Article Written By Mark True.

I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, I believe, and I’m flexible, so I try to look at the positive opportunities in any situation. Small trade shows, therefore, aren’t a problem. In fact, they can be a powerful tool for the opportunistic trade show marketer.

Sure, you can go into the small show looking for problems, but a positive approach can get you more bang for your buck than many larger shows.

1. Small audience. Big connections. – Sure, the traffic might not be heavy throughout your show, but that lets you reach out to a few key contacts to schedule meetings. Fewer activities and a smaller show floor means they are likely to have fewer commitments if you can get on their calendars early. Make a compelling case and get the appointment in your trade show booth or before or after the exhibit hours.

2. Small space. Big image. At a small show, the 10 x 10 (3×3 metre) exhibit spaces are likely to be 8 x 10 spaces (2.4×3 metre), so you’ll want to make every cubic inch of the space count. Other exhibitors are likely to be using small table-top units shoved to the back of the space with another table at the front, serving as a barrier. Make your space more welcoming by removing the table at the front and use a large, colorful graphic spread across a couple of well-designed banner stands or backwall and custom side drape to dominate your space with branded images and colors. If the show is in a hotel ballroom, spend the extra money for carpet (or bring your own custom flooring) to cover the gaudy carpet used in most hotels and define your space even further. Every precious inch should scream your brand.

3. Small space. Big meetings. Book your sleeping rooms early so your staff is conveniently located near the show site. Better yet? Rent a suite so you have a convenient meeting space (see #1 above) to connect with your target audience.

4. Small inventory. Big opportunity. Tiny booth spaces mean you can’t stock a lot of literature, so it’s time for your electronic inventory to shine, and generate more leads. Load your entire library onto a tablet computer and share relevant information with qualified leads right from your trade show exhibit. Want more than an email address from your prospect? Use a lead retrieval app such as iLeads or Marketpoint if the show has integrated the platform. And don’t forget to have power available to recharge those tablets!

5. Small sponsorship inventory. Big ideas. Small show sponsors and organizers can be less experienced than those associated with larger shows, and they often offer a fewer conventional sponsorships – badges, banners, goodie bags, etc. Their offerings aren’t usually communicated as well as their larger show counterparts. This is a great time to craft your own sponsorship and try something big and different. Put your logo on a stair case or escalator leading to the exhibit hall. Sponsor the hotel fountain. Hang your products from the trees in the atrium. Be creative. Be bold. All they can say is ‘no.’ And if they like it – and it works for you – you can own that sponsorship at future events.

About the Author: As Marketing Communications Manager for Skyline Exhibits Iowa | Nebraska, Mark True has earned a reputation as a brand warrior by providing years of candid, brand-based communications advice in marketing firms and corporate settings alike. He has organized and implemented trade show strategies, so he knows their value in delivering a purposeful, consistent and authentic brand experience with Iowa and Nebraska trade show displays.

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