Category: Events

Cleaning Up Clontarf

Originally published in The Road Ahead Feb-Mar 2022 magazine. Written by Jessica Wilson.


More than 2.8 tonnes of rubbish was collected by “Waste Warriors” in Clontarf (Ningi Ningi Country) as part of a 100-day program to reduce litter in the region. Love our Clontarf 100-Day Litter Campaign founder Les Barkla said the initiative was a community response to a growing problem.

“I have a Facebook community group called Pristine Peninsula and I noticed two of our Waste Warriors, Phil and Sue Johnson, were picking up a horrendous amount of fast-food packaging and other listter within a 2km radius of a fast-food chain,” Mr Barkla said.

“They were filling a 240-litre council rubbish bin a week with mostly takeaway packaging.”

Mr Barkla created the 100-day campaign with the support of Waste Warriors, the community, local, state and federal governments and local businesses.

“The Redcliffe Peninsula is a unique area as we’re 80 percent surrounded by water, so all the litter on streets ends up in Moreton Bay or Hays Inlet, which is a very sensitive ecosystem for turtles and dugongs,” he said.

“We designed the campaign to bring about education, awareness and behavioural change around litter and actually keep it out of our waterways.”

More than 100 volunteers participated in the campaign which focused on litter hotspots including Snook Street, where the fast-food chain is located, and the Clontarf Beach State High School.

“Local businesses sponsored electronic message boards with anti-littering messages. We had quite effective roadside sign vigils and 40 street sponsors cleaning up their local streets,” Mr Barkla said. The result was a 45 percent reduction in rubbish during the 100-day period and more than 15,000 litter items diverted from local waterways.

“On Snook Street alone, we picked up nearly 11,000 pieces of littler over the 12 weeks,” Mr Barkla said.

“The major items we picked up were 4,500 cigarette butts, which is a major issue for roads, followed by fast-food packaging.”

Mr Barkla said people who threw litter from their vehicles rarely saw the impact of their actions.

“They think their one cigarette butt won’t  make a difference and don’t understand that it will take five to 10 years to break down,” he said.

“When you equate what we picked up on Snook Street to annual period, it’s about 50,000 pieces in just 1.6km stretch of road.”

Mr Barkla said the fight against litter was ongoing despite the campaign’s success.

The campaign doesn’t end now the 100 days are over and we’re putting pressure on the government to actually make changes,” he said.

“All packaging needs to be 100 percent compostable or it’s not going to get better because a litterer doesn’t care whether an item is made from recycled material, they just throw it out the window anyway.

“We’re just a community of 60,000 people and just a small part of the state, but I’m a strong believer in communities driving change.”


Read the report here.


BIG group at Launch



Find out more about Pristine Peninsula:

Join the Pristine Peninsula Facebook Group

Follow the Pristine Peninsula Redcliffe Facebook page

See how Social Ocean supported the Love Our Clontarf Campaign

Love Our Clontarf Campaign Report

LOC social media campaignThe Love Our Clontarf 100 Day Litter Campaign, undertaken on the traditional lands of the Ningy Ningy people, was a litter baseline study and litter reduction campaign held across 100 Days at the beginning of 2021.

The campaign focused on a targeted litter hot spot in a 2 kilometre radius of the McDonalds Clontarf, Redcliffe Peninsula.

At the campaign launch in January, acknowledgement of the Ningy Ningy Peoples – the traditional custodians of the land on which we gathered – was made by campaign Founder Les Barkla. Paying respects to our Elders past, present and emerging, Les also stated that this campaign was all about respect for this land and these local waters, as the ancestors cared for them for 20,000 years.

The Redcliffe Peninsula won numerous Tidy Towns Awards in the early 2000s. Today that level of respect has been lost, as has the connection with land and waters. This has been backed by statistics showing 8 billion cigarette butts are littered every year and 8 million litter items are tossed every day in Australia (Keep Australia, 2019).

Providing raw data to show stakeholders that littler is a serious terrestrial and marine environment issue for this littler hot spot and for the Redcliffe Peninsula. Redcliffe is surrounded by 80% waterways with sensitive marine ecosystems and official Marine National Parks.


Key Data:

Litter was reduced by 45% at the Snook Street audit site over the 12 weeks of audits using various litter awareness and education strategies including social media campaigns, digital sign board located at the audit site, campaign signage around the area, local media coverage with sharing of online content by key stakeholders.

If adequate litter enforcement strategies and resources were available, these 10,952 litter items would have potentially brought in $2.8M in fine revenue based on the now current minimum Litter Fine of $275 (risen in price at 1 July 2021).

Snook St litter
During the 100 Day Campaign 15,706 items of litter were collected from 12 audit sites. Many more items were collected by informal contributors in other locations outside the suburb of Clontarf.

