(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.)
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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+.