Over the weekend, about 40 vendors showcased their products and services at Valdosta’s 2nd Annual Epic Advertising Business Expo. Many small businesses were first time exhibitors, including our BridgeBuilder Education & Investments booth. Although we thought the event was a success, I feel the need to reflect and share what hopefully every other company learned from the experience.
1. It Costs To Participate in These Events But They Offer Incredibly Valuable Market Testing.
For total investment to attend (booth reservation, banners, business cards, t-shirts, travel/accommodations, etc.) we had four full days of opportunity to expose ourselves to multiple visitors and other business owners who will ideally reciprocate the support for our business. I quickly learned that our Business & Management Consulting services could be utilized by any of the businesses in the room. Everyone was an ideal customer for BridgeBuilder Education & Investments! This was also the perfect place to solicit feedback from those that stopped by our booth. And we were not disappointed.
2. Be Confident.
A little confidence goes a long way, but too much begins to look arrogant. Everyone should feel comfortable with having some confidence when approached by visitors. Confidence makes you feel comfortable and helps you to be more engaged. What helped me most was remembering that all those that I spoke with were just people and they wanted to be successful and validated just as much as I did. Approaching a potential client with confidence actually helps them also by making an introduction easier and getting your visitor to feel that you are interested in potentially earning their business. Even if the interaction pans out to be a non-lead, at least you’ve gained a notch in feeling more confident in your approach and pitch.
3. Booth Visitors Give Excellent Advice.
Other business owners that circulate the room have probably been in this Expo environment before. They will have insight regarding what sells and why, what works during these events, and whether or not your display is effective. I was pleased to see that visitors to our booth were captured by our display, understood the services we offer from our poster design, and were enticed to learn more. As a visitor to other booths, I was able to engage with other business owners and provide feedback on their display/products, and even offer our services to other businesses, such as our Web Creation Service and Workshop Development for schools.
4. Network! Network! Network!
There were numerous exhibitors at this Expo looking to connect with like-minded individuals and were willing to talk and work on potential partnering opportunities. Taking the time to walk around the Expo floor and take a glance at other businesses is always worth the effort. You’ll be surprised at the people you run into. Either waiting in line at the food table or taking a break in the lobby, there’s always a chance to forge a new relationship or rekindle one with an old friend. However, when doing so, be casual and don’t push a sales agenda too much. Unless asked, most people want to engage in genuine small talk instead of an elevator pitch during the break. Seek to build a rapport and a common networking relationship first.
5. Not Every Exhibitor Knows What They’re Doing.
We certainly didn’t! However, taking the genuine approach, having natural conversation about the business consulting services and guidance we offer, and continuing to increase the foundation for our brand exposure is what we had in mind. That was most certainly achieved!
6. Consider Exhibiting at an Expo Before Going To Mass Production.
It may sound weird to attend an Expo without any mass production of items, but it costs less than buying a bunch of inventory. Your product will be better when you do decide to go to production, and you may learn a lot about the art of exhibiting, which may be good to learn before trying to seriously market your product. You may find that waiting to launch or produce a ton of inventory may be to your advantage if you receive worthwhile feedback from potential customers and other business owners.
Hats off to Epic Advertising LLC!
DeWayne Johnson, PMP (email@example.com) is a Co-Founder and Business Management Consultant with BridgeBuilder Education & Investments, which provides consulting for businesses interested in ways to improve process, strategy, leadership, and staff development. For more information, please visit www.bridgebuilderinvestments.com.
You can ‘like’ the company on Facebook: www.facebook.com/iamabridgebuilder and ‘follow’ them on Twitter: @BBEInvestments. You can also connect with DeWayne Johnson on LinkedIn.