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Small businesses aren’t always in the best position when it comes to marketing and development. The budgets are low, and time is always scarce. Expos and trade shows get your company out into the public and amp up the face to face connections your business can make.

If you are like most small business owners, any change to your weekly routine isn’t easy to make happen. But getting out there into the mix will give your team some badly needed exposure to new ideas that can help your business to develop.

Trade shows put you and your team into an environment where they will have access to all the latest ideas. New concepts are powerful, and in many cases, they can create significant competitive advantages when applied to your current business model.

If you work in a specialist field, your team needs to know what is new, fresh and hot. There is nothing like getting some hands-on experience, especially if you are working with products that rely on industry specific knowledge. Getting all the latest goodies into your team’s hands is vital to maintaining their edge, and when they get back can talk up all the new gear that will leave your clients drooling.

Businesses that work in the service sector can get a lot from a trade show as well, as people-centric businesses can always learn the newest ways to offer the best customer experience there is. No matter what kind of company you run now is the time to break out of old habits and get your team on the road to learn the latest ideas.

Break Down The Network Wall

Let’s face it, most people aren’t born networking mavens. This means that if your company is going to blast out of your day to day routine, some changes will have to happen.


Yea, I know. Change is the devil and never welcome.

But if your business is going to evolve with the industry you operate in, introducing some new information is necessary if you want to stay on top of your market. Many small businesses fall into the trap of doing things that have worked up to this point, and this can be dangerous.

The brilliance of a trade show is the communal atmosphere. Everyone there will be looking for new ideas, and this gives you and your crew a chance to talk shop with people who know what is going on. Sometimes the old ideas are still the best ones, but keeping your head buried will leave your company at a huge disadvantage if your industry is going in a new direction.

Local Networking Works

Here is the thing; most networking platforms and media outlets are focused on macro, but as a small business, you need micro. There are some places to turn, and Linkedin is ok. But there is nothing like pressing palms with other local businesses who operate in your market.

Local, industry-specific expos get you talking and learning from people who share the same market factors. Instead of doing it all alone, your company can have the support that information sharing creates.

You might think that big companies don’t talk to each other about strategy and market opportunities, but in reality, the opposite is true. What do you think events like the World Economic Forum are really about?

No, it’s not chemtrails and lizard-people.

The big players know the value of meeting to discuss the market they work in, and they give their valuable time to do it. Your company might not have 5,000 employees and a new debt offering hitting the bond market, but it can still take advantage of the benefits of multilateral networking in your community.

Strategy Ideas Come First

For the vast majority of industries, tech matters. Trade shows let your team demo all the new gear and talk with other professionals about what works for them.

For service-based industries, a trade show lets your team connect with other professionals who have to deal with the same challenges you do. The way your company does things right now might be perfect, but you won’t know it until you talk it over with other business owners. 

Many people don’t see spending money in this economy as wise, but if an investment creates a competitive advantage, it may be unavoidable. Margins are what drive dominance in the market, so if there is a new way of doing what you do, you and your crew should probably know about it.

The good news is that the rest of the people at the event will be buzzing about what is creating competitive advantages, so what would take days of reading online could be learned in ten minutes over a cup of coffee.

Most industry-specific trade shows will also offer valuable seminars by industry leaders, and this is another way to boost your knowledge base with little time invested. While you are learning about all the new things that are happening, you can also build up a wealth of contacts in your industry.

Do you know the company reps for the machinery and suppliers you use?

You should.

And you should know other business owners in your area as well. You never know what kind of synergies might be lurking out there, and making contacts is never going to hurt your company.

The way you use your contact list is up to you, but make sure people are ok to receive things like newsletters before you send them out. Professional contact on a one-to-one basis is usually accepted, but it never hurts to ask someone if they mind getting an email from your business.

Your Last Vacation?

It is well known that small business owners are notorious for overworking themselves. While a trade show or expo isn’t a substitute for a real vacation, it can get you out of your operation for a day or two, and breathe some new life into you and your staff.

In addition to getting your team talking about development and efficiency, group activities are great for team building. After you and your team spend the day learning and making connections, have dinner together and talk about what everyone found interesting.

Your business is guaranteed to come up with some new ideas that may not have ever cropped up without the expo, and you never know where innovative thinking can lead.

Goals Matter

If you have been stuck working six days a week for as long as you can remember, it is time to break out of that cycle. New information and growth aren’t just going to happen, and going to a local expo is a good first step to creating positive change in your workplace.

Depending on your industry, the advancements in technology may be significant. Innovations create opportunities, but you may be missing out on them if your business doesn’t stay connected. The positive side of industry-specific trade shows is their ultra-low opportunity cost and the concentration of relevant information.

Don’t forget about local trade shows that are more general either, as they also offer fantastic networking opportunities. Regardless of the goals, you set for networking and development, now is the time to start realizing them.

Businesses that don’t learn how to grow with the times probably won’t last long, especially in the rapidly evolving economy that exists today. If you have been cooped up in your store or office for as long as you can remember, that isn’t a good sign.

Start looking for a trade show that your company can use as a learning opportunity, and get serious about staying competitive. Successful businesses never stop looking for ways to do things better.

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Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.