To spread word about your business, there’s no quicker nor efficient way than presenting your products at trade shows. Exhibitions and expos aren’t specially reserved for large companies and industry leaders either – there are hundreds of trade shows up and down the UK, with something for startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs alike!
If you’re looking to promote your business, but you’re not sure where to start, how to best prepare, or even what to take to a business show, we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for your next trade show.
Become a Trade Show Regular
Before diving in at the deep end – and potentially wasting some of your business’ hard-earned money – the first thing to do is to become an expert at attending trade events.
From your first-hand experience, you’ll learn:
• How to talk to attendees
• The best way to grab attention (and most importantly, keep it)
• What makes a trade show booth appealing
• Which marketing materials you read again when you get home
Every promotion you plan for your business should be based on research. Without doing your homework, it’s easy to miss the mark and come home without making the impact you wanted to.
Visiting small business shows and exhibitions is also a great way to network – especially if you’re a B2B business. So, remember to take your custom business cards with you!
Research Different Types of Trade Show
Like we said before: there are loads of different trade shows, each with very specific theme or target audience. Whether you grab a spot at the local craft fair, a B2B event or even if you’ve booked a stand at The Great British Business Show, it’s important to find an event that suits your business.
A quick search engine query will help you find events that are local to you – so try starting there. Take a look at the different types of trade show on offer to see where your startup or small business fits in.
Make Your Display Booth Stand Out
Once you’ve booked yourself onto a trade event, it’s time to start creating your promotional tools. First things first: a killer display!
Make sure to find the size of your display table so you can decide on how big you’re going with any stands or signs. Here are a few print marketing options for your display booth and how to use them for the biggest impact:
Signs and Posters
If you have a wall or barrier at the back of your display table, printed signs and posters are one of the most cost-effective ways of brightening your space up advertising what your business is (plus any exclusive offers for event attendees!).
For something a little sturdier, roller banners are a great way of making your stall stand out. As well as showing off your branding, they’re also tall enough to be seen above the crowd – so people will spot your stall from a distance.
With a quality aluminium frame, a podium and even halogen lights, exhibition stands show that you’re a professional who means business. Customise your own to demand the room at any exhibition or trade event.
Nail Your Handouts and Giveaways
People at events expect to go home with something. In fact, 92% of trade show attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services.
Whether that’s print marketing material like informational flyers and leaflets, or promotional gifts like stickers, mugs and pens, having something branded to hand out at your stall is key to being remembered long after the event has finished.
Make sure you arrange your table in an appealing way – smaller freebies at the front, larger promotional tools (like booklets and brochures) at the back.
Plan to Host a Giveaway
Interactivity is a key element of a successful trade show display – and competitions are a great way of including this. It’ll also make sure people return to your stall to see if they’ve won anything. And if they have? That’s a positive brand connection!
Hold a unique giveaway competition or a raffle for chances to win samples of your products to build excitement about your business.
Create a Goody Bag
For a handy way of giving out your handouts, why not create your own goody bags (known often as ‘swag bags’) with your logo on?
The best part about branding your bags with your business’ name? Once you’ve handed out a few of these, your logo will be drifting around the entire exhibit – it’s basically free advertising!
For even more inspiration, here’s what to put in an event goody bag.
Wear Your Brand
As well as boosting brand presence, personalised t-shirts are great for encouraging trade event attendees to ask questions. They’ll instantly recognise you as being part of the display, so there’ll be no hesitation to approach you!
The cohesion created between you, any assistants and your event booth will also create a polished look to show off just how much you care about both your business and your customers.
Prepare an Introduction for Your Business
As a small business owner, you might have heard of something called an elevator pitch. This is a brief outline of what your business does in order to create interest. It should last no longer than 20-30 seconds (or, a short elevator ride).
Often used for investor pitches, this small – but mighty – description has to pack a persuasive punch. It works well for all face-to-face networking events, like trade shows and exhibitions, because it’s a great tool for making a lasting first impression.
We’d recommend planning how you’re going to introduce your business before you go to the trade event. After all, first impressions really do count!
Create Pre-Exhibition Hype with Social Media
To get the most out of your next trade event, why not try adding social media to your event marketing strategy?
You can let your followers know where they can find you on the day, what freebies and competitions you’re offering and even create teasers. Demand Zen found that when they announced competition clues via Twitter before the trade show they attended, they reached 55% more people than actually attended the show!
As much as exhibitions and trade shows are a great way of spreading brand awareness, they also give you the chance to meet your customers face to face and spend some time building relationships.
For more help with trade show preparation, here’s a little extra reading:
• How to Create an Eye-catching Exhibition Stand
• Your Trade Show Print Checklist
• Network Marketing Tips (For Business Owners Who Hate Networking)