7 Tips for Using Expositions to Build Your Brand
Conferences, trade shows, conventions, and expositions aren’t for everyone. For example, if your business primarily cultivates relationships with an existing client base or your product line and services remain static across several years, then nurturing your client partnerships one-on-one is likely your best course of action.
However, for everyone else – those who consistently search for new business connections and have innovative products and services to promote – industry expositions can help your brand grow and thrive. This is good because the chances are that your industry has several local and global expos held throughout the year. Now it is up to you to leverage those opportunities to get the most benefit from them.
Here are seven tips that should help you achieve your exposition goals.
1. Have a Plan
The biggest mistake that most conference attendees make is going in without a clear plan. Knowing why you are attending a specific exposition and how it fits within your brand’s image will help you make the most of the opportunity.
You have to begin by knowing why you are attending. Do you want to grow your network? Are you looking to gain industry insights and best practices? Do you want to see what your competitors are doing? Would you like to recruit new vendors and business partnerships? Are you hoping to increase lead generation?
Once you have identified your primary goal, try to determine what it will take to achieve it. For example, if lead generation is your objective, how many leads do you hope to cultivate? Are you looking to extend a broad net or hoping for qualified leads? If the latter, what is your process for qualifying leads, and how can that be managed while accomplishing your other duties?
Having a firm grasp of your main and secondary goals is the primary step toward success.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Now that you are sure of what you want and how you intend to achieve it, it’s time to rehearse. Knowing what you want to say, and being comfortable saying it, can help remove any jitters that may occur when you find yourself in the high-stress environment of the show floor.
Expositions are hectic situations, especially the show floor which is filled with attendees, exhibitors, and vendors all vying for or seeking out attention. No matter how well you believe you know your subject matter, if you don’t rehearse your elevator pitch and key talking points, you will likely find yourself distracted by the noise and activity and then stumble over your words.
You want to present yourself as knowledgeable and professional. If you pepper your sentences with lots of filler sounds (“um,” “ah,” etc.), filler words (“like,” “ya’ know,” etc.), and long pauses, you will come across and unprepared, ill-informed, and amateurish. Avoid this disastrous situation by being as prepared as possible.
3. Take Advantage of All Leadership Opportunities
It often doesn’t occur to attendees, but there are plenty of speaking engagements at trade shows and conferences. Frequently, the event’s planners are looking for new faces to include in their panels and Q&A sessions.
Speaking at conferences or trade shows is one of the best ways to gain creditability because it showcases that you are a subject matter expert in your field. This helps elevate your reputation – and your company’s reputation – across the industry.
Additionally, panelists and speakers are usually promoted in the event’s app and brochure, on the event website and any printed materials, across social media, and in any additional advertising. There may even be a few news and promotional articles where the speaker is mentioned. All of this promotion comes at zero cost (and little effort) to you and your company.
4. Want to Make Networking a Snap? Hashtag It
A couple of months before the exposition launches, the event’s marketing team will start promoting their conference on social media. These posts will include the event’s official hashtag. Start by following, liking, and commenting on these posts early. You could even create your own “Looking forward to…” posts – just be sure to include that event hashtag.
Then, once you are at the event, create content by mentioning the highlights of the day or interesting quotes you heard at presentations. You should also snap some pictures to share.
Your activity will get noticed. The chances are that one or more of your posts will trend well, especially while the exposition is occurring. People will then reach out to you (just as you should reach out to any active people that you notice). Being active throughout the conference is an ideal way to meet key attendees and create significant connections.
Next, to ensure that these connections remain significant, make sure to connect with them on social media there and then. By ensuring that you are on their social media radar, you can keep the conversation alive long after the event’s doors have closed.
5. Try to Score Invites to Exclusive Activities
There are always exclusive networking sessions, cocktail hours, and dinners at every exposition. Reach out to people in your network to discover if they know of any and if they could get you an invite. Your activity on social media should also help you in this regard.
Once people know you are attending – and are actively invested in the expo – you may be surprised how easy it is to be included in some of the smaller gatherings. These provide an exceptional opportunity to network in a more comfortable setting. Also, since these assemblies are not open to the general public, there’s an excellent chance that you’re conversing with some power players.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Expositions can be hectic affairs where you will often find yourself running from one session to another session, to a networking event, to the keynote speaker, to yet another session, followed by a cocktail hour, then dinner, and drinks afterward. It can be overwhelming.
Naturally, to be in top form every day, you should avoid consuming too many adult beverages in the evening. But you should also give yourself a break during the day. Running yourself ragged will do more harm than good. Allow a few moments throughout the day to recharge. Also, try to eat healthy food that will give your body the fuel it needs throughout the day.
Finally, remember that you will likely be running around in the same clothes and on your feet for several hours. You want to look sharp, but don’t sacrifice comfort for the sake of fashion.
7. Make Sure the Expos You Attend Give You the Best Bang for Your Buck
There are several opportunities for you and your company to attend expositions throughout the year – large and small with broad audiences and industry-specific ones. How can you make sure that the shows you attend match your goals for the events? For example, do you want to focus on smaller events where the networking opportunities may be easier or a bigger event with a more diverse crowd?
Fortunately, there are several sources to make your search a bit easier, including:
Suggestions from clients
Previous shows your company attended
Gather as much information as you can and list all of the possibilities on a spreadsheet to compare the pros and cons of each event. Then, reach out to the trade show organizers with questions or hit the road to check out the events yourself.
Expositions, trade shows, and conferences offer fantastic opportunities for you to enhance your brand’s stature. For more tips and tricks that can boost your brand’s visibility, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.