More than 700 visitors packed into the Sports Direct Arena to attend a business event that almost didn’t happen.
The organisers behind the North East’s largest free business to business event; the NE Expo, Andrew Charlton of BACK Consulting and Network North’s Marc and Lorraine Gordon, took over the event after discovering that a similar event to the NE Expo had been planned but was cancelled after many firms had paid hundreds of pounds to attend.
Several exhibitors had been left out of pocket and demanding answers from the Norwich based organiser who cancelled or postponed three exhibitions in the past six months under two different businesses.
The NE Expo organisers agreed to take over the event in agreement with Newcastle United as a special one off EXPOsure event. Businesses that lost money to the original organisers were given a free stand at the event and in total around 120 businesses exhibited.
As well as trade stands, a number of master classes took place on subjects as diverse as Linked In, getting fit for business and sporting contributions from Olympic cyclist Joe Waugh and football legend Peter Beardsley.
One master class however raised a few eyebrows thanks to the guest appearance of Australian branding guru Steve Sand. The no holds barred, straight talking expert shared the secrets of his branding empire and multi-million dollar lifestyle in a Q&A session with Bedlington creative Paul Stephenson of the Beautiful Image.
Sand was asked to comment on social media, PR, logos and the effect of good branding on business. His forthright views on Facebook and Twitter caused a stir within the audience, many of whom relied on social media to promote their business. With a visual presentation in the background showing Sand’s own marketing portfolio including his web site and new book; “God created the world in six days, I can create your brand in eight”, the audience of around 50 north east business people were captivated by his contempt for traditional branding methods and his arrogance towards small businesses who hadn’t taken the time to get their brand right.
A video at the end of the session divulged that Steve Sand was indeed a brand himself, a fictional character made up in just three days to help Paul Stephenson show the audience what the key messages were when choosing a brand. The brand even went as far as producing fake books, an entry on Wikipedia and the Steve Sand website www.yourbrandinyourhand.com.
Steve Sand was played by Matt Lee Alliston, established actor and owner of Northumberland based, The Stage and Production Company who have just secured deals to produce pantomimes in the USA.
“When people realised that they had been fooled, they laughed and applauded,” said Paul.” Matt did a great job which really got the branding message across in a unique way. Moving forward, we are going to develop Steve into an internationally renowned world-beating motivational speaker, brand mentor, and all round big mouth. We’ve decided to start shooting soon to create Steve Sand TV to be aired on YouTube regularly and see what we can do with him in the future.”
EXPOsure organiser Andrew Charlton, who was in on the secret, enjoyed the reaction of the audience. “There were three people who actually wrote down the book title, another who videoed the interview and others who were web surfing, it really was believable and got the branding message across in a fun way.”
The Expo team will be arranging another event in the summer, more details to follow.Ends
Media Information: Keith Newman 07814 397951 Photo Paul and “Steve Sand”
Photo 2 L to R Marc and Lorraine Gordon, Andrew Charlton , front Paul and “Steve Sand”