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ExpoWest 2024 Recap

Updated: Apr 2

Price of Booths at Expo West 2024

For some context, the smallest baby booths at ExpoWest go for around $10,000 for the three-day event. Some of the larger activations cost $40-$50k just for the square footage. For more context, 99.9% of the exhibitors are existing CPG brands who are either trying to gain exposure or maintain their place in the natural products world.


We had never been there before. No one on their sales team could give us any indication if our photobooth concept would work or not. We just had to trust and let it rip.


My Opinion

Now, if I personally had to describe hell, it would be something along the lines of - being inside for 10 hours a day without exposure to sunlight in a warehouse filled with thousands of people talking and networking constantly while eating microwaved meals that cost $24 a pop. Essentially, it would be ExpoWest. 


While it is a difficult environment for any individual to sustain for very long, it’s an absolutely amazing place to get face time with other brands. And since we have naturally earned so much business in the CPG space, we figured it would be worth it to try our hand as exhibitors. 


Challenges

The problem was, how do you showcase a company that offers commercial photography and video production?


Our Target in Expo

We didn’t want just to show up and hand out business cards. I couldn’t stomach the idea of the team in matching Hale Productions puffer vests while peddling flyers booth to booth in our branded backpacks. We wanted to create an impactful experience that gave people a chance to see what we could do. If we were working in real-time, our work could do some of the speaking for us.


Enter, the product photography activation. 


We might've underestimated transporting and building a product photography table in an 8x10’ booth space. One of the annoying things about the event, in general, is that it is basically run by the mafia. You can’t bring in your carts or wagons. You have to pay for everything. Every amp of power, every trash can liner in your booth… they all come with an invoice. One forklift and two pallets later, we had 553 pounds of gear that we somehow turned into one of the most engaging activations of the entire show. 


Before we left for ExpoWest, we sent emails to other exhibitors. We paid an offshore virtual assistant to scrape the exhibitor list and filter for any prospective clients - companies in the CPG space with annual revenues north of $10MM. 353 contacts in total. We sent them a series of emails letting them know we would be taking pictures. We also included a link so they could schedule their 15-minute complimentary product photo timeslot. We got a decent amount of un-subs, but we also had a 40% open rate and double-digit appointments booked. 


Creating Brand awareness through free Product Photography

Once we started shooting, it wasn’t long before other people came up to us and asked what

we were doing. “Complimentary brand photos in exchange for hellos,” we told them. All they had to do was fill out their name, company, product, email, and annual revenue in exchange for a stylized product photo. Some of the marketing/social media people ran back to their booths to grab products for us to shoot. Their hauls ranged anywhere from one product to an entire bundle with 10+ SKUS. 





While our amazing team made it look easy, it was ridiculously challenging to produce a really good product photo for a brand you’ve never met in a 15-minute window of time. Most of the clients were deeply invested in the process. We had a full spread of backdrops and props and tried to include them in the selection process as much as possible. They took tons of BTS while we did our work, so we were being tagged in lots of organic socials while all of this was happening. 


Overall Experiences and Lessons Learnt

There were tons of things we would do differently, like carrying in our equipment next time, even if it meant being threatened to swim with the fishies. We also needed a bigger booth. We might’ve focused too much on the photography work and not enough on the visuals. But we had fun. And we delighted people and had real conversations with brands who needed our services.


Benefit of Our Winning Strategy

In the end, we gained 60 new warm leads, all of them already in search of production services.

My main takeaway on a personal level is that I can always do something that isn’t comfortable for me naturally and authentically. It’s not my style to chase people down and talk their ears off. I love doing good work and letting that speak for me. This buildout allowed my team and I to focus on what we loved and not what we felt like we had to do. 


They offered us a discount to book on the spot for next year. We haven’t decided yet. We’ll see how these follow-up emails go. 

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