Kay Bates Profile

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Kay Rial Bates serves as President of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

Preparing for Expo Season

It’s EXPO season again!  Whether your organization exhibits at a trade show, or a community EXPO, you will be putting a lot of time, effort and money into the event.    I  have a few suggestions I would like you to consider before committing to an EXPO.

  • Do your homework! As you research which expos are best for your organization, verify that the expo’s target market is your target market.   Check how the producer of the expo is advertising.  Will it attract your target market?  Can you sell from the booth?  Make sure the expo has a people-drawing theme, give-a-ways, raffles, popcorn, entertainment  and more.

  • Set a rate of return for your investment and time. Depending on products sold, one customer can make the time and investment well worth your company appearing at the expo.  Others might require more sales.
  • Help the producers of the expo advertise.  Before the event use social media to invite your clients to visit your booth.
  • Plan your booth well. It should be inviting, creative and memorable.  A quality banner is an inexpensive and memorable way to start. Think of a theme that affirms your product/service.    Plumber – toilet; Realtor – house; Accountant – enlarged tax form.  Display products, but not too much to avoid being overwhelming.
  • Make sure you include promotional take aways and flyers to create a memory with the attendee once he or she leaves your booth. Any giveaway should represent your organization well.   Ex:  Beautician – nail file or comb.
  • Play with the people. The best booths have an activity pertinent to their business.  Some of the best I have seen was first by Black Diamond Plumbing and Mechanical, which required attendees to solve a puzzle with pipes for a prize with the Black Diamond logo.  Another creative example, was All Pro Plumbing’s encouragement of booth visitors to pitch stress balls shaped as brown feces into a toilet.  Both created quite a memory and were pertinent to the organization involved.

2018 Camp Duncan Expo Booth

  • Do something to keep active children busy. This takes two people in a booth.  One to work with children, the other to talk with adults.  Families have little time together and look for places to go during the winter.
  • Send your A team. Often I see organizations send their C teams.  In other words, an individual who just babysits a booth with no engagement. Make sure your A team is wearing logo’d apparel.  The A team should not be chewing gum, or eating or drinking in the booth.  In addition, your A team should not cross arms, put hands in pockets or wander off.   Your A team should be energized, committed to the product and well trained in customer management as they invite people into the booth.
  • Have a raffle. While people are filling out a card for this drawing, ask them a few pointed questions.  Example:  Do you think you will be purchasing new windows within the next five years?  We have a special sale for expo attendees.   Are you interested?  If the answer is yes, make certain you mark this card so you follow-up.
  • Follow-up.   Attendees will leave the expo and unfortunately get back  involved in their day-to-day lives.   You must connect with them; otherwise, you are just a brief memory.

Artistic Embroidery Creations Expo Booth

  • Be sure to attend multiple years. The more the attendees see you, the greater the recognition, the better the chance to develop trust and possibly get the order!  Not all sales are immediate.  They happen over time.   Linda Showens of Artistic Embroidery found this out when one individual purchased an athletic bag from her in 2012.  The next year that same woman came back and bought a few more bags.  By year three and beyond Linda was producing shirts and bags for adult traveling teams throughout Northern IL.

Expos are a good sales opportunity for any business, but should never be done casually; instead with thought, purpose and measurement.  Happy Expo Season!

The McHenry Area Chamber McHenry-opoly Expo will be held on March 9th at McHenry High School West Campus.  Click here for more information.

  • Northwestern Medicine
  • Mercy Health
  • Natural Therapy Wellness Center

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