Love them or hate them, trade shows and exhibitions are a part of life for businesses in many industries. While many people might find them interminably boring and a chore, there is no question that few if any other opportunities exist to put your brand, products and messaging in front of as many qualified leads at one time. In a world that is rapidly going digital, trade shows remain very much here to stay. With so many other companies all trying to market themselves simultaneously, it can be a challenge for SMEs to compete for attention and exposure on a finite budget. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways in which even smaller companies can leverage their position to get the most out of their investment. Here are a few:

Give It Away Now
Everybody loves free stuff. Putting some thought and budget behind innovative and creative conference giveaways can be an extraordinarily effective way to draw prospective leads to your exhibition booth. With so many options available, it is worth taking the time to come up with something different and exciting that will create a buzz, and get people’s attention. That done, you are in a far better position to be able to engage them in a meaningful discussion about who you are and what you do.

Drinks on You
Major sponsorships of events can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and are generally reserved for only the biggest players in any industry. However, this does not mean that smaller companies should be completely locked out. Many conferences have more affordable sponsorship opportunities available, such as drinks and finger food at your booth during happy hour, break-away session sponsorship or others. Consider utilizing these to gain valuable exposure to a wide audience.

Social Skills
Social media offers incredible opportunities to maximize your impact at conferences. The great thing about social is that you can create a build-up prior to the event so that you already start with a degree of momentum. Letting people know you will be exhibiting ahead of time, reaching out to target clients and announcing product launches are just a few of the ways that you can make platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn work for you at very little cost. Keep posting during and after the show to ensure the widest reach possible and don’t forget to hashtag!

Around the Table
Many events have round table or speaker panel sessions that offer a more intimate setting to discuss subject matter on a deeper and more personal level. In most cases, event organisers are desperate of speakers for these satellite events. It is well worth contacting them to see if any openings exist to get involved. The chance to interact meaningfully with participants and display your knowledge and expertise is a wonderful opportunity to establish your authority and make new connections.

Guerilla Marketing
For creative marketers, there are any number of more unconventional ways that you can draw attention to yourself. Trade shows can be so run of the mill that any initiative seen as original or inventive is likely to garner attention. I’ve seen companies higher street musicians to stand outside the building singing songs about them to delegates entering the event, street artists to create elaborate chalk art on the street and countless other guerrilla marketing tactics that really got people looking and talking.

However, you choose to get involved, plan ahead and prepare meticulously so that you can make the most of your time and investment.

Author's Bio: 

Caitlyn Bell is an Arts student whose experiences in life make her really tougher than anyone else. She can lend you expert tips on diverse topics ranging from relationship to fashion, making money, health and so on. Her write-ups are a window into her thoughts and knowledge.