The Report:

The Love our Clontarf 100 Day Litter Campaign Final Report (click to download) includes:


How Can You Help?

Cigarette butts statistics
444,000 cigarette butts are littered per square kilometre annually (Do The Right Thing Campaign – Keep Australia Beautiful, 2019).

Actions since report completion:

Delivery and discussion with Moreton Bay Regional Councillor Karl Winchester (Division 6 Councillor for Clontarf), meeting attended by fellow area Councillor Sandra Ruck,

Delivery and discussion with State Member for Redcliffe, Yvette D’Ath MP,

Delivery and discussion with Federal Member for Petrie, Luke Howarth MP.

Actions taken by stakeholders since report completion:

Stencilled footpath messaging for concrete walkways around the Redcliffe Peninsula designed and delivered by the Moreton Bay Regional Council Environment Team. Installation commenced December 2021 with further roll out due in the in the first quarter of 2022.


Media & Acknowledgements:

“Community-Driven Campaign Calls for Action on Litter” by by Jessica Wilson – RACQ Road Ahead Magazine, Feb/March Issue 2022

2021 Community Spirit Awards Finalists by ABC Radio Brisbane Community Spirit Awards – 8 November 2021

Keeping Clontarf clean, one item at a time” by ABC Brisbane Breakfast Broadcast – 26 October 2021

Report calls for action on litter” by Kylie Knight – 8 September 2021

“Labour of Love” by Kylie Knight – Dolphins News, 15 May 2021, page 19

“Fight to stop littering goes on” by Kylie Knight – Dolphins News, 5 May 2021, page 2

Students join war on waste” by Jodie Powell – 14 April 2021

100 Day campaign to reduce litter begins” by Kylie Knight – 29 January 2021

Find out more about Pristine Peninsula:

Join the Pristine Peninsula Facebook Group

Follow the Pristine Peninsula Redcliffe Facebook page

See how Social Ocean supported the Love Our Clontarf Campaign

5 Projects To Build Your Community

Creating Intellectual Property (IP) in a business is incredibly important. Your IP helps to both stand out in your market, and result in making money. But making money is generally an outcome of first building community and trust.

So how do you go from having an idea – creating the IP – to selling that idea and bringing money in?

What’s more, if your market is flooded with similar solutions and there’s lots of messaging about your topic, where do you start?

Start with building your community. A community can exist in different ways: online or offline, geographical, industry-based, have broad demographics or a refined private or niche identity.

Initially building a community from clients, networking and industry connections, contractors and suppliers, friends, referrers and collaborators makes sense. It’s also easier as these connections will already know your capabilities and trust you.

What they all have in common, is that they collectively make up your community already. You don’t need to seek them out – but you do need to formalise how you communicate with them. That might be digital communications like email, or as simple as posting regularly on social media.

Importantly if something happens to a part of your existing community, and engagement or support seems low, it’s likely you’ll maintain the others and they’ll pick up engagement according to your activity.

A communication strategy is key for you to sell in the future. It’s also an excellent way to mass-communicate information, education, support, offers and awareness. Adding names to a “list” is a portion of the marketing mix that is generally put in the too hard basket, and therefore becomes an untapped resource to many businesses.


Five Projects

Here’s five small projects to launch to help build your community further. They all offer a way to formalise and grow the “list” of contacts, let you create mini strategies to practice communication, and build on (and expand) your supporter-base outside of those you know.

Each one of these ideas can introduce simple technology to capture information from your community if you haven’t done so before. This can turn any of these projects into a new community group to connect with as a smaller group, or move them to your wider, broader community.

If you used all five of these projects, you’ll have impactful outcomes and cater to a variety of interests.

  1. Create a freebie
  2. Start a pop-up Facebook group
  3. Run a short-term challenge
  4. Host a low-priced ticket masterclass or workshop (online or in person)
  5. Run a private bespoke event offering membership


  1. Create a Freebie

Creating freebies are perhaps the easiest of the lot! Sending your freebie out via a sign-up scenario means you capture an email address as a minimum.

Popular freebies include E-Books, webinars, podcasts, tools like calculators, discounts, printables or mini versions of a service/product like an audit or consult.

Save your work in easily accessible formats e.g. PDF files, downloadable Zip folders or links to hidden pages. Creating hidden pages on your website, giving access to a reader after they submit contact information allows you to communicate with them in the future. It’s also preferable to users wanting to download your freebie.

If your item is designed for at-home printing, consider what countries the user may live in. For example the USA still uses Letter page sizing. You may want to provide freebies in multiple sizes for this purpose.


  1. Start a pop-up Facebook group

Pop up Facebooks are a great idea to contain a small group to WOW new people to your community, service them with some education or access to freebies and a supportive community. It also allows you to entertain them, provide great service from you or your team.

