Are you in direct sales or network marketing?
No doubt you're currently having parties, luncheons, meetings or other events to showcase your business opportunity and products.
But have you ever thought of hosting a larger event that is open to the public? If you're building your business mostly on the Internet, you may shy away from offline activities, but I hope to convince you of the many perks of hosting a Home Business Expo.
The advantages of planning a large offline event are:
You can potentially get a LOT of targeted leads for your business opportunity or product.
You will be seen as the "go-to" person in your community for work at home information.
If you work it right, you will get lots of media attention.
You're providing a service in the community that benefits people.
The believability level is higher when people are meeting you face-to-face.
I strongly urge you to include other Moms in business when you plan your event. After all, your business is not right for everyone! Inviting other work at home Moms means that you'll make a lot of new friends, expand your network, and even make some money too, which will more than cover your advertising and other associated costs.
Ok, so we've covered the "why", let's work on the "how".
Choose a Venue
I've hosted business expos in public libraries, and these are great for a couple of reasons: They're free to reserve and most people in the community will know where they're located.
The disadvantages: You may not be able to serve refreshments which may not be a big deal to you, but may make it more difficult for the Pampered Chef lady you invited to sell her product. However, this may not be a strong consideration if the event is designed more as a lead generation tool for recruiting. Hotels have nice conference rooms but often carry a hefty price tag, although in some towns you may only pay $ 50- $ 75 for the room. The advantage of booking a room in a hotel is that you'll usually be able to serve food and also post signs outside the venue. Local gyms and recreation centers are good too.
Choose a Theme
Since space is limited and you can not include everyone, it's a good idea to choose a theme for your business expo. For instance, you may want to limit your vendors to Moms in Direct Sales, or you may want to choose Homeschooling parents in business. A friend of mine hosted a Natural Moms expo, and invited women who made herbal products, midwives, yoga instructors, massage therapists and the like. Having a theme also makes your advertising efforts easier since it clarifies what your event is "all about".
Other Planning Tips
At my events, I always asked each vendor to be responsible for her own table. (Most Moms in business have one so this was not an imposition.) That way I would not have to worry about whether the venue had enough.
Encourage your vendors to have plenty of information about their business on hand– printouts, catalogs, business cards, etc. It's also a good idea for them to have a small door prize as a way of collecting the names and numbers of people who look at their business.
Decide how much you're going to charge vendors. I always kept my vendor fee very low, since I was not so much interested in making a huge profit as I was exposing my own business to the community and helping Moms get legitimate information about working from home.
I've attended events that I did not plan and was very disappointed at the turnout when I had paid a nice fee in order to participate. You do not want your vendors getting resentful. If you decide to host another Expo, you'll have a lot of people who want to take part again and even assist you if the first one is a success. So keep those things in mind when deciding how much to charge your vendors. I also strongly suggest keeping the event free to the public.
Start Advertising Early
I'm a big believer in press releases because they work! Local media will likely call you to ask questions about your event, especially if you live in a smaller town. A few tips regarding press releases:
1) Emphasize how your event will help the public. Are you going to be educating women on how to avoid work at home scams? Will there be free information and samples available? Giveaways and door prizes? Are children welcome? Etc.
2) Be sure to post your press release online (Do a Google search for "submit press release"), as well as faxing or emailing it to local newspapers.
3) Call the newspaper first to see how they prefer to receive your release and always follow up to be sure they got it!
You may be able to advertise your business expo for free online at some of the work at home websites, as well as local interest websites. Do an Internet search for "submit event", with the name of your town in the search. That should give you quite a few places to submit your event to. You'll likely find that as a few women find out about the event, you'll have no trouble getting vendors! Especially if you keep the cost for inclusion low. In order to keep in touch with your vendors for updates and communication, consider starting an online newsletter list just for this purpose. Otherwise you'll find yourself answering phone calls and emails and saying the same things over and over.
Getting Lots of Attendees
If your press release gets picked up by a few local newspapers you'll probably have lots of people show up for your event, but it's also a good idea to diversify your advertising. Take out a small ad in a community events paper if there is one in your area (but be sure to send your press release first to see if they'll give you free advertising!). Post about your event in forums online that allow you to do so. Encourage your vendors to invite their customers (it's great if they can have some product on hand to retail, thus saving their customers shipping costs) and warm market. Post flyers at local businesses, always asking permission first (I almost never had anyone say no!). And be sure to have large, well placed signs pointing to your event, like you would if you were having a yard sale.
Well that's about it! I hope you plan a business expo that brings you tons of new customers and prospects, and establishes you as THE work at home Mom in your area!