How To Get More Leads At Your Next Small Business Event Or Trade Show

As a small business owner, you're probably not going to attend huge industry trade shows that require million-dollar booths and take place in giant convention centers. But you will have many opportunities to take part in regional and local events put on by a state organization or the chamber of commerce. Even though these aren't huge "trade shows," they are a good opportunity to make an impression on potential customers.

But don't be one of those people who shows up to your 8 x 8 table with a stack of business cards and little else. The same kind of advanced planning that big companies do for their trade events should be part of what you do to get ready for any exhibition. That way, you'll benefit from getting more leads and giving more people an awareness of who you are and what you do.

There are three main areas that you need to consider while preparing for an event:

1. The look of your booth or table.

People are attracted to what they see visually. If you don't have a nicely set up area, with a big sign that shows what you do and has products or service information displayed, no one will stop by. These items may require some up-front spending, but the items can be used over and over again. A promotional products specialist can help you order options that fit your branding and budget. Consider creating the following:

  • A banner for the background. This can have your company name and logo, and perhaps some photos illustrating what you do. Professional, unique images are going to give you more credibility and create more interest than clip art or stock photos.
  • A covering for the table. Some events provide their own tablecloths, but if you want to look professional, purchase a table covering in a bright color with your company name attached or embroidered.
  • A stand-up banner or display. These have come down in price, and can be used over and over. Get one or two free-standing displays that have your name on the top and a big product or service image. These are also available for tabletop display if you don't think you'll attend many bigger shows.
  • A way to display your business literature. Don't just pile brochures and cards on a corner of the table. You can get anything from a single standup container for brochures and another for business cards at your local office supply store to a rack designed especially for events. Look at how much information you have to share and make sure it is available on both sides of your table or booth.

2. What you have to give.

Trade-show attendees like stuff. That's why most tables have pens, stickers and product information. You should think about giving away something that will interest the people who attend your show, but won't break your budget. Talk to a promotional products specialist about what is available that would connect in some way to your business. Perhaps a small tape measure with your logo for a contractor, a screen cleaning cloth for a computer repair firm or a checklist on how to prepare your home for sale for a real estate agency.

You'll need to order these things several weeks in advance to avoid rush orders and overnight shipping costs. Plan at least three months ahead for what you'll want to do.

3. Who you'll have at the event.

For very small businesses, it might just be you at the booth. Another company might have two or three employees available to cover breaks, talk to attendees and check out other businesses at the show.

No matter how many employees you have on site, you'll want to make sure you're easily identified as being with your company. Most promotional products companies can either customize name tags for you, or embroider your logo on high-quality shirts (or both!). These make you look professional and increase your odds of being engaged in conversation or getting leads.

Even the smallest one-person businesses should have a plan and a professional look for trade shows and business events. Consult with a promotional products professional to look at the vast range of options you have to better brand yourself and your company.

For more information about promotional products, contact Advanced Screen Printing Embroidery & Promotions or a similar company.