Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.


10 Reasons Not to Exhibit at Tradeshows

Any good tradeshow marketing strategist is going to come up with a few dozen reasons as to why you should exhibit at tradeshows. But what about some of the reasons NOT to exhibit at tradeshows? Are those reasons worth exploring?


First, let’s assume that if you are exhibiting at tradeshows or at least considering them, you are able to identify the shows that are of the most benefit to your company and products or services you’re pushing.

Some reasons NOT to exhibit:

  1. You’re trying to get attendees to stop at your booth with some gimmicky things like fishbowls and spinning wheels or putting greens. These may get people to stop, but the gimmick doesn’t know how to separate the prospects from the walkers-by. Only you can do that.
  2. You don’t have a measurable objective. In other words, you’re just setting up a booth, handing out samples or giving demos, but are not taking care to count anything. If you want to know if your tradeshow appearance is worthwhile, you have to track metrics such as visitors, leads, sales, demos given – and do it year over year and show by show.
  3. You’re thinking only of the logistics of a show and not the strategy of how the show plays into your overall marketing approach.
  4. Your staff is unprepared for the chaos of a tradeshow floor and the long hours and hard work it takes to pull it off.
  5. It’s too expensive. True, exhibiting at a tradeshow is likely to make an impact on your marketing dollars. But it’s a proven way to keep the cost of your lead acquisition much lower than the typical sales call. Yes, there are some businesses that do it differently and have written off tradeshows, but if it works for you, there’s no reason to quit as long as you’re able to get a good return on that investment.
  6. Your booth does not accurately represent your brand and the graphic messaging is cluttered and/or unclear.
  7. You don’t have a lead management system in place that all participants understand and know how to use.
  8. You only plan to exhibit at one show this year. It may be a great show that perfectly fits your audience. But if you only do one show, you’re missing a lot of potential customers at other shows. Stats show that nearly 4 out of 10 attendees are first-timers and 46% of attendees are only going to that one show.
  9. You’re not interested in or willing to network. People like to meet face-to-face, and tradeshows are a great place to spend time with people in the industry that can give you insight into other areas of your industry.
  10. You don’t realize that many exhibitors do NOT bring their “A” game. Face it, we’re all human. Many of your competitors are not going to do their due diligence and train their staff, do pre-show marketing, have a great product or know how to generate leads well. If you can do those things even marginally better than average, you’re going to succeed more than your neighbors. If you do all of those things very well, you’ll probably run laps around them.

Perhaps if you can overcome these reasons not to exhibit, you’ll find a lot of great reasons TO be setting up a booth and pitching your products and services. But it comes down to you.

Tradeshow Memes Gone Wild

I hadn’t seen more than a couple of tradeshow memes until I stumbled across a Tumblr by Anders Boulanger, otherwise known as Anders the TradeshowInfotainer, called simply TradeshowMemes. There are some great ones there, but if you poke around the corners of the internet, there are quite a few out there. So let’s have a little fun and go through a few here:

Want to make some on your own? Check out MemeGenerator and see what you can come up with. And be sure to share!

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

5 Easy Ways to Engage Tradeshow Pre-Show Marketing Outreach

Prior to your next tradeshow, it behooves you to spend some time doing a little pre-show marketing reaching out to potential attendees and prospects. Even if a potential client is not going to the show doesn’t mean that you should not communicate with them. She could be interested in your products or services, but just can’t make this particular show.

Here, in no particular order, are several ways to reach out to prospect prior to the show:

Email: easy, cheap. All you have to do is sit down at your keyboard and tell people why you’re going to be at the show and what the benefits of coming by your booth might be.

Direct mail: sending a postcard or other direct mail piece is definitely a way that stands out. Or course, the cost is more than sending out a simple email. Costs for sending direct mail start at about a buck a person (printing plus postage) and go up depending on what you’re sending. And then there’s the cost of creating the direct mail piece, which will usually involve a small team crafting the message, the subject, the layout and the coordination of the production and delivery.


Telephone call: ah! the personal touch. Nothing beats the personal touch. Much more time-consuming, but if you target a select group of potential and current clients to let them know what’s going on at the booth during the show, it can pay off dividends.

Social media: more of a general ‘spray and pray’ approach, but you can build a little buzz with clever and creative use of social media.

