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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Figuring Out Your Tradeshow Marketing Goals

You might think it’s easy enough to determine your tradeshow marketing goals. Just sell sell sell – increase your business and you’ve done the job, right? But in fact, it’s not be as cut and dried as you might think.

tradeshow marketing goals

Every show is different, and your goals may vary significantly from show to show. And some goals are very specific while some are broader.

Some common goals might include:

  • Generate leads
  • Make sales
  • Adding distributors
  • Reaching new markets
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Build brand awareness
  • Meet current customers, partners or distributors
  • Find new hires

All of these are laudable, and all are doable. But doing them all at the same show is probably asking a lot, unless you have a thorough plan and the personnel to execute the plan. Even if you’re going to attempt to check them all off at a single show, it’s better to prioritize.

You may know your goals going into a show, but it’s still a great exercise to sit down with your team, especially if you have new members, and identify and clarify those goals. Tradeshow marketing is a significant part of a company’s marketing budget and those dollars should be spent wisely.

During your discussion, break down the various parts of the goals, figure out what steps are needed element, and assign those pieces to team members. It may mean coming up with some premium giveaways for current customers to show them you care, to determining how many samples are needed for giveaway; from knowing what your competitors are doing to having a good preshow marketing outreach to get the right people to your booth for the right reason.

Brand building and tradeshow execution means brand consistency throughout your various platforms. Plug any holes and iron out any deficiencies.

Once you have your specific set of prioritized goals, communicate that to your team so they understand the show’s specific objectives and how they tie in with the company’s overall marketing strategy. Goal setting isn’t hard – it just takes some time and thought.

Finally keep in mind, a goal should follow the S.M.A.R.T. plan to be effective. In other words, Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and meet a Timeline.

Tradeshow Shipping: What are Your Options?

tradeshow shipping

When it comes to tradeshow shipping, you certainly have options. And, like all of the aspects of tradeshow marketing, there are many moving parts. No pun intended.

For shipping, to make it easy, rely on great tips from the Freight Pros, who remind you that it all starts with the BOL (Bill of Lading). Article author Logan Theissen discusses other items such as freight class, freight carrier, delivery windows and the dicey ways of getting in and out of busy tradeshow shipping docks.

Shipping in advance to the show warehouse is more economical than shipping direct to the show, but it does mean that you’ll need to ship a week or more sooner than you would when shipping direct to the show. Shipping direct is more of a juggling act, as you have to find a shipper that can deliver at a specified time to a specified location. If you are shipping smaller items, such as product samples or replacement graphics, shipping to yourself or another employee at your hotel may be a good option, so that you can simply carry the items onto the show floor.

Another few tips courtesy of My Display Source: always keep records – tracking numbers, phone numbers of shippers and contacts, BOLs, etc. Take photos of all of the paperwork at the show. And if something shows up damaged, photos are a necessity. Before you go to the show, know what is shipping back and how, and what, if anything, is to be discarded. And don’t make the mistake of shipping items to the show that you won’t use. You’re paying for it, make sure you don’t ship extraneous items.

What about another aspect of shipping, such as the choice between a large custom wooden crate, or smaller molded plastic shipping cases? Many clients we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have exhibits that are of a size (10×10, 10×20) that frankly could go either way. A modest 10×10 can be shipped in a custom-jigged, padded wooden crate. Exhibits last a long time when shipped with that kind of protection. But the same 10×10 that ships in a single custom crate may take three, four, or even five roto-molded plastic cases.

There is a huge variety of cases and crates to choose from, and it’s an important thing to consider when purchasing a new exhibit. Some clients like to have a custom crate, and have additional space built in so that they can include sample products and other essential items for your tradeshow tool kit.

Some clients prefer not to have to deal with freight companies or shipping docks and fork lifts, and opt for the smaller plastic cases. Some cases double as counters and can be branded or modified with printed wraps as well.

When making that choice between cases or crates, talk to your exhibit house. Do they provide custom-cut die-cut foam packaging to protect all pieces during shipping, or do they just wrap things in plastic or bubble wrap and toss it into the case? It makes a difference, so be sure to ask!

For a closer look at a few of the various types of shipping containers, browse this gallery:

 

 

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 16, 2018: John-Paull Davidson of Boothster

What makes a good sustainable exhibit? I caught up with John-Paull Davidson of Boothster out of Portland, Oregon on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee to take a look at what kind of work his company does for exhibitors who place a high value on using sustainable materials.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Star Trek – the Original Series.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – 2018 Q1

tradeshowguy monday morning coffee

Thought I’d take a look back at all of the guests that I’ve had on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee since the turn of the year calendar in January. It’s been quite a few in three months, and I’ve enjoyed sharing these conversations with you (all links open up new tabs). Have you heard/seen all of these?

