After attending IMHX at the NEC in Birmingham this week, our resident B2B expert, senior account manager, Helen has her five top tips for trade shows to share.

The cost of exhibiting at most trade shows can easily run into thousands of pounds – a massive outlay for any company but a real budget-buster for SMEs. So before taking the plunge, check out our five top tips for making the most of your money:

  1. Make sure you have something to talk about

If you have a new product or service to launch, trade shows can be a great place to make a splash. It gives you a fantastic reason to approach people and gives visitors the perfect reason to visit you. If you’re a door manufacturer, there’s little point going to the effort and expense of exhibiting purely to tell people you’re still manufacturing doors. Make sure your reason for attending is clear and interesting to delegates.

  1. Consider your objectives

Trade shows can be very sales orientated environments. Go into an exhibition or event thinking you’ll make lucrative deals on the spot which will cover the cost of your stand and space, as well a tidy profit and you’re likely to be disappointed. Important spending decisions are unlikely to be made in the exhibition hall. If, however, your aim is to increase awareness of the brand, make valuable connections and get a feel for the industry you’re operating in, then you’re in the right place.

  1. Stand out from the crowd

At any event you’re likely to be competing with with dozens, if not hundreds of other companies for attention. Make sure you stand out from the crowd to avoid a deserted exhibition space. Try to think creatively. Handing out branded pens and balloons will no longer cut it, with PR and marketing teams implementing clever tricks to draw delegates to their stand. If your brand message is about being flexible, hire a contortionist to keep crowds entertained. Provide a complimentary coffee bar or shoulder massage if you’re a hotel chain pushing relaxing weekends away.

  1. Make the most of your time

Don’t be chained to your stand for three days waiting for people to visit you. Get out there and take your product or service to other people. You may make valuable connections with other companies you didn’t expect, you’ll enjoy yourself more and get more out of the experience.

  1. Check out the competition

Shows and exhibitions are a great place to see what your peers, customers and competitors are doing. Gauge whether you’re ahead of the crowd with innovative products and services, or if you need to up your game. Either way it’s a great opportunity to gather inspiration and make plans for the next show.