A business expo can be an excellent place to make new contacts, promote your business and even get new customers. They can also take a lot of investment, in both time and money, so ensuring that you get it right from the first day is essential to making the investment work.
How can you ensure that the expo will work for you?
Make Sure your Target Audience are Present
Who will be coming to the expo? Is it a start-up business expo, but your best clients are businesses that have been around for more than 3 years? If this is the case, then you may want to rethink the expo you are planning to get to. This should all be done before you sign up to having a stand at the event.
Research, Research, Research
Take a look at the upcoming expos in your area (if you focus locally) and in your target market, then check out their previous events and businesses who had stands. Get in touch with them and ask their opinions on whether it was worth it, if they are going again and what they would recommend for the next one to make it work for you. In most businesses, they want to help, especially if you are not competition!
Are there Speaking Opportunities?
Sometimes the best way to get the most out of an expo is by taking a speaking slot, which happens at most of these events. Do you have experience and/or knowledge in a field that would help their attendees? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to the organisers, especially if you are already intending to pay for a stand – they will probably be more likely to give you the opportunity to speak. Speaking at these events can also be a great way to sell products – ask the organisers if, because you aren’t being paid to speak, you can have your books/banners/products at the speaking event during your talk. This will give the attendees the opportunity to buy from you. If you can’t do this, then ensure to give them the chance to see you after your talk, by sharing your stand number.
After the research, which is the most important part of ensuring which expo is right for you, it comes time to get the cogs in motion – making the most of the day.
- The Look and Feel – this is the piece that needs to attract people to you. What colours will you use, how will it look and how much can you invest into it? I highly recommend, if you can afford it, getting professional designers to make the expo stand for you, as well as printing it professionally and well in advance. Look into how many other exhibitors will be there – then realise how much you need to stand out! Ensure you know exactly how much space you will have, so you can maximise its use.
- Getting the people to come to you – whether it’s using social media, your contacts and utilising the event itself, you need to get people to come to your stand. This needs to be done at least 3 months in advance. Start shouting about your stand, where you’ll be, what you’re getting up to and what you will be offering the attendees. Will there be some sort of lucky prize draw or experts on hand to answer the attendee’s questions? If you get to speak at the event, ensure that the organisers have a great bio on you, the talk itself and that they are happy to share any updates through social media that you share. I also highly recommend that you have a few people on hand on the day – they should not only man the stand but also mingle throughout the day with other exhibitors, attend the talks and any other events that are occurring, in your logo-filled t-shirts.
- Getting their details – this is the most important part while you are at the trade show / expo – getting the details of the people you have met. Will you take their cards (via the lucky draw) or will they have to fill out some sort of form? How will you ensure you follow up with the people who were truly interested, perhaps there’s a separate “really interested” bowl that you can have for those names, so you ensure to get back to them as soon as you can.
It can feel incredibly daunting at your first trade show, but making sure you get it right from the start, that your team is well-educated in what you want to achieve and how they can help you get that, is a great point to start on.
I also highly recommend you ask for advice from the organisers and any other business owners you know that have done an expo before. Suck up all the information you can to ensure this expo is the expo that brings you the customers you are looking for.
Next time, we will share how to do the perfect follow up from a trade show, ensuring those short meetings turn into great connections.