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

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Selling in the Time of No Tradeshows or Events

The social distancing guidelines put forth due to the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut off a majority of the economy, like turning off a spigot. It would be easier to line-item the businesses that are open than those that are closed: grocery stores, drive-through coffee shops and some business offices. Ten million in the US have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks.

Ten Million.

The impact of this on the nation, on the world, is unfathomable.

I know many people who are sitting at home most of the day, binging TV shows or reading books or even playing board games or sharing music online. Others are making use of the time to learn a new skill, to tackle that novel, to write music, to create.

Others don’t know what to do.

If you’re still working, whether from home or in the office, and you have to sell to keep things going in the company, what do you do? What approach do you take?

I subscribe to several sales newsletters and thought I’d share a few thoughts. Some came from the newsletters, others from just my own experience. But here we are in a time where it’s difficult to even find someone to talk to.

First, when you call, it makes sense to ask your contact what approach their company is making. Are they putting everything on hold for the time being, awaiting the end of the social distancing and figuring they’ll kick back into action when the pandemic is over? Or are they moving forward with business as usual, as much as they can?

If it’s the former, tell them, that, ‘yeah, it’s a crazy time, I get it,’ and ask if you can send a quick email with your contact information so that when we do get back to normal they can reach back out to you. If it’s the latter, move into your typical sales questions to uncover any needs they may currently have for what you’re offering.

Seems appropriate somehow… (click to play the album!)

Another part of the equation is what you’re selling. If you’re in the restaurant supply business, chances are that your potential buyers are not even open, unless they’re doing take-out or drive-thru only. If you’re selling Personal Protective Equipment for health workers, you probably can’t keep up with the demand. It all depends on the specific products or services you’re selling.

Most people probably fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Which means you’re going to have to find a strategy that keeps at least some business coming in.

With millions stuck at home, that means people are going online to shop, they’re connecting via video meetings (Zoom is being mentioned dozens of times a day in the mainstream press!), telephone and email.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What shape is the company website it? Does it need upgrading? Can you add new products, new services and new ways for people to connect?
  • Are your social media platforms being updated frequently? With so much time on their hands, everybody is on social media.
  • Can you offer a digital version of your services? Lots of people are taking this time to create online learning classes or other ways of sharing their information.
  • Can you connect with others regularly? Sure! Some people are starting up regular Zoom meetings just to have a face-to-face connection with others outside of their home.

Bottom line: be there for clients and prospects. Don’t stop doing outreach, however that looks for you. Don’t be pushy but if you continue to think you can offer something of value, something that your clients and prospects can really use, keep doing it.

Quick Set-Up Medical Pods and Hand Sanitizer Dispensers

Here in the time of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, there is a growing need for systems that support keeping health workers healthy, keeping patients isolated and helping the average citizen clean and healthy.

Classic Exhibits, one of our main suppliers, took a close look at the current needs and with a little creativity came up with some items that look to fit the bill.

Gravitee Medical Pods

Medical pods have been set up across the country. Imagine how quickly some areas have needed them. These pods need to isolate patients and set up quickly. With Gravitee’s tool-less quick set-up, hard Sintra walls, and the fact that they ship flat, make them a good option for administrators and health professionals. Check out the information sheets here and download the PDFs below.

Hand Sanitizer Stations

You’ve seen them in grocery stores, malls, offices and more. People everywhere are concerned about their cleanliness. They’re washing their hands frequently, and when soap and water isn’t readily available, a hand sanitizer station often is just what is needed.

Download the PDFs here:

Gravitee Medical Pods #1

Gravitee Medical Pods #2

Hand Sanitizer Stations

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 30, 2020: Working From Home

Working from home isn’t as easy or as glamorous as you might think. If you ever thought it glamorous at all, right? On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I share a few tips that came from what I’ve learned by working from a home office for nearly nine years.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: counting the things that you’re grateful for.

