The Eastern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce Super Expo 2011 Committee (disclosure: I am a member of the Chamber and Expo Committee) arranged for Eric Taylor, author of Mastering the World of Selling to come and present on best business expo practices yesterday morning at the Staybridge Suites in Eatontown. Eric brought his high energy, savvy sales and engagement practices to the group after a masterful introduction by Tom Fraim, Chair of the Expo Committee.
I took notes (because I am kind of nerd like that) and I figured I’d share some of the important touch points on preparing for and presenting at a business expo.
Micro Marketing: Now is the time to be thinking about and ordering your promotional products and giveaways. A good amount of lead time is 3-5 weeks. Donna and Dale Szakats from Initial Impact recommend giving out a useful tool that will keep your business top of mind with your customer.
Pre-Marketing: Let your contacts know that you are exhibiting at/sponsoring the event and make use of the “Golden Ticket” above to invite them to attend. Don’t forget to include contacts in your social networking platforms on-line, email marketing programs and your phone lists. Be sure that your are not sending emails to people who have not “opted in” to receive your emails. Without the opt-in, you are sending spam and people really don’t like that.
Business Description: Each exhibitor will receive a 30 word blurb in which to describe their business in the event program that will be handed to each guest at the door. Put some thought into what you want to say and the 30 words that best describe your business to a potential customer.
Prepare Your Follow-Up Pieces: Believe it or not you will be doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t have your follow up ready to go before the event. There is the “Law of Diminishing Intent” that comes into play after 48 hours. If you can get requested information into the hands of potential customers as soon as possible, it’s puts you at least one step ahead of your competition. Remember – No follow-up, no sale.
Strategize: One of my favorite sayings is “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is true with a business expo and fail may be the equivalent of fumbling through your interactions awkwardly and looking more buffoonish than professional. Make a plan. What are your goals? When setting them a good rule of thumb is to use the SMART goals system whereby goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Write AND practice your elevator pitch or 30 second commercial so you are comfortable with it. Be sure to sell your benefits and value to a potential customer.
What To Bring: Make your booth visually pleasing. Be sure to have plenty of business cards, colorful and attractive collateral (no one wants to carry around a photocopy) and anything you feel best represents your product or service. Be sure to also bring an “Expo Survival Kit” that includes Altoids or other breath mints and hand sanitizer.
Door Prize: Donating a door prize will earn you extra exposure at the event as well as create an opportunity for a potential customer to try your product or service. If you don’t work in an industry that necessarily can giveaway something, consider purchasing a restaurant gift card, iTunes gift card or the like to give away. I remember last year I won a $25 gift card to Applebee’s from Lowy’s Moving Service. Yes, a year later I still remember.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Networking: Arrive at the event early and plan to stay late. Make the most of the time you will have in front of a captive audience that are as eager to learn about your business as you are to talk about it. Be sure to listen as well. One of the biggest values that comes out of an expo is the opportunity for your new contacts to refer business to you.
Attitude: Engagement is key to success and connecting with people. Smiling; looking inviting will make people feel more comfortable talking to you. Be approachable, put the cell phone away for a few hours. You’ll live.
How To Handle A “Hawk”: If you have exhibited at a business expo before, you’ll recognize the “Hawk” right away. He/she is the one who took full advantage of the free entrance and walks around to every booth to hard sell their product or service. You stand as a captive audience stuck at your table with no escape. Well, never fear, here’s how to handle the hawk gracefully. Allow them to get through their elevator pitch, (hey you never know) but if it goes on beyond that offer out a handshake thank them for stopping by and offer to connect online through Linked, Facebook or Twitter.
AT SUPER EXPO
Have Fun: This is most important so I decided to put it first. There is a lot of energy and people at Super Expo, enjoy the experience.
Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover: Treat everyone equally. You never know who might be your next biggest customer or referral source.
Go First: Be the first one to speak and introduce yourself. This way you have control of the direction of the conversation.
Time is $$$: Be brief and upfront with what you have to offer. Quickly qualify and disqualify potential buyers. Don’t let someone who is a dead-end block you from speaking to someone who looks interested. Like the “hawk” offer a handshake, thank them and move on.
Booth Time: If you are exhibiting alone, it is a good idea to remain stationed at your booth to answer questions and talk with attendees. If the booth is staffed with more than person, take the opportunity to walk and work the floor. Get to know the other exhibitors. Don’t stand or sit behind the booth be out front and approachable.
What To Wear: Look as professional and presentable as possible not only are you selling your product or service, in a way you are selling yourself as well. If you have attire with your logo on it, by all means wear that.
Super Expo will be on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 from 4:00pm to 7:30pm at Branches Catering in West Long Branch. All exhibitors and sponsors will have a 3:00-4:00pm networking hour to meet and greet. Comfort Inn Middletown-Red Bank is a proud sponsor for the second year in a row. Lou Russo will be hosting from 94.3 The Point Lou & Liz in the Morning and Eric Taylor will be our emcee. There will be close to 100 exhibitors and we are expecting between four and five hundred attendees. There are no bad exhibit spots at Super Expo. Food and drink are spread throughout the event rooms.
You can see photos taken by Lewis Sasaki of Sasaki Photography LLC on Facebook. He will also be the official event photographer. Eric Taylor will also be presenting at the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce Business Networking Breakfast on “Building Your Personal Brand”. The date is set for Wednesday, April 13, 2011 from 7:45am to 10:00am at Bamm Hollow Country Club located at 215 Sunnyside Road Lincroft, NJ. The cost is $20 for members and $30 for non-members.
What are your best practices when exhibiting at a business expo? Please share your tips and advice in the comments below.