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How to make attending a trade show profitable for your small business

clip71731932.jpgTrade shows can be a highly effective promotion, and sales tool, for small businesses. However, if they are not utilized correctly, they can also be a complete waste of time, and money. Whether attending a trade show is a success or failure, for your small business will depend a great deal on your advance preparation. Here are some tips on how to make attending a trade show profitable, for your small business-

  • Find the right trade show-Research is important before selecting a trade show. You want to choose the trade shows that will give your business the best return on investment, in terms of your goals. For example: if your goal is on-site sales, having a booth, at that big splashy trade show, where your trade show display is one of a large number, that sell similar products may not be the best choice. You should choose trade shows that best target the potential customers, that you want to reach, and best suit your participation goals. Be sure to find out ahead of time, what that particular trade show's objectives are, and investigate and evaluate the trade show's audience.
  • Set clear and concise goal, for your trade show participation. You need to have a clear understanding of what you want to get out of this. Do you want to use the trade show for promoting a new product or service or are you looking for a way to increase sales. Sometimes attending a trade show is beneficial to become known to wholesale suppliers. While you can have more then one goal, the point is to be clear about what your participation in trade shows is going to achieve.
  • Plan your budget and book your space. It is very important to find out everything you can about your space, including where it is on the floor, what kind of other trade show displays will be around it, whether it's a high traffic or low traffic area, and the physical conditions of your trade show display space, such as lighting. You want to maximize the dollars you are spending in relation to the goals you are trying to achieve. You also want to play your display space in terms of the target market that you want to notice you. To be effective you will really need to focus on who is it that you're targeting with your trade show displays? Remember that different audiences "shop" trade shows differently, and have different needs. It is also important to give yourself plenty of time. Planning and preparation for a major trade show can take 12 to 18 months.
  • Put out your advertising, way in advance of the show. You will want to put the word out that you are participating in a particular trade show, by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contacts to attend the show. (Be sure that you give them all the details, such as your booth number.) You should also advertise your attendance on your web site. You can also send e-mail reminders to loyal customers, and strong prospects, before the show, urging them to stop by your booth.
  • Involve your employees-From top management on down, everyone involved with your business, should be involved with the trade show. Make sure that top management is supportive of the trade show goals. In addition, you need to share your trade show goals and objectives, with your booth staff. Remember that they can't achieve your goals, and objectives, if they do not know what they are. Make sure that you plan for security as needed, since you don't want expensive prototypes or demo models "walking away". And be sure that you stress the value of friendly greetings, polite manners and appropriate interactions with trade show attendees.

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