It takes more than one kind of exhibitor to make up a trade show. A few anchor companies, sponsors of the event or stalwarts in the field, will make their presence known with impressive spaces that are easily visible. Fast-gaining and ambitious firms will also be in the big booth business, surrounded by mid-sized hopefuls that have a specific product to sell or audience to reach. But what about that vital constituency - small and recently-founded businesses?
The SMB Question
The costs and benefits of trade show participation are in sharp relief for small organizations. Arizona State University Center for Entrepreneurship Director Sidnee Peck, contributing to The Arizona Republic, recently demonstrated some of the questions these firms' leaders should ask themselves before booking a booth. She specified, for instance, that it is important to determine whether the business is prepared to face the public in a showcase situation. If not, perhaps research is in order. This can be accomplished by attending the show just to walk the floor and see what the competition looks like.
Peck also delved into what might be gained or lost in time spent at the show. Small companies don't have a few teams on call that they can send out to events to represent the brand. They often need all hands on deck, and if a trade show occurs during one of those high-pressure times, it may end up being too tricky to go. But if workers are free? Peck cited connections and valuable employee experience as potential benefits of attendance.
Useful New Connections
Organizations that go through with their trade show booth plans may find themselves flush with sales leads. According to TSNN blogger Matthew Pavli, the meetings that take place at industry events are extra-valuable, because they can lead to sales calls that are much more effective than just dialing prospects' numbers cold. Pavli noted that workers at trade show booths should sow the seeds of the later contact by stating there is more information to come, then delivering it via phone.