Of the many mistakes small business owners make, a big one is participating in trade shows and business expos without a strategy for turning those marketing opportunities into sales. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Have a goal. What do you want to get out of the event? Most small business owners think sponsoring an event will bring them a ton of business. Not necessarily. Follow up is critical.
2. Make sure the audience is your market. If your company is a business-to-business provider and the event is for consumers, the likelihood of new business is slim. Sponsoring an event that doesn't include your target market is just a waste of money. Do your homework.
3. Don't dismiss "expensive" events right away. Just because an entry cost is high doesn't mean you can't afford it. You could offer to work on the organizing committee, perform specific duties for the event, or donate a product or prize in return for partial payment.
4. Introduce yourself before the show. If at all possible, get a postal mail or email list (or both) of attendees from the trade show host. A week prior to the show, send a notice introducing yourself to them and inviting them to stop by your booth.
5. Plan for follow-up. Before you sign up for the show, have a plan in place for how you will follow up with those prospects interested in what you have to offer.
About the Author
Denise O'Berry frequently speaks to professional organizations, is the author of three booklets, and several "how-to" manuals. She writes a weekly small business column, hosts an online small business owners forum and is called upon regularly by publications such as Entrepreneur, Bank Rate Small Business, Florida Trend, Inc., various newspapers, radio and television to provide expert comments on small business issues.