It also provides a closed area for you to market directly to them.

The key to success with Facebook groups is brand-relevant visually appealing and professionally structured content. Your time and effort needs to go into the group before it’s populated, allowing you to turn up Live instead of the stress of daily content creation. This is never fun!

Don’t delete your Pop Up group once the original purpose has run its course. Reuse the group repetitively, as you’ll find those who valued it the first time (plus those who may not have given their full attention, or needed better timing), won’t leave of their own accord. That allows you to add to your group quarterly or half-yearly with a membership number that impresses the viewer.



  1. Run a short-term challenge

Short-term challenges can be great fun and you can pick up new fans or followers with savvy social campaigns when you run them.

In terms of building community online, challenges or short term activities draw fast interest and allow new fans to learn new and interesting details about you/business.

Just like any other campaign you run, lead-in time is everything! Promote it for a few weeks organically before day 1 to maximise numbers. Your email communication should be short, sharp and clear across the time of the challenge with your own example included each day.

Having people sign up to your challenge means you can communicate with them each day of the challenge and really expand details about what everyone needs to do. It also lets you add key information that participants need to know – as well as giving you cross-promotional opportunities.

Think hashtags for engagement, cross-platform participation with Instagram posts and Stories/Reels, and entertainment all the way.

Remind participants with scheduled email campaigns. Create these elements in advance so participants are reminded daily. This is really important as they may have signed up to your challenge some time back so will need reminders before it starts.

Selecting daily winners from participants is a great draw card, as is a collaborative challenge.

You can also run a short-term challenge in a Facebook group – or create a Pop Up Facebook group for this purpose.


  1. Host a low-priced ticket masterclass or workshop

We run small but low-priced workshops regularly. The feedback we receive from clients is that they enjoy and appreciate an intimate gathering of like-minded people.

It allows for a personalised approach, but also allows you to maintain a low budget in areas including venue, catering and print/marketing collateral requirements.

To secure the number of guests you need, follow an event plan rolling out over a 10-12 week period.

This is an ideal time frame to rollow out and publish a variety of events marketing information. Start immediately after you launch ticket sales and continue through to the date of the event.

This allows you to run one per quarter as part of a regular onboarding process. And don’t forget, this event could be a digital event with video conferencing or Live video in a private group setting.



  1. Run a private bespoke event offering membership

If your event charges premium options only, then a bespoke private event is more likely to hit your target.

Along with allowing a higher price point, bespoke events generally offer an impressive location, experiential features, and membership options as part of the bonus package and are a big hit with women in particular.

Think retreats – spiritual or corporate in nature – providing elements that may be perceived as difficult to organise in a day to day circumstance, or that may be considered luxurious.

Include ticketing add-ons and offer varied pricing structures. Snagging guests early means you could sell out quicker with “early bird” options. And providing higher price tags for a distinct purpose are attractive and could include things like a VIP gift bag, meet the speakers or special access to additional experiences on the day.



The activity of community building can be a quick flash in the pan experience, that doesn’t take long for the audience to decide that you’re worth hanging around. But as part of a strong content marketing strategy it’s inevitably a long game and requires patience.

However, delivering on engaging activities that show reward or results to your community members are marketing activities a company can undertake for longevity. Yes it takes a long time to build a huge list. But once you’re in the hang of it and you include it in your activities, and regularly include your database, you’ll see the results.


It’s important to note these ideas are based on social media or events activities. These are areas of specialty at Social Ocean, and we get excited about helping clients create unique events, allowing them to start or continue building community. Check out our event services for more details about that.

Combine online activities with face-to-face events for a highly successful mix, that will assist in building your list and create raving fans!


social ocean blog line


Armed with over 20 years’ experience in the event management business, Kirsty Fields has co-ordinated everything from kids’ events to national sports games. After a successful career in sports, she embraced modern marketing and promotional techniques.

Her passion for training clients in social media, digital marketing and branding has been combined to present her multi-award winning business Social Ocean a bespoke events marketing agency.

Kirsty’s experience in event management and coordination, and the small business space, backed by her passion for marketing, makes her an ideal source for all things related to events, small business, marketing, social media and branding.

You can find a list of podcasts Kirsty has been featured on, on our About page.



This article was originally posted to the Words of Bek blog as a Guest Blog in 2019 by Kirsty Fields. Words of Bek is the namesake website by Writer/Author Becky Paroz for her book by the same name. The article has since been updated for currency to this publication.



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Strawberry & Mint Gin Cocktail Recipe

Gin Cocktail Recipe

This cocktail recipe is for a delightful drink we recommend to make in bulk and in advance for a big gathering.

