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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Odds and Ends I Take to Tradeshows

Everyone is different, yet everyone is the same. We all attend or exhibit at tradeshows with things we need, and if we end up there without those things, we feel like part of us is missing. Here’s a short list of things that I always take on the road to tradeshows. I mean, beyond the clothing and other stuff that ends up in a suitcase. Here are a few things I’ll have with me when I head to the show floor at Natural Products Expo West in early March:

Charging cord and plug-in adapter for my phone

iPhone 6S: holds thousands of photos and songs, not so mention show apps and a million other things.

Boosa charger: this is the best I’ve had. It holds enough juice to re-charge my iPhone 6S at least four times before it needs to be plugged in again. Great to have on the show floor.

Laptop: while I suppose I don’t really need this I’d feel lost without it. It’s a 2011 MacBook Pro that’s been upgraded a couple of times and runs like a clock. Great to offload photos, do some writing and blogging, surf the web in the Airbnb. More comfortable with this than an iPhone for handling email or writing or sharing social media.

Spare key locks for client counters: most of these counters use the same lock, and it seems that the keys can easily go missing, so I keep a few in my backpack.

Backpack: where would you be without it, right? Like a purse, only bigger and it fits easily on the back.

Reading material: often it’s a piece of fiction, but sometimes something else.

iPad Mini 2: It doesn’t get a lot of use, but on the plane I find that it’s great to pull up something from my Kindle app and read.

Allen wrench set: always handy on the show floor.

Fitbit: belt version, not a wrist wearable. Plus extra battery because of course when you’re on the road, that’s when the battery dies, right?

Business cards: more than I think I could possibly need.

Rubber bands: always need a few of these to keep the business cards from spewing all over my backpack pockets.

Cash and a couple of credit cards. I don’t carry much cash, but a little comes in handy. Most everywhere takes cards, credit or debit.

Eyeglass cleaner spray with a mini-cleaning rag

Mini-flashlight: you never know when this will come in handy.

Snacks: always!


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 17, 2020: Bob Beverly

I’ve been a reader of Bob Beverly’s The Dig weekly newsletter for years, and finally reached out to him to see if he would join me on the podcast. He warmly agreed, so here we have a fun conversation (sans video) about how to deal with “overwhelm” when planning to exhibit at or attend a tradeshow. Or frankly, whenever you are facing a lot of things that could just overwhelm you!

Bob’s Website: Find Wisdom Now

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Better Call Saul, Season Four, now on Netflix.

Reaching Other Markets via Tradeshows

One of the most valuable aspects of tradeshow marketing is the ability to reach markets you would not normally be able to reach. In fact, it’s what has helped Bob’s Red Mill grow through the years. Bob Moore, the iconic Bob of the company, recognized early that by exhibiting at regional and national tradeshows, they could get their products into markets that would otherwise be extremely difficult to crack.

Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill, with the Dixieland Band

It means going to the right shows where attendees are from companies that can ramp up distribution, that can become good partners. It means making those connections and deepening them over the years so that your products are valuable to them, and their ability to distribute into outlets that you would have a difficult time doing on an individual basis is valuable to both parties.

Yes, selling and making connections at tradeshows is important. But one of the most important things to recognize is that once you meet and acquire a partner there, part of the purpose of the show is to use it as a platform to introduce new products. Not only that, but when you’re in those longer conversations with partners, you can dig deeper into what’s important to them and their end users, the consumers. Feedback is critical not only to making sure the right products are being created and manufactured, but for keeping the lines of communication open and honest. When problems come up, if you have a good partner, the communication can be candid, and problems can be addressed. Often a tradeshow is the only face-to-face meeting that partners have each year, and the value of meeting and shaking hands and seeing people in person cannot be overstated.

Use the tradeshow as a way to find and open new markets. Keep in mind that relationships will solidify as time goes by and the face-to-face communication is an important part of those relationships. Which you get when you sit down across the table at a tradeshow.


Gearing Up for Natural Products Expo West 2020

In three weeks, Natural Products Expo West will be launching in Anaheim California. It’s a show that TradeshowGuy Exhibits is most involved with of all the shows our clients go to each year. For the past couple of months, we’ve been working with new and current clients to finalize artwork, shipping and logistic schedules and more. It’s a crazy wonderful show. I’ve met hundreds of people there over the years and gained clients with almost every appearance. And of course, I’ve met people from companies that seemed to think they’d become clients, but it never happened. Maybe next year!

