As a small business is an Expo stand worth paying for?

As you may or may not know we had a stand at the North Harbour Business event last month.

I can be a little egotistical at times and one of the main reasons for getting a stall was to get out there and show what we do and how good we are at doing it.

I had no idea of what we would achieve by having a stand. The idea was to get as much brand awareness as humanly possible and get some business cards into people’s hands. I knew that the cost would be high and the benefits low and not quantifiable. So out came the purse. The stall itself was reasonably priced but then it started to stack up. The stand signage and furniture etc came to about 1.5k. The jelly beans, pens, hats, brochures blah blah came to about 1k. The advertising and giveaway prize was at least another 5 hundy. So all in all we hit around 4-5k. I was told this at the start but of course I didn’t believe it. I made sure everything was reusable where possible and we do have  enough merchandise to last us another few expos.

The actual day itself came around and with some trepidation the doors opened. You have about 30 seconds to do a pitch until the person drifts away into the distance. Within 30 minutes, Ben, Dan and I found our flow and we were off. I had expected for people to walk past and throw the odd business card in the bowl for the prize and that would be it….not so. We started to have conversations with other business owners who had genuine requirements and could see where we would assist. The conversations were getting longer and longer and the business cards were becoming more and more meaningful.

By the end of the day we had snaffled some really good contacts and in the process met some really nice people who were genuinely interested in our wares.

So we felt positive. Within a few days we had our first customer from the expo which was a complete surprise to me. I made some good contacts and look like doing a deal with another very soon.

But I think the biggest thing for me was at a networking breakfast the other day a business owner approached me and asked me about IT security. She said she recognised the name from the Expo. Houston we have lift off.

It also made us proud of the brand as we walked around which helps cement the culture.

So the answer to my question “As a small business is an expo worth paying for ?”  I had no idea whether to spend the money, not bother or spend it on some other form of advertising but in the end I am glad I did. It was an enjoyable day that exceeded my expectations.

For us it was worth it, but there are no guarantees and you can’t measure the success in leads and sales. Most of the success will come from brand awareness and people talking to you and realising you are not so scary after all. If they believe in you, they will believe in the brand.

Before we did it I thought it would probably be a one off – our next one is in September.