That is the best way to describe Tucson, AZ.
We have lots of people and lots of wide open spaces and lots of communities within the larger community, but...few freeways, no real public transportation system to speak of, and no hoppin' downtown environment.
I sometimes bemoan the fact that this place is not particularly pedestrian-friendly, not particularly "happening," and a little bit behind the times.
That said, there are a lot of things that I like about this city:
In October, I read an ad in a local circular, advertising an upcoming community fair...with free booths on a first-come, first-serve basis. I thought to myself, "Why not? I'll go out there, smile at all of the mamas, and invite people to discover my community at Metropolitan Mama."
So I went. I saw. I met people. And I was reminded of some important DOs and DONTs for making the most out of trade shows and expos.
Ready. Set. Go...
DO consider who will be attending the event. When you see a notice about an upcoming trade show, fair, or expo, ask yourself who the target audience is...and if it matches yours. Reserving a booth will likely cost you money and it is wise to choose your venues wisely. In my case, the best places for me to exhibit would be something along the lines of Kidsfaire or the Arizona Babies and Childrens Expo.
DO have something for people to see/do at your booth. If you've ever been to a big fair/expo, you know that there are A LOT of people there...people vying for your attention and people who are milling around trying to figure out what to do. Somehow you have to figure out how to make your little space stand out. The best way is probably to have something interactive happening at your booth. At my booth, I had a sign-up sheet for my newsletter and free high-quality chocolate (more on that later). Next time, I think I'll step it up a notch and do something extra fun...give people the opportunity to have their photo taken with their family, have a video playing, have a laptop available for contest sign-ups, something like that...
DO bring someone with you. I found myself wanting to wonder around the fair myself to see the other vendors and I did a few times, but I had to leave my poor husband behind as the representative for Metropolitan Mama...which actually kind-of makes me laugh. My "Mr. Masculine/Athletic/I-Don't-Wear-Pink-and-I-Eat-Meat" husband was the spokesperson for my blog for moms. And you know what? He actually did a great job explaining the whole thing to the moms that stopped by.
DON'T talk about yourself. So there was this lady at the event...She went from booth-to-booth and shoved her business card in your hand and just went on-and-on about how she was this big time expert connected with Tony Robbins and blah-ditty-blah-blah-blah. Actually, her first line was, "You NEED me." Not, "Hi. What do you do?" or "Look how cute your baby is!" Nope. "You need me." And then she didn't even catch a breath before giving her long string of accomplishments and successes. Oh.My.Word. I wish I were joking. The only thing I learned from that conversation was how much I DIDN'T need her. Anyway, please don't be like the Tony Robbins lady. Listen first. Talk second.
DON'T be a business card pusher. See above point. Business cards are a tool...and just getting them into people's hands is so not the point. Read my previous post for some pointers, How to effectively use business cards at conferences (1-2-09).
DON'T forget to follow-up. If you meet someone great or jot down someone's contact information, make the most of that connection. Send out an e-mail, make a phone call, or tweet a friendly little hello within a week of the conference...sooner rather than later.
YOUR TURN: Have you ever exhibited at a trade show, conference, expo, or fair to promote your business/blog? Why or why not?
***Over the next three posts, I will be spotlighting three great products that can help your business/blog stand out...and you'll have the opportunity to WIN a few of them too. Fun, right?