Trade Show Checklist

2019 Chamber Expo Logo with year onlyMark your calendars for Wednesday, November 6! The Sarasota and Manatee Chamber of Commerce have partnered again to offer our members the greatest of networking opportunities, Chamber Expo 2019. Only five (5) booths remain – click here to register today!

Attended by hundreds of Chamber members and guests, this networking event offers complimentary light bites, lots of door prizes, and the opportunity to make valuable connections and learn more about local businesses so we can all “shop local.”

If this is your first trade show, we’ve got you covered! This checklist will help exhibitors have a successful Expo experience, whether it is their first show or their 50th.

Gather a team and set a goal.

Having a small team and being relaxed shows professionalism and will help engage visitors. To achieve this, set specific goals in advance. Doing this will also help you evaluate the level of success you had from your event participation.

Clearly market your unique selling propositions.

First impressions matter, and you only have a few moments to show visitors why they should consider you.

Create buzz using PR or social media.

Don’ wait until the date of the trade show to promote yourself using press releases or social media. A press release can be a great way to promote yourself online, and our press release tool makes it easy to distribute. Sharing information on your social media can also create buzz, encouraging viewers to attend your event.

Assign roles to each team member.

Assigning different roles to team members helps you stay organized and work efficiently.

Have a door prize.

If possible, offer a prize that in some way complements your business and appeals to a variety of people.

If you are using technology, don’t rely on it solely.

When working correctly, technology can enhance and differentiate your booth, but technology troubles are common. Prepare in advance to ensure success.

Have inexpensive but nifty (and useful) giveaways.

Whether you choose branded canvas bags, calendars, wristbands, etc., giveaways are an effective tool at trade shows. They are a great way of drawing people to your booth, setting your booth apart from the rest, and increasing your brand reach.

Welcome everyone who comes near. 

Take the initiative to welcome and interact with visitors. Invite individuals to check out what you have to offer or start a conversation. These friendly gestures are simple, but can make a big difference.

Expect some rejection, but know that many visitors just need a friendly push in the right direction before really getting interested in your products or services.

Network with other exhibitors.

This event is a great opportunity to gain insight from other experienced exhibitors and compare and learn from how they approach trade shows.

It’s also especially easy to meet new industry experts at trade shows through networking. You never know where your next great partner or inspiration will come from!


Want to Exhibit at Chamber Expo, click here! Only five (5) booths remain.

Why Exhibit?

Exhibiting is a great opportunity to showcase your business to hundreds of business owners and decision makers from Manatee and Sarasota counties at this combined Expo and Business After Hours.

  • Exhibitor Space includes an 8-foot skirted table, two chairs, curtain backdrop and sides, identification sign, and four complimentary admissions to the event. 

*Vendors that register for a booth before September 11th have the option to choose their booth space!*

2019 Young Professionals Summit – Refresh

 

Last Friday, over one hundred young professionals gathered at our 4th Annual Young Professionals Summit – Refresh, presented by Kerkering, Barberio & Co. Keynote speaker Dr. AJ Lee from Game On Nation kick-started the personal, professional and community development focus of the day in her presentation, Seizing the Moments that Matter: Rest. Fuel. Move. and was followed by a fantastic group of session speakers who spoke on emotional intelligence, personal branding, medical marijuana, career development and sustainability. The three finalists for the 2019 Young Professional of the Year Award were also celebrated during the event, and Jenny Townsend, President and Owner of Music Compound, was announced as the recipient of the award.

Hosted by Embassy Suites Sarasota, the 2019 YP Summit exemplified the growing presence of talented young professionals in the Sarasota region. In addition to the YP Summit, the Sarasota Young Professionals Group (YPG) hosts monthly After Hours- events designed to connect area young professionals. Other programs offered through YPG include topic-specific professional development series, a Member Appreciation Party and community engagement opportunities. For more information on YPG, please click here or contact Sara Rachon, Programs Coordinator.

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Member Tip: Posting Your Coupons

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Heat up your business this summer with our coupon initiative!

What we are encouraging you to do:

As a Chamber Member, you have the opportunity to post coupons and discounts for your business to our website. Through our partnership with Sarasota County, our Member Coupons/Discounts will be promoted to over 3,500+ employees! This is a great opportunity to gain exposure, reward loyal customers and build a consistent customer base by offering exclusive discounts on the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s website.

