There are many advantages to starting a home-based business, especially if you happen to be a mom interested in a job that not only provides additional income for the household, but also allows you to raise your kids rather than relegating them to the question mark of care and attention they’ll receive at daycare facilities. But there are decided drawbacks, as well, mainly when it comes to competing in your industry. As a home-based entrepreneur you’re going to have two major problems; the first is money and the second is exposure. Most work-at-home moms don’t have a lot of extra money to put back into their business. So if you decide you want to engage in some type of marketing, you might be working with a limited budget. And if you don’t have a storefront or even a website, you’re already a step behind some of your competitors. However, once you’ve got your website up and running and you’re engaging in social media, the next step when it comes to taking your home-based business to the next level may be to participate in local or nearby trade shows. However, you want to make sure that every dime is well-spent, so here are a few tips to help you maximize your budget and your efforts.

  1. Make specific goals. Since trade shows can be a pricy affair, you need to make every dollar count, and the best way to do this is to ensure that you come up with achievable goals for your foray into the public spotlight. Your aim could be as simple as getting twenty people to write down their contact information. Or you may want to sign up clients or make a certain number of sales. Perhaps you want to grab media attention by unveiling a new product or service you’ll offer in the coming year. And of course, you probably have multiple goals. So long as you outline them ahead of time you can create a strategy for marketing and promotion that will help you to achieve them.
  2. Be choosy. Selecting the right trade shows to attend is no easy undertaking, especially if you’re not terribly familiar with what’s out there for your industry. However, you should consider several criteria in your evaluation, including location, cost, relative popularity, and whether the event is limited to industry and press or if it’s open to the public. Depending on what you hope to accomplish, all could play a role in your choice of whether or not to attend.
  3. Promote where you can. You might not have a lot of money earmarked for promotion, but you definitely want to let consumers and media outlets know where you’ll be so that you can ensure targeted visitors to your booth. So think about how you might contact members of the press in your area to drum up interest and advertise via your website, blog, and social media accounts, as well as industry blogs and forums. Having a pitch or tease could help in the promotional process.
  4. Get a gimmick. Gimmicks have gotten a bad name because many are cheap and overdone. But you don’t have to take this tack. What you really want to do is make yourself stand out from the pack, a necessary undertaking when you’re competing against the cacophony of noise and the visual smorgasbord that characterize most trade shows, where everyone is trying to grab attention. The best way to do this when you don’t have a ton of money is to create an interactive exhibit that draws in passersby, whether you’ve created a promotional video, you do some kind of live performance or demonstration, or you use a game of some sort to build a crowd and offer giveaways.
  5. Capture leads. Any ROI article on trade shows is bound to stress the importance of getting leads so that you can follow up after the fact. After all, the return on your investment in a trade show comes from potential patrons and sales, and the best way to maximize this opportunity is to encourage people to become connected to your brand.
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