How to Market Your Small Business at Conferences

small business exhibition booth

Small businesses can reap plenty of benefits from conferences and trade shows. You’ll gain exposure, build your network, get a sneak peek at the latest trends and maybe even find the inspiration for your next great product or service.

Yes, your attendance is a solid investment in the future of your small business — but you don’t have to stop there! For an additional fee, you can purchase exhibition space to market your business to all the other attendees. Where else can you have access to hundreds (or thousands) of people, all under the same roof and interested in the very thing you have to sell?

Because of the benefits, marketing space at a conference comes at a premium, which means you and your employees need a solid plan long before you make your grand entrance. So, if you’re planning on having your company represented at an upcoming conference, here are some things to keep in mind.

Make Sure It’s the Right Fit

Not all conferences are created equal. Some might yield invaluable information for attendees but be horrible for marketing purposes; others might be better for networking and getting business exposure. So if you’re planning to pony up the cash, you first must make sure it’s the right place to reach your target market.

The event’s website is the best place to start. Check out the schedule, speaker lineup and reviews. Pay close attention to the photos of past events. Stalk the conference’s social media pages to see what past attendees have said.

If in doubt, reach out to the event organizer for more information before you secure your spot.

Know Your Goals

What do you hope to get out of the conference? Are you looking for leads, or do you want to seal the deal at the event? Do you want to grow your social media following or your mailing list? Is your goal to educate and inform or to suck them in and sell?

Once you know what action you want your visitors to take, it becomes much easier to tailor a strategy to get the desired result.

Don’t be afraid to have some fun with your goals, too! Consider competing with your employees to see who can get the most signups or offering a paid day off to whoever meets their personal sales goal first.

Draw Them In

Time is at a premium at conferences. There’s a ton to see and do, which means people have to prioritize every minute they spend in the exhibition space. Why should someone linger at your booth instead of visiting your neighbor?

While we’re certainly not suggesting you bedeck your booth with glitter cannons and a sign-waving circus clown, you’re definitely going to have to do something to set yourself apart from the competition. Eye-catching signage, personable representatives and a clear picture of what you have to offer will go a long way toward getting people to stop and take notice.

Whatever you do, don’t discount the power of “free.” Whether it’s a sample, coupon or chance to win a prize, getting something for nothing has a way of stopping people in their tracks.

Perfect Your Pitch

You’ve successfully convinced (read: bribed) people into stopping. Now it’s time to get your message across with the perfect pitch.

Rehearse what you want to say often before you show up. While it shouldn’t sound like you’re reading directly from a script, you should be able to hit the key points with every potential customer. It also helps if you have rebuttals for common arguments prepared ahead of time so you don’t spend too much time hemming and hawing.

Do your best to be succinct and respect people’s time. As tempting as it may be to monopolize potential customers, remember that they have other things to see and do — and you have other people to talk to!

Follow Up

Your job isn’t over just because the table is folded up and the swag is packed away in boxes. In fact, your job has just begun!

Collect emails, phone numbers and social media accounts during the conference. Then follow up with the people you spoke to during the conference. Thank them for their time, invite them to ask any questions and remind them that you’re always available to chat. Don’t let all the leads you collected go to waste!

Ready to Take the Show on the Road?

Marketing your small business at a conference doesn’t come cheap or easy, but it is a great way to reach potential clients and customers who are interested in what you have to offer. When you go in prepared, you maximize your chances of success!

Whether you’re marketing your small business from a hotel ballroom or your own bedroom, Mischa Communications can help you reach the people you’re trying to reach. Let’s get the conversation started!