The USA CBD Expo At Chicago With Nicole Beiner – Ep32

The USA CBD Expo is headed to Chicago in October 2021. Nicole Beiner, Marketing Director for the event, joins Scott to discuss CBD, highlight conference speakers, and explore why trade events are so critical to a growing and changing industry.

Attendees can expect to not only learn more about CBD but other alternative medicines that have been gaining popularity. Tune in to get a special look into some of the interesting subjects that will be discussed, as well as Nicole’s tips on growing a successful CBD business.

Insights From The Episode

  • What Nicole’s past experiences with CBD are.
  • How the USA CBD Expo originated, and what their past events have included.
  • Some of the exciting topics getting covered at the event, including discussions about other alternative products.
  • How the team of USA CBD Expo is dedicated to changing the stigma surrounding cannabis.
  • Why stories are important when it comes to developing a successful CBD business.
  • How participants who are either interested, or still skeptical, can plan for their visit to the event.
  • What the future for the USA CBD Expo includes, as well as upcoming changes in the CBD industry.

Resources & Links From The Episode

Connect With The Guest

About USA CBD Expo

USA CBD Expo is the leading CBD and Hemp event throughout the nation and South America. The purpose behind the company is to connect the greatest and most innovative products and brands to participants. USA CBD Expo brings together a fast industry into a singular, global trade show experience. They are committed to creating the best shows to advertise their exhibitor’s brands, drive traffic into booths, and bring them closer to potential consumers and other businesses.

Episode Transcript

Scott: Hey, how’s it going everyone? Scott with you. And welcome to another episode of “The CBD Guide” podcast. Really excited for this one, we’re gonna be talking about an upcoming Expo, the USA CBD Expo, which is gonna be here in Chicago. And when you’re talking about the CBD landscape, all the fantastic companies out there doing exciting things, I think covering an event that’s gonna bring so many of them together is well worth doing. And joining me to help explore all of this is actually the marketing director for the USA CBD Expo, Nicole Beiner. Nicole, welcome to the show.

Nicole: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Scott: Absolutely. Thank you for being here. How are things going for you this week, kind of, in the lead-up to the show? I mean, you’re a couple of weeks out at the time of this recording. Is it kind of all hands on deck getting ready for a big event?

Nicole: Oh, my gosh. I told my team yesterday, I was like, “I’m on a plane, I am physically in Chicago in less than two weeks.” So we’re 15 days to the event. So it’s all hands on deck running around, getting everything, it’s madness right now, but I love it.

Scott: But it’s a good kind of madness, right?

Nicole: Exactly. I missed it. I missed it over COVID when we were in a doing too much, but I thrive off of it. I love being and doing all this stuff, and getting everybody all in one room. I missed people. So it’s nice to have face-to-face interaction.

Scott: You know, I’ve been to a few conferences because I have my hands in a lot of baskets, and I went to that first conference a few months back, and everybody was just so excited to be getting together, having those organic conversations. That’s kind of why conferences are so great and such a great thing, but, okay. So we’re gonna talk a lot about what’s going on with the USA CBD Expo here. But first I just like to ask every guest, how did you first hear about CBD and realize what potential it has for wellness and really beyond?

Nicole: So I heard of CBD when I was snowboarding and I…my knees were killing me and a friend actually recommended it. And I was like, all right, like, let me try it. Let me see what the hype is all about. I tried it and I was floored. It is now in my snowboarding bag every winter. I use it all the time because the cold just kills me, and I couldn’t believe it. I was like, I don’t understand what it is, I was the classic case of like, “But that’s going to get you high.” And they were like, “It’s going on your knees. That’s not how that works.” It’s like, “That’s not how it happens.” And so I was the classic misunderstanding case. And yeah, once I tried it, I was hooked and I wanted to learn more about it. And I ended up finding this job. And I came from a trade show background, so kind of both worlds mixed. And ever since then, I’ve just been getting more educated on it, and learning that it does not get you high and has a lot of medicinal benefits for more than just pain relief.

Scott: And see, that was just for your knees. I’ve been snowboarding exactly once, I would have needed for my all over, like, everywhere because of all the falling.

Nicole: Oh, no.

