The CAI IL Condo-HOA Conference & Expo is the first major event to kick off our calendar each year. CAI Illinois members, community association board members, volunteers and community management companies come together for learning, networking and – of course – the Expo.

Innovation for a Stronger Community – you’re going to see these words a lot in the coming weeks. At CAI Illinois, we don’t toss around buzzwords lightly. We understand the frustrations faced by contractors in the community association industry, and we have made it our mission to develop innovative ways to help you build stronger communities.

Trade shows are an effective way to meet prospects, increase brand awareness and visibility, and solidify relationships with customers and other vendors, but only when you go in with a solid strategy to maximize time in front of people interested in your product or service.

The community association industry here in the Chicagoland area is connected and active, especially where members of CAI Illinois are involved. But it’s still important to let all those prospects know where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing at the Expo.

Getting ready for a trade show requires careful planning and preparation. Deciding to exhibit at a trade show carries cost — money, resources and time — and the returns on that investment can be substantial if you’ve done your homework and defined your goals for attending.

2016 cai expoResearch

As the old adage goes, “fish where the fish are.”

If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve already done your research and know that our membership represents all facets of the community association industry – partner organizations, HOA board members, and management companies. The Expo will get you in front of these people and the companies they represent.

The best trade show for you is the one that best targets the audience you want to reach and aligns with your participation goals.

It’s really that simple.

The CAI IL Condo-HOA Conference & Expo brings together 1,500 community association residents, managers, and service providers, all dedicated to improving association living.

Budget & Book

In truth, this falls into the “research” category, but still deserves its own call out. When you’re selecting your space, ask questions – lots of them.

  • Where is the booth space located in the exhibit hall? Is it close to main flows of foot traffic or in a lower traffic area?
  • What companies are exhibiting in close proximity?
  • What are the physical conditions of the space? Is there access to electricity, ample lighting, and other amenities?

CAI Illinois offers an online diagram of the exhibit hall to help you determine the best location for your booth.

Tailor your exhibit to your audience

Knowing your audience is a bit of a truism, but it’s still important to remember. Some sales cycles, especially when working with community associations, can be somewhat complex. The likelihood of closing a sale “at the show” is pretty low, so the real goal is holding a meeting to take it one step closer.

For service vendors offering painting, landscaping and similar services to communities, the Expo will give you an opportunity to continue building brand awareness while meeting existing customers in a more casual environment.

Advertise in advance

Let existing customers and prospects in the pipeline know you’ll be exhibiting at the show. Include information in your email newsletters, email drip campaigns and any targeted mailings you’re sending between now and February.

Putting the word out there is a key component to making your Expo experience a successful one.

Invite clients, customers, suppliers and other contacts to the show – and let them know where to find you (i.e. booth numbers!), too. Update your website to reflect your upcoming show attendance, and cross-promote to any social channels you may be using, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. CAI provides a customizable invitation for exhibitors which includes booth number and location. Each exhibitor receives this document with their registration confirmation and is encourage to send it to prospects and clients to build relationships.

There is still time to exhibit and of course, there is plenty of time to register as an attendee. For more information about exhibit space or to register for the event, click here.

See you February 26 and 27, 2016!

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CAI - Illinois Chapter

The Illinois Chapter of Community Associations Institute serves the educational, business, and networking needs of community associations in the Chicagoland Area. Members include condominium, cooperative, and homeowner...

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