Personal Tips for Working from Home

I’ve been fortunate enough to work from home for almost nine years. It’s not always easy. Retaining focus and momentum through the day is one of the hardest things. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

You can’t do it all on your own. Even though you work from home, presumably alone (although you may have family and kids and dogs and cats with you for the time being), there are still workers and colleagues you need. Not only to stay connected, but to communicate with regularly so you know what everyone is doing.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Having a schedule is critical. I block out various times of the day to get things done. Or make sure that on certain days, certain things get done. For instance, in normal times, I block out an hour of prospecting calls four times a week. Client calls are usually around the same time, although knowing that clients might not be as flexible, I often schedule calls early or later in the day. I write, record and produce a podcast late in the week, usually Friday although sometimes it happens on Saturday, and post it first thing on Monday. I try (and usually succeed) to write and post a new blog article on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Take a break. Snack, water, quick walk, get outside. Hey, you’re at home! You can take a few moments.

Have a start and stop time and do your best to stick to it. I realize that work-at-home schedules are fraught with influences that mean you have to be flexible. But if you have guidelines on when to start and stop, you’ll have a better time keeping on track.

Focus is also critical. If you can’t focus and find yourself getting on Twitter or Facebook, spend a moment there, then get up and leave the room. Get away from the computer. Talk with your spouse if they’re there, or a kid, or just take a break. Think about the most important thing you should do when you get back in front of the computer. Maybe even the most important two or three things, write them down, and when you sit down to work after a few moments, do those things. Put the blinders on, for at least a few moments. Some people work well with timers, shutting everything out for 20 or 30 minutes. Others don’t. Find what works best for you to keep focus, which is when you’ll likely do your best work.

Work when you’re most effective. I tend to like working best in the morning. After one or two in the afternoon, focus wanes and effectiveness drops significantly. With my wife not working now because her employer is closed due to the Coronavirus, I’m getting up a six, doing my morning Yoga routine while the coffee brews, and then work on my novel for an hour. Then I crank through the email and any immediate business items. Then it’s a shower and we walk the dog. Lately the walks have been an hour or more, getting in three or four miles. Finally, it’s back in the office for more business-related work for a couple of hours. Some people are not morning people and work better at night. Whatever works best for you is what you should try to make happen.

With the family home, communication is important. Your spouse may need to work as well, you may have kids that need hands-on attention. Or not. No matter your situation, make sure all parties are clear on your needs, and make sure you’re clear on their needs. It’s not fun to keep butting heads on schedules when a simple discussion and prioritizing of each person’s needs and desires can usually straighten things out.

With the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic, you may be working from home. But it won’t last forever. You’ll get back to the office at some point. Hopefully sooner than later. But in the meantime, get some work done. And have a little fun at the same time.

Natural Products Expo West 2020: What Might Have Been

When Natural Products Expo West was cancelled on March 2, just a couple of days before the doors were to have opened to 80,000+ attendees and 3500+ exhibitors, there was a sense of “what did we miss by not being able to exhibit, by not being able to attend?”

And it happened for everyone. Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we had several clients who had done modest upgrades to their exhibits. Upgrades that would have showed off new products, new brands, you name it.

All unseen.

But I thought they should see the light of day, so that followers could at least get an idea of what they missed. Plus, knowing that companies often change year over year, there’s a good chance that none of these exhibit revisions would be used in 2021. We worked with several other clients at the show, mainly to assist in installation and dismantle, so there was nothing new to show. I reached out to the clients involved, and many of them said, YES, please share those concepts; the artwork and revisions that we would have shown our visitors at Expo West. And one client declined to show off their new look, opting instead to save it for the future. Here’s a short video of those changes:

Check ’em all out here:

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 23, 2020: What a Year Last Week Was

We’re all dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Work, play, daily activities and more are all curtailed or affected. It seemed like last week put us on the precipice of something that we’re not quite ready for. In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I share a few observations on what I’ve seen.

