work at home, women in business, resources for small business

Trade Show Planning for Mompreneurs

Today Charles Dugan is my guest blogger with some information that will expand your thinking about marketing your home-based business. Thanks Charles!


Many – if not most – successful business women are also moms; some are even WAHMs (work at home moms). That doesn’t mean they can’t also have successful careers in the corporate world. If their career path takes them into marketing and sales, they will at some point attend or possibly exhibit at trade shows – the key B2B marketing tool. Trade shows offer the opportunity for one-on-one networking and sales, with face-to-face discussion that phones and virtual networking can supplement, but not totally replace.


If you have been given the responsibility of marketing your organization’s products and/or services at a trade show, and you’re a novice at the task, it may not take long before you feel overwhelmed by the prospect. Where should you go? What kind of events should you attend?


There are several basic types of trade shows:

1) The smallest and least expensive show, often called a table top expo, is typically very local in nature. Often sponsored by a community organization or chamber of commerce, it is normally possible to exhibit at a table top expo for a few hundred dollars. You won’t get a targeted audience for your organization at these expos, but you will gain additional local exposure with the members of the chamber or the association sponsoring the event. These smaller expos are sometimes also organized around educational seminars or roundtable discussions. If the discussion topic fits your organization and you can become part of the seminar or discussion, you may see increased interest in your organization as a result of your participation.


2) The next step up from the table top expo is the regional trade show. These shows are budget-conscious, smaller versions of national trade shows. Regional shows are often part a nationwide trade show tour. Although regional trade shows offer seminars, very few offer networking events. If seminars are important to your organization, regional trade shows may be right for you. But, if you’re looking for networking opportunities, regional trade shows are probably not a good fit. You will find that the attendee net stretches farther out than it does for a table top expo, but most attendees at a regional trade show will be coming from within driving distance of the event.


3) If you are looking for a multitude of activities and high-level, business-to-business opportunities, then your company is probably in the market for a national trade show. Organizations from across the country travel to these events to participate and exhibit their products and services. At national trade shows you will find many educational seminars and networking events, presentations of industry awards, and keynote speeches given by business leaders, celebrities and comedians. These shows can be very large, with hundreds or more exhibitors, and thousands of attendees.


4) For businesses looking to expand outside the U.S., international trade shows may be a viable marketing option. Attending an international trade show is more about building relationships with other businesses or organizations than it is about individual sales. If you are looking for help with regional distribution or marketing in another country, then attending (not exhibiting!) an international trade show is a good first step.


As you can see, there are a variety of different types of trade shows out there. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface as to what makes each different from the other, but hopefully this article helps to provide a starting point for your research. The first step is to clearly identify your needs, and which level of trade show best satisfies the requirements. Next step is to identify the right shows for your market, make a plan for exhibiting at the show of your choice, etc – all good subjects for future articles.


Charles and his wife Terri own and operate American Image Displays, a 25 yr old trade show display firm located in Redmond, WA. Their bookkeeper is their daughter Megan – a working mom with a 9 month old baby boy. The business focuses on providing fast and friendly service, helping clients to filter through the thousands of display choices to find the best solution for their specific requirement. Their blog mixes trade show planning and B2B marketing tips with new product reviews; you can visit it here –

To Our Mutual Success, Lady T

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