It’s the recipe for the most popular cocktail from Ebony’s 21st celebrations. And has also made an appearance as a quick and simple refreshing drop at the end of a long day.

It reminds us of our travels through the Middle East, where you get minty cool refreshing drinks just about everywhere.


What you need aka the Recipe:

To serve, we used a large drink canister with a built in tap which holds up to 10 Litres. If your container is smaller, reduce the liquid amounts in the recipe, at least by half.

Prepare the fruit infusion on the morning of your party. Typically you’d be using this cocktail for an evening event, but to maximise the flavour of the strawberries and mint, infuse them into the alcohol in the morning or as early as you can on the day of your party.

It only takes a couple of minutes to do, but you’ll be glad you did it.


Early morning infusion:

Step 1: Remove the top leaves of the strawberries and roughly cut them into chunks. There’s no limit to how many strawberries you can add.

Strawberry tip: We used 2 large punnets. If you plan to serve your cocktail with a ladle you could add more strawberries. Drink canisters with taps on them don’t allow for the fruit to pour through. Adding fruit into the glasses for guests, before they add the cocktail is a great idea to get extra fruity goodness in each drink.


Step 2: Tear the fresh mint by hand. It’s really important you don’t chop the mint with a knife. By using your hands, you’ll bruise the mint leaves more allowing the flavours and oils to infuse easily (and more of them). Don’t discard the stalks, include all parts of the bunch of herbs in your drinking canister.


Step 3: Add the sugar.


Step 4: Add the entire bottle of gin.


Step 5: Get a wooden spoon and stir. Stir all the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved.

Stirring tip: If you are unsure if the sugar has dissolved, you should no longer hear the sugar granules against the glass at the bottom when stirring.


Step 6: Leave to sit in a safe place until the party starts. Put a cloth or lid on your vessel to keep flies and bugs out of it.


Strawberry and mint infusing in the gin

Our mix infused for at least six hours before the party started. During the remaining time, we’d be setting up the party space and other cocktail. We’d also by buying ice to add in to the drink canister to cool it down for serving.

The ice doesn’t need to be added into the cocktail if serving during cold weather if your soda water and diet lemonade has been refrigerated.

If individual glasses will be served with fruit by ladle, adding ice to your mix of the glass makes your drink look great! We roughly added a quarter of a bag of ice – standard petrol station sized bag – when adding in the lemonade and soda water as ours hadn’t been refrigerated.

Our party was in July – the middle of Winter in Queensland – so the ice was needed to cool the soft drink added on the night. Due to lots of catering fridge space was at a premium, so we hadn’t refrigerated it. During Summer the ice will cool the liquid just as successfully, but the drink is not as nice or refreshing at room temperature.


Just as the party is due to start, add your 2 litres of soda water. We used the cheapest home brand option from the grocery store. Our original recipe has been altered through practice. It was changed to include the lemonade instead of soda water only, as we reduced the amount of sugar added for infusing.

We realised that the sweetness of the lemonade is necessary for a perfect balance. If you intend on using soda water only, because you think you should reduce the percentage of sugar used, you’ll find that you’re cocktail is a little flat. We’ve tested this out! You will need to add a full cup of white sugar to the strawberry mint and gin for infusing (at least) to get the balance of sweetness perfect.

All you really need is pretty glassware to serve your drink in, and a friend to “Cheers!” with. Enjoy!

8 Awards Season Tips

Business Awards Season is such an exciting time in your life, journey and path to career success. Being nominated for an award confirms and builds your confidence of what you get out of bed to do each day. It’s exciting!

The benefits of participating in awards season is constant. You have the ability to leverage awards for years to come!

I’ve won significant awards throughout my career and made it to Finalist shortlists in others. I still reference these milestones – or leverage them – as they provide excellent social proof of your skill set and business capabilities.

The truth is people don’t get nominated for awards, become a Finalist or Win awards without first doing the work. Although it seems many people reap the benefits – they didn’t submit a piece of paper and get a piece of crystal for nothing.


Is congratulations due to you?

If you’re one of the people who’s name appears on a shortlist right now – congratulations! Congratulations on submitting an application or for your nomination (or both). You deserve it. You should be proud. But most of all, you should be letting the world know about it.

For those of you who are savvy enough to have had help with writing your applications, I also applaud you for making that investment. You are likely to understand what a wonderful marketing/PR opportunity a Business Award can be for your career and the business.

Once your name gets printed on the ballot paper, so to speak, there’s a list of other actions you should do to support the nomination. After all, the judges are not likely to have heard of you before reviewing your submission. Depending on the Award system, there will be further steps the judges will take.

They’ll like do their research. Complete their due diligence. Look for project evidence or social proof. Particularly for Awards presented by Industry Bodies, Professional Associations or a National level. These trophies aren’t given out like lollies! A submission is not always going to be the only contributing factor in the decision process.


