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Small Business – How to Make Trade Shows Affordable

How Small Businesses Can Afford Trade Shows

A small business has unique challenges – often related to controlling business expenses. This article provides information on how to make trade shows affordable for small businesses, or larger companies with a very tight marketing budget.

Even in the internet age trade shows remain a viable option to engage potential customers, and generate near immediate sales revenue. Your trade show presence makes possible other opportunities to grow your business. For many small businesses the problem to accessing these opportunities lies within the burden of financing the venture.

The question that looms over the head of every small business owner or marketing manager is how to make it all affordable.

Consider a Short Term Loan

Yes, it is rolling the dice to get a loan, however; if can pay off for you. If you can find a good trade show within driving distance it could be the way to go. Obviously the key is to use the show to get new business. While it may not be the case for every type of business, many companies can recoup their investment with only 1-3 new sales orders. This becomes even easier to do if you do a good job of controlling travel and entertainment expenses.

If you’ve done your homework on potential trade shows there is a high probability that you will get the sales revenue needed to make it a profitable venture.

Seek Out CrowdFunding

Never overlook the kindness of good people. With the right presentation, and a little time to make it happen, a crowdfunding platform may get you to where you need. This is especially true if your business offers something with a strong emotional appeal. Companies that work for humanitarian causes are especially blessed with the ability to find crowdfunding financial support.

To get the most from Crowdfunding, you need to have a specific monetary goal, and be able to explain to potential contributors, why your situation is worthy of their money. If you want to take a long term look to really get your small business moving up, you may campaign to draw enough funds to afford a custom designed trade show booth. Having a sharp custom booth goes a long way to earning more new customers at more trade shows.

Crowdfunding is no longer just about charitable acts. Current hot trends in Crowdfunding for small business include some strategies that substantially increase the potential to get people (and their money) involved in your situation.

One of the hottest trends in crowdfunding is investment crowdfunding. Investment Crowdfunding effectively allows a person to become a vested stakeholder in your company. Obviously you set the terms, even if it’s as simple as setting a time limit for the investor to receive a specific return on their money, and specify an end date for the relationship.

The Top 5 Crowd Funding Platforms for Small Business

We recommend that every small business owner, and marketing managers, to take some time to explore crowdfunding. There are literally hundreds of amazing stories about how crowdfunding has performed near miracles for cash strapped companies. Maybe yours could be the next success story.

Search for Grants

Much like obscure college scholarship opportunities there are some little known opportunities to get grants that can fund your business pursuits. As with any type of financial grant, there is paperwork and time involved. If you seek a financial grant you may want to confirm you’ve been approved before you commit to any trade show. Simply put, you have no idea how long it could take to get a grant, meaning don’t find a trade show and think you can get the funding to be approved very fast.

Motivated entrepreneurs should explore the opportunity to qualify for an Individual Development Account (IDA) matched savings grant. IDA funds may be used for a many purposes, including becoming an exhibitor at trade shows.
IDA grants are designed for a small business with low-or-moderate-revenue, and basically provide cash-match financial assistance. The criteria to qualify varies among the many IDA providers, as does what is available.

Build a Marketing Partnership

Sometimes a business owner can find other small business owners that are willing to share the cost of having a relatively expensive trade show display. Having several companies’ pool their funds to buy the basic display can substantially lower their marketing costs. There tricks to making this approach work and keep everyone happy. First, each business needs to have a unique set of custom trade show display graphics to brand the display. Next, and perhaps equally important, is that there should be a common agreement on usage rights, plus how to split insurance, maintenance and storage costs


There are ways to make attending trade shows more affordable for small businesses, and companies on a tight marketing budget. Using Google searches and talking to other marketing professionals can yield some surprising insight for moving your business forward using trade shows.