How to Get the Most Mileage Out of Promoting Your Business at a Trade Show #smallbiz

While a trade show booth can do a lot for your business,‭ ‬it can also end up costing a lot without providing any return.‭ ‬Find out how to ensure the former‭!

People at a trade show walking around

How to Get the Most Mileage Out of Promoting Your Business at a Trade Show

According to‭ ‬Business Week,‭ ‬an average small business should expect to spend‭ ‬$10,000‭ ‬or more on a trade show booth.‭ ‬If that seems high,‭ ‬it’s important to remember that the booth itself isn’t the only cost that comes into play.‭ ‬There are also things like paying for services related to the show and getting there in the first place.‭ ‬While those individual expenses may not be that much,‭ ‬it doesn’t take long for them to start adding up.

Because this is a significant cost for most small businesses,‭ ‬you’re going to want to get the best return possible on the money you invest.‭ ‬Unfortunately,‭ ‬many businesses don’t achieve‭ ‬that goal.‭ ‬There are plenty of‭ ‬examples of businesses that give up on trade shows because they can’t justify their expense.‭ ‬Whether your business has already experienced a trade show disappointment or you’re extremely worried that’s what’s going to happen,‭ ‬the good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to maximize your chances of making this investment a success.

5‎ ‏Proven Trade Show Tips for Businesses

The first thing you need to do is define your specific goal.‭ ‬Although this may seem obvious,‭ ‬too many businesses overlook it.‭ ‬Instead of really drilling down to identify what they want to accomplish,‭ ‬they simply settle for a broad definition like marketing.‭ ‬But in order to define whether or not your booth is a success,‭ ‬you need to know exactly how you’re trying to utilize it.‭ ‬Obtaining leads,‭ ‬strengthening relationships with customers,‭ ‬branding,‭ ‬recruiting or attracting investors are all examples of more specific goals for a booth.

Once you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish,‭ ‬you’ll be able to evaluate whether or not a specific event is the right fit for achieving that goal.‭ ‬Keep in mind that just because an event is popular doesn’t automatically mean it’s the right fit for your business.‭ ‬If you can’t nail down exactly how that specific event is going to make your goal a success,‭ ‬it’s almost guaranteed that it’s not the right fit.

The next tip to make your investment a success is to actually have a budget for it.‭ ‬Due to the nature of trade shows,‭ ‬it’s fairly easy to end up spending significantly more than you expected.‭ ‬Because keeping your costs low will make it easier to get a positive return,‭ ‬you really need to know your numbers.‭ ‬That being said,‭ ‬don’t feel the need to go so cheap that it lessens the effectiveness of your booth.‭ ‬Instead,‭ ‬simply being very aware of what you’re going to spend will make it much easier to avoid overspending.

The fourth tip is to find the right members of your team to work your booth.‭ ‬If your business only has a couple of people,‭ ‬chances are you will all work it.‭ ‬But if you’re a larger organization,‭ ‬you need to find the right match.‭ ‬Once again,‭ ‬this goes back to pairing with the goal you identified.‭ ‬It makes sense to have different members of your staff work the booth if your goal is recruiting than you would if collecting leads is what you want to accomplish.

The fifth way to make your trade show booth a success is to stand out.‭ ‬Regardless of the size of the event,‭ ‬you’re not going to be the only business that has an exhibit there.‭ ‬If you’re wondering how to make sure the audience you’re trying to reach both notices and remembers you,‭ ‬using‭ ‬unique promotional products is a tactic that works very well.‭ ‬Whether you opt for koozies,‭ ‬backpacks or another customized item,‭ ‬there are two big reasons this approach is so effective.

First,‭ ‬regardless of who it is or what they do,‭ ‬everyone loves free stuff.‭ ‬So when attendees see that you’re giving away free items,‭ ‬they’ll want to check out your booth.‭ ‬This takes care of getting noticed.‭ ‬Then,‭ ‬because these are items people will take and then have around their home or office,‭ ‬they’ll actually remember your business after the trade show is over.‭

If you’re in the process of planning for your first trade show booth,‭ ‬you’re probably going to run into at least a few minor challenges you didn’t expect.‭ ‬But as long as you take the time to follow everything we discussed above,‭ ‬you should be able to avoid major problems and put your business in the best possible position for having a successful trade show.

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Gail Gardner

Small Businsss Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.