Scott: But that’s awesome. And really a similar story to a number that I’ve heard of, of “Hey,” you know, when you’re dealing with some pain or discomfort, and, “Hey, here’s a product that, no, it won’t get you high, is natural, and can really help out with that.” So I think it’s incredible. But okay. Shifting gears to really the topic of today’s show, the USA CBD Expo, it’s coming up, McCormick place for those of you in Chicago, downtown Chicago, October 28th to the 30th, 2021 here. What’s the story behind this USA CBD Expo? How did it really begin? And Nicole, what’s the scope of it these days?

Nicole: Sure. So our first event was back in 2019, at the Miami Beach Convention Center in August. And previous to that, our parent company is called ZJ Events, and we were hosting actually paid specific events in Denmark, Barcelona, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay. We were doing all these events because, at that time in 2017, 2018 vape was very popular. Then we learned more and more about CBD, and the Farm Bill came out, and the owners who were using vape as an alternative to smoking said, “Wow, people know about this. What’s CBD?” They got involved in it. They found a lot of wellness benefits and said, we got to get the word out about it and bring it back home. So we had a lot of trade show experience in the past. So we said, all right, our shows are typically a couple thousand people. We didn’t have any speakers. It was a smaller show, maybe a hundred vendors, “Let’s make this the biggest show possible.” So we blew our expectations out of the water. We had 14,000 people in Miami.

Scott: Oh, my gosh.

Nicole: 300 vendors, over 60 speakers. It was packed every single day that we said, wow, okay, people wanna know about this. People wanna sell it, buy it, be educated. Like we felt so good about what we did. So we said, all right, let’s go into next year. We’re going to do one in Las Vegas. That one was a huge success as well, and then COVID hit. And then we took a minute. And so we could come back and we actually hosted our most recent event in Atlanta, in June, and another successful event. And we couldn’t believe it. We were so happy to get everybody in the room, and that, you know, continue growing this industry together. And things changed from 2020, February to 21st of June. There was some new products that formed that I’m sure we’ll talk about, but it’s all there, everything that’s in this industry. Whether you’re buying it, trying it, learning about it, hate it, and wanna learn more, everybody goes through.

Scott: That’s awesome. And just such a great organic story of, “Hey, we’re hearing a lot about this. Let’s do this.” And then you realize, wow, we’ve struck a nerve here.

Nicole: So impactfull.

Scott: Yeah, exactly. So, okay, talking about impact, talking about what’s exciting, what are some of the most exciting, or maybe buzz-worthy topics that are going on in the CBD world right now that are likely to get a lot of coverage here in a few weeks in Chicago?

Nicole: I think one of the more controversial ones is what the heck is Delta-8? Where does it fall? I don’t understand. That’s one of those things that came from our February event to our Atlanta one that came up through COVID. It did not exist when we had our February show…or maybe it existed, but we did not know about it. Nobody was mentioning it, it wasn’t really set. So one of our topics is what is Delta-8? And the blurred vines and its legality, you know, what is going on? In New York, they got rid of it, or they’re trying to get it back. It’s like all over the place. So we’re gonna be covering that. Also, we’re sticking to our roots and learning more about CBD, but we’re trying to get more interesting topics. This is our fourth event. So what else is CBD used for?

We have Raven Faber, and Katherine Merryfield, they’re gonna be talking about CBD for sexual wellness. So that’s a new topic, I didn’t even know that CBD had a category for it. So that’s exciting. We’re also gonna be covering alternative products, developments and trends, and the power of medicinal mushroom extracts. Now, you may be asking, why is this at a CBD event? We’re going to be covering more and more alternative products because they’re just growing, excuse the pun, they’re just growing everywhere. So there’s a lot of crossover and you’re gonna get more than just CBD and hemp education at our show.

Scott: I mean, that’s fantastic. And I’m glad you’ve mentioned the sort of just the alternative products because there is just this desire to… Hey, you know, we’ve got these amazing plants, these amazing things that we’re learning more about, and what can they help with? What all can they do? And it’s not just CBD. Obviously, we talk mostly about CBD here, but there are so many alternative wellness products out there and it just continues to grow. So I think it’s super exciting. And kind of staying on that, and you mentioned a few speakers there, and I know there’s just an excellent speaker lineup. We’re actually even having a few of them as guests on this show in future episodes. So stay tuned folks, but, are there any other specific speakers, or maybe panels, that you might wanna highlight that are particularly interesting?

