Five Takeaways from New York City’s Small Business Expo

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The Small Business Expo is billed as America’s Biggest B2B Trade Show, Conference & Networking Event for Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups and anyone that works for a Small Business or who is inspired to start their own business.

This expo, which takes place in multiple cities across the US, is all about learning, networking, building valuable new business relationships and for attendees, it’s about finding top vendors (like us) that can help make business plans and marketing desires actionable. For Exhibitors, it’s an opportunity to lasso new clients and also help others by answering their burning questions in plain English.

Founder and President of Splat, Inc. David Hitt giving talk at NYC Small Business Expo

David Hitt, Founder of Splat, Inc hosted a 45-minute workshop entitled Digital Resurrection: Bringing Your Brand Back to Life on the Web. You can view it here. It focuses on optimizing your brand on the web and covered a variety of topics including branding, user experience, SEO and ways to promote your site ongoing. Workshop attendees really seemed to have enjoyed the opportunity to ask specific questions about site migration, organic ranking strategy and today’s paid and organic social media marketing strategies. We were more than happy to provide useful answers.

Additionally, Splat was an Exhibitor at this epic one-day event which saw approximately 5,000 people through the door from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Attendees and exhibitors alike represented nearly every industry vertical and also nearly every country. The event drew a heavily diverse crowd each at different phases of their business. Some were just getting started, seeking to raise capital and others were growing, looking to improve their digital cred and conversion strategy.

website zombies

Guess you could say we killed it

people in line at 2018 small business expo

Sorry, just couldn’t resist one last clichéd pun saluting our booth’s cryptic (sorry, there I go again) theme: WAS YOUR WEBSITE DEAD BEFORE IT EVEN WENT LIVE? Our two in-character zombies remained in character all day and were a hit in terms of stopping foot traffic and producing smiles. People really liked our graphics and our campy take on what could be sort of intimidating subject matter. One popular booth feature was our digital ‘Minute Clinic.’ Folks lined up to receive a quick audit of their site which could cost several hundred dollars if they hired an expert to conduct an analysis. “It was a method s to truly help folks and also actually show them ways that they can improve their site in terms of visual impact, improvements to navigation and even some content advice around improving search results,” explained David Hitt. Our Zombies donned tattered clothing and dragged around old cables, motherboards, hard drives and other outdated digital accessories from bygone years. They looked downright scary but everyone wanted a selfie with them.

Business models are getting creative

During the expo, zealous entrepreneurs that we encountered did not lack imagination. There were a few standouts that left an impression: Vivienne Aerts from chocojazz.com (just watch the vid), Shayla J. Humphrey from Asirvia Proximity Marketing Solutions, Nikko Navarro from Vizion Fire Media (he’s busy invading Facebook Messenger with intuitive bots) and a ton of other eclectic and interesting people. Those who exhibited were also just as interesting as those who attended. It was pretty inspiring to see people excited to go after their dream and to “go for it.” Some of the craziest ideas are often some of the ones that ultimately succeed because they cut through the noise and claim a strong positioning. Small businesses aren’t just comprised of insurance professionals, real estate people and accountants. Today’s small businesses are taking cues from the tech world, developing apps and tools to simplify our everyday work life.

Partnership possibilities prevailed

The SBE in NYC was a great place to network with other peripherally-related, like-minded small businesses like PR firms for example. It can be argued that search, content marketing and social media (influencer and UGC) programs actually are PR.
While the digital world and the public relations firms are trying to figure out ROI and best practices around billing clients, it’s great to be able to huddle with other professionals to get valuable perspectives about the way our world is changing and unique and inventive ways to help clients trumpet their brands online and off.

Splat, Inc. zombies

Wix, Weebly and Square Space are not Rainbow Unicorns

During peak times at, the Expo we heard from business owners who were rather dismayed about their site traffic numbers. We did some further questioning and determined that most of them used a website builder platform like the ones mentioned above. Designs are tempting and Wix did a great job convincing TV-watchers that they could build their site for free (um…that’s not exactly true).

The most prevalent problem we heard from those who came to our digital minute clinic was that their sites were missing or had weak SEO-related meta tags. The Meta description is the text in Google that describes your search results. It’s the smaller, gray text below the webpage title. Meta descriptions have a max length of one line for paid ads and between three and four lines for organic results. Title tags are actually the title information which typically appears in a browser’s top tab. The title tag should announce what the content of the page is about and often contains critical keywords. Off-the-shelf, templated builder platforms offer the ability to add your own meta description and title tags – but so many people don’t know how to use these capabilities or, more commonly, don’t even know that they should. The second biggest gripe about DIY platforms was that they weren’t responsive and couldn’t be viewed optimally on multiple devices.

DIY platforms make implementing an SEO strategy is nearly challenging in that you do not have the ability to download an SEO boosting plugin. Instead, you simply have the on-page SEO that the platform offers. Yes, you can get the basics done here, but it doesn’t offer you any Search Engine previews or any help along the way like WordPress SEO by Yoast does. For a tool that caters to beginners, DIY websites really miss the mark in this category.

billboard in the dessert

We’re not knocking these web-based solutions, we just think that too many people have erected a billboard in the dessert and are now just finally realizing it. These easy solutions might be okay for a small mom-and-pop company but not the right way to go if you’re looking for a more customizable approach with a higher level of sophistication.

People still lose their minds over free stuff

We know it’s human nature to want to grab complimentary items. In the name of full transparency, I’ve had some moments of weakness in my travels too. The psychology behind this phenomenon is what we find most interesting. Just the word free triggers an emotional charge and people think that the value is way higher than it actually is.

Splat offered complimentary zombie-themed candy and fun, ‘scary’ wall crawlers – not exactly premium swag, but whoa, you’d think we were giving away twenty-dollar bills. I observed bags filled to the brim with hand sanitizer, pens, flash drives and water bottles. Many people had two bags of chest-pounding loot.

Bottom Line:

To us, the real value of going to a trade show (as an attendee) is the idea of being able to access and converse with experts who can help you solve marketing and/or business problems. A trade show is one of the best places to create relationships — that’s the entire point, right? As an exhibitor, we’re taking a moment to reflect on a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan — “The medium is the message.” This means that that form of a particular medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or convey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium effects how the message is seen. So in terms of good ‘ole lead generation, maybe brick-and mortar trade show settings aren’t the most ideal fit for our particular business vertical which is rooted in technology. Maybe they are in that they allow us to exercise our company culture of sharing knowledge and helping business grow? What are your thoughts? We want to know. Tell us at jami@splatworld.tv.

tech trade show cartoon

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