In just half a decade, my eyes have been opened to how much work is involved in organising expos and how powerful they can be in connecting individuals.
Learnings from half a decade of B2B Tradeshows
October the 15th 2022 will mark my fifth anniversary of running tradeshows. Five years ago, I had a successful digital marketing agency in Sussex, before that, I worked for BT as a New Media Specialist - talking to people has always been in my veins, but now the connection is on a much larger scale.
Like many others, I built my business up from next to nothing. My market research into tradeshows was going to other people’s events; seeing how to run them (and what to avoid!). By attending events, conferences and networking - across the south in London, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Kent - I started to see how the bigger picture fitted together. Ultimately the expo business is complex, with many moving elements and cogs to organise and manage.
Face-to-face events are powerful in creating strong business communities. Face-to-face events do more than merely provide you with leads; they give you the rare opportunity to form bonds with like-minded, driven business people. Face-to-face events offer companies the opportunity to share their experiences in the world of business and learn from one another. Forging relationships through coming together and supporting each other is much more sustainable than simply turning up and trying to sell to everyone in sight.
Over the last five years of running events, I've learned that people are incredibly friendly, open and honest about their businesses, if you're open and honest about yours.
Follow my top ten tips to help you connect with individuals at a tradeshow if you're an exhibitor, whether it's your first time or if you’re a seasoned pro.
1. Have a Game Plan.
Before the tradeshow begins, speak to your team so that you know what you're looking to achieve with attendees to the event. Don't just show up and wing it!
2. Stand out and be seen.
It's your chance to level the playing field against other businesses, make sure that you go to another event before exhibiting at one to do some market research.
3. Never go to a tradeshow alone.
Always take an extra pair of hands (it does not look professional if you wander off to network or have lunch and no one is on your stand).
4. Always take a tablecloth for your table if you're using one.
Take my very seasoned word for the truth - event trestle tables are usually tatty! So, smarten up your stand, and even better take one in your branded colour.
5. Speakers are brilliant at events.
Make an effort to attend the speakers at events. They’ve been chosen for their expertise and what they can bring to the table. So sit down for 20 minutes, take the weight off and relax whilst learning from an amazing speaker to broaden your knowledge in business.
6. Pack your portable chargers for your mobile phone.
There is nothing worse than running out of juice before you've finished doing social media posts and selfies at the event! You’ll thank us later.
7. Get social!
It's mega important to be socially active before, during and after events. This adds another layer to your business and gets you out there. We do this by adding in our own hashtags and offering prizes for the most shares with #SussexBizShow @SussexBizShow - try it now and you never know, you may even win a prize!
8. Gifts on your stand are important.
People love giveaways and freebies - think pens, coasters, and USB sticks. But to stand out, you must be different! Bowls of sweets are boring and overdone…why not try buying a 2KG bag of jellybeans and getting people to guess how many jellybeans are inside for the chance to win an afternoon tea for two at a luxury hotel. Be bold and be seen!
9. Utilise technology
Technology is utilised massively at events, so make sure to make the most of it for your trade stand. Have a laptop running a slideshow, or run a live streaming event on social media when people talk to you.
10. Try to see EVERYTHING!
Schedule a 3-hour lunch break into your event day! Why? Because if a tradeshow event has 100+ stands, 10 speakers and lots of seminars, games and swag, you want time to see it all, and you'll never do this in an hour's lunch break!
Exhibitors have a lot to think about when setting up for a B2B tradeshow.
Now imagine what the Expo Organiser has to do.....
Here's to marking the 15th of October 2022 with a glass of wine to celebrate 5 years in business with Network Xpress Ltd, the brand which powers the Sussex Business Show, The Tiger's Pen, The Director's Hub and The Entrepreneurs’ Journey.
Written by Sonny Cutting
Event Director: Sussex Business Show