Don’t have a discount to offer? That’s okay! You can take part in this program by searching the discounts and utilizing the wide range of products and services offered by Chamber members. Buy Local, Buy Chamber.

You can add coupons here!

Here are directions on how to add a coupon:

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  • Type in your Username & Password to access the Members Only section and click LOGIN

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  • On the Member Portal Home, select ADD A COUPON on the top right in the blue box

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  • When on the ADD A COUPON page, select NEW COUPON in the bright green box

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  • After you select NEW COUPON, this form will appear. Fill out the information for your coupon and hit SAVE. (Note: You have two options for the Coupon Type.  You can select GENERAL, which allows anyone who visits the Chamber Website to access it or you can select MEMBER TO MEMBER COUPON, which is designated for Chamber Members only and requires you to be logged in to see. General Coupons are best to get the most exposure of your brand)

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  • Once you hit SAVE, your coupon is live on the Chamber Website. You can always edit your coupon or delete it if need be. Otherwise, the coupon will disappear from the Chamber Website once the expiration date you set is up or if your membership is inactive

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To see your Coupon and others, you can access it 3 different ways (Note: The Coupon will also appear on your directory listing in the Member Directory as well):

  • Select VIEW COUPONS AND DISCOUNTS on the Members Only portal when you hit ADD A COUPON

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  • Select BUSINESS DIRECTORY on the top tabs and once you’re there, select COUPONS AND DISCOUNTS

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  • Select MEMBERSHIP on the top tabs and from the drop down, go to MEMBER BENEFITS and then MEMBER2MEMBER DISCOUNTS

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  • If you access the COUPONS AND DISCOUNTS page at any point, you will see the different ones listed by General and by Member To Member (if logged-in).

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  • To see more details and directions, simply click on the “Title” of the coupon.

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In partnership with:

Sarasota County Logo

Shop Local, Shop Chamber 2018

The holiday season is just around the corner and with that comes the opportunity to support your local businesses as you shop. Here are just a few ways you can shop local and help support Sarasota’s small businesses:

Custom_Social_Post_Image_V2Small Business Saturday

Communities thrive when small businesses succeed. Presented every year by American Express, Small Business Saturday follows Thanksgiving on Saturday, November 24. Support your fellow Chamber members on Saturday, November 24 by shopping local. Whether you’re downtown or searching around the many shopping plazas in Sarasota, there are plenty of small businesses to be found.

Making An Impact

In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local independently-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday — generating roughly $12 billion in reported spend.

Find Retailers

Find local Chamber member retailers by visiting our online directory. You can view the directory on our website on your mobile device. Search for local retailers using keywords like “Shopping” to find the right destination for your holiday shopping list.

Coupons and Discounts

Before you wait in line on Black Friday or add items to your cart on Cyber Monday, don’t forget to check out the discounts and holiday specials your fellow Chamber members are offering this season. Visit the Coupons and Discounts section of The Chamber website to view the available offers by our members for our members.

Communities United

As shopping small catches on in communities everywhere, Small Business  Saturday goes from a cause to a day of community celebration.
90% of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community.

 

When you shop local, you shop Chamber. When you shop Chamber, you support the flourishing small businesses that keep our community afloat. We hope you’ll join the celebration of small businesses nationwide for Small Business Saturday on Saturday, November 24.

Visit the Sarasota Chamber’s Membership Directory Here


Facts presented on this blogpost, are directly taken from American Express’ Small Business Saturday website. See more here.

Siesta Key Crystal Classic Begins This Weekend!

Starting this Friday, November 9th-12th, twenty-four of the premier master sand sculptors from all over the world will be competing for 1st place on Siesta Beach. The festival will also have four additional sculptures this year for both the doubles and a new solo competition.

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic is a visual and cultural arts festival now in its 9th year and has hosted over 260,000 attendees on the best beach in the USA!

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In only 24 sculpting hours, (spanning the four-day event), the master sculptors create sand masterpieces and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. The Crystal Classic connects the arts and the beach in ways never before seen in Sarasota.

The festival will be open until 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday nights with live music, lighted sculpture displays, and drinks from the party tent. Reverend Barry & The Funk will be playing Saturday night with 22N taking the stage on Sunday night!