January 8: Charles Pappas. Charles discusses his new book “Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs and Robot Overlords.”

January 15: Steve Miller. His new book “Uncopyable” is the topic of discussion.

January 22: Jim Palmer. Another fun interview with a fun guy. Business-builder and marketing coach with a lot of great ideas.

January 29: Anders Boulanger: Anders is a professional presenter and helps clients bring in more leads through his company The Infotainers.

February 5: Stephan Murtagh:  Known in his native Dublin at The Exhibition Guy, a natural counterpart to TradeshowGuy.

February 12: Vikram Rajan of Phoneblogger.net discusses how he uses tradeshows and conferences to build his business and brand.

February 19: Ruth Railer, CTSM Silver Level. Business developer, Tradeshow Specialist, Booth Staff Educator. Yes, she knows her stuff!

February 26: Eric Rosenberg. Eric used his appearances at events, tradeshows and conferences to help build his successful blogging career in the personal finance industry.

March 5: Leslie Ungar. President of Electric Impulse. Leslie shared a lot of great ideas here.

March 12: David Feinman of Viral Ideas Marketing talks about using video on social media.

March 19: Nicky Omohundro of Little Family Adventures discusses her experiences as an official blogger at Natural Products Expo West.

March 26: Shep Hyken. As Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations, Shep’s been working with companies such as AT&T, Disney, Lexus and Merrill Lynch on customer engagement.

These guests have all been great fun, entertaining and educational – and thanks to all of them! I look forward to speaking with many more people later this year on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee! Subscribe to the audio podcast here.

Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies Are ON THE WAY!

The release date of May 1, 2018 has been set for my new book, Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies: 66 Lists Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Marketing. The print proof copy just came in and it looks great, and heck, I can’t even find any major errors in it! Thanks to all who helped, from Jesse Stark who did the illustrations, to Mel White at Classic Exhibits (and his wife Mary) who went through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, to the great team at CreateSpace who are always on top of their game and to all else who lent support and good words (Ken, Andy and Anders, I’m thinking of you! And Roger too!).

So what’s in the book?

Lists. A lot of them. 66 lists, in fact. Corralled in chapters such as Budgeting, Buying an Exhibit, Preshow Marketing, Postshow Follow Up and more, it’s a compilation of a lot of the lists that have appeared on this very blog since 2008. Not all of them, though. Some were outdated. Most have been revised and updated. The people I’ve shared the manuscript with have told me that it’s a fun and quick read, with lots of different topics and lists that can be digested deeply, or skimmed to pick up a tip or two or three.

I’ll be creating a Thunderclap promotion to release on May 1, so watch your social media outlets for that. And if you subscribe to my Tradeshow Superheroes book update list or the TradeshowGuy Newsletter, you’ll learn how to get involved in that little thing.

All in all, I’m excited! Damn! A new book!

Now I get to start figuring out what the next one should be…

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 9, 2018: Nick McCallion

How do you get people to attend shows? And once they attend, what’s the best strategy to keep them coming? That’s the topic and TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson and Trade Show Ready’s Nick McCallion tackle in this wide-ranging interview. Plus: Tradeshow Tip of the Week and ONE GOOD THING!

 

ONE GOOD THING: Seth Godin’s podcast AKIMBO.

Inside Game of Tradeshow Marketing Success

Is there an inside game of tradeshow marketing success? Hey, it could be just a catch phrase designed to get you read.

But let’s explore for a moment.

If you’re a baseball fan, you might be familiar with the phrase “inside baseball.” It’s a term used mostly in the United States, that refers to detailed knowledge about a subject that outsiders are usually not privy to. Deep knowledge about any subject down to the minutiae often means that unless you have spent years doing whatever it is, you are not going to understand a lot of the talk. Hence, “inside baseball.”

Even though the term was around since the 19th century, by the mid-1950s the term was being used outside of baseball, particularly it was used in politics. To use the term in another field, such as business, technology or science is not unusual.

In using the term as applied to tradeshow marketing, let’s think about what that means.

