5 Valuable Lessons Learnt from Our First Exhibition
On 6 September, 2017, we had an opportunity to exhibit at the National Landlord Investment Show – East London and as we are focused on serving landlords with properties in East London, we couldn’t pass up this opportunity to meet with potential clients. Here are five valuable lessons we learnt at our first exhibition.
1. Walk around the exhibition space before the doors open
From the moment the clock struck 9, I was bombarded with people interested in what we had to offer. I had thought that as the seminars were not due to begin until 10:30 a.m., I would have time to visit the other tables but alas, we were so busy, I couldn’t leave our table until well past lunchtime. It would have been useful to walk the exhibition floor before 9 a.m. and see what other people were offering to direct our visitors accordingly.
2. Be prepared for investors who are not East London-based
A surprising number of landlords who stopped by our table did not live or invest in East London. What were they doing there then? Most were there to discover and meet with vendors they had not yet heard of, vendors just like us, in fact. So, how could I be better prepared for these investors next time? Simple answer: by listening. One landlord said he wasn’t concerned about agency costs at all. Instead, his number one worry was how to save on tax and renting. So, we know now that we’ll need to prepare tax and rent guidance for our next show.
3. Get help on the day
The exhibition is open to all letting agencies, from the small, independent firms like Marybow to the very large, nationwide companies. It can all be a bit daunting for us indies, but I was very fortunate to be stationed next to Liz Aitken from Carefully Sorted, an independent decluttering company also based in Bow. Liz could not have been a better person to be alongside as she kindly brought much-needed refreshments for me when I was so busy I was unable to leave my table. It was also good to share the experience of being an exhibitor for the first time and continue to connect with our potential clients long after the big boys had packed up and gone home.
4. Turn away unauthorised touts more quickly
I was fortunate to speak to many landlords at the show, due to the strategic location of our table (just inside the main showroom), but I was surprised at the number of other firms touting for business. Whilst I appreciate the need to make connections, this wasn’t the time or place for this kind of networking, and I should have been firmer in asking them to move on, leaving me free to talk with the landlords who wanted and deserved my full attention.
5. Take lots of pens
The lovely Caroline and Amy at the Ann Squared event management company warned us to take a lot of pens to deal with all the enquiries we would get, so we made sure we did. With 38 exhibitors at the show, you’d think the visitors would have made sure they each had a pen of their own, but apparently not. Some would take not just one but several of our pens – I guess they liked them! As well as these cheeky pen kleptomaniacs, the landlords I chatted with had a habit of pocketing our pens, so by the end of the day, we had completely run out.
I’ll admit I was a little nervous before the exhibition, but I can honestly say that by its end, I was very happy to have been a part of it. The focus on East London is exactly where Marybow wants to be and I was able to connect with a number of landlords I’ve met before. It was a great opportunity to show them how we’ve grown, almost exclusively through word of mouth recommendations alone. But perhaps best of all, it was lovely to be told that I came across well and to be complimented on the ethical approach of our business – one person gasped at our declared values of trust, integrity and transparency, and said: ‘Wow, you’re brave to stand by those.’ We couldn’t ask for a better endorsement of our service.