Winners of the Stormwater Queensland Award for Excellence in Policy & Education, 2018.

Popular Voting

Business Awards with public voting, have a certain level of randomness. Not only is it important you nominate for the right category, but you’ll need to communicate to your community your participation to help get people to cast votes for you.

A lot of people won’t do any – or very little – research before voting for the popular categories. Yet you can put effort into checking off my tips below to turn random selection into educated votes. If you’re participating in one of the popular vote Awards programs like Ausmumprenuer you can help yourself get those Votes in!

Plus, you want to make sure judges are seeing how wonderful you are as they decide who gets their vote. This is on top of those random community casting votes with the categories they don’t have anyone they know listed.

Show us and share with us the proof your application isn’t a fluke – turn up online!

Below are 8 top tips of just some of the many I follow/do myself. Make sure your digital footprint has your best foot forward:

✅ Your website About and Media page

When was the last time you updated your About page or Media section on your website? Keeping these pages up to date with the very latest details is important. With your website potentially being the hub for judges to confirm what they’ve read about you, it’s important.

Be sure to reference projects you may have featured in award nominations. Having a client area, gallery or blog to promote this information, is great way to show this off. By adding this type of detail you can show off #allthethings you do that impress others.

Speaking with a judge from the International Stevie Awards, I was reminded that nomination can have as little as 3-5 minutes judging time. What this means is, if you don’t include further evidence of why you should be a successful nominee that’s all the time you’ll be given. Including an evidence document listing the points where further information can be reviewed is key. And your website is the obvious place for that to be stored.


✅ Services or Products page

Highlight your capacity for good and problem solving with your service/product information on your website. With new interest in you and your business, this is a great time to expand the details of your business. Remember new visitors or Followers aren’t aware of your history or how you help others. Share this information as though you’re talking to a brand new audience – because this is what is happening for you.


✅ Write some articles

Have you written any blogs from your own experience or expertise? Do you have some half-written articles, sitting unpublished or as a draft?

A blog is an excellent way to support or highlight your activities. It also serves to educate your community if you’re writing simple helpful information. Which is a great service alone. Engage a copywriter if you need help to polish it off.

Hint: we have an excellent copywriter who can assist you! Get in Touch with us about that.


✅ Audit your profiles

Give your personal profiles a thorough Audit. Including the social media profiles you keep private.

Review memes and funny questionnaires on your social media feed. Look through who’s tagged you on shared posts, as well as checking privacy settings of mobile uploads and photo albums. You can delete any of these items or consider opening business related posts from private to “Public”.

Social media profiles with cover photos are a good spot to use business branding without being sales oriented. And it doesn’t annoying your private connections with too much work chatter. Use an image that aligns with your branding,business name, services or products.


✅ Update profile photos

Choose a fabulous smiling profile photo of YOU on your personal profile is important. Even if you aren’t a fan of showing your face on private social media profiles. During the awards season – if not always, is easy enough. I recommend a great smiling photo all the time! But if you are only going to use an image of your face during this period of time, make it a great one.

People feel connected to you, and can you by looking at your profile photos. When judges are looking for evidence of your work, they can look in all sorts of places. Put your best foot forward by looking good all over the place!


✅ Brand your content

Write engaging content that has branded imagery is going to show your business off well too. Forget mass-produced memes and quotes. Create them yourself, or get help from a graphic designer!

Use your work, services or products as the base to create your own social media artwork. You can do this easily by adding branded font to your photos. Or take your own quotes, catch-phrases or business language and make your own #quoteoftheday.

Hint: we have an excellent designer who can assist you! Check our design services here.


Sample of a series of branded images created after being named as a finalist in the 2019 YAwards – a business awards event for women.

✅ Post about nomination items

Think about what samples you mentioned in the nomination process. Talk about these and others that are similar throughout the period of judging in your content strategy. Discussing those examples that are relative to the categories you’re nominated for is clever. The trick is not to mention the awards connection at the same time in these posts. Put them into your posting schedule as though you were due to talk about them.

The fact you’re up for an award is great and you should be talking about it. But specific posts talking about award nominations is another type of post (see next tip). Leaving out mentions of your award participation can be as clever as including it.


✅ Talk about your nomination

Talk about those Awards! Use promotional material from the Awards like the logo, event listings and use them yourself. Add photos to share how blessed and excited you are! Also mention the work you’ve been doing to get to this point of success. When you share your wins, or how it feels to take part, or how humbled you are to share the stage, people get engaged in your journey. Especially if/when you make it to the shortlist or Finalist list.

Give us #allthefeels about you in this Awards program.