The festival also features live music all four days, a large shopping village, and a variety of food and drink vendors. Other activities include the “Quick Sand” speed sculpting competition, sand sculpting lessons & demos, and an amateur competition.

For more information and to view the festival schedule, visit the website: www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.

Ready for the Holidays? 5 Small Business Saturday Survival Tips

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After Thanksgiving, holiday shopping is in full swing, and it’s the busiest time of year for the retail industry.

For small businesses, the post-Thanksgiving weekend can be particularly important. Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24, 2018) encourages consumers to shop local and is a great opportunity for small retailers to increase their profits for the year.

Founded by American Express in 2010, this annual shopping day supports independently owned businesses that create jobs and make local economies thrive.

“Our ultimate goal is to help small businesses do more business, and for Small Business Saturday, that includes arming them with the tools to help make the day a success,” said Amy Marino, vice president and head of Small Business Saturday at American Express.

To help small business owners, American Express offers free business boot camps, online “SBS 101” education content, and customizable print and digital signage. Items such as event flyers, posters, save the dates, and social media assets are available for business owners to customize and download for free to promote their business (now available in Spanish).

holiday shopping

Below are some tips to help make Small Business Saturday a success for you.

Embrace Small Business Saturday. “This is one day out of the year where you can tell your story and harness the publicity that naturally surrounds the day,” said Brian Mattingly, CEO and founder of Welcomemat Services. Embrace the day by doing something unique and tell your existing customers about the day through email, mail, and social media.

Treat it as the beginning of your year. The start of the calendar year is a hectic time for small businesses. Use Small Business Saturday as an early opportunity to assess the state of your business, said Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer at Neat. Do you need to hire seasonal help? Is there new technology you can implement to streamline specific business workflows? Use Small Business Saturday to complete a holistic assessment of your business operations, Miller said.

Stock up on potentially popular items. The last thing you’ll want is to run out of your most popular merchandise before the season is over. That’s why it’s critical to understand your product or service demands during the holiday season, said David Gilbert, CEO of small business lender National Funding. Plan strategically in advance, he said, and stock up on popular items.

Offer special discounts and offers. Like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a great day to offer special deals to entice customers. A 2016 survey by Infusionsoft and Pollfish.com found that the most popular Small Business Saturday promotions in 2015 were limited time offers (24 percent), free gift offers (21 percent), coupon discounts (20 percent) and buy one, get one free offers (19 percent).

Reinvest in social media. When your small business gets busy, social media is often the first thing to get pushed aside. But it should be critical part of your marketing plan. Mattingly suggests creating a story on social media with pictures that speak to the purpose of your business. “Creative and purposeful content can capture the attention of consumers, which, in turn, creates shares and engagement,” he told Business News Daily.

Boost your other marketing strategies. Aside from social media, take the time to rethink your marketing strategy and increase your advertising plans, said Gilbert. He recommends that business owners create a comprehensive marketing campaign that will draw customers to their store.

For more tips on creating a great holiday season marketing plan, read this Business News Daily article.


saige driverThe article was written by Saige Driver

Saige Driver graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She started her career at a radio station in Indiana and is currently the social media strategist at Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan and Jennifer Post. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Click here for the original article on Business News Daily.

 

Member Spotlight: Grapevine Communications

Grapevine Logo 2017

In good times business people want to advertise. In bad times they have to.

For 16 years, Grapevine Communications has been the Suncoast’s go-to agency for local businesses of all stripes to attract more customers, get more exposure and build a brand that resonates.

Grapevine -18018-InfoRelease-EblastThere’s a huge misconception about hiring an ad agency: Cost. With Grapevine, you select and control the amount you want to spend for the breadth of services you receive. Every project is touched with the same high-quality, results-oriented white glove service by the creative hands and minds of Grapevine’s longstanding core of 17 on-site professional writers, designers, web developers, digital strategists, account executives, and public relations experts. “Whether someone spends $500 or $5 million, we give them the same top-notch service,” said Grapevine Owner and President Allison Imre. “We hold ourselves accountable for each job we do.”

From doctors, dentists and dermatologists to self-storage facilities, sunshade manufacturers and surrogacy specialists – and everything in between – Grapevine gets to know the ins and outs of their clients’ industries. They then build strategic multi-media plans to not only target their clients’ specific audiences but reach them with a message that makes an impact.

