Virtual Expo photo with Yola O'Hara and David Lattimer

This is a guest post by Jo Smyth of Word Worker.

We’ve all (probably) been along to business expos, many of us as visitors and some of us as exhibitors.

But have you come away wondering if the exercise was worthwhile? Pondering whether you could have spent the time more fruitfully on other business activities?

This could be because you and your business approached the event unprepared. As with any PR or marketing initiative, taking part in or visiting an expo has to have a purpose.

So before you sign up, think about your goals for the expo, and how they fit in with your wider PR and marketing strategy. The very starting point is always: what is my message, who is my audience, where will I find them.

If you have identified an expo where your audience is likely to be present, then here are three key PR benefits of taking part:

  1. Raising your brand awareness. You may not come away with a whole host of new business opportunities, but you will certainly have attracted attention, in the same way that your marketing and PR activity is aimed as engaging your audience. Like PR, attending an expo isn’t a magic wand, but is just one more way of getting in front of the people you want to do business with.
  2. Meeting up. During the pandemic, this is of course online, but it is the next best thing to a face-to-face meeting. When you work on outbound PR and marketing – such as editorial in the media, social media, advertising and email marketing – it can be a little one-way. At an expo you actually get to talk to people and find out a bit more about what they want. You may even get some useful information that results in you adapting your business, products or services, to make them better suit your target market.
  3. Trade shows and expos are all about building up contacts, not just hunting for sales. You could be finding potential referral partners, suppliers, or simply advocates for your business. Of course, this cuts both ways and you need to be willing to help others too. As they say, givers gain.

Preparing for an expo

Step one: as we hinted above, make sure you pick an expo that is right for you. No point in setting out your stall at a gardening show if you’re in IT.

Step two: set a budget for your stand and invest in making it appealing for people, so they want to stop and talk to you. If you are taking part in an online expo, use the opportunities you have to populate your stand with videos, offers, and information about your business that engages your audience.

Step three: set your goals. What types of businesses do you want to meet? Are you aiming to close sales, raise your profile, or gather names for your database (while being GDPR compliant, of course)? That way you can measure the success of the event afterwards.

Step four: if you have members of your team representing you, make sure they are given training in what they should be saying, how they should be presenting the business, and who they should be looking to speak to.

Word Worker at the 5554 Expo

We’ve having our first venture into exhibiting by taking a stand at the 5554 Expo, which is being run online by the team behind Visually Explained and Redro. The first is in February 2021, with another planned for September.

Finally taking our own PR advice (you’ll know the expression, the cobbler’s children go barefoot?), we’ve spent time populating our stand with information we think will be interesting and engaging. We’re looking forward to meeting the other exhibitors and the visitors, because they’ll be SMEs like us, and among them we hope to find some great new contacts and referral partners.

If you’d like to chat to us about trade shows and expos, and how they can help with your PR, please do get in touch. We work with businesses in Swindon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and beyond, helping them raise their profile, so they get the attention of their audience and ultimately boost their sales.