Friday, July 12, 2013
Posted by: Rhette Baughman
Consider exhibiting at a few trade shows as a way to grow your business through development of new connections. In an issue of the Arizona Small Business Association's (ASBA) magazine (www.asba.com) business development director Sandi Ahrens talks about how to do that wisely.
"If you plan wisely, pick shows that attract your target audience and take full advantage of your time at the show,” she writes. "It’s possible to get back everything you invested and more.”
She cites a 2012 survey by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research that shows small businesses employing one to 99 employees account for 61 percent of exhibiting companies. The study also shows seven of ten trade show attendees plan to buy one or more products at shows and a majority of attendees, 94 percent, have net buying influence in their companies.
Actually, Ahrens points out, generating new sales lead is a rather small part of the overall benefits of exhibiting at trade shows. "Trade show attendees are likely to be interested in what you offer, presenting a great opportunity to elevate your brand’s visibility,” writes Ahrens. "By talking to as many people as possible and having an eye-catching and informative display, you can build awareness of your brand in a cost effective manner.”
You should consider showcasing a new product or an old one shown in a new way using new technology. Trade show attendees come to see new things and find out more about existing product. An engaging educational display about your company will leave people who stop by your booth with little doubt you are the expert in the field!
Perhaps the number one benefit of trade shows is the one-on-one interaction with people and a large opportunity to build relationships. I have personally organized trade shows in the past and found new customers as well as reconnected with existing customers who wanted to come by and see what we had to offer. Relationships are want builds a successful business for the long haul. While online activity is certainly important people still like to meet and greet real people in person.
Invariably when we did trade shows it gave us a unique opportunity to scope out what our competition was doing. They too would have booths at shows and we naturally would stop by to chat and take in what they were selling and how they were selling it.
A final tip would be to offer gifts or promotional items with your logo on them so people could use them and have your name in front of them constantly. We used to give away key chains, pencils, candy and other items. We also would offer a chance on a large prize for people who dropped off their business cards. Perhaps the most popular one was an autographed football signed by the nation’s only two time Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin. And Ahrens closes with a word about following up with new prospects and to do it quickly to get the best return on your investment in the trade show.