Time to put your networking shoes on; Natural Products Expo East 2019 is right around the corner! It's one of two times annually (at Natural Products Expo West, too) the industry powwows in one city for a week of true connection. You really never know whose path you'll cross.
Take Cynthia Samanian, for example—the founder and CEO of Hidden Rhythm, a boutique experiential marketing firm. She walked away from Expo East 2018 with a fruitful Health Warrior partnership.
Here, Samanian dishes about how that connection went down and why it's important to network your heart out at Expo East and other natural product industry events.
You partnered up with Health Warrior through Expo East 2018. Tell us more about this relationship.
Cynthia Samanian: Last year, I was invited to speak at Expo East’s Digital Marketing Summit. Specifically, I was on a panel covering how to work with influencers. Representing the experiential marketing world, I shared my strategies on teaming up with influencers for offline activations, whether it be intimate product launch dinners or large consumer-facing pop-ups.
A few days after the summit, Health Warrior reached out and shared their interest in having us design and produce an influencer event in San Francisco. Their marketing team had been in the audience during my panel and was intrigued by our approach to experiential, especially since we’re focused on serving natural food brands and have trusted influencer relationships in the space. We created a proposal for a New Years’ wellness-themed influencer event, and the rest is history!
Have you experienced any other fruitful connections as a result of Expo East?
CS: Absolutely! During Expo East, I connected not only with potential brand clients but also with influencers interested in our experiential activations. Through the Influencer Summit at last year’s Expo East, I met several talented and successful influencers. Just a few short months later, we partnered with two of them on a Thanksgiving activation we produced for Bob’s Red Mill in San Francisco.
Even more impressive, one of the influencers who lived in Boston happened to be in town during the activation. She had such a fun time meeting San Francisco-based influencers, many of whom she knew from Instagram. She was also able to learn more about Bob’s Red Mill. This all-around win was made possible by Expo East. There’s definitely no way I would have thought to invite her had we not met at the conference!
What do you find to be the most valuable about natural product industry events?
CS: It all comes back to connecting with people in-person. Frankly, this is the same reason I believe experiential marketing is so powerful! An interaction as short as a five-minute face-to-face conversation can leave a lasting imprint in our memory and ultimately translate into new sales, partnerships and more.
At natural product industry events, I make it a point to visit all of our clients—old and new. In a crowded place like Expo East, it’s always special to see a familiar face, whether it’s reconnecting with a past client or cultivating relationships with new clients.
I also find value in walking the tradeshow floor to discover up-and-coming brands and key trends. As our space continues to grow quickly with new players entering the market, it’s challenging to stay on top of everything. However, after just a few days at a conference like Expo East, I leave with my finger on the pulse of the industry and several valuable contacts. Conferences allow for serendipitous connections. You really never know who you’re going to meet next!
What advice can you give Expo East attendees around the power of connecting at Expo East and beyond?
CS: Look beyond the tradeshow halls! While walking the floor and visiting booths is an important part of the Expo East experience, don’t miss out on the educational workshops. From diving deep into CBD to stepping up your digital marketing strategy, there are so many opportunities to learn and get inspired.
I’ve also found that these smaller sessions are a great way to connect with your industry peers, many of whom are trying to solve similar problems. Why not introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you? You never know what you can learn from each other in just a quick conversation!
Join us at Natural Products Business School at Expo East 2019 for a full day of networking and education purpose-built for emerging brands.
What: Natural Products Business School (education add-on required)
When: 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019
Where: Hilton, Key Ballroom