Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services –
2020 Virginia Food & Beverage Expo
Sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo connects industry buyers with Virginia specialty food and beverage products. Retailers, wholesalers, distributors, food service representatives, and those in search of private-label brands can find hundreds of Virginia-produced and processed products.
VDACS needed an agency to help with planning, management, marketing, and material creation for the 2020 Virginia Food and Beverage Expo, scheduled to occur on March 18th, 2020. In an unexpected turn of events, VDACS also needed crisis communications management due to the last-minute cancellation of the event after Virginia declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Quickly and efficiently, VDACS had to field countless inquiries while simultaneously informing and refunding exhibitors, sponsors, attendees and the media.
CES was responsible for registration, website development and maintenance, marketing material layout and design, advertising development and distribution, printing, and Expo planning and management. We worked closely with the VDACS team to rebrand this event and developed the hallmark crisp, modern design of the 2020 Expo. We met VDACS’ goal for an easy-to-use website and registration process (2020vaexpo.com) that wouldn’t intimidate users who weren’t tech-savvy.
We developed a robust, custom strategy to market the Expo across several platforms, including print, digital, and social media ads, a Facebook Event page, direct mail postcards, and a comprehensive email marketing strategy. Our marketing efforts paired with strategic event management that covered registration, event set up, event staffing, and subcontracting.
After the state of emergency was declared and the Expo was cancelled, CES did the following:
- ensured a press release detailing the cancellation was sent to media
- fielded inquires and kept in constant communication with all registered exhibitors and attendees
- managed all exhibitor and sponsor refunds
- renegotiated the terms of all expo contracts on behalf of VDACS and secured them either a refund or credit for the 2022 Expo (a value of approximately $100,000)
While the 2020 Virginia Food and Beverage Expo was canceled, our marketing for this event was overall a success, bringing in more exhibitors, attendees, and media members than in previous years. The Expo Center was stretched to its maximum capacity to accommodate all the exhibitors. There was also a waitlist of several exhibitors willing to step in in the event of a last-minute opening.