Nicole: Yeah, definitely for the marketing and compliance, how to legally market your CBD company, we have a bunch of lawyers and marketing experts on that. So that’s definitely a good one to attend if you have a CBD company. I’d also like to mention Jason Gann, if you watch the show, Wilfred, he will be there.

Scott: Oh, my gosh.

Nicole: So I’m very excited. Yeah, if you know him, it’s like, “Oh, my God.” Like, he has such a following for that show. So he’s actually gonna be at the show. He is a very interesting topic where his product was part of the show. So then he continued it even after the show. So he has a really cool topic of pivoting, diversifying, and reshaping your life skillset to overcome the challenges of an unpredictable and constantly evolving industry. So that’s perfect for us and all of that. But yeah, there’s so many different ones. Joey Brabo is talking about leveraging Tiktok for CBD and Delta-8 brands. If you’re not on TikTok, it’s addicting. It’s terrible, but I love it. I’m on it way too much, but it’s something that you need to know, right? When all these social media networks come out, you gotta be on top of them. But yeah, we have so much, I would definitely check it out on the website because there’s so many more to mention.

Scott: For sure. And it kind of connects to what we were talking about in the sense that the landscape continues to change so much. You guys have an event, and then you have that the next event, the discussion is completely different. What’s this Delta-8? What’s this going on? And so for folks that are running CBD businesses, or getting into the industry, wherever they may be along it, being able to adjust with it and adjust with a legal landscape that is different from state to state even, these are important skills and important things to kind of know about and learn from experts on how they navigate it, right?

Nicole: Right. Yeah. You wanna hear it straight from the horse’s mouth as much as possible. So that’s why we do a good job of trying to get a very diverse group of speakers. It’s not just CBD 101, or one lawyer’s perspective. We wanna have debates about it, and we want people to ask questions. That’s the number one thing is that, if you’re at the speaking seminar, we allow Q&A for everybody. And a lot of the speakers are just happy to have a conversation afterwards. So it’s so important that you get there, you check the schedule, and make sure you’re at the main stage to see them speak and get all of your questions answered. And a lot of the exhibitors are the owners and the producers themselves. It’s not just the sales rep who’s gonna tell you the fast facts about the product. They’re the people that have their true story of, “Oh, I made this product because of my dog, it was feeling ill and I learned the benefits of CBD.” And they have these really touching stories. So there’s a lot of people to meet and a lot of stories to uncover.

Scott: I love that you focus on the stories too, because, you know, on episodes that we’ve had so many compelling stories of, “Oh, I had chronic pain, and I had nothing else worked. And then CBD came along and it helped me so much, and now I started my own business, and I’m, I’m selling CBD and helping others.” You know, these types of stories are so compelling. And I think it’s really unique to the industry itself, I find, just how many of these types of stories you come across.

But then even though this is all great, there are still a lot of detractors, there’s negative stigma around the cannabis industry in general, and there’s this misinformation. How are both the USA CBD Expo and you in your role specifically, Nicole, working to really change that perception? And how can an event like this make the maximum impact when you’re looking at perception?

Nicole: Absolutely. So everybody at our company is very dedicated to helping remove a lot of that negative stigma. You know, we actually were having a discussion at lunch. Hey, how do you explain your job to your peers? Or when you go and meet your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family for the first time, like, “Oh, we’re in this industry,” and you get the jokes, and it’s so like, “What? Do you smoke pot all day?”

Scott: Oh, yeah. “What? Are you selling weed?”

Nicole: And it’s so frustrating because there are professionals in this industry, there are lawyers, accountants, marketing professionals, all these people. And when you say those things, it’s just like, why are you discounting my profession? I am happy in it, I feel so welcomed in it, and everybody in this industry is nice, whether it’s part of the stereotype or not, but they’re really, really intelligent people. And I am so sick of the comments about it. So I’m actually speaking at another Expo, talking about this and at The Event Planner Expo. And I gave a talk recently, I think, like, a month or two ago, about welcoming the cannabis brand. Like stop being afraid that, “Oh, there’s just gonna be these people smoking pot in my venue and they’re gonna bring a crowd.” And I’ve seen this

Scott: It’s gonna be all sketch.

Nicole: Yeah, there’s gonna be sketchy people. But guess what? Your, grandmother might smoke, or they might use CBD for pain relief.

