5 Tips for a Successful Expo

Expos (also known as trade shows) are a great way to bring many businesses together to network with their target audience. A successful expo has a lot of parts that have to work together for the overall goal of the event. This includes efficient marketing, networking, priming, and follow-up.

Every event maker knows that putting together an expo takes a lot of work. Don’t let your work go to waste, make sure all of your planning and effort go towards a successful outcome. Here are 5 tips for a successful expo:

1. Market Efficiently

You can have the best exhibitors, killer booths, and yummy catering for your expo, but if you don’t have effective marketing before your event, good luck getting attendees there. One of the best ways to get the word out about your expo is digital marketing, i.e. digital ads. To buy online ads for your event, click here.

PPC ads are a great way to make sure your target audience knows about your expo and gets tickets ahead of time. However, to do this you’ll need a great event landing page. Event websites are a must in this day and age. Feel free to keep it simple, but you need to at the least have contact info, ticket purchasing, event location and schedule.

Want to build a great event website in 5 events? Learn how to here.

2. Network with People Before Your Event

It’s important to network with your vendors and target audience before your event. Email campaigns are a good way to do this, but social media is even better. Social media enables you to connect with people in real-time before your event. You can also start promoting your event hashtag ahead of time, building awareness for your event.

3. Encourage Creative Booths

Be sure to send out an email to encourage your exhibitors to bring their “A” game. No one wants to host an expo with boring booths. You’ll already have a lot on your plate in planning an expo so don’t feel like you have to coach each exhibitor on how to put a great booth together. Instead, pass them along an article with tips on innovative booth creation, like this one written by Bizbash.

OtterBox’s booth is a truly innovative example, it’s two stories of well thought out creativity:

4. Provide Cool Swag

Everyone loves free stuff so make sure your expo swag is on point. Of course your exhibitors will have their own swag they’ll provide, but you want to make sure that your expo has cool stuff to give away as well so people remember you overall event.

If you’re willing to go expensive try USB drives, mini bluetooth speakers, phone charges, etc.

If you want to go less expensive go with T-shirts, reusable bags, sunglasses, mugs etc.

5. Follow Up Post-Event

Now that you’ve put on a successful event, be sure to thank your exhibitors. Go the extra mile and send a handwritten thank you note or fruit basket. Something that shows your appreciation so that they’ll remember your event fondly.

Don’t forget to throw in a note about next year’s expo like “See you next year!” This allows you to open the door to send them early-bird booth pricing for next year.

You’ll also want to send them a value report, showing attendee data specific to their booth that can be used for lead gen. Wondering what reports you need and how to get them? Read here.

Expos: 9 Practical Ways to Turn Leads Into Sales

When you attend a trade show, one of your main objectives for attending is to generate quality leads for your sales team. However, did you know that just 6% of marketers believe their company converts trade show leads into customer business extremely well? For how much time, thought, and effort goes into planning booths and exhibits at trade shows, that number is extremely low for the confidence that marketers have in converting leads into sales.

Having worked with thousands of events, we have noticed firsthand that exhibitors struggle with converting leads into sales. We have a few proven techniques that will help you optimize your leads at your next trade show event.

This solution will work, but it will require work and effort on your part to implement these strategies into your own work.

Before the event:

1. Have a clear objective in mind

Know your goal before you show up at the expo. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but know that you should have one clear, concise goal that each member of your team attending the show can repeat from memory.

2. Create an email drip campaign

Surprised to see this on the list in the “Before the event” section? You shouldn’t be. Before you take off for the expo, create an email drip campaign that aligns with your goal. If you write the content before you go, you can simply plug in the leads that you gather and have consistent messaging across the whole trade show experience.

3. Create free content of value

As a part of your trade show planning meeting, decide on a valuable offering that you can send your leads for free.

First of all, this will help you collect their contact information in the first place since you have an enticing offer for them. Secondly, it will help you build rapport and goodwill with prospective clients since people love receiving content of value for free. And finally, it is a natural way to follow up with your leads. You can start your conversation up where you left it and check in to make sure the info you sent them makes sense.

Once again, this content should align with your main objective. You may already have some content like this built out that you can use, or if you don’t you can take the time to build compelling content. This could be an ebook, industry-specific calendar, report, scorecard, industry comparison, or any other content that makes sense for your audience. At the event:

4. Collect digital info

We live in a world where physical paper sheets are a seriously endangered species. Many people still carry business cards around with them at trade shows, but you will find that many of the attendees don’t carry business cards anymore.

