In light of being part of The Best You Expo, I wanted to share some trade show tips for exhibitors on how to prepare for an expo. Being part of an expo could be one of the smartest things you do. It is an opportunity to showcase what you do to your audience, as well as create potential business with other owners. If you have a digital marketing strategy, I would mix it with this one. I exhibited and spoke at The Best You Expo 2019 and it revealed to me how powerful it is for your business. It gave me a sense of validation over my business. It also created business for me, and many other opportunities to help increase my brand awareness.
Preparing for an expo includes doing the following: paying for a space or shell, preparing for your presentation and marketing materials, hiring a team and thinking about what your main goals are for the day(s). Without the right sort of planning, it could be a huge waste of money. Be as clear as possible when it comes to preparation.
Be clear of your business goals
Before you sign up for an expo, it is important to know what your business goals are. Do you want more leads? Are you trying to make more sales? Is there an opportunity to get more brand awareness? It probably is a mix of all of these things, but focusing on one is important. For me, leads were the most important goal, and brand awareness was the secondary goal. Some people may deem this as crazy however I am thinking more systemically and long term in my approach. Look at the current state of your business and decide what it needs to take it to the next step.
Chose the right expo
Next, you need to think about where your audience hangs out. On Google, check out a list of trade shows and exhibitions that attract your target audience. This is a crucial step because if you get this wrong you will waste money. If you truly are a market leader in your field, it should be obvious what trade shows you must go to. Once you have made a decision, contact them in order to set up payment details.
Pick your team
Deciding on who to pick for you team is crucial. This could be friends and family, staff, or hired personnel. My sister, partner, friends and family were all on my team. It was an easy decision because I work directly with them on my business, week to week, and they are familiar with what I do. In addition, I produced a user-guide for them highlighting all details required for the expo. Your team is going to be crucial on the day, as they will help to manage the flow of people coming to your space. Keep them updated in a WhatsApp group and schedule weekly or monthly teleconferences with them, outlining all the details. Make sure that after each meeting, there is a list of clear actions to complete for the next meeting.
Roles within your team
Team members should be designated different roles, building to the lead up to the expo. Some can be more general than others however it would be good to clear things up. For example, my sister, Tessa was in charge of branding and aesthetics on the day, creating her signature “sweets” look. We also had people responsible for outreach and networking, promoting my talk at a specific time. As well as having people on rotation, covering the stalls focusing on getting leads and sales. I was responsible for developing the presentation, creating conversations and making sure there were enough resources for us on the day.
Create an offer
It’s important to create some sort of offer that people can go away with or be a part of. My offer was focused on promoting a £1 trial for a week for my monthly mentoring group programme. Of course, there were some people who really wanted to take part and signed up for the course, and others who didn’t. However, this was a great opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t work. For more dedicated people, I had the opportunity to schedule coaching sessions, for people who wanted to go deeper on solving their business problems. Variety is good, but too much is confusing. Make sure you have a core offer, but also have a secondary option if all else fails.
Build your Online Funnels
When creating your offer you need to make sure you have created the right funnels in place so that the customer journey is smooth. If you are creating a digital offer, this includes creating the landing page, thank you page, email series and all email and payment integrations. This needs to be tested before going live so make sure you do it weeks in advance. It’s always good to understand what your customer’s want, and how you can help them get it. Check out your competitors, and observe themes as to what the market is offering to your audience.
Build a Lead-up campaign
Some sort of promotional video is also good towards the build-up of a trade show. It should highlight:
- Who you are and what you do
- What exhibition you’ll be at
- Who it is for
- Details about the expo
- Call-to-action to attend
Film this on a DSLR camera or 4000k Smartphone, with good sound and lighting, making sure you have a good intro and outro in the video. You may want to do more than one video, per month leading up to the event.
Social media campaigning
A lot of what you create is going to be shared on social media, and instant messaging apps like WhatsApp. I would also find it sensible to create articles, videos and podcasts on your niche topic, leading up to your event to highlight your expertise even more. This is a great strategy, as people attending the expo will naturally want to visit your website, especially if you have set up a profile with your online platforms on the expo’s website.
Develop your presentation and practice
Not everyone will be speaking at an expo, however, it is good to have some sort of presentation. There are four types of presentation you need to prepare for:
- Pitch: This describes who you are and what you do
- Personal story: This gives people the background and reason why behind your business
- PowerPoint: This is for any speakers, or people presenting a powerpoint on their stalls
- Promotion: This is promotional material used to aid lead generation, sales or brand awareness
I cannot stress this enough, practice your presentation! I did not give myself enough time to practice. Make sure your presentation fits the scheduled time, and if you are selling at the end, make sure you practice that part too. Follow a sequence you know works and practice it. The offer needs to make sense to the audience and for your business.
