You’ve paid to exhibit at an expo – and taken a day out of work to be there – so want to maximise the return on investment. While expo promoters will (normally and ideally!) be putting in a lot of time and effort to promote the expo, you can help yourself and your business by promoting the fact you’ll be there too.

Preparing for an expo

It’s a great excuse to get in touch with everyone you do business with to let them you’re exhibiting.  Ask them to come and find you as you’d love to see them – especially if they haven’t bought from you in a while. It will place you at the top of their minds and demonstrates keenness to do business. Give them at least a month’s notice so they can pop the date in their diaries. If the expo organisers have created dedicated graphics for you they’re great to use. Ideally, this communication would be personalised to increase engagement and via e-newsletters, email, direct mail – it’s a good idea to use social media too, make sure you mention or tag the expo in your posts. Some of our past exhibitors have popped it in their e-signature too.

Include news of any offers, promotions or prizes you’ll have on the day in your communications, also make sure you send them to the expo organisers so they can promote them to visitors.

Scan exhibitor lists for potential customers, suppliers and collaborators and highlight those you’d like to make contact with on the day. Normally, exhibitor lists will be circulated (to exhibitors at least) a week or two before the expo, do look through and

Make sure marketing materials are ordered in good time and, if you wish them to, can be reused at a later show or promotion eg. a deadline or date sensitive offer printed on them may prevent this. Think about getting branded pens, mugs, pads, stress balls, anything that will be taken back to an office and used on a regular basis, keeps you in mind!

lle17 exhibitors

On the day of the expo

Take some time over creating your stand. Get a tablecloth in corporate colours so it stands out. Have a couple of well designed roller banners or some other backdrop. Create height on your table to give it interest. Make sure your stand looks appealing, have chocolates or branded cupcakes or some such to entice people over.

Run a competition, whatever it might be, ‘guess the number of Smarties in the jar’ or ‘Win this Hamper’ – or ‘Win a printer’ or something related to your business – and getting business cards in return for entry is the best way to collect prospective customers’ details. Interactive games are fun and draw people in such as XBox style games or beepy electronic things where you have to guide the metal ring along a bendy wire and time people, fastest one wins. One year one of our exhibitors had a caricaturist!

Make sure you take notes about the people you meet at the expo, both exhibitors and visitors. Engage with them, what are their challenges, how could you help, maybe someone you know could help? You’ll be there to promote your business but it’s worth having half an ear open for your contacts too. Note any info down and refer back to your notes when following up after the event.

Following up after exhibiting at an expo

Following up is key, if you don’t follow everyone up you may be missing out on business. Personalising the follow-up is extremely important too. A round-robin email like ‘Dear lovelocalexpo Visitor it was great to meet you….’ says you’ve not really spent much time on the email and aren’t that bothered about the people you met. If you’ve had a good chat with someone on the day then call them a few days later, keep the momentum going.

Personalise emails with the person’s name. If you’re copying and pasting email content then double check you’ve got the right name for the email address, there’s nothing worse than getting an email addressed to Steve when you’re called Rachel! Include something relevant to them from your conversation (if applicable). Thank them for their interest in your business, ask if there’s a good time to call them, say if you don’t hear back you’ll give them a call next week.

If you’re following up on competition/draw entries who you didn’t meet, you should still personalise the email with their name, announce the winner(s) and say you hope they enjoyed the expo then use the above, they’ve got some interest in your services as entered your competition.

You’ll have invested money and time on exhibiting and creating the leads so make sure to give them the best chance of converting.

Some people follow up the day after, some a few days, some a week later. We would suggest following up by the end of the week after the expo (at the very latest) or you lose out on any relationship momentum. Connect with businesses on social media, follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with people now.