What Happened and How Was It - Columbia Black Expo Main Event
The 13th Annual Columbia Black Expo, held at the Colonial Life Arena, proved to be one of the best events this spring, and the best expo ever. Thomas Media, who hosted the event, found the perfect balance of information, business-promotion, youthful energy, talent, and celebrity. Like any good media/marketing firm, Thomas Media knew exactly who their audience was and gave everyone what they wanted.
Information. Early in the day, various business seminars were held, including Finding a Career in Today’s Society and Let’s Get Energy Wise. It was a smart move to make the seminars the first event of the day so that attendees and business owners could get the structured portion of the event out of the way and enjoy the rest uninhibitedly. It’s kind of like going to the 8:00 am church service so you can enjoy the rest of your Sunday guilt-free.
Business. If you are a large or small business-owner, public service entity, or strive to have any kind of public presence and missed the Black Expo, what a tremendous mistake you have made. This was the best possible opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in Columbia. There isn’t a single business in the Midlands that could not have benefitted from the exposure and networking opportunities that this year’s Black Expo afforded.
The businesses that faired the best at the expo were those who got up out of their chairs and stopped texting long enough to engage with attendees in a meaningful way. And having something interesting, tasty, or free to offer helped also! Cake South, which is opening a store at Sparkleberry Crossing, proved to be very popular at the event. They sold huge slices of red velvet cake that had to be shared with three others just to finish it.
While Cake South showed how to debut a business with an awesome product, Shonna Williams of Jaas Jewelry and Things, demonstrated that personality and customer service, coupled with a great product, are an unbeatable combination. Having walked out of the house without my earrings, I vowed to purchase a pair at the first vendor I saw once I got inside. That vendor was Shonna Williams. She greeted me warmly and showed me the last pair of earrings she had for sale. When I searched my pockets, I found that I was $2 short of the purchase price. Since I had already put the earrings in my ear, Williams told me to keep them and bring the money when I come back through. That was a smart business move as it earned her a spot in my article and a loyal customer that will spend far more than $2 on my next visit.
Youthful energy. PYNK Signature Salon and Spa proved to be another popular booth. They not only provided salon services on the spot, they also had the prettiest girls parading around, drawing both men and women to their booth! That’s what I call out-of the-box thinking.
Talent. This year’s addition of the Gospel Best Competition proved to be one of Thomas Media’s smartest moves. Similar to BET’s Sunday Best, the competition started off with 50 groups competing for a $10,000 prize. After a final performance on Saturday, judges awarded the huge cash prize to John Lakin.. The gospel competition drew thousands of attendees who not only got to see all of Columbia’s gospel superstars under one roof, but witnessed the wild antics of David Mann, more commonly known as Mr. Brown. That brings me to the last component on the 2010 Black Expo magic formula.
Celebrity. The oddly-successful couple, Tamala and David Mann, was the perfect hosts for the Gospel Best competition. Mr. Brown (David Mann) was out in full effect with his signature mix-matched clothes and over-the-top behavior while (Cora) Tamala Mann was as beautiful and graceful as ever. Those who were patient enough to stand in a line that snaked half-way around the Colonial Life Arena, were paid with an autographed church fan.
Tasha Smith and Doc Shaw, both of Tyler Perry fame, also had their fair share of fanfare with impressive autograph lines. In case you are wondering, Tasha Smith is even more beautiful in real life than on TV.
Chrisette Michelle was the last celebrity to perform at the Saturday event. And quite the celebrity she was. In fact, I think I saw a woman get a little upset when her boyfriend pushed her aside to get a better peek at the powerhouse beauty. While Chrisette was a vision for the men to behold, she performed to the ladies. She sang a song for every phase of a woman’s love. She sang of love’s evasiveness and sweetness, as well the loss of love. She gave a man permission to blame it on her for the benefit of ending the relationship just before she begged another not to leave her because she was fragile. She truly told a story for every woman in the audience.
The numbers 13 and 2010 should go down in Thomas Media history. That’s because the 13th Annual Black Expo is the one that they got it exactly right and 2010 is the year they found the magic formula. Good luck 14 and 2011.Edit