There's no hiding it, Britain's business events often take place in the south, which can mean companies overlook the North as a viable place to exhibit.
After exhibiting at numerous conventions across the north, we'd like to share 6 of the best northern business events, so you too can get a piece of the pie (pun fully intended).
In recent years there has been an upsurge in the number of northern B2B events, with this expected to continue as more people realise the value of face-to-face marketing.
What's more, by exhibiting 'up north', not only can you promote your offering to a new clientele, but you'll also save a penny or two in the process.
Our selection is based on two main factors; the quality of attendees and the overall value for money, as these, are essentially what will determine your trade show ROI.
So without further ado, let's get down to business...
The E3 Business Expo is a Bolton-based trade show that has been making waves over the last 2 years.
The event is run by 1 Events Media’s Mubarak Chati, who is a networking specialist, and this is clearly apparent in the event’s format.
The exhibitor list comprises of SMEs from all over the North West, from a diverse range of industries.
This makes the E3 Expo a great all-round business event for any startups or SMEs looking to sell or seek local business solutions.
Despite only being 6 hours long, there are plenty of activities crammed into this time.
This includes speed networking and seminars on topics like bid writing, content marketing, business networking and the effective use of IT - all of which are very relevant today.
These activities can be extremely useful at a business event, because not only can you meet a large number of potential leads, but you can also cultivate relationships that drive collaboration and synergy.
Venue & Date: Macron Stadium, Bolton - 14th March 2018
Cost To Exhibit: £900 (3m x 2m space)
Prolific North Live may have only been around for two years, but in that short time, it has achieved a reputation as one of Britain’s most up-and-coming business events.
It is the largest expo for the digital, marketing, broadcast, comms and creative sector outside of London.
You can read more about the last time we were at Prolific North Live in this blog post.
Prolific North Live is a great northern business event for a number of reasons:
Firstly, the atmosphere is electric, constantly humming with activity from passionate professionals who are keen to discuss modern-day business and share innovative ideas.
Secondly, the speaker list is crammed with thought leaders and educators, from the likes of the Business Growth Hub, Bing, Channel 4 and many more. This is great for all the team and helps to foster a learning approach within your organisation.
Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, it all comes down to the large number of quality attendees.
Over 4000 people visited last year’s event, and whilst not all were there for business reasons, on the whole, we found that the leads collected had genuine buying intent, which was evident when following up after the show.
This suggests a large proportion of attendees are key decision makers for their businesses, which is attractive for any exhibitor!
Venue & Date: EventCity, Stretford - 28th February - 1st March 2018
Cost To Exhibit: £3225 + VAT (3m x 3m space)
The Biz Expos are two separate events that take place in Manchester and Liverpool respectively and are self-proclaimed as the UK’s number 1 business exhibitions.
The organisers place a great emphasis on maximising footfall, with a large local and regional following, which creates a thriving atmosphere and a real community feel to the event.
Whilst maximising footfall can lower the overall quality of attendees, it certainly gives your business greater exposure and increased opportunities to sell your solution.
Like other B2B trade shows, speed networking and educational seminars are commonplace at the Biz Expos. What really sets these events apart is the excellent value for money on offer.
Not only are the spaces cheap, but a number of extras are also included such as tables, chairs and a power supply – costs you often have to pay for at a trade show!
Venues & Dates:
Crown Plaza Hotel, St Nicholas Place, Princes Dock, Liverpool - 11th October 2017
Mercure Hotel, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester - 31st May 2018
Cost To Exhibit: Starting at £199.00 + VAT (2m x 1m space)
Although Hashtag Events organise business events all over the country, we found Expo North West to be one of the best.
There is a wide range of industries represented at the show, from general business services to creative digital agencies, as well as plenty more niche exhibitors in between.
One thing we really liked about Expo North West was the general laid-back atmosphere present.
This is great for getting to know people without it feeling mandatory, allowing you to create genuine, long-lasting relationships with potential clients.
Quite simply, these are the relationships every exhibitor should be looking to create.
As with most small trade shows, there is a great emphasis placed on networking, and this is no different at Expo North West with speed networking sessions and plenty of educational seminar talks.
The CEO, Andrew Charlton, also has good ties with some ex-contestants on the BBC’s Apprentice, so if you’re a fan of the show, it’s worth paying a visit for this alone!
Overall, whilst the footfall at Expo North West is on the smaller side, we met plenty of interested attendees. The value for money is also much better than many other business events, whether that be in the North or South!
Venue & Date: Turf Moor, Burnley - 19th October 2017
Cost To Exhibit: £150.00 + VAT (3m x 1.5m space)
The Lancashire Business Expo is said to be Lancashire's most successful business exhibition.
Now there's a statement that's probably caught your attention.
The event is run by Shout Network, a group of event organisers who aim to facilitate collaboration and support between northern businesses, with the ultimate goal of encouraging them to do business with one another.
Over 2500 delegates attend each year, as well as 165 exhibitors, creating a buzzing atmosphere that is conducive for business networking and personal development.
No matter what business sector you belong to, the Lancashire Business Expo can deliver the perfect platform to promote your products/services to local businesses in the region.
There are also keynote sessions from leading Lancashire figures, so there’s plenty of expertise and inspiration to be taken from the day.
Venue & Date: Guild Hall, Preston - 2nd March 2018
Cost To Exhibit: £400 + VAT (3m x 2m space)
Last, but by no means least, we have the Brand Yorkshire Conference, which is another Northern business event that has only been around for 2 years. Likewise, in that short time, it has achieved a glowing reputation.
The Harrogate trade show runs like clockwork and pulls in some of Yorkshire’s finest businesses, making for a diverse event that provides relevance for almost any B2B business.
No trade show is complete without a good line up of speakers, and it’s fair to say Brand Yorkshire surpassed this with numerous keynote sherpas sharing their knowledge and advice.
It was refreshing to attend talks where the speaker tried to educate rather than sell a solution – which tends to happen a lot!
One other thing that sets the Brand Yorkshire Conference apart is the location itself. Not only are the Pavilions a beautiful venue for an event, but Harrogate is also a great place for a stopover before or after the show.
Although this will no doubt increase costs, it can be great for team-building!
Venue & Date: Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate - 5th October 2017
Cost To Exhibit: £456 + VAT (2.5m x 1.5m space)
So there we have it, 6 of the best Northern business events, as told from our point of view.
It's worth bearing in mind that success at a trade show is not only determined by the event itself. First and foremost, you need to have a desirable product or service to achieve any returns.
Furthermore, sales reps can also play a crucial role in generating new business, so it's vital you hire the right reps.
Networking is a central focus at any business event, so they need to be prepared to meet plenty of new faces in a short space of time.
If you're manning the stand yourself, but networking isn't really your thing, check out these great tips from Social Quant so you can get the most out of the sessions.
One last thing to note. Our products are likely to appeal to a wider target market in the B2B space, so this could account for our success at the events listed above.
Are there any Northern business events that you think should be on this list? If you’ve exhibited at any of these shows, or any that haven’t been listed, let us know how you got on in the comments section below!