Tradeshow Sales Trainer Andy Saks of Spark Presentations spent 30 minutes with me this week to discuss engagement at tradeshows. We called the webinar “Make Yourself Memorable: How to Attract and Qualify Tradeshow Attendees.” Andy is great at showing how important it is (and offers a handful of tips) to properly engage folks at tradeshows so you don’t miss out on opportunities.
This is a guest article by Blair Pettrey of MeetingPlay.
1.) Do One Task at a Time!
You have heard of multitasking, but have you heard of solo-tasking? Instead of trying to accomplish multiple items at once, put your full focus and attention into accomplishing one task at a time. Research shows that solo-tasking can not only result in better task efficiency and results, it can also help you get more done! (Bonus, it can even make you happier!)
2.) Prepare in Advance
Odds are, you have an annual calendar in your office, showing all of your trade shows for the year. But do you have an individual calendar for every single trade show? Having an annual calendar for each of your trade shows – with what exactly needs to be done and by what date, helps keep you on track. An easy (and economical way to do this?
Use Google calendar – set up each trade show to be a specific color- and set up every single task that you need to do for each trade show, by when, with reminders and alerts (which can also be set up in Google calendar!)
3.) Remove the Distractions
We fail to realize how easily distracted we are – until it is too late. Whether it’s the frequent notifications buzzing from your phone, the email notices showing up on your monitor, or the latest news update blaring through your television. Turn off the interruptions and focus on the task (that solo task!) at hand. You will be far more efficient– and accomplish more by being able to give your full attention.
4.) Track Your Time
If you know you only have 30 minutes to type up your next proposal, or only 15 minutes to send out an email to a potential sponsor for your trade show, commit to that amount of time and get the endeavor done. A great “pressure” is to know if your laptop only has 30 minutes of battery left, it is a perfect time to pump out that 30 minute task
5.) Utilize Chrome Extensions
If you know that you are easily distracted with growing vegetables on Farmville, or by browsing your favorite fashionista dog page on Facebook – Google Chrome (and Firefox) have multiple extensions you can install to restrict the amount of time you can spend on pages you pre-define.
Our favorite? StayFocused (for Google Chrome).
6.) Consider Outsourcing
Whether you choose Upwork or Elance or Fiverr there are several websites that have professionals who can do exactly what you are in need of – whether it is producing a video, publishing a blog post, or delivering an automated report – these freelance professionals can do it all. Just make sure you are employing someone whose first language is yours. Even though your primary language may cost a bit more – the peace of mind of knowing someone says (for example) “Trade Show Booth Design” vs. “Trade Show Designs Booths” is worth the price difference, all while still saving you critical time, at a small fraction of the cost of your worth.
By implementing these tips and suggestions trade show professionals can maximize their time, accomplish more tasks, and open up time and opportunity for further success!
Author: Blair Pettrey is the Senior Marketing Manager at MeetingPlay – a mobile event app. With over 10 years of experience in all areas of online marketing, she is committed to ‘paying it forward’ for trade show and event professionals through resourceful marketing tips and content.
Event planning is no easy task, but it’s a vital part of marketers’ jobs. Companies spend about 20 percent of their budgets on marketing for events. Plus, 67 percent of business-to-business marketers find marketing at events as one of the most effective ways to meet future clients and customers. This is your opportunity to shine as a brand at the exact moment customers are most open to new relationships and budget allocation for upcoming initiatives. Don’t let that opportunity slip away by making these easily avoidable mistakes.
Mistake #1 Being Invisible
Blending into the background is never a good idea. The whole point of attending events is to advertise, so standing out is a must. With so many others at your events, get creative to draw some attention to your booth. Don’t just show up with a white tent. Make sure to invest in one that has your logo. You can also consider adding giveaways or games to your booth to make it more interesting. Even a little music can go a long way. Finally, make sure to bring business cards so that it’s easy to swap contact information and follow through on next steps.
Mistake #2 Sending the Wrong People
Your staff represents you and your company so send team members who really know what they’re talking about, and that you would feel comfortable speaking to your best clients. If you send people who can’t speak to your brand or products, your company may appear incompetent and could hurt your image.
Mistake #3 Poor Location
It’s your job to select the perfect spot for your event. Locations depend on the nature of the gathering — you probably wouldn’t choose a small, quiet cafe for a big tech conference. The easiest way to avoid this? Aim for high-traffic areas. Put your booth near anything that could end up with a long line. You can feed off the success of free booze bars, or big swag giveaways, and infiltrate those lines to strike up conversations with everyone.
Mistake #4 Difficult Booth Setup
There’s nothing worse than having to rush through setting up a complicated booth. The simplest solution is to look into easy-up tents. Custom outdoor event tents, or even custom canopy tents for indoors, are a great answer. Not only will this take some stress out of the event, but you’ll have greater visibility with custom printed graphics.
