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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Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair: A Visit

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The recreational cannabis business is exploding. At least in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Washington, DC. Which means that the marijuana growing and selling is also booming. I attended the Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair recently to find out exactly how big it really is.

It’s big. And getting bigger. The two-day event was held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem (just a hop, skip and jump from our office!). There were roughly six dozen exhibitors, hawking things from cannabis growing containers, to business support software, makers of pot edibles, promotional items aimed at the ‘high’ market and much more. I should emphasize that no one was allowed to sell or consume any cannabis products on site. However, you could collect business cards and discount coupons for your next visit to the local marijuana dispensary.

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One representative of an industry group, the National Cannabis Industry Association, told me that the industry has seen an explosion in tradeshows. “Some are great, others not so great,” she said. When I picked up a free copy of DOPE magazine, I saw at least a dozen other shows being promoted between now and early next year, so the growth is evident.

As far as exhibits go, there were not too many that one would call sophisticated. However, that leaves room for growth, no doubt. Certainly a handful of exhibitors came prepared to show off their business in a good light. Some booths were professional, some were home-made. Most appeared to be slapped together by companies that either don’t have much of a budget or weren’t aware of what it really took to put a good booth together. Some exhibitors I spoke with were very new to exhibiting, so that makes it understandable. But with more states voting to legalize recreational use of cannabis this fall, with California squarely in that target as being not only the most populated state in the nation but with polls showing that 60% of voters in the state currently favoring legalization, the industry is poised at a tipping point to continue to boom.

Author Ed Rosenthal poses for a photo with a cannabis fair visitor.
Author Ed Rosenthal poses for a photo with a cannabis fair visitor.

 

Meduri Farms Exhibit Project

Meduri Farms 20x20 custom exhibit, seen at IFT, Chicago, July 2016
Meduri Farms 20×20 custom exhibit, seen at IFT, Chicago, July 2016

You never know exactly how new clients will find you. It could be from an introduction at a tradeshow. It might be from someone hearing a webinar that impressed them enough to make a call. It might be from an internet search or a referral. The Meduri Farms exhibit project came about thanks to an online search.

One of our most recent clients, Meduri Farms of Dallas, Oregon, found TradeshowGuy Exhibits through a Google search. Through a few months of back and forth to answer questions, the issuing of a Request for Proposals including a design from scratch, we ended up getting the project. It was awarded in March after a competition of four or five exhibit firms, and kicked off in April, finally making it’s debut in July at the Institute of Food Technologists show in Chicago at McCormick Place.

Design was by Greg Garrett Designs. Fabrication by Classic Exhibits. The 20×20 structure was a combination of original design (the tower/alcove unit and product display unit) and rental (counters). The top section of the tower features SEG fabric images up to about a 15′ height which grabs eyeballs from a distance.

The 15′ tower is 9′ x 9′ with a meeting space in the bottom. Two sides are taken up by alcoves that display products and offer plenty of storage room. The roughly 10′ counters give more product display area and more storage for the oodles of samples handed out during the show.

According to Sara Lotten, Marketing Manager for Meduri Farms, management loved the booth and the results it brought (“that’s sick!” was the comment passed along as the president first laid eyes on the booth at the show). Meduri Farms got a great number of positive comments about the booth. Comments are great, but results are more impressive.

“We got as many leads the first day with the new booth as we did all of last year’s show. We ended up with three times as many leads for the show as last year,” said Lotten.

Meduri Farms, Inc., founded in 1984 is a premier supplier of specialty dried fruits to food manufacturers around the world.

Check out our Meduri Farms photo gallery here.

Find out more about how you can get a new tradeshow booth here.

 

Tradeshows’ Long History

It is always fascinating to peer down history’s deep hole sometimes and uncover the past. Trade fairs have been around for a long time, although the modern form of B2B tradeshows for marketing didn’t appear until the late 19th century, per Wikipedia’s roundup of trade fairs. But from the beginning, tradeshows have been utilized by individuals (small Saturday markets) and companies to expand their businesses and reach markets they would not otherwise easily tap into.

Exhibitor Magazine detailed 10 ideas that changed the tradeshow industry, including moving spectacles inside, counting things (metrics), increasing regulations, portable exhibits and tension fabric. Oh, and don’t forget the donkey doo-doo.

1982 Consumer Electronics Show, Photo by Alan Light
1982 Consumer Electronics Show, Photo by Alan Light

In the olden days, trade fairs were popular as ancient bazaars in old Egypt, and were also used extensively throughout Europe and America starting in the 1700s.