PR and Media: the use of public relations and media tends to get overlooked, but the act of sending a press release about your show appearance to industry media or pertinent local or regional media can help get your name out there.

What to include in your outreach?

The who, what, when, where, how and why of your appearance. The standard journalism approach: make sure people know where to find you, when and where the show takes place, your booth number, perhaps even a description and photo of your booth. Got a video from last year? It makes a great way to bring the show to life, especially if it’s a client testimonial. Share photos on social media and include them in a press release. Photos also are well-received in emails and direct pieces, and make them easier to read.

And finally, give them the reason WHY they should come to your booth. Perhaps its a new product launch, or a new facet of a current product. Or a way to get a sweet deal only at the show. Or a special time to meet the CEO or other company wag. In any event, pre-show marketing can take many forms – and it’s work, but it’s all part of the process of making your tradeshow a success!

Thoughts of a First-Time Tradeshow Attendee

This is a guest post by Christine Ton of Stratacache.

I had no idea what to expect when I walked into my first-ever tradeshow. I imagined it to be like one of those state fairs where you would walk through different tents, or in this case, a bunch of booths. There were people everywhere, and the experience was incredible for a first time attendee. From the flashing signs to the abstract booth shapes and sizes—every stand was so unique and told a different story.


As a first time tradeshow attendee, I decided to make a pros and cons list while I was at GlobalShop 2016 to further breakdown my experience.


  • Great Place to Network-There are so many companies that are at the show and it’s a good time to hand out your business card to the places you are most interested in. Strike up a conversation and see what opportunities lie ahead to strike a deal.
  • Show Off the Latest and Greatest-Tradeshows are a great place to test the waters on new products and services that your company is getting ready to launch. Get feedback on some of these items and take back some information that could make it even better for the next time. See and hear first-hand on how people react to your business.
  • A More Focused Industry– There are a lot of tradeshows that revolve around specific industries. When you are at a tradeshow with people in your market, you are reaching an audience that is relevant and important to your business.
  • The Lead Scanners Are Amazing-Collecting leads is extremely valuable, especially if you are at a huge show. It’s an easy way to collect information in order to follow up with your potential clients. Some scanners allow you to take notes too, which is incredibly helpful if you are meeting a lot of people each day.


  • It’s Expensive- From electricity/internet, to the booth rental itself, everything costs money.   It’s amazing how quickly it adds up, and I don’t mean by a few hundred dollars, I mean by thousands and thousands of dollars.
  • Risk Factor– You have no guarantee at getting your money back from a show—which is why it is extremely important to be prepared. You can spend thousands of dollars on your booth, but it means nothing if your audience isn’t engaged or interested in your business products/services.
  • A Lot of Boxes to Check-Setting up for a tradeshow isn’t easy. You don’t just put down your name and show up to your ready-made booth. It takes work and a lot of hands to get everything in order. Get your company organized before show festivities. You don’t want to end up at your booth to find out you forgot to ship the main attraction back home.

Overall, my first tradeshow experience was wonderful—but it wouldn’t have been without the organization and help from the entire team putting the show together. It’s a jungle out there, so get prepared and be ready to answer any questions that may come your way. The opportunities are endless if you know how to work the room.

STRATACACHE is a provider of intelligent digital signage, digital merchandising, mobile enablement and rich media solutions that help influence customers at the point-of-decision, leading to new sales opportunities, with over 1.3 million software activations globally.

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

Double Deck Booth Puts Your Meeting Space Upstairs


I’ve been seeing them more frequently at the big shows: double deck booths that create a private meeting space above the crowd. But is it something you should consider? Is it worth it?

Let’s take a look. First, if you are considering a double deck rental for your island space, keep in mind you’ll probably need at least a 20×20 island, if not 20×30 or larger. Due to the physical engineering and space of the stairs and the height needed, the stairs themselves will take up about 16′. In a 20×20 booth, you can put a smaller upper deck, but it still dominates the space. Perhaps that’s okay – only you can decide that.

But the double deck also comes with other considerations. Do you rent or buy? A purchase commits you to the double deck for at least a few years. Now, if you’ve determined that a double deck is a useful part of the booth perhaps purchasing the deck is the thing to do. If you rent, you’re only committed to a single show.