There’s medicinal marijuana. Like, and that’s not even on the CBD topic, but it’s just so frustrating. So, anybody that makes those comments stop, please, they’re not right. And you’re not original. But on our show, we find and curate again, a diverse group of people from all different backgrounds that talk about the benefits and the truth about CBD. We interview them on our blogs and our pages. So that way you can get that information. So, yeah, we’re working hard. I’m personally working hard just cause it’s like enough, it’s becoming recreational more and more. It’s gonna change a lot of different industries and companies, their HR manual stuff is going to change. It’s crazy. So, yeah, we’re working towards that.

Scott: Exactly. And I think, too, when you gather so many professionals, so many people doing things the right way, and trying to help others, and bring their expertise to the table, I think that’s where change really happens too, with just the community getting together, right?

Nicole: Exactly. So I invite those people to come and make those comments all they want and then see that there are a lot of professionals that take this so seriously, and are just trying to move the industry forward, to get away from that, so we can keep moving forward and not have all these stops in legal and law and just get done. We just want everybody to understand this industry.

Scott: It’s gonna make it happen for sure.

Nicole: Exactly.

Scott: So from the CBD business side, because we have so many listeners that are starting businesses themselves, and there’s more and more cropping up every day. And while it’s exciting, it does present these challenges for businesses that really wanna stand out to consumers, and maybe even potential partners, suppliers, everywhere. So from the vendors who will be at the Expo, and really what you’ve seen in the CBD industry in general, Nicole, what are some of the keys for those having success to really breaking through the noise, so to speak?

Nicole: So we as show organizers, before we even started the show, we were on the other side, we were attendees, and we were exhibitors. So we really understand that committing to a booth is not only expensive but time-consuming, and that we don’t wanna nickel and dime everybody. So we actually created a couple, quite a few free marketing initiatives for them to take care of…take advantage of actually. So one of them is listing your show special. So are you going to have a buy-one-get-one? We have two different types of attendees. We have buyers, so retail store buyers are looking to purchase products wholesale, or the everyday consumer. So list that, take advantage of it. I think we only had 50 people take advantage of it. And guess what? Those 50 people that listed, that got sent to all the attendees got booth traffic.

Scott: Nice

Nicole: So that’s something to take advantage of. We also give everybody a free discount code to tell people in their network, come see me in person, I’m doing a show special. You can only get this at the show, come visit me, see our product in person, see why we’re better than our competitors, and what we do differently, or hear the story. That’s another thing we do. We really try to make it a very low barrier to entry, and we’re very open to marketing ideas. So we really try to help them, but it’s also on them as well. You can’t sit behind your booth. I remember somebody, he was like, “Oh, I had a bad show.” I’m like, “I saw you on your phone the entire time. Like, what do you mean?”

So it’s so important for them to be engaging, posting that they’re on the show, letting people know, and what does make them different. So I think honesty is important and that story, right? Okay. You’re the 17th tincture company or something like, truly, why did you make this company? Was it just because you want to take advantage of the market? That’s okay. That’s great. You know, we all wanna make money, and we wanna do that. But tell me the why, or is it because of your family member? What is the reason? And not just trying to BS people of anything. I think it’s having those connections with people, so, so important today.

Scott: I mean, authenticity just shines through in, really, any marketplace, but certainly when it’s competitive and growing so quickly, and there’s so much going on in it, the authenticity really does shine through. From the attendee side, you know, I’m personally so excited to attend as this will be my first time going to the USA CBD Expo. And I’ll be there in a bit of a press capacity, but also is just someone excited to learn more about CBD, and make connections. Any tips for attendees, for getting the most out of a conference like this, whatever their goals may be?

Nicole: Absolutely. So just general rule of thumb, plan ahead. We are gonna have close to 400 exhibitors. So take a look, circle them up, circle them on the floor plan because it’s big. There’s a lot of things to see and do. So definitely take a look at your hit list, who you wanna see, and then also take a look at the speaker schedule because there are a lot of talks and discussions that you want to notice, so that’s definitely important. For our buyer-attendees, meaning you have a retail store, you wanna purchase product, you know, wholesale. We have something very unique called the buyer passport journey, and what it is, it’s only available for the buyer ticket, is you get a pass, like, almost like a passport, and you have to visit the 15 vendors, get a sticker. And at the end when you return it, you’re now entered in a chance to win up to $3,000 to spend at the show for your store. So it’s kind of a fun, interactive experience, but we’re trying to get the word about it because it’s a little different. I don’t know any other people that are doing it, but it’s exciting because then you’re, you’re gonna get stuff for your store that you win maybe for free just by visiting these booths. So that’s definitely something to keep an eye out for.

