The most common are opportunities to network with distributors and, depending upon your industry, larger retailers who can help you break through into larger, mainstream markets. Depending upon the show, you may even have the opportunity to sell directly to customers.
You can find a million articles elsewhere touting these common trade show benefits, but what follows are two opportunities you likely haven't considered.
Those benefits? Collaboration and intelligence gathering. In fact, just one rock solid partnership could pay back the hefty cost of booth space, travel and then some.
While it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of direct consumer sales and foot traffic, there's another customer you should be mindful of while exhibiting: other exhibitors. Opening their eyes to the mutual benefits of collaboration could open up the floodgates to seismic growth. I spoke with Pintrill founder Jordan Roschwalb, who exhibited at Complex Con, powered by Shopify, about the benefits of collaboration, which he's had success with.
"Collaboration is so key," Roschwalb said.
"It could be a phone charger company. It could be a book cover company. It could be a wrapping paper company. It could be anything. Collaboration is key because it's all about facilitating growth." Beyond the financial benefits both parties can reap, collaboration with other brands exposes you to new markets, audiences and potential customers. It also helps with "keeping things fresh" said Roschwalb.
2. Gather as much intelligence as you can.
Sure, there's value in selling current products to new customers in a physical setting, but the real value for your business can come from the intelligence you can gather while on site. Face time with customers is a rare opportunity for online-only entrepreneurs. Trade shows present an opportunity to learn how to make your business better through intel.
For instance, what you learn from customers at a trade show can help you forecast future products, help you rethink your overall brand value and help you identify what problems to solve later on down the line. That kind of intel is both precious and hard to come by. Tradeshows will allow you get it straight from the most credible source: new customers.