As you draw closer to the business awards announcement day, put in place a new social media campaign. This should be all about promoting your inclusion in the awards line-up. If you aren’t feeling confident in how to create a specialised campaign, book in for a social media workshop with our team to help you.

Good luck to all our friends, clients and connections who are currently nominated. I’ll vote for you where possible – and look forward to seeing how you go for the rest of the year.


How to get noticed and approached by warm leads at your next trade expo

Trade expos can be an excellent marketing activity and resource for connecting with new clients. But often companies get lost in the shuffle of eye-catching stalls and innovative exhibitors. You need to stand out, get the attention of your target market and, most importantly, get those warm leads to come to your stall.

So, what can you do to get noticed and approached by your target audience? Check off these twelve things before the day!

Trade Expo wall signage
Use the walls of your display space if possible. Take blu-tac in your event box to avoid damaging the walls with semi-permanent adhesive or tapes.

1. Have great signage

Signage with bang-on messaging is a must. Your name, and what you do must be absolutely clear. If you don’t let your audience know that you are offering what they need, they won’t know to stop by your stall. Clarity is essential.

And your signage must be visible above head height so potential leads can read your banner from a distance. This pulls an individual’s attention out of a fast-moving crowd and focusses them on you. It’s the first step in moving them toward you intentionally.

If your signage isn’t clear to the reader, they’ll walk past. And if it’s not visible, they’ll never even know you were there.

2. Use table top signage

Once you’ve captured attention with good signage and a clear message, you may find you have more people at your stand than the number of staff available to chat during peak periods.

Waiting is boring, and when people have to wait to speak to you, there’s a risk they’ll decide to look at something else and come back later. This is not what you want. Instead, you want to keep the attention of waiting warm leads by placing interesting and informative elements on your tables or around your display. This could include, smaller signage, brochures, business cards, annual documents or magazines, special checklists or tear away forms. These are all usable marketing items which can be read while they wait to speak with you.

3. Video presentation

There’s nothing better than a moving visual element on a business trade exhibit. If you’re attending an event at a major conference centre and are allocated a booth, you’ll have space for a TV to play video or images on a loo. If you don’t have a large area, a laptop will do the trick as long as you can present it easily. And there are fabulous and fairly inexpensive iPad stands available from expo suppliers, should a tablet be the best option for you.

You can spend big on fancy equipment or put together a smaller, less expensive presentation method, but having a visual element is an excellent way to grab attention.

Consider having your visual element on a three-minute loop. One- or two-minute loops will run out quicker than you can wrap up a conversation. Keep your audience captive!

4. Be flexible and creative

Venues vary greatly and each venue will have limitations with regard to the space, size and shape of your display. Find these out before the day of the expo. Even if you’ve been a stallholder at the event before, double check that nothing has changed.

Then, be flexible. Think how those limitations might be used to your advantage. If there are no walls around your stand, could you place seating for waiting guests, which would also delineate the area? Could you show a video in that section?

Each venue requires some adjustments and flexibility. Be creative, be innovative and keep asking yourself, ‘what would keep my guests here at my stall?’

A bright coloured, clear space display.
Display your space beautifully.

5. Sell something

If you’re a product-based business, bring boxes of product and display them as though you’re the perfume section at Myer. Be beautiful! Think luxury! Even if your business has a boho-vintage vibe, go boho-luxurious! Putting your best foot forward for product display is key as a trade exhibitor. You don’t actually have to sell your product on the spot. If your presentation is quality, people will be more likely to buy your product later, if not right now. And if they love your product, they’ll be back without you needing to chase them.

Competition signage on the table top.
Have signage showing what a competition winner receives.

6. Run a competition

Competitions are the easiest ways to secure contact details from expo guests. Make entering the competition easy. Use a large container for business cards – think see-through Perspex boxes, a pretty glass bowl or an engraved ice-bucket. Use sign holders next to the container to list what the prize is and encourage stall visitors to enter.

It’s essential that the prize includes something tangible – a real prize – not just a prize of your time or a discovery session with your company. Think about what other items could be attractive to your target audience. Your book – or one you’ve found beneficial – a sample of your products, a gift voucher for your business or another, tickets to your next workshop or conference or even a professional service every business needs, such as design work or videography.

All of these will encourage warm leads to engage with you, meaning you’ll have more opportunity to engage with them in the future.

7. Interrupt your conversation

You have approximately two minutes to acknowledge someone before their patience runs out and they walk away. Plan and practice polite ways to pause your conversation with one person, so that you can address others visiting your table. Excuse yourself briefly with an easy, ‘Excuse me, I’ll just point these people in the right direction’ or, ‘Pardon me, while I let these people know I’ll be with them soon’.

Short, sharp (but polite) direction or acknowledgement to those waiting is invaluable in having them wait for you a little longer. It also reminds the person you are talking to that they aren’t the only person interested in chatting to you.

