Trade shows aren’t the least expensive way to market your small business, but they are one of the most powerful if leveraged correctly. Trade shows allow you to reach and speak to people who you might never get the opportunity to do business with otherwise. Planning ahead using a few simple trade show tactics is the key to a successful trade show marketing  appearance.
Create A Clear Goal for the Trade Show
Some small businesses make the mistake of assuming that simply appearing at the trade show is enough to spark interest in their products and a desire to do business with the company.
However, every time you attend a trade show you need a clear goal in mind for what you hope to accomplish. Examples of clearly defined goals  include:
- To gauge customer response to a new product or service.
- To promote brand recognition.
- To drive traffic to your website.
- To build new leads.
- To educate consumers about new product or services.
Once the goal is clearly defined, you can craft a booth, presentation and literature to achieve this goal.
Create A Powerful Image for Your Booth and Presentation
Never underestimate the “wow” factor at a trade show. You only have about 30 seconds  to capture your audience’s attention, so make those first few seconds count. Tools for introducing the “wow” factor into your trade show appearance include:
- A colorful, well-designed booth.
- Knowledgeable booth staff who can easily engage people in conversation.
- Working models of your unique product or service.
- Audio and/or video to capture attention across a busy venue.
- Literature and/or product samples for potential customers to take home and remember you by.
Build ways to garner attention at the event, as well as stick in attendees’ minds afterwards. Part of this is color coordinating your booth artwork with the literature or samples you hand out, so the attendee recognizes your logo and name later on.
Promote Your Appearance at the Trade Show Well Ahead of Time
Radio ads, TV ads, billboards, and social media  are all excellent ways to get the word out ahead of the trade show that you’ll be there. But don’t just promote your appearance, give people a good reasons to come to the trade show and make the effort to stop by your booth.
Offer prizes, hold contests, give social media users a booth check-in option, and offer special presentations throughout the event via your social media outposts.
People are more likely to come if there’s a reward involved.
Choose A Heavy Traffic Event Over A Small Niche Trade Show
Some small businesses think that a small niche trade show is better for them to get noticed than a huge, more generalized show, such as a home and garden event or ladies’ show.
However, those larger events get much more traffic, which means more exposure for you than you could generate at a small event with fewer attendants. Even if you attend an event where most people are outside your niche, you never know how meeting, greeting, and networking can pay off in the long run.
If small businesses plan and use smart strategies and trade show tactics to design the booth, produce quality literature and up the ante with audio or video, they can measure up to the big guys and come out on top.
Trade Show Display  Photo via Shutterstock