Order Marketing Material
You definitely need marketing material for your talk. This is so that you can draw attention and bring people to your stall. My sister, is the mastermind behind all the sweet tables at my events, as it creates attention. You’ll get people who marvel at the design of it, and there are others who just want to eat the sweets. Regardless it draws attention. As well as this you need merchandise and promotional equipment to draw attention. People like taking something away, whether it is a business card, flyer or Haribo sweet. Basically marketing material includes:
- Roller banner stands
- Flyers with your offer
- Business cards
- Your Books, products etc.
- Sign up form or laptop
- Branded merchandise i.e. t-shirts, mugs, pens, table cover etc.
If you can have your face and brand colours recognised, with a strong caption that connects with your audience, you’re winning.
Furniture and Pay readers
Depending on the rules and regulations of your expo, you may need to furniture. This may be expensive, however, you need to think about what you need it for. For example, do you need two high chairs and a high top table for consultations? Do you need a long table for all your promotional material? Think about it carefully and get examples from other brands who have exhibited in the past. Make sure you also have your pay reader for accepting payments. I use a PayPal Here machine, connected to my business phone. This was all set up weeks before the expo, so make sure you set it up and test it in advance.
Prepare your team
As stated before I created a guide for my team to make sure they were fully aware of what they needed to do. This was created on Google docs so that changes could be made easily. It included the following:
- Details of the event such as venue, date, telephone numbers, important personnel, website, maps etc.
- All products and services, described with prices and links
- My online platforms and socials online
- Frequently Asked Questions and answers
This was shared on the WhatsApp group and made them much more confident of what they had to do. I also went through role plays with my team, anticipating different scenarios.
Set up a day before
You’ll probably be asked to set up a day before the expo, or in the morning. Regardless, make sure you think about how you are going to take your things to the venue. Is it sensible to take public transport? Can you drive and is parking available? Do you need specialist help like a fork-lift etc. This should be thought of beforehand, so be prepared! Get help if you can, so take into consideration people’s time, letting them know in advance if they can help you.
Energy wins on the day
On the day it is important to make sure your energy is as high as possible. Have an attitude of gratitude and create a shell that deflects any sort of negativity. People want to approach people that smile, and say “hello.” It’s normal to feel nervous, but do not be scared! Your team needs to also bounce with energy. Making sure you select the right team from the beginning is crucial. It’s true what they say, energy attracts! I believe I was able to create a buzz based on the energy I was emanating. It could be the difference between being noticed and being ignored.
Create conversation and be honest
Many people are scared of selling or being sold to. But amongst all of this, you don’t need to do any of that. All you need to do is generate conversation. It doesn’t even have to be about the event. Just say “Hey how’s it going” and if you get a response, continue the conversation. Your next line may be “What brings you to this expo…?” And then maybe “What is it that you do…?” That is usually enough to generate a conversation that could lead to so many different avenues. These lines allowed me to get:
- Book sales
- Email Leads
- Great relationships
- Business Opportunities
Just be normal. Be open. And be honest.
Focus on being useful
In your conversations, the sole aim should be to be as useful to the person as possible, even if it is helping them with directions. I value what I will be remembered for as opposed to how much money I can make in a day. Both are important to me, however, being useful is more important to me. It is the best way to foster relationships and be remembered as someone positive and useful.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Once the event has finished, pack up all your stuff and go to Nandos to evaluate the day(s) spent. Discuss with your team what happened on the day(s) and take notes. Focus on wins and challenges, what was done well and what could be improved upon. This is so good as a point of reference for next time. Part of the reason I am writing this article is that it creates some form of evaluation for me.
Don’t forget the email!
And finally, when you have networked with people and collected emails, do not forget to follow up a day or two with an email them. It is important you do this, as you’d be wasting your time being at the expo. Make sure you give a personal email to people that you created a special bond with during your time at the expo. Follow up could be crucial in maintaining a relationship and potentially creating an opportunity in the future. Make sure that in your subject line you stated who you are, when you met them and the date. Then in the body of the email reiterate where you met and state why you are emailing them. It may be to continue a conversation, send them information or could be a courtesy email to encourage them to stay in touch.
This should be enough to help you get prepared for an expo and have the right mindset in place for it. Expos can be very beneficial in the long-run and could help your business grow to heights it has never been. It also could be a complete dud, and generate not benefits, but only challenges and realisations.
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