Trade shows typically produce lower-cost leads than other communications strategies. They’re the best vehicle for a new company to attract its first customers and the most cost-effective way for small manufacturers with specialized products to find prospects.

Many times, small companies lack the resources to discover which companies need their product. At a major industry show, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will walk by the manufacturer’s booth. Those interested in the company’s products or services will probably stop.

Businesses that sell exclusively to a regional market might want to consider regional trade shows instead. Like their national counterparts, these trade shows attract potential buyers within an industry, but the cost for travel and booth space is often significantly less.

Most industry trade magazines contain information about both national and regional trade shows, so check yours every month for the most recent and relevant listings.

Local, company-promoted specialty shows, such as bridal fairs, equipment shows, home and garden shows, and boat shows, offer another popular option. If you’re a member of the local chamber of commerce, you might even consider hosting a booth at the next business after hours event.

Whatever trade shows you decide to attend, make sure you have plenty of handouts to go around. To save money, have a special one-page handout designed specifically for trade show use. Use it to highlight your competitive advantage, and provide a way for prospects to contact you to request more information.

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