand –
Have you ever talked to someone about something they are extremely passionate about? Have you noticed that by the end of the conversation you become more interested in the topic as well? Being passionate about your brand is a great way to transfer that passion to attendees. Take the time to show attendees how much your brand means to you.
16. Be Flexible –
Another important trade show idea for small businesses is to be flexible. Exhibiting at a trade show is a large undertaking. There are so many factors that go into making a successful trade show that it’s important that you and your team remain flexible. Something will always go wrong no matter how much you plan ahead. But, by teaching your team how to handle problems as they arise, your booth will be successful and productive despite the mishaps.
17. Be Reliable –
When you, your event staff, or your brand says it will do something, actually do it. Don’t advertise your service offerings one way and provide attendees and customers with another. Be reliable. Hold yourself, your event staff, and your brand accountable for your service offerings. Your customers will be glad you did.
18. Be Memorable –
Whether you do this through a contest or promotion, trade show booth display, or service offering, make your brand stand out in a memorable way!
19. Be an Expert –
If you want to increase leads and close sales at your next trade show, then make sure your trade show team is full of experts on your products and/or services. Anticipate what questions attendees will ask and make sure your team is ready to answer them. Nothing is worse than an attendee asking a question about your brand that your trade show staff can’t answer.
20. Think Outside The Box –
Finally, this is a no brainer but, think outside the box. Bring something exciting and different to your trade show booth. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you never know what kind of positive response it can generate among trade show attendees.
By keeping these trade show ideas at the forefront of your trade show marketing efforts, you and your team will be on your way to a productive and successful trade show.