When I started looking through the analytics to determine the top ten 2018 TradeshowGuy blog posts, I faced somewhat of a dilemma. Many of the “most-viewed” posts of the year are not from 2018. Do I include those or not? Perhaps the best approach is to create two lists: one that includes the most-viewed, and the other narrows the list down to the most-viewed 2018-published blog posts.
Take a look – starting at Number One:
SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. This was posted in February of 2015, but still manages to get more traffic than any other post. And interestingly, more than half of those visits come from out of the US.
Most companies we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits work
with one exhibit house for several years, and the urge to change doesn’t come
around much. Maybe you’ve been comfortable or years, but something changes.
Could be minor, could be major. But it does happen. People change, goals
change, situations change. Changing vendors can be challenging and pose a set
of challenges. Lots of people are uncomfortable with change and prefer to stick
with something even though it’s a good idea to at least look around.
When doing your evaluation, look at all options. One option
might mean staying with your current vendor. But when evaluating, make one list
with those that are considered competent service providers and those that might
be looked at as critical partners.
What reasons might you have – valid reasons – for shopping
around for another exhibit house? Let’s take a look at some things that might
Your needs and goals have
changed. It may be that you’re working with an exhibit house that excels in
smaller exhibits, such as inline modular booths, but you want something custom.
Turns out that your current vendor may be able to do what you want, but it’s a
stretch. Or perhaps you want more, such as a coordinated tradeshow marketing
strategy with planning and execution, and all your current vendor does is
design and fabricate exhibits.
Their designers aren’t
thinking out of the box like you’d like. Exhibits can get really wild and
weird, believe me. I’m sure you’ve seen them! But if the exhibit house you
currently work with has a group of in-house designers that seem to stick with
the tried-and-true, and never really show you something wacky, it might be time
to find another designer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to move on from
the same fabricator, it may just mean bringing in an outside designer.
Communication. Do you hear from your exhibit house only when you reach out
to them for something? Or do they stay in communication frequently even though
a show is not currently pending?
Problems with Delivery.
In the tradeshow world, deadlines run the show. Does your exhibit house meet
deadlines without breaking a sweat, or do you feel that they’re struggling –
which means you’re anxious much of the time? The most reliable vendors can hit
a bump in the road on occasion, but if that happens do they communicate that to
you? Or is the failure to deliver consistently a trend in the wrong direction?
They take you for
granted. Big exhibit houses are equipped to handle everything from small
in-lines to gigantic island booths that spill out of a show’s floor, it seems.
If you’re one of their small customers, it may be that they just assume you’re
well-taken care of without really checking. Sometimes a lack of communication
tells you that they have other priorities.
Poor Service. If
a company really wants and values your business, you’ll see it in their service.
There shouldn’t be invoice errors, lack of attention to detail, slow response
The person that’s
handled your account has moved on. The new person doesn’t really “get” you.
It may mean that you have to work to get to know them better. But as the
account manager, that falls more heavily on them to retain the business than it
does on you.
This could be anything (politics, religion, brusqueness, and so on). It may not
mean it’s time to move on. It may just mean you need to deal with another
person at the company.
Pricing. Not only
what is the price, but what are you getting for the money? Some vendors are
great at providing a basic service at a good price. Others may be more skilled
with more resources who can creatively collaborate, but that may come at a cost
you’re not quite ready for. An unexpected price increase may also spur a change.
Price increase happen, everyone does it over time. But if a price increase is
coming on things that you normally purchase from your exhibit house (graphics,
labor for repairs and upgrades, etc.) and you aren’t informed ahead of time,
that is not good business.
not as big a deal if you’re not actually working for a company, when it would
be a really big deal. But sometimes that culture doesn’t transfer well and if
it makes everyone uncomfortable and awkward, it might be time to move on.
There are a lot of reasons that companies are not a good
fit. And there’s no wrong answers. There are a lot of exhibit houses out there
vying for your business. We hate to turn business down, but it happens because for
whatever reason, it’s not a good fit.
On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Nathan Grepke, President of Blue Pony, joins me to go over some of the latest technology and some of the things they’re up to in video production, presentation and mogician. Yup, mogician. Just take a look / listen:
You might think that when I mention “tradeshow awareness” that I’m thinking of how you make visitors aware of your tradeshow booth, so you can draw people in. Sure, that’s important, but that’s not what I’m getting at here.
Let’s look at the other side: the awareness you as a tradeshow exhibitor has. What do I mean?
There are a number of things that, if you’re aware of, can help increase your success.
Let’s give an example that’s not related to tradeshows. For example, let’s say you want to lose 10 or 15 pounds. Not an unreasonable goal, right? But how does awareness come into play and how does it affect your efforts to lose that weight?