Schmidt’s Natural Products

The preparation for a big show for many clients goes well beyond making sure the tradeshow exhibit is up to snuff and sporting new graphics or furniture or counters or new AV elements or lights. It’s about making sure they’re positioned right with new products and services. It’s about making connections with old colleagues and meeting new ones. It’s about seeing what your competitors are launching.

It’s also about all of the details and all the moving parts: scheduling labor, electrical, shipping, flooring, furniture, you name it. There are endless details when it comes to tradeshow marketing. Handling it each year and making adjustments at the next show to improve is not uncommon.

Bob’s Red Mill

We’ll report more from the show during and after, but if you want to see how last year went for us, well, it went pretty well. I don’t think we’ll be quite as busy this year as a few of those clients are not making changes to last year’s presentations. But yeah, we’ll be busy.

I look forward to walking the floor for a few days, seeing what people are doing, talking with exhibitors, learning their challenges. I look forward to being in warmer climes than Oregon during early March! I look forward to connecting with an old friend in LA and catching up on a spare night (there aren’t many).

Organixx

But most of all, I look forward to seeing the clients we’ve worked with, whether for decades, years, or even a few months. I look forward to seeing how all of the hard work is received. It’s great to make clients look good, not only to their immediate supervisors who may not have been intimately involved in the new exhibit or upgrades, but also the clients who come away impressed with the exhibit.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 10, 2020: John Peck

Why rent furniture for your tradeshow booth? There are many reasons on both sides of the question. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sat down with John Peck of Cort Events to talk about furniture rental – and more:

Check out the selection of rental furniture at Cort Events – and yes, if you find something you’d like, contact us. We’ve worked with Cort for years.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: James Clear’s Atomic Habits.

Profit Toolbelt Podcast Features TradeshowGuy Interview

It was a couple of months ago that we featured Dominic Rubino on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee video blog/podcast. This month the interview Dominic did with me appeared on his Profit Toolbelt Podcast, which is aimed at the ‘growth-minded contractors,’ who often end up attending or exhibiting at home shows.

Our conversation focus was on how to stand out at a Home Show. Fun conversation. Click the image below or this link and head on over to the interview.


The Pros and Cons of Giving Out Free Gifts

This is a guest post by Rodney Laws, Editor at Ecommerce Platforms.

We’re all familiar with tradeshow swag. If you’ve been through a hectic stretch of tradeshow attendance, you’ve surely lurched back to your vehicle of choice with a heavy bag of assorted items — and if you’ve ever presented at such a show, you’ve most likely opted, or been told, to hand out some products (free of charge).

It’s a long-standing staple of the industry, so you might think it’s inevitable, but you have a choice in the matter. Don’t want to offer free gifts? You don’t have to. If you’re on the fence, though, you might be looking for a nudge in one direction or the other. So what should you do? Cover your stall in tempting swag, or leave it bare and focus on the reason why you’re there?

To borrow from ecommerce parlance (it is my industry, after all), it’s like the delicate matter of landing page development: you can have a generic landing page that doesn’t impress or offend, or you can build a custom landing page that differs from the competition in ways that may delight or frustrate. Neither option is perfect. Either can go wrong.

To help you decide what’s best for you, here are the pros and cons of giving out free gifts. Consider them my gifts for you (have I tipped my hand there?).

Why you should give out free gifts

All those tradeshow presenters can’t be totally misguided in breaking out the swag bags. Here are the main reasons why you should dish out the goods:

  • They can easily be branded. You don’t need to hand out generic items that will get thrown in bags and immediately lose any association with you. If you do it well, you can give out branded gifts that get across your brand identity and possibly your brand message too (it depends on how much space you have for text and visuals).
  • Tradeshows can be dry. As much as professionals will get hyped-up ahead of a tradeshow, the energy can run out quickly if exhibits are dull and they drank too much the previous evening. But free gifts will always get attention — and even if that attention is brief, it’s better than no attention at all.
  • You can get quite creative. Pens are always useful, but you don’t need to offer pens. If you can think of something portable and not overly expensive, you can make it a free gift, and that gives you a lot of creative scope. Look at what others are doing, and come up with something different.
  • People often expect them. Unfortunately, the precedent of free gifts at tradeshows can make life hard for those exhibitors who don’t have any. It might be viewed as indicative of a lack of effort, or even a cheapness that bodes poorly.

