One of the best ways for a growing company to market their small business to hundreds, if not thousands of potential new customers/vendors over a couple of days is to exhibit at a trade show. Trade show booth rentals have become more affordable over the past few years, making it a solid investment for sales and marketing. Here are 4 reasons why trade shows help companies grow:
- Trade shows give you the ability to develop new relationships within just a few days - while it may take weeks, even months to develop a relationship through networking events or other sales tactics, participating in a tradeshow gives you the ability to establish a strong connection in a short amount of time. While there are formal aspects to the tradeshow, you also have the chance to take clients out to dinner or happy hour to get to know them on a personal level. Because the timing is so concentrated, you have time to develop rapport.
- Speaking at a tradeshow increases brand recognition and credibility - if you get the opportunity to speak at a tradeshow on a hot topic the industry is dyeing to know more about, not only is it great exposure, it establishes credibility. It can be a warm introduction to potential customers and you can even promote it leading up to the event (email newsletters, direct mail, etc.).
- Depending on the tradeshow, you're able to get free media exposure - typically, media exposure is expensive and cost prohibitive for a small business. A tradeshow is the perfect opportunity to gain local and national media exposure from a variety of mediums (magazines, online blogs, trade publications) for minimal to no cost.
- Real-time, in-person marketing - Once you rent a trade show booth, the clock starts ticking - it's time to spruce up your marketing efforts. Make sure to have business cards, sales collateral, product demonstrations (if applicable), pull up banners and giveaways to make a lasting impression on vendors and potential customers. This is where you get to meet everyone face-to-face for multiple days in a row. You only have one shot to make a first impression. Keep everything inline with your brand and let your team work the floor.
- Targeted trade shows are in high demand - For small companies (even large ones), make sure to invest in a targeted trade show where you can meet your ideal customer. Allocate your resources into materials that will speak to your target audience. For example, if you know your customers are between the ages of 45 - 65 don't invest in a gold-plated flash drive. Purchase a giveaway that's memorable and useful.
After the trade show is over and everyone's had a chance to come home to their families and friends, make sure to follow up with your prospects/vendors. From thank you emails, to outreach phone calls to ask qualifying questions, it’s about getting to know your customers and helping them succeed. Focus on nurturing leads into a relationship that leads to business or referrals.