Midlands Business Network

If you ask anyone who’s ever exhibited at an Expo or Trade Show you’ll get a mixed response. Certain businesses will tell you that they’ve made loads of valuable contacts and generated countless sales leads, others will say it was a waste of money!

I have to say that my own personal experiences have been very positive.

I’ve been an exhibitor many times, and I’ve been a visitor too – both have brought me new contacts, generated sales leads and given me an overview of who else in doing business in my area. I am that person that comes away with new customers.

For me, exhibiting wins hands down, as I’ve got my shopfront on show and I can clearly display what my business is, what we offer and how we can be of help to the visitor who stops to chat. It depends on you, your business and what you’re aiming to get out of it.

Surely being in a room with hundreds of like-minded businesses has to be good? Think about it, there’s hundreds of visitors & exhibitors – all of which are businesses who are also looking at making connections, looking for help, looking for solutions and looking to sell and buy.

It’s a business market place with a captive audience – and that’s got to be good.

I’d like to share some of my reasons why you should exhibit;

Make new connections

This has to be at the top of the list for me. Even if you have built a large network with many connections, there is not always a chance that you will meet each other in person, and this Expo gives you the chance to meet even more! Invite your connections to attend an exhibition you take part in. It is the best way to meet your connections and at the same time to meet some new customers, partners or suppliers. The old adage of ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ rings so true when making connections in this way.

Improve your brand’s image

Having a well-designed website and an impressive profile for your business is the first step to improve your brand’s image. However, when exhibiting, you have the chance to prove that your creativity is part of your business. Make sure your Expo Stand shows the best impression for your brand. Make yourself friendly, approachable and memorable. What about providing free gifts or samples for visitors so they remember you? What about offering free demonstrations and consultations for their business? Think about what you can give away that’s cost effective and makes an impact.

Keep an eye on the competition

You will already know who your competition is and have no doubt created your competitive advantage already, however a Business Expo is an excellent platform to see your competitors in real action. Competition is part of our business lives, there is no point shunning it, or turning a blind eye.  We need to look our competition it in the eye and see where and how we can be different as a business and as an individual. Look at you and how you’re perceived. Are you engaging? Are you interested? Are you informative? Are you likeable? Perhaps you can join forces? Perhaps you can collaborate? Keep an open mind on everything.  Business Expo’s are a great opportunity to meet competitors and take a closer look at them and their offer, so you can closely evaluate your competitiveness

Use Social media to promote your brand

Exhibitions get excellent media coverage from a whole range of communications, so make sure you can benefit greatly from being part of it.  Be prepared to promote your business prior to, and leading up to the Expo through social media and any channels you can. Most Expo’s will have a hashtag for the event, so make sure you find out what the hashtag is and then actively use it. It’s a great way of seeing who else is at the event and a platform for you to introduce yourself and expose your company profile to a new audience. As they say, all publicity is good publicity.

Learn something new

Attending or taking part in exhibitions will give you more experience. There are many things to learn about new products, ideas and trends. Take this opportunity to improve your knowledge. Take this opportunity to improve YOU.  For example, many Expo’s run free business seminars during the event – take advantage of what you can learn and who you can meet at these seminars. There’s a networking opportunity to be had everywhere. Look at how other businesses promote themselves. Walk around the Expo hall, chat to people and look at how they present their business. You can’t always have the answers, and there’s nothing wrong with ‘stealing’ a few good ideas. Whether it’s sweets, Balloons, Raffles or Prize draws it doesn’t really matter, it’s about what works for you.

Increase your sales

The ultimate goal for any of us is to increase our sales & brand awareness and if we make a sale we feel it’s justification for spending money on an Expo Stand. It’s easy to measure your return on investment, and it’s easy to see results. Imagine how many cold calls you’d have to make in a day, to connect with the same number of businesses you’d meet at an Expo!

You have more chance of making a sale at an Expo than not.  Be there, be part of it.

Published by Julie de Thierry