As the region’s only full-service advertising agency, Grapevine is in the business of grabbing attention, creating awareness, and delivering on a promise of outstanding results. If you’re looking for Creativity, Strategy, and Accountability in your advertising, marketing, public relations, and social & digital media, it’s time to Grow with Grapevine.

“We’re not just your neighbors in the community, we’re your partner in ensuring a brighter future for your business.”

5 Tips for Attending Chamber Expo

While we’ve been preparing for and getting the word out for the 2018 Chamber Expo next month, Exhibitors have been busy behind the scenes prepping their booths. But, as an attendee, you can also benefit from having a solid game plan in place before the show. Here are our top tips for attending a trade show:

SET A GOAL AND STRATEGY

Before you attend any event, know why you’re doing it. Why are you attending? What problems are you hoping to solve for your business? Knowing what you need will help you take advantage of Chamber Expo.

Once you have your points of interest in mind, jot down the top 5 or 10 industries that you absolutely must make time for.

BALANCE YOUR TIME

There are two ways to spend time at a tradeshow: seeking out vendors on your list or wandering to see what you discover. It’s a good idea to make time for both, but know which one you’re most interested in.

SAVE ROOM FOR EXISTING CONNECTIONS

Most people attend trade shows in search of something new. But, it’s a good idea to visit some vendors you already know. Reconnect and see what new projects they’re working on. This gives you the opportunity to verify they’re still the best fit for your business and builds a relationship by connecting face to face periodically.

BE SOCIAL

Yes, you’re most likely there for business purposes. But Chamber Expo also acts as the largest Business After Hours in the area and is an excellent place to network. You can meet other people working in your industry and collect recommendations from them of who to seek out during Chamber Expo.

ENJOY YOURSELF

This may seem silly, but don’t forget to have fun. You’re there to expand your experience and contribute to your business but you also get to make some friends while you’re at it!

We hope to see you Chamber Expo on November 7!

Presenting Sponsor:

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The Siesta Key Crystal Classis Returns for its 9th Year

This November 9th-12th, twenty-four of the premier master sand sculptors from all over the world will be competing for 1st place on Siesta Beach. The festival will also have four additional sculptures this year for both the doubles and a new solo competition.

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic is a visual and cultural arts festival now in its 9th year and has hosted over 260,000 attendees on the best beach in the USA!

Siesta Key CC 1

In only 24 sculpting hours, (spanning the four-day event), the master sculptors create sand masterpieces and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. The Crystal Classic connects the arts and the beach in ways never before seen in Sarasota.

The festival will be open until 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday nights with live music, lighted sculpture displays, and drinks from the party tent. Reverend Barry & The Funk will be playing Saturday night with 22N taking the stage on Sunday night!

Siesta Key CC 2

The festival also features live music all four days, a large shopping village, and a variety of food and drink vendors. Other activities include the “Quick Sand” speed sculpting competition, sand sculpting lessons & demos, and an amateur competition.

More information, partnership opportunities, pre-sale tickets and reserved parking passes are all available at the website: www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.

Are You and Your Business Ready for Storm Season?

As you know we are already a month and a half into Hurricane Season, as it started June 1st and lasts until November 30, but it is never too late get yourself and your business ready. Last year, some of us on the Suncoast learned lessons the hard way with unpredictable weather patterns from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that threatened our homes and businesses. Thank you to Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) for creating a plan for the community & businesses to prepare.

Sarasota County FPL skinny

FPL_blueJune2011

Tropical weather in the state of Florida is a way of life. The Sunshine State leads the nation in landfalling hurricanes with nearly 120 – almost double that of Texas, which ranks second on the infamous list. Properly preparing for hurricane season now can save you and your employees’ unwanted stress when a storm has its eyes set on the state. The key is having a plan in place for when that time comes. Here are some tips to help get you going.

