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  • 5 Trade Show Tips for Entrepreneurs

    Originally appeared on Small Biz Daily By Rieva Lesonsky

    8/24/2015

    Trades shows are increasingly important to many small businesses, but to startups it can be particularly crucial. And you can’t just decide to exhibit at a show—you need to do some planning first. Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of Exhibitions Mean Business:

    1. Determine WHEN it’s best for you and your business to exhibit at a show. Naturally, there are different stages of startup growth, so it’s important you know what stage of the game you’re at before attending an event. Decide whether your business is at a point where you’re ready to talk specifics with potential investors, partners and customers or if you’re more at the stage of walking the floor as an attendee to do some live onsite research. Ensuring your business is in the right place to become a fully-fledged exhibitor will help ensure maximum return on investment.
    2. Determine WHY you want to attend a trade show. Ask yourself why you’re considering a trade show as a tactic to gain exposure for your business. Are you entering a new market? Are you seeking executive positioning? Are you searching for product/service publicity? Having a clear notion of why you want to invest in a trade show will help guide your development of the strategy you take to plan your participation.
    3. Determine WHAT event is best for you. Just because a show in your industry may be popular or well attended doesn’t mean it’s the right show for your business. Do research to find out which exhibition best caters to your specific reasoning for wanting to attend. Many exhibitions are aimed at very niche audiences, and determining which one is best for your business will grant you access to key connections in the industry.
    4. Determine WHO is at the event. Each show is going to have competitors, vendors, thought leaders and many others within your industry who you could benefit from meeting or observing. Find out who will be at the event so you can set up meetings with prospective customers or vendors, and so you can check out competitors while you’re there. Plan to not only exhibit at the show, but be an attendee, so you’re able to take it all in and see what everyone has to offer.
    5. Determine WHERE to attend an event. As a business owner you’re naturally interested in expanding your business’ reach. Whether domestic or international, invest in a show that is located within or near a market you’re interested in entering or growing. While not all shows you attend will be in a market you’re interested in entering, the ones that are prove to be valuable additions to the line-up and allow you to network with individuals and organizations who have stature within the market.
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