Thursday, June 14, 2012

Are Trade Shows Necessary for Your Small Business?

A successful business can’t form in a vacuum.

In other words, for a business to thrive and survive it has to get out into the world and “strut its stuff.” Nowhere is this more important than with startups and small businesses.

However, tough economic times have many businesses reviewing how their marketing dollars are being spent. As business owners seek more ways to increase ROI, activities that generate a higher return are kept whereas ones that don’t provide any traction are on the chopping block.

A trade show is considered to be an expensive necessity for many industries, but for a small business like yours, is it worth it?

Regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s a pretty safe bet there will be some kind of trade show occurring within the next several months. Whether you’re going as an observer or as an active participant with a booth, your trade show experience can become a major boost for your business.

Here are some of the focused benefits you’ll get from participating in a trade show.

Finding leads

You’ve got a product to sell. You know who your end customer should be. However, there are some very important middle men you’ll need to find before your product ends up with all those valuable customers. These would be the distributors and other partners that could benefit from having your product as part of their catalog.

Suppose you’ve come up with the greatest flavour of popcorn. Wouldn’t you want to go to the trade show where all the movie theatre executives will be hanging out?

A trade show is the most efficient method where you’ll find your leads all in one place.

The freebies

It’s one thing to describe your product or service on your website and quite another to be able to provide an actual demonstration or sample. Participating in a trade show lets you put your product into the hands of decision makers who can be placing orders the next day.

Yes, it’s a major investment to give away samples but it’s an investment that can pay back in very positive ways.

Build your brand

A business is built on its brand.

Just like the adage – if a tree falls in the forest, but, if no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If no one is aware of your company then it can’t gain a foothold. A trade show will be plastered with banners, bags, T-shirts and other give-aways that have all kinds of company brands imprinted on them. Get into that game and you’ll be able to spread your name in front of the people that matter.  

Scope out your competitors

You’ve got competition. Yes, you like to think that your product is truly unique and the only one needed by the consumer.

The harsh truth is you will always have competitors. Guess where they’ll be?

At a trade show.

This is a perfect opportunity for you to check out the competition. You’re not spying as much as seeing what they’re offering and how your product is different. Who knows? Seeing what the competition is up to might inspire you to make some beneficial changes to your business.

The press

Trade shows are covered by the media. Depending on the show and industry, that media could truly be global. This is a wonderful chance for you to get some very positive exposure. Seek out the media reps and offer them a demonstration/sample.

Don’t wait for them to come to you!