If possible, use the QR codes from their name badges to simple scan onto your phone. All you need is a QR code scanning app and you can collect their information. When the event is over, you can simply upload the excel sheet into your email system and start emailing your new leads.

Not only will this help you capture more leads, but it will save you a lot of time and help you reach your contacts fast. If the event you are exhibiting at doesn’t use QR codes, reach out to the event producer and ask them to include this functionality at future events so you can easily capture and contact leads.

5. Set up a call on the spot

Don’t wait until after the show to send an email asking when your new lead can talk. Instead, set up calls on the spot. This is easier if you have the right tools in place. You can use tools like Calendly, Doodle, or Cirrus Insight to easily set appointments on the spot.

The meeting should automatically be added to their calendar with any of these tools and will help you keep appointments better. Have one of your team members there to walk them through the process and correctly set up a date and time when they can meet.

6. Email contacts that night

If you aren’t able to schedule a call on the spot, reach out to your contacts that very same day. The longer you wait to reach out to your contacts, the less likely they will be to respond to your outreach.

As you get more sales calls scheduled, you’ll see a greater ROI from trade shows.

After the event:

7. Make your trade show leads a priority

Make it clear to your sales and marketing teams that the leads you collected from the tradeshow take priority over other leads coming in. Set the expectation that they will be contacting these leads and building relationships with them.

8. Send out a care package

Determine the top leads that you would like to close and send them a package in the mail. People enjoy getting mail and a clever, yet useful package will help keep you top of mind.

9. Warm cold leads

Sometimes leads don’t convert right away. It’s a fact of life. But just because a lead doesn’t convert right now, doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in your product. To make sure you are getting the most out of your leads, immediately add them to your drip campaign to keep constant contact with them.

You can also enlist the services of companies like Aktify to warm your cold leads. They will help you find the leads that are still interested in your product and help you close the leads that you thought were lost.

If you follow these nine steps, you will see more leads turn into sales from your expo lead gen list.

20 Powerful Stats on the Value of Trade Shows and Expos

In 2018 the value of expos and tradeshows is still strong. In fact, 99% of exhibitors find unique value delivered by trade shows which are not provided by other marketing channels. Trade shows give exhibitors and attendees the chance to talk face-to-face, an increasingly difficult struggle in the era of video communication, emails, and text messages. Trade shows and expos lead to more conversations, more leads, and more sales than other marketing events. Because of that, we wanted to share with you some powerful stats that help you visualize the impact of your events.

We’ve compiled a list of 21 powerful stats that you can use to plan your upcoming expo while also convincing exhibitors and attendees of the importance of attending your next expo.

Why exhibitors attend trade shows and expos:

1. 88% participate in trade shows to raise awareness of the company and its brand.

Trade shows and expos provide a great way to get your name out and let a very niche audience know about your brand.

2. 72% participate to get leads from new buyers and prospects.

Exhibitors expect to meet new clients and get sales by attending an expo.

3. 65% attend to see current clients – it is harder to get face to face time with clients.

Exhibitors are having a harder time getting face-to-face time with their clients, and trade shows provide a way to reestablish the relationship.

4. The top 3 sales-related objectives at trade shows are related to relationship management and engagement.

Above all else, exhibitors want to meet with existing customers, key customers, and prospective customers.

Value of Trade Shows:

5. The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospect’s office is $259.

By displaying at an expo, you find a much more cost effective way to have face-to-face conversations with potential prospects.

6. 92% of tradeshow attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services.

Expos and trade shows are a perfect opportunity to highlight the new products, services, or technology you offer. And by doing so, you will meet your attendees expectations at the expo.

7. 77% of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last show they attended.

Expos do create new business opportunities for exhibitors. If you are sitting on the fence about attending an expo because you’re not sure if it is worth it, remember that your competitors will be closing the deals that you could have been closing.

8. 45% of attendees visit only one exhibition per year.

When you exhibit at a show, you will find new prospects that you wouldn’t find at any other show.

9. 51% of trade show attendees requested that a sales representative visit their company after the show.

People are finding valuable solutions by attending trade shows and if you aren’t attending, you are missing opportunities of closing big deals.

10. 87% of exhibitors rate exhibitions as highly valuable for achieving business sector promotions.

Exhibitors are having overall positive experiences at trade shows.

Prospect Building:

11. 90% of expo attendees have not met face-to-face with any companies exhibiting at the show in the 12 months prior to the event.

Trade shows provide a great opportunity to network and build relationships with current clients and potential prospects.

12. Over 50% of the expo attendees are there for the first time.

With so many new people are attending expos each year, it is worth attending trade shows every year to meet prospective clients who did not attend last years show.

