For brand owners, bloggers, vloggers or event planners in the natural hair community, a natural hair expo is considered our “business or professional conference.” It is our time to connect with past, current or prospective sponsors or brands; meet fellow personalities in the natural hair community; and most importantly connect with our audience. We come strapped with business cards, cameras, smart phones, tablets, etc. to capture the event and the connections we make.
The first time I attended the World Natural Hair Show; I was completely green and was just in awe of the people, the brands, and the talent that was there. I was just building my brand as a blogger and had NO IDEA what I was doing (some days I still wonder–smile).
Me and 2 of my subscribers
The following year, I was much more prepared and comfortable and was able to better navigate the event. I had also grown as a blogger and brand and was weeks away from my largest event ever, National Natural Hair Meetup Day. So for me, I had a bit more focus.
This year, I focused on making sure brands I had relationships with were able to put my face with a name and to interact with my audience. I don’t want you to wander aimlessly around like I did, so here are a few suggestions on what to do prior to leaving.
Here are 6 things to do PRIOR to heading to a natural hair expo or event:
Download an email capture app on smartphone or tablet. I use Prospect Snap, which works with Constant Contact, AWeber and Mail Chimp. It’s $4.99 but doesn’t require an internet connection to work. When you connect to the internet, it will upload your contacts to the proper list.
Create a special email list to capture people you connect with at the event. Label it something like “WNHS connections.” This will help you with step 3.
Create a special “welcome” email to those who sign up for your email list at the event (I know you can do this on Constant Contact (which I’m a member of); I don’t know the capabilities of programs such as Mail Chimp and AWeber). Make sure you reference where you met them and include a Call to Action (CTA) in case they have lost your information.
Pick 5-7 brands or companies (depending on how many will be at the event) and email them introducing yourself and that you will be attending the event and will stop by their booth and say hi. Thanks to my Expo BFF, Diana of Sisters With Beauty, for this idea. Be thoughtful (translation: think about) and find brands that FIT your brand goals–not just the “big brands.” Realize that at events like WNHS, having lengthy deep conversations about your passion for the natural hair community and how you single handedly think collaboration will save all the women of the world and end world hunger (ok I’m kidding) may not be feasible. WNHS is crazy on Saturday especially. Try not to monopolize their time, but wow them in 2-3 minutes and move on. If you are a BRAND or product owner, stalk research social media to see what personalities (blogger, vlogger) or other brands that you could collaborate with (yes, it’s possible) will be there and do the same thing.
Pay close attention to social media for other events surrounding the expo or event and see if you can make plans to attend. My Expo BFF and I were on Skype planning for and buying tickets to events during WNHS weekend. I’m pretty sure we were EXHAUSTED when we returned home, but we both made some strategic connections that are STILL paying dividends.
Make sure you pack PLENTY of business cards, postcards and any other printed collateral to give to people you meet. Yes, I have left my business cards at home at a major event (I think it was INHMD! doh!)
Attending these events can be work, but if you’re prepared, it can be LOTS of fun.
When you return to your hotel room or home, you empty your bag (who are we kidding-BAGS) and you see something like this…
Here are 5 things you can do to share your brand with others and establish relationships after your return home from an event
Download a business card scanner app and consider scanning business cards so you don’t lose the info
Upload pictures and tag people you met as much as possible
Create wrap up posts and videos (I don’t do these, but a lot of people do)
Email contacts to say all the warm and fuzzy things, find a unique way to remind them of who you are (recall part of your conversation perhaps) and try to find a way to keep the dialogue going or give them a CTA (call to action)
Send out a newsletter, email, video, etc. to contacts gathered with links to your wrap up and photo gallery (if possible) and some sort of call to action. For brands, offer new people (especially if you’re able to capture everyone electronically on a customized list) a GOOD coupon or code to entice them to buy or some other CTA.
And one last tip for product brands, especially if you can create a separate customized list for that particular event; email your new email clients 30-45 days post event with a few CTAs like:
Follow us online
Let us know what you think of products you bought
Coupon Code or special offer (maybe something that not even regular customers can get–maybe a bundle)
Sign up for newsletter
Most recent blog post (if applicable)
If applicable, send them a video link with a review or tutorial using your product in case they are still on the fence.
For bloggers/vloggers, you can do something similar to what I suggest for product brands but with the following CTAs:
Next event flier (you never know someone’s reach)
New video upload
Sign up for newsletter
Most recent blog post
Please share your tips of making the most of an expo or event experience by commenting below!
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