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Are Trade Shows Good Marketing for You?

If I hadn’t gone into marketing, I probably would have become an event planner. I love trade shows and conferences. I think they’re fun, and marvel at the work put into planning them. As I did end up in marketing, I appreciate the advertising potential businesses can get by either attending or sponsoring at a show. It’s not for everyone, so take the quiz to see if you’re a good candidate.

  • Does your budget allow for sponsoring a show?
  • Do you know how to promote at a show?
  • Is your product easily explainable or presentable to potential clients (you get about 10 seconds to make an impression)?

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” the answer is simple. If not, read on.

Budget

Depending on the show, your budget may not give you the opportunity to be a sponsor. That being said, there are some smaller conventions you would be surprised at the affordable cost. If your budget is small, consider the following:

  • Forego the expensive platinum level sponsorships and look for other opportunities, like sponsoring a break or getting your logo on the goody bags.
  • Become a speaker at a trade show in your industry.
  • Attend the conference and pass out business cards to as many people as possible.

Promoting

Don’t worry; not everyone knows what to do at a trade show. Typically you have a booth where you can set up information about your company as well as any product samples or demonstrations. As I’ve said in previous posts, shwag is a big part of this, so save some of your budget to do this right.

The company putting on the conference usually does a good job of presenting you with any information you need about what you can bring and what your options are. You can rent the table and booth setup or buy your own. Renting of course is expensive, but a good option if you don’t plan on doing many shows.

If you have questions, such as “do I need electricity or internet?” or “when can we set up?” don’t be afraid to ask. You’ve paid money to attend this, so you’re essentially paying for the event planner to help you. Asking a seemingly dumb question can save you a headache later.

Good Product Fit

I used to attend small trade show events for Egg Marketing, however I found it difficult to really present what we do. We write, for goodness sake. Should I put some press releases on the table? A marketing plan?

Services are harder to market at a convention, but definitely not impossible. At BlogHer, many online services were there with video screens showing off what their sites and software could do. Keep it interesting with good shwag and promotional material on the company.

If you have a product, usually you can let it speak for itself. Have plenty of samples on hand and be prepared to demonstrate them and answer questions. If you’re in an industry with large products or equipment (such as laser marking equipment), choose the product you most want to represent your company and bring it.

Look online for information about shows in your industry to learn about what to expect. Attend a few shows too.

Why I Blog

I know you’re sick of these posts surrounding BlogHer (I actually wrote them all on the plane ride back from San Francisco but am trying to spread them out) but I’m still processing all the lessons I learned.

I’ve been blogging for a little over a year. I recently joined the Sparkplugging community, and I’m glad I did. At BlogHer, I met dozens of bloggers, many of whom blog about their personal experiences. I blog about marketing.

I don’t blog for money, although any money I do make as a result of blogging is great. For many people, blogging is their livelihood. As many of you know, I run a marketing and PR firm, so that is where my heart and income lie. If that’s the case, why do I blog?

I blog because I’m passionate about marketing. If you meet me and show even the slightest interest in marketing, I’m likely to chew your ear off about how you could totally get more return customers with an email campaign, or how press releases really do grow your business. So consider this blog my outpouring so I don’t frighten off the next person I meet.

That being said, I do run into a lot of small business owners who have a lot of questions about marketing. To me, it’s not a secret. It’s not complicated. But I realize submitting a press release online or even creating a newsletter is daunting for someone who’s doing so much for their business already.

So I blog to help. I blog to help entrepreneurs (and small business owners, if you’re not ready to take that leap in self-identification, Shannon) make their businesses better. I love hearing back from my readers (I think I met half of them at the conference, and hey, that was 2 people!) about some post that they found particularly useful.

For my own devices, my blog serves as my portfolio. I always refer potential clients here, so they can get an understanding for what Egg Marketing does. If they’re looking for big buck spending on print advertising, they’ll quickly learn my firm is probably not for them. Most come back and say, “Hey, I like what you’re saying. Let’s work together.” So it all works out in the end.

Sidenote: Something I admired at the blogging conference is how so many people are so personal on their blogs. I’ve deliberately tried to be a little more standoffish (I thought that would be more professional) but if you notice me being a little more like me (casual and blunt, though I’ll try not to be crass), blame it on 10 days in Napa Valley and San Francisco, and the little conference that could.

Blog Tour: Interview with Referral Expert Jill Lublin

I recently interviewed Jill Lublin, Author of Get Noticed. Get Referrals: Build Your Client Base and Your Business by Making a Name for Yourself, and this is one stop on her blog tour. Enjoy!

Blog Tour: Interview with Referral Expert Jill Lublin

What are 3 tips you have for helping people overcome discomfort in a networking situation?

1.   Be pleasant, friendly, and fun – most importantly be yourself.   Just go out and be who you uniquely are – don’t put pressure on yourself.

2.   You can start slow – chose a goal that is most comfortable for you even if it is just to attend one networking event a quarter or to just make one new connection a month.

3.     Ask for help until you are comfortable approaching people yourself.   Go to networking events with a friend and ask him or her to introduce you to the people they know.   Connecting is addicting so once you get your feet wet, you’ll be on your way.

What’s the best method you’ve found for getting future clients to notice you?

I combine many different methods, but one of my favorite is just getting out there and making that old fashioned personal connection whether it be at a networking event or at one of my speaking engagements.

You talk a lot about forming networks in your book. How much of your business comes from networks you’ve joined?

It is really important to diversify and use many different methods for optimum results.   But many of the groups I am a member of I have been with for so long that when someone comes to them looking for publicity or speaking referrals they immediately think of me.   It is important in these networks to be very clear with the other members about what types of referrals you are looking for and don’t forget to ask them how you can help them as well. Read more

Pre Vacation Post

I’m closing up my home office for a well-deserved break. Before I attend BlogHer next week, I’m touring Napa Valley and San Francisco with my mom. Place your bets on how much work I slip in between wineries! I’m not even swearing I won’t open my computer (it’s always a magical time when I leave for vacation: new business always comes in).

Before I go, I want to share a book I just finished with you: From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur, by Stephanie Chandler. It gives great advice on how to get published, in ebooks or physical books. Now, I already have a couple of ebooks, but this book really got my wheels turning about how to better promote it. I’ve taken steps to have my ebook automatically downloadable once someone pays (I use a program called E-Junkie.com. Cheap and easy).

Go back and read my posts on using ebooks as promotion, then buy this book!