Plan ahead:

  • Ensure your employees’ contact information is up to date.
  • Have a plan in place to communicate after the storm passes, e.g. set up a telephone number with a recorded message that will be regularly updated to inform employees of the status of company operations.
  • Consider developing a system to authorize re-entry to company facilities after a storm, e.g. I.D. cards and vehicle permits.
  • Establish a safe area away from exterior glass windows and doors if you plan to take shelter in your business.
  • Determine if your business is in a flood and/or evacuation zone and review evacuation routes, designating an emergency temporary site.
  • Identify what you need to secure your building, important equipment and who will help; outline specific tasks and conduct a training session.
  • Photograph or record your building or office – inside and out – for insurance purposes.
  • Have all trees and vegetation near power lines trimmed by specially trained line-clearing professionals to minimize their potential impact on your business and neighboring businesses.
  • Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning announcement – trash pickup will be suspended during this time. Tree limbs and branches are the leading cause of outages and can become airborne during a storm.
  • Bookmark FPL.com/outage and save 1-800-4OUTAGE to your cell phone to report and check the status of your restoration.
  • Download the FPL Mobile App in the App Store or Google Play, or text the word “App” MyFPL (69375).
  • Save your FPL account number to the notes section of your cell phone, or keep a copy of your FPL bill – which has your account number on it.
  • Update the phone number and email address on your FPL account.
  • Consider installing a generator in case of power outages.

Generator safety

  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid
    dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
  • DO NOT directly connect your generator to your business’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a business’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines – which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.
  • DO NOT run generators inside your business or garage, as they produce potentially
    deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Keep generators away from all open windows to prevent the fumes from entering your business.
  • Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.
  • Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  • Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
  • DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water or on damp ground.
  • NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.

Before a storm:

  • Pay attention to instructions from public officials and the media.
  • Secure the exterior of your office and protect interior furniture:
  • Identify outdoor equipment, materials, and structures that could become airborne and move them to a safe location.
  • Park vehicles in safe, protected areas such as a covered garage.
  • Secure doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Move items away from the windows.
  • Lock drawers and filing cabinets.
  • Unplug all lamps, radios, computers, and equipment in case of a power surge; cover important equipment with plastic bags.
  • Gather any important supplies and documents.
  • Charge your cell phone and keep it ready by obtaining portable chargers.
  • Make multiple back-ups of computer files and data and store records off premises.
  • Run a special voice message informing employees and customers of the status of company operations.
  • Close your offices with sufficient time to allow employees to secure their own homes, and inform clients that you’re closing early and when you plan to reopen.

After a storm:

  • Make your safety and the safety of your employees a priority.
  • DO NOT travel, or ask employees to travel, until it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for downed power lines. Call 911 or FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE to report fallen power lines that present a clear and imminent danger. DO NOT attempt to touch any power lines. Always assume that every power line is energized.
  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines if you use a portable generator. Remember to NEVER wire your generator to your breaker or fuse box – the power you generate may flow back into power lines causing severe injury or death.
  • Turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances and turn off all wall switches immediately in case of interior water damage. Remember to never stand in water while operating switches or unplugging any electrical device.
  • Stay away from standing water and debris, which could conceal a live wire.
  • DO NOT venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous.
  • Make emergency repairs only when it is safe to do so. Repairs that prevent looting or further damage should have top priority, but only if the repair can be done safely.
  • Take inventory to determine and record losses – based on the photos and recordings you took for insurance purposes.

Staying in touch with FPL following a storm

When outages occur, we know our customers want and need information on when their power will be restored. FPL will provide updated restoration time estimates and other progress reports via mobile if a storm strikes:

For more storm and safety tips, visit us at FPL.com/storm.

To download a PDF copy of this plan, click here.


FPL has invested more than $3 billion since the historic 2004-2005 hurricane seasons to build a stronger and smarter energy grid you can count on in good weather and bad. The improvements we have made to the grid have improved service reliability for our customers by more than 30 percent over the past seven years. And, we’re not stopping there. Here’s what we’ve done in Sarasota County since 2006 to make the energy grid more resilient in storms and more reliable during day-to-day operations:

  • Strengthened 39 main power lines, including those that serve critical services, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota Emergency Operations Center, the American Red Cross – Southwest Florida Chapter location, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and 9-1-1 emergency communications centers, that are necessary for communities to recover faster after a storm;
  • Cleared tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 8,841 miles of power lines, an average of 737 miles every year;
  • Inspected all 85,728 power poles every eight years, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength;
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 2,055 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur; and
  • Inspected 252 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption.