Are Trade Shows A Waste of Time? 3 Unconventional Tactics to Try

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 22: Pocket watch on display at Mipap, international presentation of women's pret-a-porter and accessories on FEBRUARY 22, 2014 in Milan.
Courtesy of Deposit Photos.

by Elaine Slatter

We’ve all done it, stood around at a trade show and wondered, “why am I here?”

Attending and exhibiting at trade shows can be very expensive by the time you create your marketing materials, order your pull up banner and rent your space.   Add in the supplemental costs of booth space, hotel accommodation and meals and it soon adds up. Before you know it, your budget for the year has been spent and the results may not be tangible.

Here are 3 strategies that can make attending a trade show worthwhile.

1.  Exhibit At A Trade show That Has Nothing To Do With The Product You Sell

When a friend, who is a Stella and Dot stylist, announced she was exhibiting at a 5 day International Plowing Match, at first I was extremely surprised.    But then I understood.    Farming is a family business, the whole family attends the 5 day farming event in our local rural community.   Attendance is usually around 100,000.  The men and boys are attracted to all the cool farm equipment, but what do the Moms and girls do?    They wander aimlessly along trying not to be too bored by all this “guy stuff”.

Enter the Stella and Dot display.   Wow, an instant magnet for the ladies.   A chance to win a free giveaway and look at great products that have nothing to do with farming.  Result:   Large retail sales at the show and several new team members added to the Stella and Dot team of stylists.

2. Link Giving Back to the Community

Some hospitals have “Vendor Days”.   This is a great opportunity if your product fits with the nursing community and visitors to hospitals.   For a small donation by the vendor to the hospital, you can set up a booth in a high traffic area designated for the vendor show.   Check this out ahead of time to make sure that the event is not being held in the basement, which would be a much lower traffic area.

3.  Have a Sales Table at a Street Festival

Summer is a relaxing time and families escape to fun events in their local communities that are engaging for all ages.   If you have pet products, sports equipment, clothing, food or plants, street festivals could be a smart alternative to a traditional tradeshow.   When people are relaxed they are often in a buying mood.     For outdoor events, investing in a tent is a must because the one thing you can’t count on is the weather!

So before you think tradeshows are a bust, why not re-think your plans and invest in some unconventional strategies over the summer and fall.


Elaine SlatterElaine Slatter is a Small Business Expert, founder of  XL Consulting Group and author of the popular book, “Fabulous Fempreneurship”, a complete business guide for women.  XL Consulting Group helps entrepreneurs with market planning, strategy, branding, web design and social media. She has over 30 years of executive business and marketing experience and is ready to help you rocket your business to success.  Elaine is passionate about mentoring women to become successful women entrepreneurs.   To find out more, visit XL Consulting Group or join the Fabulous Fempreneurship mastermind.

You can connect with Elaine on social media at:  Facebook Group | Twitter | Facebook

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