Why you shouldn’t give out free gifts

That something is popular doesn’t mean it’s sensible. Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t give out free gifts at tradeshows:

  • The ROI might not be there. While it’s great to get plaudits for the quality of your swag, you need meaningful ROI for the process to be worthwhile. If you keep handing out products and getting less value in return than you spend on them, then you’d be better served not giving out any gifts at all. Sometimes there isn’t much point.
  • You can make it a selling point. If you just have an empty stall, no one will care, but if you make a point of your lack of free gifts — you could make it a stand against plastic use, for instance, or simply explain that your brand is so good that you don’t need gimmicks (this is itself a gimmick, of course, but don’t mention that) — then you can get the same kind of attention at no cost.

Overall, then, should you bother giving out free gifts? Well, it depends on whether you think there’s ROI to be yielded. If you can choose the gifts well and make them actionable somehow, they can prove quite fruitful. Here’s my suggestion: try to come up with a smart free gift strategy. If you devise one, use it. If you don’t, forget the gifts. Simple!

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 3, 2020: Jim Wurm

The first time I walked “backstage” at a tradeshow, I realized how nuts it really was. A thousand different things going ten thousand different ways. Thousand of exhibitors, laborers, electricians, forklift operators, scissor lift operators, and so much more are all involved in an elaborate dance that takes place over a few days until opening day when everything looks perfect. Then once the show is over the same crazy dance happens in reverse.

Most people don’t think about what goes on behind the scenes, as long as it happens and their exhibit looks great for the show. But, oh, the things that have to happen for the show to take place.

For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sat down with Jim Wurm, Executive Director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association. The EACA is the main organization that advocates for all of those behind-the-scenes companies and employers. And there are a lot of different ones. Really good conversation and yes, I learned quite a bit:

Find the EACA here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: the full Kobe Bryant tribute put on by the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night before they played the Portland Trailblazers.

Guest Appearance on Power Up For Profits Podcast

I’ve known Kathleen Gage of PowerUp for Profits for years and she recently asked me to be on her podcast. Like me, she posts both audio on her podcast page and video on her YouTube channel. Kathleen knows how to get to the center of what is helpful to listeners, and this time was no different:

If you’d like to click through to the post that is specific to this interview, click here. She has broken down the conversation into the topics we covered, including Foundation for Success, Follow Up, Make Your Booth Time Engaging, Pre-Show Marketing, Swag and more. We covered a lot of ground in a short conversation.

Visit Power Up For Profits here.

5 Must-Do’s for Successful Tradeshow Marketing

I sat down with a long-time colleague to be interviewed this week and to prepare I put a list together of the 5 must-do’s for successful tradeshow marketing. We didn’t go over the whole list because the conversation took its own path. But I thought – hey, it’s a good list! Here it is:

  1. Have an exhibit that draws people in.
    1. We could go into this in detail, but your graphics and messaging should clearly tell people at a glance:
      1. Who you are
      1. What you do
      1. What problem you solve for them
  2. Have a goal. Share that goal with your staff.
    1. Brand awareness
    1. Sales
    1. Generate leads
    1. Add distributors
    1. Reach new markets
    1. Launch new products or services
    1. Find new hires
    1. Meet current customers, partners and distributors
  3. Have a well-trained staff
    1. Your staff should know how to greet people
    1. Your staff should know the products or services
    1. Know how to gather the proper information for a good lead…which leads to…
  4. Know what a lead is…
    1. A lead is NOT a card in a fishbowl
    1. A lead is someone who qualifies
      1. They’re looking to buy what you’re selling
      1. They have a budget
      1. They know when they’re going to buy
      1. They have the power to make a decision
    1. Once a lead is qualified, the follow up is critical
  5. Follow-up:
    1. Gather the right information
      1. Name and contact
      1. When is the follow up
      1. Where is the follow up
      1. Who is doing the follow up
      1. What is the follow up: sending a brochure, sample, in-person meeting?

We did get to a few of these, and they were good talking points throughout the conversation. One she produces the interview and gives me a link, I’ll make sure to include it in a blog post soon!


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House (Free Report)

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