From booths to funding to giveaways – how young companies with a small budget can excel at trade fairs
by Jennifer Meyer
Trade shows are a great opportunity for startups to present themselves to a broad audience, future customers and potential investors. However, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd of exhibitors – especially with limited resources. We have compiled tips for a trade fair performance that must be implemented by start-ups.
This is sometimes easier said than done. After all, as a start-up you often only have a small booth, little space and limited room for design. In addition to configuring the back wall of the booth, you should check whether there is enough space to place a roll-up as an additional eye-catcher. Large-format wiggle or changing lenticular surfaces can provide additional attention. Lighting elements with colors and effects can make trade show booths appear in a different light... Literally!
An interactive presentation at the booth attracts interested parties. Live demos of your product or hands-on offers can attract attention and create a long-lasting impression of your innovation. Videos showing the product in action and interactive elements such as touchscreens, virtual reality or augmented reality demos also arouse visitors' curiosity and engage them.
Be aware that as a start-up you also have advantages at a trade fair: Most of the time you don't have to present a portfolio with various products. Your stand team does not have to find out which product a visitor might be interested in, but can directly present the one innovation. This works best with a practical, very personal introduction, such as "Do you know the following problem in the store?" or "Do you know what your customers often think?"
Another big advantage: As a start-up, you can try out more than established companies, which are often bound by strict corporate design guidelines, stringent communication strategies or corporate policy requirements. As young entrepreneurs, you should take advantage of this freedom: Is a marketing idea too crazy? Or is it perhaps just right to stay in the minds of potential customers for longer? Be bold! Try it out!
No matter how small it may be, a trade show appearance costs money. But fortunately, there are various funding opportunities that startups can apply for to at least partially cover their own costs. Funding is usually provided on a pro-rata basis for stand rental and stand construction costs. You can find information about funding programs, for example, on the website of your national trade show industry association. Institutions such as chambers of industry and commerce or ministries also often provide financial assistance for trade fair appearances, including abroad.
A supposedly simple topic – but it's not. For a startup, a well-chosen giveaway can help increase awareness and promote the brand to a wider audience. If the giveaway is appealing and usable in everyday life, trade show attendees may carry it around, generating additional visibility. However, if not well thought out, giveaways often end up in the garbage can. Especially in times when the topic of environmental protection is omnipresent, this can also have a negative impact on a brand. The following is therefore recommended: If you have an attention-grabbing, useful idea for a giveaway – great! How about bottle openers, luggage tags or reusable straws, for example?
A successful trade show appearance requires careful planning and preparation, but it offers startups an excellent opportunity to present their products or services to a broad audience and make valuable contacts. With a creative idea, a clear message, interactive elements and a well-trained team, you can maximize your chances of positioning your start-up successfully at a trade fair.
Don't forget: startups are allowed to do their own thing and stand out from the crowd. If you present yourself authentically, you will often win over the customers who match your profile.
Would you like to put these tips into practice? Are you developing technological solutions for the retail industry? Applications for the EuroCIS Start-up hub 2024 are now open. Here, EuroCIS offers a dedicated presentation area to newcomers offering IT systems and solutions for the retail sector.