Trade show success for small businesses

If you are eager to expand the reach of your small business, you might want to consider attending a trade show. These large events can be full of ripe footfall for the picking.

With a readymade market, you could expect to make some connections within your chosen industry, you may make some sales, and you might find that your social media following increases over the course of the event. You need to decide the sort of trade show that will bring the best success for your small business. You could opt for the more expensive international event with thousands of attendees but where competition is fierce. Or you might prefer a more niche and local event that allows you to rein in your costs.

trade show for small businessWhichever type of trade show you opt for, there will be a number of essentials that you need to adhere to as a small business to maximize the success of your trade show experience. Read on to find out what they are.


The key reason for attending a trade show is to enhance your reach within your chosen market. It doesn’t matter whether you work in finance, graphic design or IT solutions, the trade show that you attend can help you to leapfrog your rivals and compete with ease. You may even increase your share of the market and steal your competitors’ customers.

The easiest way to do this is by getting your brand out there. The pitch that you have at a trade fair will be small. You may feel like you are merely a postage stamp sized stall amongst a sea of other postage stamps. How are you going to stand out? Think about picking up one or two custom banners that you can place on your pitch. These professional and branded pieces of advertising can be large enough to see from the other side of an exhibition hall or arena. This means potential customers from meters away can see your stall and make their way across to you if they like what they see. Ensure that you have a vertical flag to be visible. Ensure that each custom print has your logo, color scheme, contact details, and social media handles. This way, a simple banner can allow your new potential customer to get in touch.

When considering the branding for your small business, don’t neglect the power of the freebie bag. While a tad gimmicky, every attendee at a trade show enjoys picking up a branded mouse mat or custom branded pencil topper from a stall. Keep your bag branded and this is free advertising across the show.

Look the part

Attending a trade show can be long and tiring. Depending on the length of the event, you could be on your feet for ten or more hours a day over three days. Ensure that you take a team with you to help. Set up a rota so that there are never any tired or drab faces o your stall. Get suited and botted and appear professional. Remember you only get one chance to make a first impression. Ensure that you enthuse the people who crowd around your stall with how you started your business, the product and services that you have on offer, and show off your product in action.

Ensure that you eat well and stay hydrated. If you can get some seating behind your stall. Even a stool can help take the weight off your feet from time to time.

Keep the crowds

If you have an audience when you talk, don’t allow potential crowds to slip away while you are talking. Have a Powerpoint on loop to try and harness attention for a short while. Set up an email list and encourage people to sign up. The hard work really starts when you head back to the office after the trade show. You need to maintain momentum. Every individual who signed up to your list should be sent a thank you note and some initial incentivizing discounts to spend on your website. Don’t bombard with emails as you’ll find they will put your correspondence straight in the spam folder. Keep your emails concise and fortnightly. The exclusivity feel that this email has could convince them to part with their cash and do business with you.

Attending a trade show is the best way to enhance your reach globally and online. You can become more noticed and increase your share of the market through excellent branding, amazing people skills, and pure enthusiasm. Follow this guide and you can maximize the trade show success for your startup.