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What To Expect When You're Expo-ing

event profs, event tech, expo, exhibitor, what to expect at expos, Broadcast Bridge6 min read

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We’ve been exploring the world of expos recently, and we think it’s fair to say it’s a complex industry with lots of things to consider. It can feel daunting, both in prepping and in attending, so we wanted to take some time to share some of the things that we’ve learned so far that may make attending an expo easier for you:

What to Expect at Expos.

Have a project plan.

This could include designing the artwork for your booth, buying branded clothing for your team to wear, prepping promotional content and merchandise, or adding information to your website. We detailed our project plan process in this blog.

Get comfortable.

This one works on two levels. The first is that you need to be comfortable talking about what you are there to sell. Practice on team members ahead of time if it helps your confidence, or prepare yourself a loose script to work from.

The second is physical. There is a lot of standing around (especially if you are on a smaller stand) and you want to be as comfy as possible. There’s also a lot of ground to cover when you’re walking around the expo checking out the competition. Think about the clothes you’re wearing - make sure it’s loose and layered, and pay special attention to your choice of shoes!

Scope out companies / people of interest ahead of time.

Hopefully, you’ve chosen to attend an expo because you think it will be attended by at least a part of your target audience. It’s definitely worth making a plan for who you want to talk to while you’re there before you go. This will include the very obvious task of identifying which type of person you want to talk to (e.g. we wanted to talk to AV technicians at our first expo). It can also include using the floor plan or the expo’s list of exhibitors on their website to identify companies and people you want to take time to talk to while you’re there. This worked really well for us at our last expo and led to conversations that we wouldn’t have otherwise had with only the natural footfall at our stand. Finally, there’s often a way to ‘book meetings’ with exhibitors and attendees within the event app, so do try and book in some of those too, where appropriate.

Bring treats.

In our experience, everyone is looking for an energy boost as they walk around the various stands (and you’ll need a few yourself with all that standing, walking and chatting). We found mints worked really well - vegan and also have a nostalgic appeal, and they were a good way to entice people over for a conversation with us.

Have your own way of capturing people’s information.

The expos that we have attended so far have provided apps to help capture information of the people you’re talking to. We particularly liked one solution of attaching all of a person’s offered information (filled in before attendance) in a QR code that was printed on their badge and could be scanned with ease. However, we have found that these solutions aren’t always as reliable as anyone would like them to be, so it’s worth having a back-up solution in place to make sure that you’re not forgetting anyone you speak to, even if that is something quick and dirty like taking a photo of their badge, or adding them to LinkedIn whilst you’re still in the room together.

Be sensible about how many people you send.

Overstaffing your booth gives everyone less room to get comfortable and it may not be an effective use of everyone’s time. Understaffing your booth may mean that you struggle to keep up with the flow of interactions or allow for adequate breaks. We think that two or three people should be enough for a small to medium sized booth. There will be peaks and troughs in the amount of people who want to talk to you throughout the day, so make use of these times to send someone off to give a demo to a specific person, catch up with emails, or have lunch.

Have a plan for following up with new contacts before you go.

With any luck, the expo you attend will go well for you and you’ll come away with a load of new contacts and potential leads for your business. The follow-up can be a lengthy process so it’s worth making sure that you’ve scheduled time for dealing with this communication ahead of going and that you have a plan for how you want to approach said communication. We found that rating leads with a simple 5 star system helped us prioritise who we wanted to follow up with first, and using is great for booking in follow-up meetings or demos without loads of back and forth emails (you simply pre-fill your availability and then send a single link for the other person to select which of your available times works best for them and create the meeting).

Pack light.

There doesn’t tend to be a lot of storage space (if any) at these places. Some offer a small locker space somewhere under or around your booth, and there may be a cloakroom facility for you to drop coats and bags for the day. We have found that the general best practice is to not take anything that you’re not willing to carry when you leave the booth. If you don’t need your laptop to run the booth, don’t take it - reply to emails or make notes on your phone instead. If you’re happy to get drinks on site, don’t bring a heavy water bottle. Simple, seemingly obvious things like this can make your day run a lot smoother and make the whole experience feel a little easier. We can recommend bringing a portable charger unless you’re paying extra to have a power supply at your stand.

Trial and error is the only way.

The only way to work out what kind of event works best for you and your company is to attend some and learn from them. There is no surefire way to guarantee that any event will be a success for you, you have to be willing to try and see what happens. We work around this uncertainty by investing in smaller booths as a testing ground, with a plan for expanding our footprint at future events if they go well.

Don’t have any preconceptions or expectations.

As mentioned above, there is no way of telling how an event will go until you get there. All the research and planning in the world won’t guarantee you success, so don’t expect too much ahead of time or put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Equally, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how well an expo goes - we certainly were with our first experience. In short, try to show up and take things as they come - good, bad or ugly. Everything you experience will teach you something about the industry or your business.

There are absolutely more things that we have to learn about operating in this space, and we plan to continue trying things out to find the best options for us, but these are the things that have stood out to us most prominently so far. 

Get in touch and let us know if we’ve missed something important that you’ve learned from attending your own expos. 

Maybe we’ll bump into you at an event someday - if you see us out in the wild, come say hi!

-- Alanna and the Everycast Labs team

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