Scott: It’s gonna be so exciting, and I just cannot wait. So one of the other things with an Expo like this, and I think it’s something that even people running CBD businesses, there’s still so much for the industry to grow into. There’s still so many people, millions and millions, who have never heard about it, or they’re skeptical, they have never considered CBD for, you know, whatever wellness targets they may have. If someone’s newer to the world of CBD and maybe unsure or even skeptical because I mentioned about the potential benefits, Nicole, what might you say to them to encourage them, to take the plunge, find out a bit more?

Nicole: I would say, what’s it gonna cost you? We’re giving away so many free tickets, you could even use code “CBD Guide” for free tickets. Go, come, I don’t even want a dollar from you. Go to the show, experience it, see it for yourself. You know, it’s one thing to make all these assumptions and hear about it, but just go. You know, what do you do when on Thursday, on the weekend before Halloween? You can go to Halloween party later on. But I would just say, if you have any…if you’re unsure, go talk to the people, go talk to the people that are making it, ask your questions, ask your question to multiple people. That’s the biggest thing in this world of misinformation. And that’s also the problem, is where did you get your…what’s the source, right? Number one question, what’s the source? Was it Wikipedia? Is it Mayo clinic? Was it somebody’s personal blog. Go right to the source and get those questions answered right there. Again, use code “CBD Guide”, free tickets, courtesy of our friend, Scott, go for it.

Scott: Do it, do it, do it. Okay. I always like to turn my attention to the future as we sort of wind down these chats, what do you see in the future for CBD as a whole? How might the landscape change even further in the months and years to come? It’s already changing so much. What, if you were making predictions, Nicole, might you think is coming?

Nicole: I think that, I mean, already you see what is happening. There is not just CBD, CBG, CBN, CBD-BA [SP], but there’s just a whole…all the acronyms are coming together. That for us as event organizers, right, we’re USA CBD Expo, when there’s more than just CBD at our event. So what we’re gonna do is actually rebrand ourselves and give ourselves a little bit of change. And that’s what we did over COVID, is that we, we took a look inside and we’re gonna come out of Chicago as Alternative Products Expo. Why? Because there is more than just CBD. Like we said, mushrooms, kratom, Delta-8, psilocybin. And of course, CBD and Hemp is the dominant feature at our show, but it’s gonna keep changing. So for us to stay as USA CBD Expo, doesn’t exactly make sense. So we’re still staying true to our CBD roots, but we wanna encompass everything that’s changing and include more speakers on these different topics.

So that way, when the attendee comes, they get the full breadth of everything that’s going on in the industry. So if you have pain, maybe there’s more than just CBD as an option. We’re going to have it at the show. And I think that’s the right way to do it. So that way it’s not just, “Oh, you have to attend the CBD Event, the Delta-8 Event, the Mushroom Event, it’s all in one roof. So we’re really excited about the change. It’s going to be a lot of work. We have educate people that we are still the same great show, there’s really nothing changing other than some branding and the name. And we’re adding on to it. We’re adding more and welcoming more of these alternative products.

Scott: It’s gonna be so exciting to see. And I think you guys are gonna take it just to the next level and it’s gonna be great. So, Nicole, thank you so, so much for joining me on the show today, really sharing your guys’ story, and the exciting things coming here in Chicago in just a few weeks. And before I let you go, one more time, if folks are wanting to learn more, maybe attend the event, where can they do that? Where should they go? And what should they enter?

Nicole: Absolutely. So you can go to, and that’s Expo with an E and, select Chicago, and use code “CBD Guide” for a free ticket. So it’s literally costing you nothing for your tickets, “CBD Guide”, come to the event, find me if you have any interest in doing, anything outside, even for our next show, which is gonna be in Fort Lauderdale, March 11th and 13th. So I’m excited for spring break, and to get out of New York and the cold weather, or you can email me at as well, if you have any questions.

Scott: Awesome. Thanks again, Nicole.

Nicole: Thank you so much. Bye, Scott.

Get The Newsletter

Never miss a new episode... enter your email address below: