Expos and Events are great ways to meet new people, promote what you do and get up to date with industry developments.
Know what your intention is

i.e. to build clients, sell a product, collect leads etc. Knowing your intention you now need to decide if it is more worthwhile attending or exhibiting.

For example, if you have spent AUD500 on the cost of the expo you need to make sure that you cover that plus your time spent.   So, if you have spent AUD500, plus the cost of your brochures or advertising material and your time, let us say it has cost you AUD1000 all in all. If the service you provide costs AUD100 per 90 minutes of your time you need to have a minimum of 10 sales to break even.

But, remember, not all your sales will happen on that day, people will walk off with your brochure or business card and they may think on it for a while or tell a friend about it and the sales may come later. I did an expo once that cost me AUD480 plus accommodation and time.

I thought I had not covered the costs but then last week – 2 months later – I got a sale worth AUD3000 from a lady who took my business card at the expo. So don’t get despondent if you do not reach your target on the day but also take note of the sales generated from the expo so that you can assess if it is worthwhile participating again.   If you focus on having 30 conversations with a potential client on that day you need to aim for 10 sales out of.

Promoting

Once you have an intention and focus you need to start promoting that event. You should start 4-6 weeks in advance. Create the event on Facebook, you can use Canva, they have an awesome template. Remember the important info needs to be in the centre for viewing on devices. It is always advisable to check your event on a device so that you can see what it is going to look like.  Important info to have on your event page is cost, location, time and what is in it for them to attend. You also need to be clear about the type of person the event is aimed at, identify with your target market and tell them how this expo will help them. But don’t give too much info.

Also, make it very clear how they can respond to the event.   Ideally, we want them to register for the event so that you can get their email address. Once you have their email address they are a lead. Without their email address, you have no control over that lead. Perhaps offer a discounted entry for registering online for the event. That way if they don’t make it you still have their contact info.

To try and lure them into attending the event by promoting what is in it for them, maybe a special offer, a lucky draw etc.  When giving away a freebie be careful. I once offered to give away a bottle of champagne to one lucky person who put their business card into a box. I got plenty of business cards because everyone wanted the bottle of champagne but most of them were not my ideal client and I wasted my time following up on dead leads.   The next time I offered a free Facebook program thinking that only my ideal client will enter, but, guess what, I still had everyone throwing in their business cards and in fact the lady that won it was not interesting and never redeemed her prize.

Now what I do is have a box that says ‘If you would like a call to find out more leave me your business card’. No freebies, just a call. Now at least I only get decent leads that are worth my while.

I also keep a clipboard where people have to write down their name and email address and I offer a freebie by drawing a lucky winner of the names on the clipboard.   You could also offer a freebie on their first appointment, for example, ‘ leave your contact details here and you will receive a free essential oil at your first appointment.’

Invites

Then you need to invite friends. Now, remember, you are limited to the number of invites you can do so only invite people who will be worthwhile inviting – don’t invite your friends in another country. You can also share it on your personal page and from there your friends can share your event with their friends to get more attendees.  You can also share it with collaboration partners and other businesses that are willing to promote and share. When sharing to groups make sure they allow it in their rules and make sure they are an active group with members that fall into your ideal client category and location.  There is no point in sharing to groups whose members are far away and will not travel to the expo.

Cheerleaders

Once you have started promoting your event you need to call past clients using a good old-fashioned phone call. I call them cheerleaders, your past clients that are happy with your service and they are the best people to share your event and hopefully put a little sentence like ‘ Hi, this event is really going to be worth your while’ etc.

Reminders

Thank those who have responded and remind them about the upcoming event. If they have not registered,  remind them, remind them that there is a discount if they register online.  You must then continue to post in that event, whet their appetite and make them excited about attending. Remind them about event offers that are limited to event-goers only.

Be a social butterfly

All this applies whether you are exhibiting or attending. When attending you can walk around chatting to people who may be interested in what you do.   Your ideal client is at the event and they are there for the picking. Don’t hard sell them, strike conversations.

Watch out for timewasters

Be aware that many people at events are there for the freebies. These are the timewasters and you need to know how to identify them. Your ideal client could be walking past while you are wasting time on a timewaster. So learn how to identify them and cut them loose as quickly as possible.  Offering a free service at the expo generally does not result in a sale, they have got their freebie and they are off to the next table with a freebie. Rather offer a freebie on their first appointment or a show discount.

Incentives

Offer people incentive to book and pay there and then. It may be a discounted offer or a freebie but they have to pay at the show. It is always good to limit those offers. ‘I only have 4 left they will be gone soon so pay as soon as possible to take advantage of this offer.’

Limited offer

At the expo, have your event offers or specials very clearly marked and displayed. It is also beneficial to post in the event on the day, mention how many offers you have left, remind people of what time the event closes to inspire people to hurry on over.

Engage

Be proactive at the expo. Do not sit down; do not play on your phone (except to post an update to your event.). Engage in conversation, start conversations. If you are sitting and reading a magazine people are not going to want to approach you.   Even go so far as starting a random conversation with a passerby, if they are carrying a nice bowl ask them where they got it from and get them talking. You will be surprised and where the conversation can go.

Follow up

Follow up! Follow up! Follow up! You need to follow up the next day while they are still a hot lead. Don’t leave it for weeks and let them get cold. If you are not going to follow up you are wasting your time at the expo.

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