Given the present state of the economy and the grim forecast that we are so often reminded of, it would be forgivable to owners of small businesses to think that investing in tradeshows and exhibitions should take a backseat – at least until things begin to improve.
However, many believe that exhibiting or even simply attending one of these events can prove hugely beneficial for small businesses, recession or no. Tradeshows and similar exhibitions allow crucial exposure to a target audience, as well as interaction with potential buyers and competitors.
This said, exhibitions can cost money. Weigh in costs such as booth/showroom rental, shipping fees for exhibition stands and other display products, as well as access to electricity and the Internet and the costs for attending these events can seem more money than it’s worth.
As a result, some exhibitors are choosing to forego exhibitions and focus their investments elsewhere. But this can only be good news for small businesses, given that fewer exhibitors mean less competition. Couple with this with a few money saving tips and there is a strong case for attending tradeshows.
Conduct research and determine for yourself which shows are likely to give you more for your money and provide you with the best prospects. Have a look at sales figures and leads that may have generated from previous events you have attended.
If you’re looking to attend a particular event for the first time, ask the staff what kind of attendees they are expecting, noting how many are actually buyers. Ask for referrals to past exhibitors within your niche and see what they have to say about their past experiences at the event.
After shortlisting the events that you’d like to attend, try offering to split the rental cost of an exhibition space with a business in a different industry. This can result in savings for both businesses; possibly leading to other partnership opportunities. It’s worth contacting trade associations and social networking sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn to get the word out.
When setting up a booth, something as simple as a table cloth and a couple of exhibition boards can do the trick as opposed to an elaborate booth. The main objective is to display your business’ name, logo and services in a succinct, visually appealing way, which needn’t cost the earth.
If you’re unable to brandish any physical wares at the event, then offering yourself as a guest speaker can certainly gain the attention of potential buyers at no extra cost – in fact, you may even be paid to do so. When considering this as part of your strategy, make sure to express interest early on so as to ensure a slot before they fill up.
If all else fails, simply attending the event and introducing yourself to attendees can be hugely beneficial. Handing out free samples of your product or service can also work wonders – particularly to those documenting the event. You never know who might be attending to cover the event, and providing them with something for free can give you a significant PR boost.
One final thing of which to take note: if you are worried of the implications of not attending an event, don’t be. Whilst in the pre-Internet era it was commonplace to assume that businesses not in attendance were struggling, most companies now have an on-going online presence which foregoes the necessity to attend such exhibitions.
Dane Cross is a freelance blogger writing on behalf of Marler Haley, a UK provider of exhibition boards and display stands.