Monday, April 18, 2011

Helpful Tips for Your First Trade Show

technology conventionsWith all the advancements in technology taking the physical meeting aspect out of business meetings or board room conferences, there really is no substitute for the good ol' fashioned face-to-face meeting one gets at a trade show or event. In the United States alone there are around 2,200 trade shows and industry expos held annually, however, this number is down almost 25% from the past three to four years. The good news is that a lot of new shows are popping their heads up this year and some discontinued ones have seen new life sparked into them and attendance is expected to improve.

If you run a small business and you want a higher profile in your industry or are looking for new clients, new partnerships or are needing to get up to par on certain trends, you should consider exhibiting or at least attending a show this year. Here are a few helpful tips and practices for getting the most out of your trade show without breaking the bank.

Budget Your Time. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the show floor and the schedule of events. Once you do this, plan your time accordingly. Try to talk with the event manager in advance and request a list of past attendees and pre-registrants.

Partner to Save. A lot of small companies often split rental fees on exhibit space with two to three other small businesses that complement them. By doing this you can save money and maybe even make a few new contacts while you're at it.

Know Your Goal. You need to determine whether or not you will be selling a product or taking orders at your show. This is known as a Contract Event. Otherwise, you will be meeting people and forming relationships in what is known as a Contact Event.

Go Minimalist. It is possible to purchase a reusable, fabric-covered back wall for your booth at a pretty cheap price (around $500). You can also get a folding easel for around $20. You could split these costs with your partners if you want to. The wall can be shipped to your hotel or be folded up and checked as baggage.

Give It Time. If you do plan on attending a show, don't try to squeeze it all into one half-day or a few hours, especially if this is one of the biggest events in your industry.

Tell the Manager About Your Company. Reporters for industry publications typically ask the general manager for tips on new exhibitors they can profile during the event. If you talk to the event manager, then they may tell the trade press about you. It's like free press, what can be better?

Rent Your Technology. If you need something like a laptop, computer, monitor or plasma display, you should know that you do not always need to buy it. Why spend all that money on something that you will only be using once or twice a year? Renting technology can save you a lot of time and money and is extremely convenient for trade shows and events.

So there you have it, some helpful tips to guide you through your first trade show, convention or event. These tips can make your first experience exponentially better than most others and will definitely give you some much needed advice.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek - When It Pays to Spend on Trade Shows

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