Marketing Tips for Small Businesses: Take Your Marketing Strategy on the Road with Exhibit Marketing

The New Year has arrived… is it just us, or do you feel that familiar thrill of a fresh start that usually comes with it? Now is the best time to not only make new personal goals, but to also set some intentions for your business. If improving your customer reach is on your list this year, have you considered exhibiting at trade shows?

There are plenty of small business trade shows out there for a variety of industries, and we have endless trade show booth ideas for small budgets and big budgets alike. There’s no reason not to consider this marketing tactic, and many reasons that it just might be the approach that takes you to the next level this year.

1. Make Connections with Important Decision-Makers.

Getting through to a key decision-maker within an organization without an existing relationship can be tough. But head to a top industry trade show, and you’re likely to find the same heavy hitters you want to meet right there, in-person. Of course, you can’t guarantee they’ll all be willing to talk with you, but there’s a good chance they’ll be checking out the exhibitor booths and come across yours as they do. After all, 92 percent of tradeshow attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services, so this could very well be the one time the people on your list are actually seeking out what you have to sell.

2. Makes Sales at the Event.

Trade shows aren’t just good for facilitating handshakes and business card exchanges, either. If you set them up well, you can actually come home with a fresh batch of sales. One of the best marketing tips for small business exhibitors is to come to the event with plenty of product (and ways to order). It’s been said a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and the saying rings true at conferences too. Use attendees’ natural impulse for instant gratification, and make sure you can enable a sale if they’re ready, so they don’t walk away and forget about your company and products shortly after.

3. Reach a Large Number of People at Once.

The personal connections you make at trade shows can be incredibly valuable, but there’s a lot of value that comes with being seen by a large volume of people. Even if no attendees speak with you directly (which is all but impossible), there’s a great deal of brand recognition and awareness that comes with people seeing your well-designed booth, logo and product samples. They might not be incentivized to take action after simply walking by, but every touchpoint you have with them matters. You never know when they’ll see your brand next, and maybe that next time, it will seem familiar (and more trustworthy) since it’s not brand-new anymore.

4. Great Place to Introduce New Products.

One of our favorite trade show tips for exhibitors is to wait to debut a new product (or service) at your next trade show. This can help you create a lot of buzz, and give you the perfect platform to get the word out to a wide group of relevant, qualified people who will care about what you’re releasing. It also sets you up for a lot of instant sales, and feedback, about the product that’s hard to get otherwise.

5. Conduct Market Research.

Keeping the feedback loop going, when you’re at your office, you can send email surveys to your customers or ideal customer base, and hope for a decent response rate that can help you shape your next product or your customer service experience. But rarely does this type of effort get much of a response (10-20 percent is considered a reasonable response rate, which really isn’t much).

But you have all of your ideal customers milling around a trade show hall, stopping by your booth, and engaging in conversation with you. Why not ask them directly and collect useful market research at a much higher response rate?  Make sure to keep yourself and your team focused, and only ask one or two key questions so you can get more, in-depth responses and hold your audience’s attention.

6. Do Live Product Demonstrations.

Another fun idea is to do a demonstration of your product right at your booth. Few things get attendees’ attention as quickly as live action, and it can be a cool way to showcase your products’ or services’ benefits while breaking up the monotony of static booth displays. You don’t have to have a flashy product to make this happen either; anything that involves movement and gives visitors an idea of how your products or services work can be just enough to draw in some new eyeballs. This is something you simply can’t do from afar, and another reason that exhibiting at trade shows can give you new ways to connect with your audience.

7. Give Product Samples to Your Target Audience.

And last but not least, who doesn’t love free samples? Trade show attendees are used to getting kitschy handouts, which are all well and good, but you can set yourself apart by giving out actual product samples they can try and use. This is a great way to get your product into the hands (and minds) of your buyers, and it saves you all the shipping it would cost you to mail them out instead.

These, and more are all great reasons to consider exhibiting at small business trade shows and expanding your customer reach. And we can help you come up with trade show booth ideas for small budgets if budget is a concern. Contact us any time to learn more.

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