13. 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies.

2 of 3 attendees don’t currently use the product or service of the exhibiting company.

14. 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority.

4 out of 5 people walking through the show are potential customers for exhibitors.

15. The average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing trade show exhibits at an exhibition.

You have plenty of time to network and make connections at the event. Attract attendees to your booth that will attract attendees to your booth such as visual representations.

Trade Show Concerns:

16. Just 6% of marketers believe their company converts trade show leads, contacts and conversations into customer business extremely well.

Plan networking opportunities into your expo outside of the show floor to increase the chance for building relationships. Use event software that digitally tracks leads through QR codes instead of risking losing paper business cards.

Attendee Experience:

17. The #1 reason for attending (not exhibiting) trade shows is to see new products. 92% of trade show attendees say they are looking for new products.

This has been the number one reason to attend expos and trade shows for over 25 years.

18. Only 34% of attendees said they were very satisfied with their experience at exhibitions they visited.

Attendees provide value for exhibitors and vice versa. Plan activities outside of the exhibitor floor time that provide extra value to attendees. Also provide them with contact information for all exhibitors so they can research the exhibitors they didn’t get a chance to meet in person.

19. Leading reasons why marketers felt disappointed with attending major trade shows worldwide as of May 2017:

45% Cost of attendance

45% Not getting the right spot on the conference floor

36% Low-value leads

36% Wrong speaking slots

27% Company booth was overshadowed by bigger players

20. 56% of trade show attendees travel more than 400 miles to attend an exhibition.

Transportation costs are important to both exhibitors transporting their booths to trade shows, and attendees traveling to meeting sites. If you can help them reduce their travel costs by getting a hotel discount, you can help increase the attendance at your expo.

 

Sources:

Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)

BizActions

CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget

CEIR Report ACRR 1152.12

Skyline Exhibits market research

CMO Council & E2MA, 2013

Exhibit Surveys, Inc.

CEIR Changing Environment Study

CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face

What’s The Difference Between a Conference, Expo, Trade Show, and Summit?

Throughout each year you will receive numerous invites to conferences, expos, summits, trade shows, and a slew of other professional events meant to help you connect and share your product or services with others. However, there is only so much time in a day and resources are limited, especially when travel is required to reach some of these events. How do you decide which of the 285,000 events to attend? Or, as an event maker, how do you decide which one to organize? What is the difference between planning and attending a conference versus an expo? Is a summit different from a symposium? This article will break down the differences between conferences, expos, trade shows, and summits and help you decide which events you should attend and which ones you should organize.

Conference:

Definition:  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a conference is “a formal meeting in which many people gather in order to talk about ideas or problems related to a particular topic, usually for several days.” To break that down, let’s look into the specifics of a conference:

  1. Conferences are formal. This means that conferences have a professional feel to them, from dress and attire, to content and speakers. When you attend a conference, make sure you are dressed appropriately and are in the mindset to learn and develop your professional skills.
  2. Conferences discuss ideas or problems related to a topic. Although there may be a networking session after the conference, conferences are not the place to talk about you and your business. Instead, conferences focus on a larger issue that faces an entire industry or profession. For example, in the event planning industry, a topic for a conference may be “Increasing Participation at Events” or “Attracting New Audiences to Annual Events.” The topics at conferences resonate with the everybody in the industry, as it addresses and underlying problem that needs to be overcome.
  3. Conferences have speakers, not always discussions. Be prepared to take notes on your laptop, tablet, phone, or if you’re still in practice, pen and paper. Throughout the conference you will hear from keynote speakers, guest speakers, and other industry leaders. Conferences provide an opportunity to learn from thought leaders of your trade, but aren’t always a good place for conversation. While many conferences provide breakout sessions, they usually focus on having the attendees learn from speakers or through activities. With conferences, take good notes and share what you learned with your colleagues upon your return.

Why attend: At conferences, you will hear from leaders in your field who have navigated many of the same challenges you do in your daily job. They have successfully overcome some of the obstacles you face and share how they did it. Conferences spark new insights into lingering questions and renew excitement about the work you do. Often, they help you solve problems that you couldn’t figure out on your own, and you can network with other like-minded individuals. Make sure to use this helpful checklist below by Salesforce Pardot to effectively plan ahead for your next conference.

Why organize: If you have an underlying problem that exists in your field, a conference is a practical way to get like-minded professionals together to help solve the issue. Smart minds in your industry can get together, meet with you, and network with each other to learn and grow. Your reputation as a thought-leader will grow, and you will have a greater influence in your industry. While many conferences last multiple days, it is not a requirement. If you only have enough content for one day, or a couple hours, a conference can still be very beneficial to attendees. Make sure you can line up quality speakers, a meal or snack, and a productive activity to make your conference more effective.

