September 20, 2014

4 Trade Show Tips For Startup Companies

trade show tips for startups

Startup companies have a lot of things to worry about as they strive to become successful. Trade shows are practically foolproof in that endeavor, but only if you know what you’re doing.

Think about the potential of introducing your new business to that many people. With the right techniques, you can theoretically triple your sales with just one or two shows and there are tips you can use to accomplish this.

Trade Show Tips for Startups

Get Busy with the Legwork

Your work begins way before the show takes place. In addition to planning your budget and setting up a goal list, you have to get started on the legwork. While trade shows are excellent places to network, you can begin networking beforehand.

Reach out to current customers, investors, vendors and anyone who helped your startup along the way. Let them know you’re setting up a booth, invite them to come, and invite them to invite others as well.

If you take down contact information from even one-time customers, then send out notices utilizing social media and newsletters advertising your appearance at the trade show.

Make an Investment in a Great Booth

There are all sorts of trade show booths available. If you have the finances and think you’ll attend lots of shows, a custom design is worth the investment. You can make your logo stand out, choose your colors, and make sure you have as much space as you need. All the details are up to you, and although you’ll certainly pay for it, it’s a worthwhile investment if it brings in more business.

As a startup, however, you may not have the budget for an expensive booth. But, that’s okay because you can still make a good investment. Here are some criteria for buying a trade show display:

  • Start small if it’s your smartest move.
  • Go for a pop-up display or a banner.

As long as your signage is vibrant, visible and interesting, your booth will serve you well.

Be as Eye-Catching as Possible

You have to grab the attention of all the people passing by your booth. The display itself, the colors, the signage, and the product placement are solid places to start, but that’s not the only way to create an eye-catching booth. If you want to have a steady stream of visitors, you need to:

  • Put together swag bags, giveaway items, or other promotional materials.
  • Create an attraction or gimmick that piques the interest of passersby, such as a display of food, a PowerPoint presentation or a TV display.
  • Carefully scout the perfect location, one that guarantees lots of foot traffic. Make sure your display stands out and draws a crowd.

Don’t Get Lazy After the Show

Just because you got a lot of leads and prospects at the trade show doesn’t mean you’re done. The worst mistake a startup can make is to get lazy, because people will forget about you.

At your booth, invite people to share their contact information, or at least their email addresses. After the show, send out letters and follow-up messages, giving them a personal touch when possible.

You can give your business a significant boost if you attend the right trade show events. Just remember that those sales don’t come cheap, so you have to work hard to generate and maintain relationships.

12 Comments ▼

Timothy Carter


Timothy Carter Timothy Carter is the Digital Marketing Manager for the trade show display exhibit company, Nimlok. Prior to working at Nimlok, he was the Director of Search and Social for Smash Hit Displays. He was also the Social Media Manager for the SEO company, Click2Rank, handling the social marketing strategy for a half a dozen different companies blending the lines of search and social.

12 Reactions

  1. Timothy, what would you recommend to a startup with a 10×10 booth, a SaaS product & a limited budget?

  2. Whenever I go to trade shows or bazaars, I notice that a booth with really eye catching designs or strategies gets a chunk of customers in their booth always. I too, of course, goes to booths who catches my attention. But what really impresses me is how after the event, someone from the show will contact me and follow up or whatever. It just shows they really mean business.

  3. Hi Timothy, really liked your tips regarding trade shows. Really its going to help many start up companies.Thanks for sharing this useful information.

  4. Great Article and feedback. We provide espresso bar catering for all types of events, including exhibit booths at trade shows. Free cappuccinos and lattes are always a huge hit and draw big crowds to the booth! They are a nice conversation starter and they create an opportunity to engage with the attendees while they wait for their beverage.

  5. Hi Timothy, much thanks for sharing this tips for startups. Your last point “Don’t Get Lazy After the Show” really got my mind. Consistent relation building matters in making recurring sales.

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