Showing Up

How to make the most of a trade show
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This story appears in the May 2000 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

If you want to get out of town and conduct business at the same time, a trade show can be just the ticket. Besides being a tax write-off, trade shows are a great place to generate leads, find new customers, spread the word about a new product or service, and spy on the competition. They're also a good way to network within your industry since the best manufacturers reps are usually found walking the aisles looking for business.

Since the sheer number of trade shows available can be mind-boggling, you'll need to first choose a trade show potential customers will be interested in attending. For instance, if you design unique baby clothes and your customers are buyers from retail stores, you'll need to determine which trade shows they attend. You might start by researching the most likely trade shows-ask the sponsoring organizations for information on who attended last year's show and who has registered for this year's show.

Second, you'll need to buy and design a booth. Determine what you'd like your booth to accomplish in terms of attracting the right people, what you want them to learn about your business, how to communicate and capture their needs and interests, and how to effectively follow up.

Third, when it comes to selecting a location and booth size, here's a tip: Your best bet is to set up wherever there are lots of people, such as near a major entrance, the food stands, bathrooms or on the end of an aisle. Also, if you can afford it, bigger is better, especially if you're touting a new product that you'll be demonstrating.

For information about trade shows within your industry, call The Trade Show Exhibitors Association at (703) 941-3725.

Edition: July 2017

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