For years, trade shows have been a way for vendors within a particular industry to come together and share what they have to offer. Many unique products make their debut at these industry-specific events and a considerable amount of business can be done over the course of an event. Because exhibiting at these shows was limited to established businesses it was difficult for independent retailers and freelancers to become involved in the greater industry. Now that freelance workers and home businesses have become a more prominent feature in just about every industry, trade shows are welcoming these people as vendors and exhibitors.
Self promotion is a form of advertising unique to people working outside of traditional employment environments. This includes independent authors, freelance workers, artists, craftspeople, designers, and many others. The rise of the Internet marketplace has made it possible for independent workers to flourish. This means that there are now more people online trying to promote what they do.
The Elements of Self Promotion
Presenting at a trade show is a good way to distinguish yourself from other independent workers in your field. When you meet potential customers face to face they’re more likely to remember you and look for you online in the future. To make a good impression, you’ll have to think seriously about self promotion.
The key elements of self promotion include:
- Presentation. You are, in a sense, selling yourself so make sure you present yourself as the professional you are.
- Examples of the work you’ve done. If you’re an artist, display work you’ve done. Programmers should have a terminal that allows people to try out their software. An author needs to have books available for browsing and purchase.
- Basic information. It’s helpful to have a brief statement that describes who you are and what you do. This can be as simple as “I’m a fantasy book author writing for young adults” or “I give educational presentations to people who want to start small businesses.” This statement should be brief and to the point. Avoid too much technical jargon or opaque terminology; this can discourage your audience.
- In-depth information. Be prepared to talk about past work you’ve done or give examples of your work history. A biographical handout can be appropriate or a brochure that discusses your educational and training background and unique approach to the work you do. After introductory information, have something more substantial ready to give to people.
Self Promotional Strategies
Sales can be one of the most challenging aspects of being an independent employee. Even the most ambitious person can easily get worn out by attending lots of trade shows and similar events. To conserve your energy choose to do a limited number of exhibitions each year. Take into consideration the amount of traveling that would be required; transporting yourself and all your equipment can become very expensive. At first you might want to focus on just two or three large annual events.
Consider partnering with a network of people doing similar work. Even if this group is only informally organized, your combined efforts will make the exhibition process considerably easier. Two members of the group could represent the items produced by everyone, including themselves. At the next event, two other members will do the same.
In the age of the independent worker, self promotional is absolutely necessary. Doing the work you’re passionate about is impossible without a customer base. A good way to create that base is to get out and meet your customers face to face.
Lawrence Reaves writes for Exhibit Deal, a company offering portable trade show displays such as banners, digital signage and pop up displays at affordable prices. For more information on Exhibit Deal and the products they carry, go here.