Expos: Why You Should Organize One & How To Get Started, Part 2

We’ve talked about why it’s a good idea to organize an expo, and now you’re ready to get the ball rolling. Where do you start?

Here are some practical tips and considerations for the months before your event is to take place:

Set your goals and expectations

What do you want to accomplish through your event? Who do you want to reach? What is the driving philosophy behind your expo? These are all great things to think about before you start actually planning the specifics of your event, since they will help to ensure it has a strong focus and make it easier for you to decide who to contact and how to approach it.

You’ll also want to set realistic expectations. If you’re part of a small community, don’t expect to see thousands in the first year of your event! However, there’s definitely still an element of faith in your first year of planning. Don’t be paralyzed when your venue, vendors, exhibitors and other participants ask you how many people you expect to see at your event and you don’t know the answer. You have to simply set your date, trust you will have attendees, and go for it! Having the attitude and confidence that you’ll succeed is part of ensuring your event will work.

Brainstorm with your team

This is when you’ll want to get together with your staff and other trusted community members to help with your strategy and approach. You’ll want to get as many ideas as possible about who should be at the expo, what sorts of keynotes or workshops you should include, and draw up a big list of potential sponsors for the event. This will help you bring in some cool ideas that you might not have thought of on your own.

Develop your materials

It’s really important to put together a package of information materials to answer any questions that potential sponsors and exhibitors might have. You’ll want to address things like how much it costs to become a sponsor or exhibitor, what the benefits are (such as getting their logo placed on your website or items given to attendees etc.) and why your event is unique. It may also help to figure out guidelines for in-kind payments.

As well, you’ll want to develop a standardized pitch letter that your team can easily cut and paste into communications with possible sponsors, exhibitors and speakers, quickly outlining the expo’s focus, unique highlights and why the person receiving the pitch would be a good fit for your event. And don’t forget your application form process! Determine whether you want to do a paper application or an online form, as well as how you’ll process payments (cash, cheque, PayPal, credit card), and communicate that clearly to interested parties.

Get on the phones or e-mail

Once you’ve figured out your strategy, it’s time to actually get in touch with the people you want involved in your event. Call and e-mail them, or even try using social media if they have a significant online presence. Don’t be pushy, but if they indicate they’re interested, be persistent and keep in contact with them.

Important: be sure to delegate, delegate, delegate – not only will you make it easier on yourself, but you’ll also be able to cast a wider net and get more done if you work with others. Ensure everyone on your team has read your information packages thoroughly and has a copy of your standardized pitch letter to include in any e-mails. It’s also a good idea to set a timeline for things to happen so everybody is on the same page.

These are the essentials of starting up an expo, but how do you get people excited about your event? I’ll be talking about that in Part 3 of this blog series.

What were some of the best ideas you got from your team while planning an event? What was the toughest part of laying the groundwork for your expo? Let me know in the comments below!

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