Expos: Why You Should Organize One & How To Get Started, Part 3

So you’ve begun the process of setting up your expo: you’ve set a date, you’re calling and e-mailing possible participants, and you’ve booked a venue. What do you do now to get the word out to the community and build excitement for your event? Check out these tips:
Figure out your attention-grabber
When sending out press releases and marketing materials, it’s important to give people a reason to sit up and pay attention, especially if there’s a full roster of other events in your community. For example, with our fifth Orleans Health & Wellness Expo in 2011, we had the privilege of having our event be part of Health and Wellness Month due to a proclamation by the mayor of Ottawa. And for our 2012 expo we organized a Leadership In Health Awards program to recognize the health and wellness stars of the city. Think of something new and fresh that will grab people’s attention, whether it’s an exciting theme centred on something in the news, or a special celebrity speaker.

Put together a jam-packed, exciting schedule
An expo or event doesn’t always have to be a bunch of booths – try adding speakers, movies, workshops or prize draws to attract attendees and ensure that there’s always something new happening on the day.

Create buzz through marketing, promotion and social media
This is a bit of a no-brainer, but remember that there are many different channels you can take advantage of even if you have a smaller budget. TV, radio and newspaper advertising can be a bit more expensive, but I’ve found they do drive quite a bit of traffic. You can also try pitching your event as a news story to various media outlets, especially those with more of a community focus. The advantage of this is that it usually doesn’t cost anything, but you will need to have that attention-grabber for sure.

Social media can also be a valuable tool, and best of all, it’s free. Use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to connect with your exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and community members by having conversations with them, sharing their stories, and providing useful info and tips that they can share, and you’ll often find them doing the same for you. And don’t forget good old posters and flyers, plus you can also give free tickets to your exhibitors and sponsors to give away.

Use those lists
I’ve talked about list building before as a great tool for lead generation. This is the perfect opportunity to utilize those lists, and to build them even further. Make sure you build momentum throughout the year by communicating about your event to existing subscribers, as they are the most likely to be interested in attending. You can also showcase your sponsors, speakers and exhibitors all year long by getting them to write blog posts that you’ll highlight in your newsletters.

You can also beef up your lists while promoting your expo; we had people enter their e-mails when they voted for our Leadership In Health Awards or pre-registered for our prize draw, which allowed us to gather lots of new contacts that we could connect with for the following year.

Help your participants give their best to the event
It’s a win-win for everyone if your participants can make the most of their involvement in your expo, so give them opportunities to network, connect and enjoy their time at the event. Besides retweeting and sharing their blog articles and news through social media, we also organized a wine and cheese get-together for all exhibitors the week before the expo so they could meet each other and share best practices. As well, we had a speaker at the wine and cheese networking event who provided tips on how to make booths lively and interactive. All this information can be difficult to do the day of the event since exhibitors will be busy setting up and manning their booths and talking to attendees, so it’s a great idea to offer other occasions for them to meet and talk about your expo.

What other tips do you have for making your health and wellness event the best it can be? Have you used any of these methods successfully? Share your comments below!

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Copyright © Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp 2011. All rights reserved

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