You also need to think about the conversations you are having. Some may be more worthwhile than others, and it’s important to determine that fairly quickly. It’s also essential to be able to gauge whether or not a long or complicated conversation should be put on hold for a follow-up phone call or a meeting away from the event. This way you don’t lose the next waiting lead, and can still nurture your new connection at another, more convenient, time.

8. Get help!

If you have a lot of services or products in your business, ask a friend to help you out. You might want to offer a service exchange or simply pay them, but having two people on a trade expo stand is a must for major events.

There’s nothing worse than being underprepared, understocked or overwhelmed – all of which are regular problems for small businesses at expos. Remembering you have outlaid funds to exhibit at this event. Don’t waste the effort and resources you put into getting there by not being able to cope with enquiries on the day.

You also have the added bonus of being able to have lunch (you don’t want to be that person eating and talking to a potential lead) and toilet breaks, and even spend time visiting other stands yourself.

9. Keep up the energy

Expos are not easy for exhibitors. Standing up for hours on end is a hard task. But the last person you want to be, is the person seated with a phone in your hand, looking down. Keep the energy up. Don’t ignore the traffic flowing past you (and yes, I see these people at every expo). Keep standing, smiling and engaging politely with people who pass by or stop to chat.

Being a trade exhibitor is your opportunity to get yourself in front of new leads, present yourself well and represent your business and brand to hundreds of new clients (if not thousands at a major convention centre event). It’s worth pushing through any uncomfortableness.

10. Follow up

Pre-plan your communication strategy with your new contacts from the expo. Don’t start sending an email a day for seven days. This will just annoy your new leads and ensure they unsubscribe and throw out your business card.

A simple, well-crafted and short communication following up is the best approach. You can give the results of your competition (if you’ve had one), or email a link to connect with you on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, if you prefer. You might also send them a downloadable resource or a link to a video that reminds them of who you are and what you do. In every case, you must ensure that your communication is helpful and adds value and isn’t just spam.

11. Facebook Live

Run a Facebook Live competition. Organise when you’ll do this before you send out your follow-up email (as above) and make sure to let your reader know how they can listen, and enter your competition (use your Facebook link to take them to your page directly).

If you run the comp a day after the email it allows time for it to be read and action to be taken by the reader. It also puts you front of mind as you’re now, quite literally, at the top of their Facebook or LinkedIn notifications.

12. Connect directly

Use LinkedIn to reach out to every person whose business card you received at the expo. Send a Connection Request and, when doing so, add a personalised note reminding them that you met at the event, and that you’d like to keep in contact. This technique means you’ve layered your emails and Facebook Lives with a professional and direct connection that you can foster further in the future.



How many times you get approached by visitors at a trade expo is completely up to you and the effort you put into your display before the day.

You control your destiny. Your trade expo success relies on you having more than a casual chat. Make genuine connections and provide marketing material or other collateral to those connections. But most importantly, you need to capture contact details from those people in return. This is the beginning of turning warm leads into engaged customers.



Before you invest in your next trade display stand, get an audit on your last results.

Speak to the Social Ocean team about your event outcomes, get creative with your call to actions and set up for success. Book an audit in today.


Getting event customers is hard! 

Getting people to attend corporate events, in what is fast becoming a flooded market of choice, is even harder.

Guests walking through the door has always been the hardest part of event management, but is the most important outcome of event preparation.

Event management takes ages in planning, logistics, marketing and implementing all of the elements you prepare. So why would you make a decision that results in a guest’s first impression of you a crappy one?

The first impression your guest makes of you and your event occurs upon arrival to the venue.

Therefore the most important decision in selecting your event is the selection of your event venue.

You’re probably thinking I’d never choose a crap venue to host an event. It’s likely however, that you have and weren’t aware of it, as it’s rare to think about your guest before they show up at the door (or registration table).

Take the host of an event I went to last year. She’s the inspiration for this article – unfortunately someone had to be – but I also have her permission in writing my story!

The event was a three-hour Masterclass for approximately 30 people and it was a ripper! The host has inspired more than this article in me, because she ran a ripper of a morning seminar.


The venue of choice was a central Brisbane location, in Teneriffe. A well-off trending suburb of Brisbane. It has great coffee shops, beautiful tree-lined avenues and historical locations of interest.

You could, if it suited you, catch a ferry up the river and take the short walk to the hired rooms from the dock.

If you were looking to add some incidental exercise into your working day, you could have gotten off a transit bus about a kilometre and a half away and walked, city-cycled or lime-scootered from the main drag.

Doesn’t it sound idyllic? It sure does. But idyllic isn’t how I’d describe my commute to the Brisbane seminar.

