Twice a year the NEC in Birmingham holds one of the biggest retailer exhibitions there is, Spring & Autumn Fair and we are always sure to have our names on the register. This year was no different, with a coffee in hand and smiles on our faces, Autumn Fair was off to a great start…we’ll forget about the 6am wake up call.

After a quick walk around the expansive venue, and a quick chat with just a few of the many businesses that were exhibiting it seemed that 11:30 came too quickly. Before we knew it is was time for our very own CEO, Richard Hill’s talk, as the theatre was filling up Richard stepped up to the stage ready to share some PPC secrets. There was not an empty seat in the theatre and those watching were frantically taking notes, it is safe to say that Richard’s tips and tricks on Google Shopping Ads were going down a treat. With the plethora of different yet eager businessmen and women striving to get everything, they can out of their digital strategies.

There had been numerous exciting talks over the few days at the Autumn Fair, some we wished we had seen. An hour before Richard there was a talk about SEO, something we know a fair bit about, from Amy Hobson, who shed some light on some different approaches to implementing your digital strategy.

Following Richard’s talk, we decided to have a walk around the enormous fair and explore the many different halls with some of the weird and wonderful inventions. There was everything from new and innovative designs such as a fully biodegradable toothbrush to the largest amount of Ty toys we’ve ever seen.

Autumn Fair specialises in retailers finding and buying products they are interested in, so whilst there was an abundance of interesting and fun products, none of them were for us.Autumn Fair Polaroid

We talked to just some of the many businesses throughout the day and asked if they were on social media and what their thoughts on it were, as well as their biggest struggles with the modern digital marketing era. It was no surprise that everyone we asked was on some form of social media platform but the experiences varied across the board.

We spoke to Impossible HQ, who we actually scoped out after finding out about them on Instagram earlier on in the day. With nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram, they are clearly very successful on the platform and taking advantage of the photo-based social media due to being in the photography industry. They said that the posts that weren’t business based created the most amount of traction and were found to be very popular. SEO Traffic Lab’s thoughts on social media can be summed up by this one business: choose the most appropriate social media platform for your business, don’t make every post sales or about your company, get creative and don’t rely on social media for conversions. Social media is a great way to get your name out there and interact with customers or potential customers.

Autumn Fair - EmojiHowever, social media isn’t always as easy as Impossible HQ make it out to be, as pointed out by Love Bomb Cushions, getting your content seen can be the hardest part. With the vast amount of content that gets produced every day, this can be a large problem. The most important thing to do is put yourself in the mind of your target audience, choosing the best platform is the first step after that comes optimising the features and taking advantage of them. Hashtags. Hashtags are a way for people to find the content they want to see, so make sure you tag appropriately, in moderation, and try and use trending hashtags when you can.

Joe Turds Turd World, I know we can’t get over the name either, pointed out how big YouTube is right now, we’ve talked before about how video content is important to be optimised right now, however, it’s hard to grow a business based YouTube channel for example. This is why we fully agree with their opinion on getting your product out there to a YouTuber with an existing audience, and how having a YouTuber with a large fan base mention or just show your product can make a huge difference. YouTube is a thriving platform right now with thousands of content creators available for you to reach out to and send samples or ask for reviews, it may seem a stab in the dark but with someone with an audience of hundreds of thousands of people still being classed as a ‘small YouTuber’, it’s worth a shot.  

It was interesting to find that almost all retail businesses are aware of both the benefits and challenges that come with social media, irrelevant of whether they have a strong online presence or not. It is clear that even businesses who are successful offline, are aware of the potential that they could achieve using digital strategies and more specifically social media. There are still a few non-adopters of digital and some who feel that if one strand of their strategy is working then they don’t want to try anything new.However, the majority of businesses are slowly being converted into the undeniable future of digital and the success it can bring to your business.

We had a great time at Autumn Fair and can’t wait to come back in the Spring and meet even more innovative and exciting businesses.