We believe small businesses are the unsung heroes when it comes to sustaining local economies, developing creative solutions, and preserving the entrepreneurial spirit.

Marketing typically takes a backseat to operations in the hectic world of small businesses, so it’s critical to make every effort matter. Trade exhibitions are an excellent method to expose your expanding business to thousands of potential clients in a short period. Face-to-face encounters establish brand familiarity, providing much-needed publicity and networking and sales possibilities for products and services.

Here are our top eight bits of small business advice:

1. Make a list of your objectives.

Okay, so you’ve chosen to try your hand at trade exhibits. But what’s next? As soon as the planning process begins, the to-do list will grow. Because most small businesses require all hands on deck, it’s critical to prioritize your tasks.

Every solid company plan begins with a primary goal in mind, and trade show planning is no exception. Setting goals and identifying precisely what your team wants to accomplish is critical as a small business at a trade show.
Is it because of the increased brand recognition? Do you have any new customer leads? Is it possible to network within the industry?
It’ll be easy to see if you’re on track for success after you’ve established a goal for attending the trade show.

If the workload appears to be onerous at first, try incorporating trade show tasks into your daily schedule and using calendar reminders to ensure that deadlines are met. Even if your team is tiny, assign duties to team members and establish efficient communication. Trade show goals are easily achievable with a solid team and a strategic approach.

2. Spending Plan for the Event

Taking the time to create a budget early on will save you money in the long run. The expense of a trade show extends beyond the price of your presentation, from securing space to shipping materials. To get started, use Nimlok’s Budget Worksheet to keep track of your spending.

Explore a wide range of fundraising alternatives for extra money once the budget has been decided. Many small businesses are eligible for a matched savings incentive under the Individual Development Account (IDA). IDA money can be used for various things, including trade fair exhibits. An IDA grant is granted to low- and moderate-income small enterprises to help them with cash-matching financial assistance programs.

Each IDA provider has its own set of criteria for determining which firms are eligible for cash, as well as how much money a recipient must save and how much the IDA provider is ready to match. Before applying for a grant, do your research to see if it’s the correct fit for your company.

Look into state government grants for trade shows. A comprehensive list can be found here.
Through the UIA, you can get a grant to assist you in showing off a new idea.
Create a crowdfunding campaign on a popular platform like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or GoFundMe.

3. Select the Correct Event

Small businesses may not attend many events each year due to time and expense constraints.

Spend time studying events that are highly relevant to your sector and company size, as the type of show you attend will directly impact the number of leads and sales you obtain.
While it may be interesting to pick a smaller event, larger events allow you to reach a broader audience and produce better outcomes. Consider attending a local show to save money on travel and shipping.

Another technique is to go over the exhibitor list. If your direct competitors are presenting at the event, you know it’s a must-attend for your target market.
Finally, if you’re still undecided, contact the show coordinator, who can assist you in determining whether or not the event is appropriate for your company.

4. Maximize the Exhibit Design’s Value

While your budget for face-to-face events may be limited, cutting corners for display design is a mistake. Your display space’s appearance and feel will communicate a lot about your business, so make sure it tells the complete story.

Even if your small business doesn’t have the resources for a large-scale trade fair exhibit, you may still create an impression with a well-designed presentation. The booth doesn’t need to be pricey; all required is to represent your business and interest your guests correctly.

Include eye-catching forms and colorful visuals to capture the attention of trade fair attendees. Small company exhibitors might consider modular and adaptable exhibitions. Because your demands may differ depending on the show, one exhibit can be modified to match show-specific needs.

Finally, rental displays are a cost-effective solution for small enterprises wishing to make a large impression on the show floor. Depending on your long-term trade show goals, it may make the most sense, with fully configurable graphics and a choice of configurations.

5. Make the Most of Pre-Show Promotion

There are numerous successful ways to reach out to guests before the start of the exhibition. Use social networking channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to reach out. Teaser videos, unique messages from staff members, and an exciting sneak peek at booth activities can all be shared. Make sure to provide attendees with a compelling incentive to visit your exhibit.

Setting up a marketing campaign plan that includes promotional emails and media outreach is critical. Consider presenting during a workshop session to gain additional exposure for your small business, and make the session part of your pre-show advertising.

6. Get Your Team Ready

They are staffing a trade show exhibit, especially for a small firm. Because of the limited workforce, someone will have to hold down the fort in the office while the rest of the team attends the show. External salespeople are a possibility, but they might add a lot of money to an already tight budget.

It’s critical to maintain objectivity while deciding which staff people to add to the show. Bring your greatest salesperson, for example, if your goal is to enhance sales. Bring a product developer if you want to advertise a product. For a successful trade fair, make sure your team is polite and competent and that everyone has the knowledge they need to educate attendees and close sales. If you operate a small business, you may be in charge of these responsibilities!

7. Make sure your sales pitch is ready to go.

Exhibitors frequently fail to revise their sales pitch before attending a trade event. Remember that a sales pitch that works in your showroom may not work on the show floor, especially if you’re a tiny business trying to compete with larger companies.

Spend some time polishing your sales message, but more importantly, get your entire staff on board.

At this event, what is your message or mission statement?

What do you want your audience to remember once you’ve finished speaking?

Determine the answers to these questions and build your sales pitch around them so that attendees walk away with more than just product knowledge. Give visitors a sense of who you are, and you’ll make a stronger impression.

8. Create a network

When it comes to networking, small businesses are already experts! However, because trade fairs move quickly, it’s easy to get caught up in running the exhibit and forget about the value of networking.

One of the most valuable aspects of attending a trade show is the opportunity to network, so be prepared to speak with visitors and answer any questions they may have. Bring business cards and a portfolio to show off during discussions.

Additionally, making friends with local vendors, industry specialists, and other small company owners can benefit. This can help you form meaningful connections that will stay long after the trade fair has ended.


Small businesses can benefit from trade fairs by gaining significant brand exposure, networking with other professionals in the sector, and increasing sales.

Download our free Trade Show ROI Playbook e-book, which is packed with ideas and tricks for getting the most out of your further event if your small business is trying to obtain the best return on investment from trade exhibitions.