Mistake #5 Ignoring Social Media
Social media has become vital: Eighty-four percent of event organizers promote their events on Facebook, and 61 percent use Twitter. Don’t think that because you’re attending in person, you can bypass social media. Instead, design a custom hashtag and encourage booth visitors to use it. Many events promote their own hashtags that can help advertise your tent and company. Posting photos of your booth/tent and posing for photos with other social media active attendees will give you a deeper reach into the community, so don’t be shy. Be the life of the party online and off.
Mistake #6 Underestimating Costs
Events are expensive, and not allowing wiggle room in your budget is a vital mistake. Maybe there’s an entry fee you didn’t know about, or one of your props breaks and needs replacing. Fact is, you can always have to expect the unexpected so be prepared to spend more than you planned. Plus, with event costs increasing by between 2.5 and 5 percent each year, this year’s booth will likely cost a little more than last year’s.
Mistake #7 Not Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Because 44 percent of attendees use their phones at events, it’s vital to have a mobile-friendly website. That means moving away from tiny font and photos, aiming for data that is visible, and clickable, on a Smartphone. Chances are that your booth visitors will be looking at your website to view your product line, but if your website is not mobile- friendly, you could end up losing out on sales. This is a risk, you do not want to take and must avoid at all cost.
Mistake #8 Leaving the Booth Unattended
You went through all the trouble of signing up, paying for, travelling to, setting up, and planning your day around manning the booth …. Why are you wandering around and abandoning your booth? What if you walked into Starbucks and no one was behind the counter? What if you went into Best Buy and there were no nerds in blue shirts around to help you find the giant TV you probably don’t need? Event booths are useless without you at the help.
Mistake #9 Paying Full Registration Price
Event registrations take up a big chunk of cash. But because nearly 65 percent of event planners believe early-bird discounts are a great way to promote events, by thinking ahead you can find discounted prices, leaving extra room in your budget for an outstanding booth.
Mistake #10 Forget to Follow-Through
Attending the event is only the beginning of a marketer’s work. After meeting potential customers or clients at an event, it is vital to gather their contact information. Business cards are ideal — hand out your own, too. Follow up within a week after the event, so you and your company are still fresh in their minds.
By avoiding these mistakes, your event is sure to go off without a hitch. Taking these steps can help you stand out in a large crowd of other businesses and attract more attention and new clients and customers. Avoiding these common mistakes can do wonders for your company.
Author: Miriam Couturie is the Marketing Manager at Ins’Tent Industries. She is responsible for managing the marketing department along with all tradeshows and exhibitions. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise through educational content and blog posts
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, it’s a crazy idea. Why in the world would the Beatles in their heyday, ever consider exhibiting at tradeshows? They already owned the music world. What could be gained from setting up a booth?
But let’s consider. Say their manager, Brian Epstein, convinced them they should show up at a booth pushing their products in 1965 at NAMM (I have no idea if NAMM actually had a show in 1965).
Brian: All right, boys. I’ve got you booked at NAMM.
Ringo: What’s NAMM?
John: Must be a bird with the gift of gob.
Paul: A Winglish man from the motor trade?
George: I humbly withdraw from this conversation.
RIngo: But George, you’ve only just begun. (aside: Hey, that’s not a bad song title).
George: I must tune my sitar, which will take me until October.
Brian: Boys, boys! The NAMM is a great historical foundation called National Association of Music Merchants, founded in 1901.
John: Righto! Before the history of music began. Except for me grand-father, singing on the canoes of Greenland (that’s where we turned left to find America). O, solo mio… (singing off mic)
Brian: In any case, if we appear we can help promote our albums.
Ringo: But we’re too busy making albums to promote them.
Paul: True, true. Just yesterday you told me you needed me to write 14 songs by Tuesday.
John: We’ve only written thirty-eight, so we have to throw out a couple of dozen to get anything good.
Brian: If you were to attend the show, you could not only play all of the latest and greatest musical gear –
Brian: – you could have a jam session with some of the best musicians in the world. They all attend NAMM.
Silence. They all look around. No one says a thing.
Finally, John breaks the silence.
John: You seem to have unnerved us, Brian. Perhaps we can groan a bit at your suggestion and in your direction.
(all groan:) Oh, oh, oh, oh….
Brian: But if you have your own tradeshow booth, imagine what it might look like.
Paul: Lots of colors: black white green red pink brown yellow orange and blue…
Ringo: Let’s put a submarine in it!
John: Cap’n, cap’n!
George: Or we could hand out samples of truffles.
Paul: I’m hungry.
John: I want you.
Ringo: That’s so heavy.
Brian: So, it’s settled. A submarine with truffle samples, with all the colors of the rainbow.
John: That is heavy.
Brian: I’ll call the accountant and have the agency book our tickets.
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:
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.
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.
You’re thinking only of the logistics of a show and not the strategy of how the show plays into your overall marketing approach.
Your staff is unprepared for the chaos of a tradeshow floor and the long hours and hard work it takes to pull it off.
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.
Your booth does not accurately represent your brand and the graphic messaging is cluttered and/or unclear.
You don’t have a lead management system in place that all participants understand and know how to use.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.