Each month, Toronto Business Times solicits expert opinions on a question of relevance to the small business community. This month’s question is about trade shows.
By Sheila J Mitchell
Trade shows and conferences are a successful way to meet targeted people in your unique field.
The decision to exhibit can be exciting but clear-headed decision-making is important. Here are a few guidelines to consider.
If you decide you would like to exhibit at a trade show, I would suggest the following before your commit to booking:
1. Google search blogs on opinions by exhibitors or delegates from previous shows.
2. If possible, visit the show first to really evaluate if the trade show is best for your business.
A booth at a show can be very expensive, so create a cash flow and list the costs: pipe and drape, electricity and insurance, as well as your basic booth fee. Bring extra equipment, if the show management allows it, such as electrical power bar and extension cord, carpet, light fittings, moving dolly.
These are essential for every event. Make sure you have professional quality, easily-read business cards that are available to delegates.
Make simple, easily read signs with your name, company name, telephone number, email and website.
When you decide that you will book, seek the smallest booth possible; a corner booth can be more expensive but it allows you to have wider access onto your booth.
Delegates enter your booth when the booth looks inviting:
1. A chair for the delegate will encourage them to stay longer.
2. The way you look also is important, so dress appropriately for the industry; informal does not always work well in a financial or business show.
3. Have an online computer demonstration or running presentations during the show.
Meeting the delegate:
1. Certain body stances are uninviting, so no crossed arms. Also, sit on high stool to help you look people in the eyes.
2. Ask a question -- don’t assume you know:
- what are you intending to achieve by visiting the show today?
- what is most important for your company?
There is almost always security at trade shows, but I advise that you take your valuables home at the end of each day and keep them out of sight during the show.
Sheila J. Mitchell is executive director, Art For All Canada Inc., a business that creates public art shows and events for artists.