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5 Ways a Small Business Can Compete with Large Companies at a Trade Show

(As a follow up to our post about seven types of trade show displays, business and tech writer Elizabeth Alton outlines a few important ways small businesses can compete in this space.)

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Trade shows are a highly effective venue for reconnecting with existing clients and meeting new customers. But sometimes, when you’re a small business owner, industry events can be intimidating – especially when several large businesses are scheduled to be in attendance. Large businesses tend to have large budgets to create fancy displays that are designed to draw in potential customers.

So how can you compete as a small business owner? Luckily, there are a number of ways you can create an attractive trade show booth on a smaller budget. Here are five ways a small business can compete with a large company at industry events.

Pay attention to your booth design

One of the quickest and easiest ways to grab the attention of others at a trade show is with a creative booth design. Now, you may be thinking that a custom booth design is simply out of your price range. Luckily, there are a number of options available for businesses of every size. Trade show display companies can work with you to create an attractive display to meet your budget. For some great examples of creative booth designs and accessories, check out the seven types of displays for industry events

Be outgoing

So what if your business booth doesn’t necessarily have all the bells and whistles of larger competitors? That doesn’t mean you can’t make a great impression on potential customers stopping by. Plan your communications strategy ahead of time, and make sure you put any shyness aside for the trade show. Being friendly, outgoing, and accessible goes a long way towards making meaningful connections with your target audience.

Get creative

Have you ever been to a trade show where businesses seem to be giving the same old sales pitch at every booth you visit? Why not change things up a little bit to help ensure that your business stands out from the crowd! Consider purchasing a unique branded giveaway item for customers, developing a short ice breaking game, or crafting a pitch that’s attention grabbing and totally unique. Standing out from the crowd isn’t about how much money you’re spending, it’s about being memorable!

Work the room

One rule of thumb for trade shows is that you should never go alone – it makes it much easier to work the floor. Always bring a colleague with you so that one of you can stay at your booth while the other networks their way around the room. This two-pronged communication approach is especially important for small business owners because it gives you the opportunity to cover more ground in less time. This also allows you to provide potential customers with multiple reminders of your business. After all, they will have the pleasure of meeting you as you explore the trade show floor, as well as your colleague who is manning your businesses’ booth.

Stay connected

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If not, it’s time to get started with building one! The popular social network provides a great outlet for making connections with contacts you’ve made at industry events. After you attend the upcoming trade show, make some time to go through that stack of business cards you gather and start networking on LinkedIn. Sometimes a simple follow up message is enough to trigger a deeper conversation and develop a relationship with a potential customer.

If you are a small business owner who is feeling excited but somewhat intimidated by attending a trade show, not to worry! There are several strategies that can help you stand out from the competition, even if the competition is a larger company.

Author Bio
Elizabeth Alton is a business and technology writer. She covers trends related to small business, entrepreneurs, and the evolving digital landscape. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, USA Today, The Daily Muse, Better Homes and Gardens, and PolicyMic. Connect with Elizabeth on Google+.

2 comments for “5 Ways a Small Business Can Compete with Large Companies at a Trade Show”

  1. Skyline Houston
    Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 10:52:52 AM

    Thank you for this post. Many smaller businesses get discouraged going in against bigger businesses at a trade show, but they can definitely capture attention of consumers and following your recommendations have an awesome trade show experience.

  2. Kiran
    Posted Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 7:38:15 PM

    It almost looks like the boat, James Bond was driivng in the movie Moonraker . The boat was used in an action scene in the Amazon River. That boat was lost in a waterfall.

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