Preparing for a Trade Show – Entrepreneurship 101

Nancy Milani, Show & Event Manager at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce will be presenting a workshop on tradeshow preparation for small businesses Tuesday October 13th at the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. Photo Credit: Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce
Nancy Milani, Show & Event Manager at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce will be presenting a workshop on tradeshow preparation for small businesses Tuesday October 13th at the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. Photo Credit: Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce

Nancy Milani, Show & Event Manager at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce will be presenting a workshop on tradeshow preparation for small businesses Tuesday October 13th at the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. Photo Credit: Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce
Nancy Milani, Show & Event Manager at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce will be presenting a workshop on tradeshow preparation for small businesses Tuesday October 13th at the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre. Photo Credit: Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce

Trade shows present an excellent opportunity for your small business

THUNDER BAY – Entrepreneurship – Trade shows present an excellent opportunity for your small business. As an exhibitor, you get great exposure, client interaction, lead generation, and a chance to build connections and make a lasting impression on your market.

Nancy Milani, Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) and Certified Meeting Planner (CMP), and Show & Event Manager at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce says doing the right tradeshow can yield a high return for small businesses. “In this digital age, face-to-face and relationship marketing is all the more important. Tradeshows are a fantastic way to brand yourself and your company.”

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre (EC) present the first annual Small Business Showcase – a free tradeshow that invites the public to see what’s new and emerging in Northwestern Ontario business. Stop by the Victoria Inn on Thursday October 22nd to get a look at what new businesses and expansions have to offer.

Nancy has over 25 years of conference and event planning and tradeshow experience. On October 13th, she will be delivering a free workshop that is the beginner’s guide to tradeshows – everything from choosing the right show, preparing, and the dos and don’ts for a worthwhile tradeshow exhibit.

Here are a few of Nancy’s tradeshow tips that can help you make the most of your exhibits:

  • Set realistic goals

Consider what you want to achieve by attending the tradeshow. Are you introducing a new product or service? Are you trying to break into a new market?  Are you there to make direct sales? Having a clear goal will provide purpose and guidance and you will be more likely to achieve those desired outcomes.

  • Properly staff your booth

It’s important to have the right people representing your company. “Staff your booth with friendly, outgoing people and educate them so that they are familiar with your goals and can work toward a positive outcome for the show.” Nancy also advises to appear open and approachable and to never leave your booth unattended.

  • Promote your participation

Tell your audience about your participation in tradeshows by promoting it through your channels (social media, newsletters, etc). This gives them a chance to pay you a visit and helps to increase attendance at the events.

  • Have an attractive and interactive booth

Be inviting and draw people into your booth so that they want to learn about your business. Offer something unique and eye catching that ties in with your products and services. “People come to tradeshows for the experience – to see hear, feel, and touch. Make use of demos to pull people in and create something memorable.”

  • Reinforce your identity

Don’t forget to brand yourself. Attractive signage and merchandise make your business known. “You will not have a chance to talk to every person who walks by your exhibit, but at least if they see your company name reinforced a few times, you’ve created awareness.”

  • Evaluate

After a tradeshow, review your goals and evaluate how well you were able to meet your objectives. Identify areas of success and areas for improvement and pay attention to other booths and events and try new ideas that might work for your business.

In addition to the CEDC/Entrepreneur Centre’s Small Business Showcase event, various workshops and networking events abound BDC™ Small Business Week October 19th through 23rd. Mingle with entrepreneurs and business professionals at the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce’s biggest After Business event of the year, or learn about selling to the generations at PARO’s Glow & Grow seminar. For full calendar of BDC™ Small Business Week events, and to register, visit www.ThunderBay.ca/SmallBusinessWeek.

The Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre (EC) offers FREE and confidential services to help small businesses start up, expand, and succeed. The Entrepreneur Centre can assist with writing a business plan, securing funding, marketing your products and services, and accessing other available resources in the community. They also provide free workshops and training seminars to equip and empower small businesses to perform the best they can. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (807)625-3960 or visit www.EntrepreneurCentre.ca.

CEDC Community Economic Development (CEDC) Entrepreneur Centre