Conference Checklist

Expo:

Definition: An exposition, often called an expo, is a global event that aims at educating the public, sharing innovation, promoting progress, and fostering cooperation.

  1. Expos are a great way to meet people. Network with business-owners and decision makers. 
  2. Attend topical seminars or roundtables to learn how you can become better in your field.
  3. Expos combine the professional development of a conference with the social aspect of a convention.

Why attend? Attending an expo is a great way to network and learn more about topics you’re interested in.

Why organize? An expo is a large-scale trade show often conducted on an international level. Think of an expo as a hybrid of a trade show and conference that is mainly focused on exhibitors. Expos are often sprinkled with a few sessions or seminars put on by the show organizer that pertain to the topic of the expo. They’re a great way to get a lot of attention on your event since they are so huge and typically have many attendees.

Trade Show:

Definition: Wikipedia defines a trade show as “an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities.” Taking a closer look at this definition, we can take away that:

  1. Trade shows are for showcasing and demonstrating. When you are at a trade show, you will be surrounded by people selling their goods and services. Trade shows benefit buyers and sellers equally as it is a place to demonstrate how your product or service can benefit potential buyers, and potential buyers can see what products or services they want to purchase. Most of the buyers are from corporations or distribution companies buying on behalf of their company. At trade shows, you won’t find as many individual shoppers.
  2. You can see what your competition is working on. Trade shows showcase the newest and best products and services from each company as they hope to get an edge in the market. Because they are showing the newest and best products, it means that you can see how your product compares. You can get an up close and personal look at each product, ask questions, and have rare face time with competitors to find out all you want to know about their products. This is a rare opportunity to speak directly to the makers of the product. Take the opportunity to see what they are doing that you aren’t and see if you want to incorporate that into your own product or service.
  3. Examine recent market trends and opportunities. Trade shows bring together many people in the same industry selling products that cater to many of the needs of individuals. However, as you are studying the different products and services that are offered, you may see gaps in the market that can be filled by you or your organization. You can see the current trends and make steps to be ahead of the curve, but also make sure you don’t fall behind.

Why Attend: If you have a product or a service that you are trying to sell, you need to attend trade shows to not only get more eyes on your product, but the right eyes. Trade shows are usually quite large and each registrant pays to display their product from a booth. You can take your product and inform curious buyers why they need or want your product. You also want to attend if you are a buyer for a corporation. You will want to make sure to attend all of the relevant trade shows that could improve your company. Trade shows usually garner attention whether that means national, local, or industry media, so there is always a chance your product or service gets featured in an article.

Why organize: Putting together a trade show isn’t something you think of on a whim, but you will have practical reasons for putting one together. Maybe there are no similar trade shows that already exist within your industry in your area, yet there are many qualified people who would be willing to attend and exhibit. Putting together a trade show can also define you as a thought leader in your industry. It isn’t easy working out all of the details of a trade show, but if you execute it correctly, you can make connections and network with hundreds or even thousands of people in your industry. These stats below by Infinity Exhibits will give you an idea of who you can expect to attend your trade show.

Tradeshow Statistics

Summit:

Definition: The formal definition of summit is a meeting of heads of state or government, usually with considerable media exposure, tight security, and a prearranged agenda. We’ll break it down and translate it into how a summit works in the business world.

  1. A meeting of heads of companies or top executives. A summit is different from a conference and a convention in that it is an exclusive event reserved for top level executives. Summits are usually reserved for top executives, or people of influence within an organization or an industry. It is a setting where big business occurs, deals are made, and debate happens.
  2. Prearranged agenda. Before attending a summit, participants will know what is being discussed and will come prepared with information they can use in discussion. Summits can last up to a couple days and topics vary, but they are all important issues. Often, keynote speakers at the summit will be given by attendees, as they are often people of influence within their sphere.
  3. Hear information there first. The definition of a summit is the topmost level attainable, so high caliber officials are often attending. As top executives meet together, new industry information is often shared here first.

Why attend? If you are invited to attend a summit, it is because your opinion is valued and your position is respected. You will be able to meet and network with other influential leaders in the industry. While you are there, you will have influence in the debate, will hear information there first, and will grow your business.

Why organize? Organizing a summit clearly sets you apart as an industry leader. People will know your name and realize your influence in the industry by the people who attend. Summits gives you an opportunity to start the discussion of important topics that need debating. Summits are formal and very productive