How to slay trade show and conference season this fall

How to Generate Buzz at Conferences and Trade Shows

It may feel like summer has just started, especially if you’re in Chicago where it finally hit 80 degrees about six weeks ago, but it’s actually time to start thinking about fall. Being an entrepreneur and running a small business is a bit like the fashion cycle in clothing stores – swimsuits come out in February and boots in August. You always have to think one season ahead so you can plan accordingly and hit the ground running.

For small businesses, autumn is the industry trade show season. Seemingly every industry holds major trade shows and conferences in the fall, creating a breeding ground for opportunities. Trade shows offer a large platform for your small business and provide the best return for your investment. In addition to promoting your business, conferences and trade shows are great places to meet new vendors to save you money and improve your products or services, generate leads, and even meet potential partners or investors.

These are the benefits if you do trade show season right, but if done incorrectly you could be wasting money. Below are a few tips to make your the most of trade shows and conferences this fall:

1. Go to the right place

There are dozens of trade shows in every industry, but not all are for you and your business. Research the shows and go to events that target your specific market or sub-industry. Are key decision makers attending the show? It’s best to go to trade shows that attract the specific person you’re targeting within a client company.

2. Strategize

Research events and speakers, as well as important booths and exhibitors, so you don’t waste time with things you don’t need. Conferences and trade shows are busy places with many presenters and vendors so don’t leave it to change. Create a schedule and stick to it.

3. Broadcast the news

If you have a booth, which it is highly recommended that you do, tell everyone about it. Most conferences and trade shows release a list in advance of registered attendees and email addresses. Send attendees an email before the show and tell them your booth number, along with an incentive to stop over. If you know of key clients attending, set up private meetings in advance.

4. Have a creative booth

People walking by your booth should immediately be able to see the name of your company and know what you do, just in passing by. The booth must be clear and effective, but also creative at the same time. Remember that trade show attendees can visit many similar events over the course of a few months so you need stand out.

5. Name a winner

People like to win prizes, and get things in general. To drive traffic to your booth, announce a prize. This will incentivize people to drop by your booth and learn more about your businesses. Common prizes include a Pebble watch, an iPad, or some other hot tech item.