I don’t live in the big city – I live in a city to the North of Brisvegas, and though we finally have the ability to boast our own train line, if you want to use it to get to the trendy suburb of Teneriffe you’d also need an additional mode of transport to cover the distance from the nearest train station in business attire.

As I don’t carry a pair of joggers in my handbag like those clever CBD savvy white collar workers whose commute includes a lengthy walk from “somewhere” every day, that one wasn’t an option I’d consider.

I’m a soft suburbs girl, who uses her GPS to take her door to door from the home office to any other location. I expect any other location to be close to the car door from which I then exit from. If I’m required to walk any kind of distance greater than 100 metres to access an event, I need to be prepared.

When I arrived on the block of the event with well over 15 minutes to spare, I was scoping out the uber-trendy coffee spots along the block and looking forward to picking up a caffeine hit after finding my park.

You may be able to imagine that by the time I’d driven past the venue four times looking for a parking location, that scoping out coffee shops became a distant memory.

I had in fact turned my attention to whether or not I should drive around the six blocks I’d just looped around one more time… or whether I would drive back home.

I might sound a little picky as I’d “only” been 15 minutes early and I “should” have been much earlier – but remember, I’m a soft suburbs girl where you can get a park anywhere outside of a Westfield shopping centre in the blink of an eye.

Add in the red line fever that starts to rise at the potential of being late, to anything. Yep, I’m one of those people. Ten minutes early is perfect timing for a three-hour seminar.

Here’s the problem IMO. This idyllic location doesn’t meet (my) event standards, because it does not provide parking for guests.

I’ll qualify this statement.

Catching a ferry isn’t a regular form of public transport for many.

I’ve literally never, ever in my life considered catching a ferry a form of public transport – not even remembering the time I organised a private sunset ferry trip along Sydney Harbour.

That day on Sydney Harbour required a bus pick up from the ferry terminal for the final stretch of our journey, as part of an atmospheric afternoon for my corporate group – it was not public transport.

If there isn’t a train station within 500 metres of your location (even if it’s beautiful tree-lined trendy street), a private or public parking facility should be considered a must to be available within this distance.

I didn’t just think about driving 45 minutes back out of the city. I started to head back home, when I found a shopping centre with paid underground parking facilities. It turned out it was 800 metres up the road.

Whilst walking this distance, I thought at least 50 times I should go back home and enjoy an early start to my weekend.

Until I was seated inside the venue, which I’d arrived at now ten minutes late, I was desperately trying to counter that attitude by repeating the words “This seminar is just what I need right now, it’s going to be great!”

I was thinking through that mantra at short intervals as my heels started burning inside my Winter boots. I was dressed for the city remember, I wasn’t prepared for walking an unexpected distance from a far and exotic car park.

To rub salt to my frantic, stressed out wounds, I was then walking past all the trendy coffee shops I’d scoped out whilst doing repetitive blockies for 15 minutes, but I was now too late to stop and order.

“So what?” Do I hear you say?

Here’s some great tips on how to avoid your guest from red lining with stress trying to get to you.

Help your guests to arrive in plenty of time with a good coffee in their hand. Don’t have guests regretting their investment in your event, or feeling disillusioned about the quality of your presentation for the next three – eight hours. Let their first impression of you – before they walk through the door by positive by:

  1. Before you make a decision on the location of your event, create a checklist of criteria that you run through before booking and paying a deposit. Ensure your venue caters to the masses.
  2. If your event is free or low cost, the 48-hours before your event is held is a key decision making period. Guests who may not have committed to attend will see any unexpected problem relative to their attendance. Transport scenarios is a significant detail to deter guests from clicking the “get ticket” button.
  3. If your venue can’t all meet criteria, communicate with guests about the issue. What does your guest need to know about that or what will they encounter about that? Preparing a guest by providing clear information about the scenario removes objections or guest issues for unexpected difficulties.
  4. Providing an address of an event is non-negotiable. It’s 100% VIP. But it’s not the only factual point about a venue that needs to be communicated to your guest list.
  5. Hints or tip style communication about “getting to the event” at the time of purchase on your ticketing platform and again on your confirmation communication is a must. Show a map, inform where public transport is and suggest parking solutions when you know little to no parking is available.

If I’m due to be arriving for your event and available street parking is limited or you’re aware parking is non-existent – then this is an event a soft suburbs girl will need to be wearing joggers and active-wear for, and prepare mentally for incidental exercise. I’ll need to know this in advance, and it’s your job as the Event Host to tell me.


If you need help with choosing your next event venue selection or with any part of your Event Planning, find out how Social Ocean can help you here.

Hosting your own events? Want to start running corporate events to promote your business? Use the Social Ocean Event Checklists to help you get started on your event management success.