  • Knowledge. You have the knowledge of what it takes to go from Point A to Point Z with all of the twists and turns.
  • Discipline. Not only do you have the knowledge, you have the discipline that it takes in the event industry to organize all of those moving parts in a coherent and effective way.
  • Skill. Skill comes with doing something over and over again, learning what works and what doesn’t, ironing out the rough spots and then learning some more so that you know what to expect, you know how to deal with issues as they come up because – hey! – they’re not that much of a surprise.
  • Networking. The event industry – like most industries – is a people industry. People make it run. People know how things work. People ask for and offer help. And face it – the events / tradeshow / exhibiting industry is built on getting far-flung people together under one roof face-to-face to do business. Networking skills are at their highest level and their most useful in this industry.

Inside baseball means you know why a pitcher is throwing a curve ball when the count is 3 and 2. You know that between pitches, players and coaches communicate strategy by pulling on an earlobe, brushing their thigh or arm, and of course keeping an eye on the opposing team’s silent communication to try and suss out the essence of the message.

Inside tradeshow marketing has to do with, for example, knowing how to position your brand in the marketplace, how to talk to booth visitors, when to book travel and hotel rooms, what restaurants are the best near any given conference venue, how to take advantage of those three or four days when the exhibit is set up in a competitive marketplace where thousands of potential clients are roaming the aisles. Having the right graphics and messaging can mean the difference between 250 and 350 leads. Having a booth staff that knows how to ask the right questions of visitors can mean the difference between and ROI of 10% and 100%. It all makes a difference.

And if you’ve done this for years, you know what works and what doesn’t. You know what companies are putting up a great exhibit and have a fantastically enthusiastic and well-trained staff and which competitors are just showing up because they think they should.

If you know all of that stuff, you know inside baseball. In the tradeshow world.


Photo used by permission. By own work – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.  Creative Commons License.

 

Empathy as a Marketing Tool

Selling anything, whether in a clothing store, a car dealer showroom, or a tradeshow, means in some sense you have to understand your buyer. You must have empathy for what they’re going through or the sale will be much more difficult.

Empathy Marketing

When you put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyer, you feel what they feel. You understand what they understand. You know what problems they are facing. You know what it would feel like to have a solution to the problem that your product or service would provide. You must know what makes them feel good, what makes them feel hurt.

Your marketing strategy should include efforts to understand those potential clients or customers. Ask yourself these questions:

Do you really understand how they feel prior to learning about your product or service?

What is the perspective of your customer in regard to your product or service?

How do your prospects view the world?

What challenges do they face?

How do they view companies such as yours?

There are other related questions that will come up, but the goal is to see the world from their perspective as best as you can. The more you’re able to do this – and the better you’re able to communicate that understanding back to them – the higher your chances of converting them from a prospect to a client.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 2, 2018: Briana Belden

Briana Belden, Brand Manager of Wedderspoon Manuka Honey, joins the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee for a discussion about how they approach tradeshow marketing: preshow outreach, what happens during the show, follow up, branding and more:

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING: SPRING!

Getting the Color Right on Your Tradeshow Graphics

When I first got into the tradeshow world around the turn of the century (!), an issue that kept coming up time and time again was the color of tradeshow graphics.

There are a number of problems that come up with printing graphics with accurate color.

tradeshow graphic color

First, since we printed everything in-house at that point, we needed to make sure that the printer’s output was consistent with what was called for. A graphic designer will usually spec a PMS color (Pantone Matching System), which is a proprietary color space that identifies exact shades. That meant regular testing of the system to make sure that the color matched.

The inks in the printer must be of high quality so that when the computer that is used to process the print calls on the right combination of the various ink tanks.

Next, you have the computer monitor. Many clients would look at something on their monitor and think it looked exactly how they wanted it. Trouble it, monitors differ in their output as well. So, what you see on your monitor in your office may not be what I see on my monitor.

Don’t forget about the substrate you’re printing on. Whether it’s fabric or paper, simply by changing the source of paper from one package to another may bring a subtle difference. It’s the same with carpet dye. One dye lot may be slightly different from another, and if you try to match a new printed piece with an older printed piece, chances are good it won’t exactly match.

Then there’s the human factor. We all see colors differently, and usually the person operating the printers have a good eye for colors.

So how to address this? If you are trying to match a PMS Pantone color exactly, the best thing is to provide a paper-printed color sample that you like. For example, if you have a brochure or other printed piece that is exactly what you want, color-wise, make sure your printing vendor has that. If they have that piece in hand, chances are very high they can make adjustments in their process to create a printed tradeshow graphic that matches your desired color.

But understand that there a lot of variable! The technology has generally made it easier to color-match, but it’s not always guaranteed. Just work with your exhibit house or print shop if color-matching is important.

Speaking of colors, did you hear about the chemist that accidentally discovered a new blue a couple of years ago?

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