Another question is: do the upper meeting areas get used enough to warrant the additional cost? If it’s a busy show with tens of thousands of visitors and a few thousand exhibitors, there’s probably enough traffic to warrant the cost. If you schedule enough meetings in your pre-show planning, you might be able to justify it. But if you end up with an upper area that only gets used a few times during the show, you’ll probably regret the expense.

Beyond the cost of purchasing or renting the double deck, there’s the additional cost of setting it up. You’ll often need a supervisor from the double deck rental company to be a part of the I&D to ensure it is set up properly. There are legal engineering and fire safety requirements, along with insurance and other regulatory requirements which can vary from city to city, so make sure you work with a company that is familiar with the legal requirements.


Exhibiting halls in different cities can have differing height requirements. There are weight capacity requirements and depending on total space for meetings, the number of stairways (tied to upper capacity). Typically a structure must be engineered to withstand 100 to 125 pounds per square foot.

In some cities, such as areas of California and the Northwest, the structures must meet earthquake codes as well.

There are certainly other city and hall requirements, but your exhibit provider should be able to ensure that your double deck booth, whether a rental or a purchase, can meet those requirements whatever they are.

Whatever your decision, a double deck is a big step if you’ve never done it before, and it warrants a thorough consideration of all of the ramifications. Take a longer look at double decks here.

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Ultimate Guide to Tradeshow Booth Staff Training

The following is a guest post by Tifany Scifo of Reveal Marketing Group.

Trade shows provide the perfect forum to expand your business – whether you run a multi-million dollar enterprise or a humble family business, a successful trade show can be a veritable boon to your company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, the opposite is equally true – a disastrous showing can not only give potential investors and clients the wrong idea about your company, it can have a lasting negative impact on your firm’s reputation and cling to your company like a stubborn, fetid odor.

With so much on the line, it only makes sense that you exercise due diligence and prepare your contingent of representatives before you even leave for the convention; to make absolutely certain everyone is ready to bring their “A” game – and ready to “wow” anyone who happens to saunter up to your booth.

Trade Shows: An Eye Witness Account

Last year while writing for the automotive industry, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to cover the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) event in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar with this particular event, it is the biggest automotive event of the year – filling the expansive Las Vegas Convention Center with thousands of custom vehicles and aftermarket vendors as far as the eye can see. Big or small, each vendor had the same goal – to develop a list of qualified leads that could then be turned into a mutually beneficial business relationship.

As I walked from hall to hall, it became startlingly clear which companies were making the most out of the opportunity. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the companies with the flashiest digital displays or the ones that employed a gaggle of vapid booth babes armed with coy smiles. As I listened in on the interaction between vendor and potential client, it occurred to me that the ones that would emerge victoriously from SEMA were the ones that came prepared – lock, stock and barrel.

How to Get Your Staff Ready for “The Show”

Whether it’s your first show or tenth, there’s always an opportunity to tweak your approach to trade shows. Remember that if a strategy worked one year, it may not the next, so be sure to revisit your plan of attack and set reasonable goals. As for the staff that will be accompanying you, there are a few things they should know:

The Marketing Strategy. It’s important your staff knows exactly what is expected of them in terms of sales goals, but be sure to take the time to expand a little further on the topic of “goals”. Give your staff some idea of the impact a successful trade show can have on the company, and take the time convey to them any key messages you’d like potential clients to walk away with.

Your Products. Regardless as to whether or not you’ve decided to feature a single product or an entire product line, you need to invest some time reviewing them with your staff. Remind them that they will be the point of contact for a lot of new potential clients that may be unfamiliar with your company, and their product knowledge must be on


point. Take a features and benefits approach.

Sales Floor Selling. If your staff is used to engaging clients one on one (or on the phone), remind them that selling at a trade show is a very different beast. Instruct them that they will likely be vying for a client’s attention (quite possibly within eye or earshot of a direct competitor) and that things like professional attitude, positive body language, and eye contact are all valuable tools in engaging a client. Also, take a few minutes to review some of the questions they are likely to encounter while speaking to potential leads, and ways they can answer them earnestly and intelligently.

The Layout. While this point could certainly mean, “be sure your staff knows where the washrooms are located”, in this instance it means “know the layout of the booth”. Be sure that before the doors open that each member of your team knows where the overstock promotional items, company literature, and anything else they may need to close a sale are kept. There is nothing quite like a confused and disorganized staffer to chase away a sale.

