Small business owners may wonder if attending a trade show is worth the time and cost. Whether you are considering attending a trade show as an exhibitor or audience member, consider these five reasons why it is worth the effort.
1. To Stay On Top of Emerging Trends
Trade shows are an excellent opportunity for small business owners to see what is popular right now and what new developments are around the corner. Depending on the type of event in question, you might find seminars or demonstrations for new products, services, and technology. Alternatively, you may need to visit vendor booths directly to understand current business trends.
No matter how you engage with other businesses and suppliers, it is essential to note what you see and hear. Taking pictures or notes is a great way to keep details sharp. Then, when you get back to the office, you can begin to assess the new information and see how to best incorporate it into your operations.
2. To Engage With Potential Customers
Another great feature of trade shows is that they are filled with potential new customers. If you are there as a vendor, you will have the opportunity to share your business and its products and services with every attendee that walks through the door. A few ways to make the most of this include:
- Offering free samples or useful promotional giveaways
- Having a price drawing or contest during the show
- Including a product, discount, or incentive in attendee goody bags
- Doing a demonstration or presentation on the event stage
3. To Build a Strong Business Network
The other businesses at the show may be your competition, but they are also potential future partners and sources of referrals. After all, you are all in the same industry, so you have at least that in common.
Take time during the show to step outside your booth and visit with other vendors. Plan your stops before you go to make the best use of your time. Introduce yourself, leave a business card, and let them know you are interested in learning more about how your companies can work together to generate excitement (and sales).
Be sure to also collect information from the vendors that seem like the best fit for your brand. Then, follow up with them in the weeks following the show. Reintroduce yourself, remind them about your company, and ask about setting up a meeting to see how you can help each other grow.
Remember that many of these leads will say no, which is fine. The important thing is not to get discouraged and to keep reaching out where possible. Even if you build one or two connections, it is more than you had before the show.
- To Gain Insight About Your Competitors
Trade shows often bring out the best in a specific industry. That makes them an excellent way to see what competitors are doing. So, even if you aren’t ready to commit to being a vendor or exhibitor, you can still gain a ton of benefits as an attendee.
This approach is a little different than exploring industry trends. Here, you want to talk to other business owners and see what they are doing. Look for customer reactions to displays and demonstrations to see how they are received.
It may seem a little like stealing ideas, but what you are really doing is learning about your competition. The insights gained here can help you find your niche by seeing what parts of the industry are saturated and what ones need attention.
- To Build Brand Awareness
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, trade shows present a unique opportunity to present your brand to other businesses and potential customers who are interested in what you offer. Use the time to build brand awareness and position yourself as an expert in the field.
If approached correctly, trade shows are excellent opportunities to network, learn about emerging trends, and research the competition.