Trade shows are an excellent way to promote your business. They are expensive though. The smallest 10 by 10 space in the convention center can cost thousands of dollars. With some planning and creativity, small businesses can attend trade shows on a budget.
- Book your flight and hotel rooms in advance. The best deals on travel and lodging go to the people who book early. In addition to discounts for advance reservations, be sure to find out if you are eligible for any other deals based on professional affiliations. Some hotels give discounts to military and AAA members. Hotels fill up fast for popular trade shows, so reserve your room early if you want to be close to the convention center.
- Do something creative. In a convention with hundreds of exhibitors, your business has to stand out from the crowd to get noticed. Without a huge budget, you have to be creative. If your creativity takes you out of what can normally be expected at a trade show, talk with the organizers before moving ahead with your plans.
- Learn about the competition before you register. Use an online resource such as http://www.sba.com/business-resources. When you know who the other attendees are and what they will be presenting, you put your business in a better position to compete. If you do not get the attention of the trade show attendees and convert them into customers, you will be wasting a lot of money.
- Rent your display. If you don’t attend many trade shows, it doesn’t make sense to purchase an elaborate booth display that you have to store between exhibitions. A rental display can be as plain or elaborate as you are willing to pay for. An advantage of renting your booth instead of buying it is that, as your business grows, your trade show booth can become increasingly extravagant.
- If you have freebies at your booth, make them meaningful. Make your free items something that will make the recipient remember you and your company. A free item is a waste of money if the attendee doesn’t keep it. Give away something useful with your logo on it. Make sure the item you give away relates to your company.
- Don’t put a folder full of product brochures in each attendees hand. Most brochures get thrown away. One page sheets of information about your company, along with a business card and a free item gives your information a good chance of making it on the airplane with the recipient. Take the contact information of anyone interested in knowing more about your company and email it to them.
- Donate leftover samples. Instead of shipping your samples back home, donate them to a local charity. Because the samples were already allocated as gifts, your business shouldn’t miss them. In addition to saving on shipping costs, there are other benefits to donating your products. When you donate, your product samples will get into the hands of potential customers. You may be also able to claim a tax deduction for the charitable donation.
By using one or more of the above suggestions, you can maximize your trade show budget to gain valuable exposure for your company.