World’s Fairs started over a century and a half ago with what is considered the first large-scale world’s fair, known as the Great Exhibition in the Works of Industry of All Nations. Since that time, the world’s fair expositions have gone through a number of phases, including industrialization, cultural exchange and nation building.

Here in the northwest, we remember two very large world expos, including the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition held in Portland (okay – before my time, but I heard about it when I was growing up!), and the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 which was the unveiling of the Space Needle. The Lewis and Clark Expo saw 1.6 million visitors in just over four months. Ten million people visited the 1962 World’s Fair, which included my older brother (I was too young, I guess).

Thought it might be fun to shed a little light on where this industry started. Now what’s your next step to bring more people to your booth?

Using Webinars to Promote Your Tradeshow Appearance [Webinar Replay]

There are many ways to let people know about your upcoming tradeshow appearance. You can email them, call them, advertise, get some press, and so on. Have you ever considered using a webinar to promote your upcoming tradeshow appearance?

Using a webinar to promote your tradeshow appearance does a couple of things: it sets you apart from your competitors who are not doing such a thing, and it allows you as much time as you’d like to point out the specific features and benefits of your products and services. If you tell them enough – but not too much – you’ll have people who coming to your booth who are already interested in seeing more about what you talked about during the webinar. In fact, you can let people in on some inside information in your webinar that you may not want to tell everyone at the show.

Definitely lots of possibilities with this marketing tactic. Take a look:


Sign up for our next tradeshow webinar here.

Tradeshow Logistics [Webinar Replay]

Last week I sat in with the good folks at Handshake.com and offered a look at Tradeshow Logistics: Getting Your Ducks in a Row. It’s a part of tradeshow marketing that is critical, but tends to be set aside in favor of things such as pre-show marketing, staff training, lead generation and so on.

In this webinar, we covered a lot of pertinent things, such as shipping, booth upgrades and graphic changes, the logistics of lead generation and getting them back to your sales team and more. Thanks to Handshake.com for offering to have me host another webinar with them!

Take a look:

Tradeshow Logistics Webinar with handshake.com

How to Know When it’s Time for a New Tradeshow Booth [Video]

Some companies upgrade their large island booths every year. Must be nice to have that budget!

Other companies hang on to their old ten-foot inline booth for a decade or more because ‘hey, it still looks good and we can still set it up! Why change?”

Why change, indeed? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!

On the other hand, there are any number of reasons you might consider replacing, or at least upgrading, your old booth. In this short video, we look at some of those reasons:

Need a new booth?

Tradeshows: A Mountain of Responsibilities

You may have done tradeshows for years, or maybe you’re just getting started. In any event, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of one of the key understandings of doing tradeshows: It’s a mountain of responsibilities.

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If you’re the one who’s tasked with getting the booth from Point A to Point Z (and back), knowing what you’re getting into is almost as important as the series of tasks you’re facing.

Having stated that, it doesn’t mean that you should be overwhelmed by the mountain of responsibilities. In fact, if you take a closer look at all of those tasks and responsibilities, you can make it much more manageable, by putting it all in context.

  1. Make a list. Before you can climb a mountain, know the steps.
  2. Build a timeline. Now that you have a list of tasks, determine when they each need to be done. Some should be done right away, others are more appropriate right before the show.
  3. Delegate. If you’re in charge, determine which of the tasks you can farm out to other people on the marketing team. Certainly, some items such as graphic design and scheduling travel may go to other people. You may choose to take care of some tasks and delegate others. When you delegate, be clear on the task and when you want it done. Build your schedule around your communication with those people and tasks.
  4. Keep records. I emphasized this in my book Tradeshow Marketing because I think detailed records will serve you well in many more ways than you can imagine. Document everything.
  5. Keep learning. Young dogs can learn new tricks. So can old dogs. No matter where you are in your career arc, keep an open mind and realize you can find new and more efficient ways to do something. Keep your eyes open for new technology, keep connecting with good people and stay optimistic. You’ll do fine.

 

How to Issue an RFP for a Tradeshow Booth Project [Video]

You want a new tradeshow booth, but perhaps you don’t know exactly where to start.

You might consider issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a select group of exhibit houses. This gives you an organized process to judge which exhibit consultant might be the best fit for your company and your project.

Here’s a quick video that examines what it takes to issue an RFP:

Need a quote on a project?

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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