Additionally, it would be good for your staff to know where the center’s private meeting rooms are located, should the need arise to take a client somewhere quiet to seal the deal.

Consider Hiring a Trade Show Coach

If you’re not exactly enthused at the idea of having to get your staff ready for the show, or if you simply don’t have the time, you can certainly benefit from hiring a coach. Professional trade show coaches like Susan Friedmann have carved out a niche for themselves helping companies get the most out of trade shows.

Coaches have seen what works and more importantly, what doesn’t – and have a commendable grasp on what needs to be done prior to, during, and after a show to ensure that your trade show is as profitable as it can be.

Tifany Scifo is the Creative Marketing Manager at Reveal Marketing Group Inc. She specializes in Web Design & Development, Creative Design & Direction and Tradeshows. She enjoys sharing her thoughts through blogging and social media.

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

How Little Richard Can Improve Your Tradeshow Marketing

I’ve been sitting here (and moving around a lot, actually) listening to Little Richard, and realized that a steady diet of Little Richard can help you with your tradeshow marketing. How, you say?

Let me count the ways.

  • Energy! Little Richard has more energy in a two-minute recording than virtually any other recording artist. You need energy for tradeshow marketing. Little Richard gives it to you.
  • Ready Teddy! Preparation is at the heart and soul of tradeshow excellence. Are you ready?
  • Rip it Up! Gonna rock it up, gonna rip it up, gonna shake it up. Try something different and put your heart and soul into it.
  • Jenny Jenny! Do you remember people’s names? Read their name tag, shake a hand, and say their name. It’s a great way to remember it.
  • I Got It! Take responsibility. When you see something that needs attending to – more samples, carpet sweeping, taking out the trash, greeting a visitor – simply say (and do it): I Got It!
  • Keep a Knockin’! When a visitor comes to your booth, have your questions ready. If they don’t unveil their problems or pain associated with the solution your product or service can provide, keep un-peeling the onion, as it were. Keep asking questions – keep a knockin’!
  • Kansas City / Hey-hey-hey-hey! So you’re a travelin’ guy or gal. That means many stops throughout the country (or internationally) to grab more leads and raise your brand awareness. It might mean a stop in Kansas City!

Now that you’ve picked up some tips from one of the greats, let’s take a moment and listen and watch, shall we?

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

Webinar: 27 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing

webinar keyboard

How many rules of tradeshow marketing are there really? Who knows? Pick a number!

In 2009 I wrote an e-book called “101 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing” which eventually was downloaded 5,000 or so times. A couple of years ago I revised it and put it back out there in the cloud for free.

As we’re doing a webinar-a-month this year, I wanted to revisit the concept of ‘rules of tradeshow marketing’ but didn’t feel that I could do 101 rules justice in a 45-minute webinar. Hence, the somewhat random choice of just 27 rules.

In any event, you should join us for the webinar. It’s coming up April 19th, 2016 at 9 am Pacific / 10 am Mountain / 11 am Central and noon Eastern. Sign up as usual at

And yes, at the end I’ll make sure you get your own copy of the e-book that started it all: 101 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing.

NorthWest FoodService Show [photos]


I had a chance to attend the 2016 NorthWest FoodService show in Seattle this past weekend and jumped at it. Hey, it’s a good reason to drive almost four hours one direction on a busy, rainy I-5! NWFS a regional two-day show that is aimed at the restaurant profession and is loaded with exhibitors from the food production industry (think fish and fowl, fruits and veggies and more), software support services, linen, utilities, bakery equipment and so much more. With perhaps a couple of hundred exhibitors and a few thousand attendees, it’s a much smaller show than Natural Products Expo West, although there are some companies that exhibit at both.

It’s interesting to see, as at any show, the wide range of tradeshow exhibits on display. Some companies go all out with large island exhibits (at least a few), while most are of the smaller inline variety. Some exhibitors came with a serious exhibiting attitude and others seemed like they showed up because there wasn’t a game on. Not to disparage them, but it really showed in the lack of attention to details, or even to the broad strokes of putting up a respectable exhibit.

Take a look at this photo collection and you’ll see the type of booths that were on display at the Washington Convention Center this past weekend.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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