Billed by its organisers as “Europe's most important business event” and “the UK’s biggest exhibition for anyone starting or expanding a business”, Business Startup (which is being run alongside The Business Show 2013) will take place on 28 and 29 November in London at Olympia.
The good news is, if you live close to London or are able to travel there, free tickets are still available. Over the two days, when more than 25,000 people are expected to attend, there will be 10 workshops, more than 250 free seminars and 350-plus exhibitors gathered.
Speakers at the event include Sir Tom Shebbeare (chairman of Virgin StartUp), Doug Richard (ex-Dragon and founder of School for Startups) and David Gold (joint chairman of West Ham United and chair/owner of Gold Group, which owns Ann Summers and many other successful businesses), among many others.
According to the organisers: “Business experts will cover everything you need to know to get your business started and offer you their invaluable experiences, tips and secrets.”
As well as access to some excellent free information and advice, the event potentially also offers fantastic networking opportunities.
Order your free tickets while you can.
Love or loathe them, if you don’t consider using exhibitions to promote your business, you may be missing a trick. Since I was a young salesman, I’ve dreaded stand duty, with its attendant aching feet and seemingly very little return for the time spent there.
As you get older, the pain in the feet and back is still there; the exhaustion from the drive there and back, combined with the physical exertion of manning the stand can take a couple of days to get over. However, I am a firm believer in the power of exhibitions if you follow certain golden rules. So, what are they, I hear you ask…
The six golden rules of exhibiting
1 Make an effort
Don’t be a cheapskate. Do your best to represent yourself and your business as competent, considerate and professional. With a name like Stinkyink.com we are on a winning streak from the start as it draws attention and makes even the grumpiest attendee smile (sometimes). If you present yourself well, people will respond positively.
2 Inform your customers
Let any existing customers who are in the exhibition’s vicinity know you will be there. You are much better off having a busy stand than a quiet one, and exhibitions are a great place at which to be able to put a face to a customer’s name. Offer them a drink and a cake (for instance) and explore what extra business you can do for them.
3 Be positive
There’s nothing worse than a stand where the people manning it are sitting behind their laptops or checking their Blackberries, refusing to make eye contact with the punters milling past. It is nearly as bad as visitors attending the exhibition and refusing to make eye contact with the exhibitors.
4 Set goals
We approach every exhibition with a target of generating 10 -15% of attendee numbers as ‘hot leads’ (we are told the number of pre-registered delegates). Over 25% and we are over the moon! It is an expensive proposition attending exhibitions, so make sure that the cost is recovered (and more).
5 Involve your team
And make sure you are all “singing from the same song sheet”. All team members need to know your objectives and targets for the exhibition and share in the successes from it.
6 Follow up
If you don’t have a strategy for following up leads you generate, save your money and shoe leather and stay at home. To me it’s the most critical part of the whole process. We try to convert at least 50% of the ‘hot leads’ into customers within a six-month period. The first salvo is an email to all attendees we have details of, then my sales team hit the telephones. They contact people while they still remember what they said at the exhibition. Don’t leave it longer than a couple of days before making contact.
If you approach them in the right way, exhibitions are a great shop window for your business, and here at Stinkyink.com we embrace them enthusiastically. I may be driving all over the country, but the excitement of finding the next new big customer always inspires me. Don’t forget... tomorrow, the moon!
By John Sollars of Stinkyink.com