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Companies connect with annual expo

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DiVentures is hoping to make a splash as a first-time exhibitor at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business & Technology Expo.

Now in its 20th year, the all-day expo is scheduled Oct. 6 at Springfield Exposition Center.

DiVentures, which offers scuba lessons at multiple skill levels, will use its booth to inform people about expanded swimming lesson options and other services that will be available after the Omaha, Neb.-based company moves its Springfield location to a $2.4 million, 11,800-square-foot site at 5225 S. Campbell Ave.

The company also will promote upcoming scuba diving trips, said Jessica Williams, marketing coordinator in the Omaha office. A trip to Cozumel is slated for Jan. 27–31, according to

Expo attendees who drop off business cards at the DiVentures booth also will have the chance to win an introductory scuba package for two, worth at least $150.

“Scuba diving in the Midwest is something that people don’t always think of,” Williams said. “What we’re doing right now in Springfield is kind of a rebranding, and we’re very excited about the building and want to get the word out about the many services we offer.”

While a pricy giveaway can be just the ticket to drawing interest at a trade show, Brenda Jackson, owner of promotional products company Marketing Mix I Inc., advocates for freebies a little lower on the price scale.

“I think a good tradeshow item to give away needs to be inexpensive. It has to stay around, and it needs to be related to your business,” Jackson said.

Because writing instruments are among her top sellers, Jackson plans to give away Marketing Mix-branded Sharpie gel highlighters.

While some expo exhibitors give candy or food samples, Jackson said she recommends branded notepads, coasters and other examples of items that will be useful after the show.

When giveaways are used, she said there’s a right way to distribute them.

“I always suggest just setting out a few. You don’t want to set out your whole lot on the table, because people are tempted to take more than one,” Jackson said. “I also think that whenever you give something away, you should engage the recipient. ... Ask some questions to see if your business could be of value to their business.”

Instead of using freebies to draw people to his booth, Alternative Energy Co. President Zeke Fairbank plans to tap into a growing interest in energy efficiency. This is the first year for his company, which focuses on solar and wind power systems, residential energy audits and efficiency consulting.

“Right now, because of the economy, there’s a strong interest in trying to reduce the operating costs of companies,” Fairbank said.  

He plans to have a solar panel and pictures of past projects at his booth.

Fairbank, who joined the chamber during its Aug. 30– Sept. 1 membership drive, said the expo is a good way for his two-year-old company to connect in a business-to-business setting.

“We’re still trying to get our brand and name recognition out there,” Fairbank said. “I felt this was a good way to gain more exposure for the company.”

Kristin Lochner, manager of special events for the chamber, said there were 145 booths sold as of Sept. 28, with about 20 available slots. Until all space is full, booth sales will continue until the day of the expo, she said.

According to, early-bird booth prices were $450 for a standard booth and $550 for an end booth until Aug. 12. After that, the prices increased to $525 and $625, respectively, though Lochner noted that chamber members who joined the group during the membership drive could still access early-bird pricing. Businesses that aren’t chamber members pay an extra $200 for booths, Lochner said.

Jackson said the cost of being an expo vendor is well worth it for Marketing Mix, a chamber member and repeat participant in the expo.

“I usually gain a few really good clients every year. And it’s always good to ... keep my name out there in the marketplace to gain that top-of-mind awareness,” she says.[[In-content Ad]]


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