Here’s the ongoing, probably mostly up-to-date database of events and tradeshows that have been cancelled or postponed: On Location

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Secret City, the Australian series starring Anna Torv of The Fringe fame.


Introducing Symphony

Every now and then a new exhibit modification comes along that sucks the air out of the room, so to speak. Gravitee, a tool-less exhibit designed and manufactured by Classic Exhibits, came along offering full-size fully-assembled panels that pull from the crate and lock together without tools. Clients love it. Show labor loves it, too, because it goes up quickly and easily.

Now we have Symphony, the first portable display to blend easy tool-less assembly with elegant design and clever accessories. Symphony can be dressed up with all kinds of add-ons and accessories, including counters, workstations, floating graphics, tablet, and monitor mounts. Additional options include wireless/wired charging pads, locking storage, brochure holders, and LED lighting.

Lots of 10x10s and 10x20s, great counters, and priced to sell and/or rent. Check out these great looks here and visit TradeshowBuy.com for the complete selection.

Download the Symphony Summary Sheet and Accessory Guide.


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 16, 2020: Coronavirus Tradeshow and Event Planning

In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I wanted to see how companies that rely on the tradeshow and event industry are doing. Friday afternoon I invited a handful of them to chime in to see how they’re working to deal with tradeshow cancellations and the upended event landscape. Guests include Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits, Marcus Vahle of Share Experience Company and Andy Saks of Spark Presentations.

Shout out and thanks to all to participated, including Stacy Barnes of Eagle Management, who also passed along her thoughts which are included in the program.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: the positive, upbeat “can-do” attitude of all that I have spoken to in the event industry, including partners, colleagues and clients, who all are working hard and planning on how to deal with the situation to make the best of it.

What do to When You Can’t Exhibit at Tradeshows

The tradeshow industry looks to be imploding, at least for the short term. Natural Products Expo West cancelled. NAB Show cancelled. HIMSS Show cancelled. SXSW cancelled. Even March Madness games will be played without an audience, if they’re played at all. I think it’ll get worse before it gets better.

You built an event calendar out for the year. You planned, you upgraded, you designed and produced new graphics, maybe you even invested in a new exhibit. But if the show doesn’t take place, how can you make the best use of your upgrades or your new graphics?

A couple of suggestions:

Put together a short video, maybe a minute or less, that you can share on social media. Explain that while you were planning to launch a new product or debut a new booth, but the show cancellation prevented you from doing so. Instead, show it off in the video. If it’s just a graphic upgrade, show those off in the video. If it’s a new exhibit, your exhibit house should have provided 3D renderings – show those off as well, and make sure to tell your clients and prospects and social media followers that you’ll be using it as soon as you’re able at the next show – whenever that is.

Use social media to launch the new products. If it’s feasible, have a little contest and give away some samples. Pick a few winners and mail them the samples.

Convene people for a Zoom virtual meeting. Maybe even make it a virtual tradeshow to where you can show off your new booth renderings – and hey, if you want to go all out and it makes sense for you and you have the room, set up the booth and use that as a backdrop for your Zoom call. Show it off!

Photo by Canva Studio from Pexels

Do one-on-one outreach to clients. Make calls, send emails. If convenient (or wise), schedule coffee or lunch. Keep in touch! Heck, schedule a Zoom call and send a coffee gift card ahead of time so they can have a fresh cup on hand! Talk to them about what you were going to do with the show.

Other promotions: create a small brochure and mail it to your clients and prospects showing off your new products that you were going to debut at the tradeshow. Have a sale. Offer free shipping. Do a BOGO sale.

Bottom Line: It looks like the frequency and functionality of tradeshows and events are going to be drastically cut for the foreseeable future. Don’t wait to figure out what you can do in place of tradeshow and events. There’s always something.


Thanks to Andy Saks of Spark Presentations for the inspiration for this blog post.

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