5 Things We Took From The Lincolnshire Business Expo

Last Wednesday, 80% of the Knapton Wright team headed south to the Lincolnshire Showground to take up our usual spot at the annual Lincolnshire Business Expo.

Throw together some great talks, interesting networking and lots (and lots) of sweet treats, and you get what amounts to a pretty good day’s work (out of the office). As we work our way through the business cards – and remove the sweet wrappers from our desks and pockets – we thought we’d share our thoughts on the county’s largest business event!

The CEO of VisitBritain hadn’t visited Lincolnshire in her role

One of the keynote speakers we enjoyed was Sally Balcombe, who went through the numbers on tourism across England, with a specific focus on Lincolnshire. There is a variety of products that have been built to increase visitors, the standout probably being Cycle England. This incorporates both Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regions, with the coast and wolds being pushed to German and Dutch markets.

The concern is that funding ends this year, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses – particularly given the long time it took for the Wild Atlantic Way (10 years according to Sally) to become a real holiday destination.

However, the real standout fact was that the CEO of VisitBritain hadn’t been to Lincolnshire in her capacity since starting back in 2014. One of the largest counties in England – second in terms of area – it was staggering that someone so important in terms of moving tourism forward across Britain hadn’t actually been here before.

Bigger event with a better layout

Last year, the team were also at the Expo and we had a similarly great day. But, with the addition of an extra room – and an outdoor Lincolnshire street food extravaganza – the event had a much better layout.

These changes ensured that each stand had plenty of space in which to exhibit and slowed the flow of footfall, making it easier to stop and chat with everyone at the show.

Excellent opportunity for business development and networking

It’s great to see the event going from strength to strength each year, and that was emphasised by the additional floor space and added food court/marquee! As always, it was an event that included familiar faces and new contacts both in the exhibitor list and the day’s guests.

Each year it gets bigger and better, and showcases some of the best products and services that the region has to offer. It is the sort of thing that we need more of and the friends, clients and people we meet make it a worthwhile day for not just the business but the whole team.

Sweets, sweets and more sweets

Like kids that had been let off the leash, our sugar content would have been exponentially higher when we left. From popcorn to pick n mix to cupcakes, it was the stuff of dreams for the team and a dieter’s nightmare – of which there are none in the biscuit-filled Knapton Wright office.

The value in freebies

A debate that many offices probably enter in the run-up to a business event: should we dish out merchandise at our stand? After an event such as the Lincolnshire Business Expo, attendees come home with a tote bag full of keyrings, sweets and notepads, but what good is that for your business, you may ask.

Corporate gifts of hashtag shaped stressballs

This year, we were delighted to see so many people take interest in our stand’s branded mugs, bottles and hashtag-shaped stress balls. Why did we offer so much? Not because everyone else was doing so, but purely because it was a great way to attract people to our stand, as well as spread the Knapton Wright word.

It may be a tad annoying when people do the classic hover around your stand, waiting for your back to be turned so they can swipe a freebie without a hint of networking, but that’s okay. All it takes is one cup of tea for one of their colleagues, family or friends to ask: “Where did you get that mug?” And just like that, you’ve become part of the conversation, and is that not what we strive for in marketing?

What we’d like to see next time

There seemed to be a disproportionate amount of marketing workshops from the various sponsors of the show. Of course, these were informative with some excellent takeaways too but it would be great to see a more varied roster that includes some with a different business focus: psychology, leadership and so forth. One of the co-founders of Carphone Warehouse is from Grimsby, perhaps he’d pop in and share some golden nuggets!

Lincolnshire first or Lincolnshire with?

As a team from a range of backgrounds and with experience from all corners of the country (and some corners of the world), we often discuss Greater Lincolnshire’s position in the business ecosystem. Should expos like Wednesday’s focus on celebrating all that is great about business in the county to those within it, or should there be more of an emphasis on bringing in collaborators from outside?

There are some incredible minds and businesses in the area; is the way to boost its economy by raising awareness of our strengths to those who’ve never been here, or should we concentrate on working together to keep wealth and success within our borders in the hope it grows and the county blossoms?