Planning for trade shows and exhibitions

Promoting your business at trade shows and exhibitions can be a rewarding experience for small business owners looking to market their products and services. However, without careful planning and research, these events can be a waste of your time and money.

Create an events budget

Review your marketing and promotion budget to determine whether participating in a trade show or exhibition is a viable option. You need to look at the benefits, both direct and indirect (e.g. sales, lead generation, brand recognition), and make sure they outweigh the costs (e.g. booth hire, promotional collateral, staff costs, registration fees).

Work with your business adviser or accountant to create a budget for trade shows and exhibitions, and include this in your overall marketing plan. The idea is to carefully choose events that match your specific needs and finances. It may be more beneficial to focus on one important and expensive show than to go to several smaller shows.

Research upcoming events

Before you decide to exhibit at a trade show or exhibition, you will first need to do some research. Search the internet for upcoming trade shows and exhibitions that relate to your business and industry. Your industry association can advise you about future events and whether your particular business might benefit from them.

Attend other trade shows and exhibitions

An important way to decide if a trade show is the right promotional tool for your business is to attend trade shows that relate to your industry. This will give you a first-hand view of the level of involvement and the types of people attending these events. It will also give you a chance to ask questions of other business owners and attendees and find out what works and doesn't work.

Research your audience

Research your customers to find out the best way to showcase your products and services. Your display should cater to your customers' needs and expectations. These will be different for industry specialists and the general public.

Get some quotes from visual display companies. They can help with the design of your trade booth, making it stand out to your customers. Learn more about creating effective retail displays.

Also think about what you want to say about your business. Write down the key points about your business and practise saying them out loud.

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