Guide to the Chattanooga Business EXPO

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Yes, it’s that time of the year – the EXPO is almost here. Make the most of Chattanooga’s signature business event with our Guide to the Business EXPO.

Whether you’re an exhibitor, someone new to the local business scene, a professional eager to network, an entrepreneur looking for opportunities or a job seeker – the EXPO is a great place to meet people.

Be sure to visit the EXPO Oasis (Booth #100) where you can relax courtesy of Office Furniture Warehouse, have a cappuccino and sample some gelato courtesy of MaxLife Systems, enjoy chocolate treats from The Hot Chocolatier, get your picture taken in the Image Cinema Photo Booth, treat your ears to the aural sounds of Signature Audio Systems and interact with the digital marketing pro’s at Moss Media Labs.

 

What

The Chattanooga Business EXPO, presented by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, is the Scenic City’s only general business trade show of the year. Over 240 companies will be exhibiting,  and 2,500+ are expected to attend the one day show.

 

When

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm.

The Small Business Awards Breakfast takes place 8:00 am – 9:30am.

 

Where

The Chattanooga Convention Center is located at 1 Carter Plaza in downtown Chattanooga.

 

 

Exhibitors

Logistics – Go to the Chamber booth to pick up Check In Package which includes Internet connectivity instructions, exhibitor badges, lunch lounge tickets and info. Move in and set up is Tuesday March 15 from 2 pm – 7 pm.

Loading – Enter the Convention Center from the loading dock on Chestnut Street.  The Center does not allow loading from the main entrance doors. Notify the Chamber at 756-2121 if you are unable to you are unable to start move till 5:30 pm. Exhibitors who have not moved in by 6 pm risk losing their space.

Exhibitor Breakfast Tickets – Exhibitors receive two tickets for the Small Business Awards Breakfast that will be available for pick at the registration table the morning of between 7:30 am – 8:00 am. Additional tickets must be purchased by Friday, March 11.

The breakfast will let out at 9:30 am and the 1,200 attendees will spill into the convention hall so be ready for the rush. Doors open to the public at 10:00 am.

Exhibitor Lunch – The Lunch Lounge is open from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm in the back of the hall. Use the tickets in your Exhibitor Packet for entry.

Booth Contest – The Chamber will award five for outstanding booth display at 12:00 pm

Break Down – 5:00pm – 10:00pm. A fine of $250 may be incurred for those who start breaking down before 5:00pm

The EXPO Checklist has more details.

 

Tips for a Successful EXPO Booth

Have a game plan for how you want to interact with attendees. Start by knowing what you hope to accomplish. Is the objective to create brand awareness? Are you looking to sell directly at the show? Is lead generation the focus? Decide up front what your primary goals are.

Keep in mind your company will be one of 240 on display. Not everyone in attendance will be an ideal prospect. You know who is ideal. Develop key questions to ask attendees to determine suitability. Consider keeping the fancy (read expensive) literature off the table and reserving it for the qualified.

Invite those who display interest in your product/service to receive more information from your company. Be creative in how you collect information. Think beyond the common fish bowl for collecting business cards.

Promotional items are fun, but be smart in what your giving away. Is it relevant to your business? Be smarter by qualifying who gets the giveaways.

 

Don’t

  • Sit behind the table all day – Be up and ready to interact with attendees
  • Play with your smartphone, read a book or get lost in deep conversation with colleagues – Be approachable when people pass by
  • Eat at the booth – How can you talk with people with your mouth full?
  • Use industry psychobabble, buzz words that people outside your industry
  • Write off people by their appearance. That guy in flip flops and shorts may be the CEO of some business
  • Create unintentional physical barriers that separate you from attendees
  • Force your sales literature/product brochures into the hands of everyone who walks by

 

Do

  • Make eye contact with everyone
  • Stay upbeat and wear a smile – Enthusiasm is contagious
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Create excitement
  • Simplify your message

 

Most importantly: FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP!

Don’t let warm leads turn cold by waiting to long after the EXPO to reach out. Make it a point to get something out in the mail, or follow up by phone before week’s end.

 

Attendees

So your company isn’t displaying this year. The EXPO can still be a great place to network and make new business connections. Regardless of what side of the booth you’re on, there are opportunities. Besides, admission is free.

Exhibitors are there to promote their business, but there’s nothing stopping you from talking to them about yours.

Review the list of companies participating in the EXPO and make a priority list. You may get lucky and meet the person in the company you need to reach. If not, ask who that person is and jot their name on the back of the business card of the person you’re talking with.

Stop by your competitor’s booth and introduce yourself. Start a conversation and see what happens. You may uncover opportunities to collaborate. More often than not, a perceived competitor can be an ally in certain situations.

If you’re seeking employment, then by all means get out there and talk with the companies to uncover opportunities. Don’t plan on handing out resumes to everyone, but be prepared for anything.

Don’t accumulate literature, flyers, brochures and handouts on products/services you’re not interested in. Companies should be appreciative of those who put back literature, but be tactful.

Check the seminar schedule, and attend those that interest you. Consider the potential audience of each seminar. If the demographics match up with yours, then you have an opportunity to network before and after the seminar.

 

Seminars

Complimentary seminars offered to all EXPO attendees:

Doing Business Across Cultures presented by Christian Höferle of IOR Global

10 am – 11 am

In this program, we will discuss some of the largest HR related issues of taking a business international, or doing business in a multinational environment. We will discuss the latest trends in global talent development and expatriate management services. The seminar will be interactive, open to Q&A and discussion throughout the program.

 

How To Add At Least 25% To Your Bottom Line In The Next 90 Days presented by David Hawke of  Marketing Velocity

1 pm – 2 pm

This seminar will show seven specific proven points of leverage that small business owners can implement immediately to increase bottom line profits.

 

Social Networks: Up Close & Personal presented by Beverly Inman-Ebel – TLC, Talk Listen Communicate, LLC

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Be an asset to yourself and your company by developing and nurturing your social networks. Working the room at events, creating your “infomercial”, making introductions, learning the right questions to ask, and electronically touching people will energize your networking skills!

 

Small Business Awards Breakfast

The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce presents awards each year to three locally owned and managed businesses and to one nonprofit agency for outstanding practices, services and success.

Held as a luncheon in previous years, the Chamber listened to attendee feedback and changed the event to a breakfast taking place prior to the start of the EXPO. If you like the new format, be sure tell a Chamber employee.

To reflect the diversity of businesses in our community, awards are given to one business in each of three categories. The nominees this year are:

1 – 20 employees

Collier Construction | Ribbon and Bows, Oh My! | River City Property Management

21 – 50 employees

InfoSystems | Luken Holdings | Metalworking Solutions

51 – 200 employees

CapitalMark Bank & Trust | Support Seven | Zaxby’s

Non-profit

Friends of the Festival | Junior League of Chattanooga | Tennessee Aquarium

 

When: March 16, 8:00 am – 9:30 am

Where: Convention Center

Cost:  $40 for chamber members, $45 for non-chambers

Registration available online

 

Social Media

Active on Twitter? Tag photos & tweets with hashtag #CHAexpo

Check in on Foursquare to let everyone know you’ve arrived.

Visit the EXPO Oasis (Booth #100) to see what’s going on in the digital space

Visit the Chattanooga Technology Council (Booth #18) to learn how you can support the Smart City Chattanooga initiative

 

Jon is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Creative Media Specialist who has helped companies of all sizes with their marketing efforts. As a board member of the Chattanooga Technology Council, and is actively involved in covering the emerging business tech scene. Find him on Twitter @jonfmoss