The most obvious way is to be aware of how much we’re eating and how much we’re exercising. And thankfully in today’s digital world, there are a lot of apps that can help you be more aware. One app I’ve used, Lose It!, lets you track calorie consumption, water consumption, and your daily exercise habits. After using it for over a year, not only did I lose the 15-20 pounds I was aiming for, but I realized that the very fact of being aware of my calorie intake and my exercise habits was a big contributor to the success of reaching my goal.
When you eat a cookie, let’s say, if you want to track the calories, you have to know how many calories it contains. Which means you have to look it up. If it’s a package of store-bought cookies, as opposed to home-cooked, the calories per cookie are listed on the package. If a cookie is 150 calories, log it when you eat it.
Same with breakfast, lunch, dinner and any other snacks you have. Once you’ve inputted your data (age, weight, sex, goals, etc.) the app calculates a daily calorie regimen. Stay under the daily allowance, and you’re likely to see your weight slowly drop. Go over the allowance consistently, and you won’t! Easy enough, right?
Then when you exercise, such as take a bike ride or go for a walk, enter that data, and the app calculates the amount of calories you’ve burned. Which means you can either increase your calorie intake or not. You get a visual reminder of everything. It works great.
But the key is awareness. If you weren’t aware of how many calories that cookie contains, you might not care. But now that you’re aware, you realize that each and every bite you take adds to your calorie count. Given that an adult needs approximately 2000 calories a day to maintain an even weight, it’s easy to go over that amount if you don’t count calories. If you’re not AWARE.
How does awareness play into your tradeshow success? Same principle. If you’re not aware of certain things, you won’t be impacted. If you are aware, the simple fact of being aware can likely make a positive impact.
What to Be Aware Of
What things are important to be aware of on the tradeshow floor?
Traffic: I would wager that most people don’t count the number of visitors in the booth at any given tradeshow. They may have a sense that the visitor count in their booth goes up or down year over year, but without an actual count, it’s just a feeling, and not actual data. Imagine if you could know exactly, or within a reasonable number, how many people visit your booth per day, or per hour, or per show.
Engagement: this might be a metric that is a little harder to measure, but if you are aware of what a good engagement with a visitor is, and you work to create better engagement through staff training, demonstrations or sampling, you’ll have a good idea of what outcomes those engagements lead to. Remember, you can’t control the outcomes, but you can control the behaviors that lead to outcomes. If your lack of engagement with visitors keeps your lead generation and engagement low, figure out what it takes to increase visitor engagement.
Leads: lead count is important. But so is the quality of leads. If you collect 300 leads at a show, but haven’t graded them as to hot, warm or cool, your follow-up will not be as good. But if out of those 300 leads, you know that 75 are HOT and need to be called within two days of returning from the show, and that 155 are warm and should be followed up within three weeks, and that the final 70 are COOL and need only be put on a tickler file or an email-later list, then the follow-up is going to be more consistent and likely more fruitful.
Booth staff: if you have a booth staff that is trained on how to interact with visitors, and how to be more aware of who’s in the booth, your results can only improve. Booth staff training is one of the key factors to success. Do you have a booth staff that is aware of what they need to do, how they need to do it and, how to engage with visitors?
Competition: awareness of competition may seem secondary to your company’s immediate success at any given tradeshow. But look at it this way: you have a lot of competitors at a show. The more aware of who they are, how they present themselves, what products they have (what’s new and what’s not) and the way those products are branded, the more well-informed you’ll be about the state of your competition. In a sense it can be a bit of a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) from the floor of a tradeshow. If you’re good at gabbing, you can pick up all sorts of insights about competitors: personnel changes, strength of company, management moves, new products and so on. After all, every exhibitor is showing off their best and latest, and if you’re not aware of your competition, don’t you think its time you paid more attention?
Finally, awareness of how your actual exhibit looks compared to your competition. Gotta say it: everyone compares their exhibits to their neighbors and competitors. How does yours stack up? Is it normal, staid, complacent, expected? Or is it sparkling, engaging, new and different than others?
Awareness is critical to success in so many areas of our lives. Being aware of how things are working on a tradeshow floor is one of those things. Awareness will naturally help you make better decisions and as a result, show more success for your efforts.
When people walk by your booth, they make a subconscious (or unconscious) choice on whether or not to stop and visit. In an instant, that choice is made. Much of what they base that choice in never really registers as a solid thought, but the choice is made regardless. They stop to visit and check out your booth. Or they keep on going.
What makes them stop? What makes them keep walking? Let’s take a look.
Brand: if they know the brand, they already have an impression. They have an emotion tied to the brand. It may be positive or negative. Or it may be neutral. In any case, the brand itself is part of that judgment.
Size of booth/how many people are already there: if a couple of dozen people are crowded into an island booth and they are all engaged in comes activity, or they are all paying attention to a single activity such as a professional presenter, they may decide to join. Nothing draws a larger crowd like a small crowd.
Newness or uniqueness of exhibit: if they come around a corner and see something they’re not used to seeing, that may impact their decision on whether to stop. The exhibit itself can be a big part of that subconscious process. Newness counts to a degree. New graphics, clean look, something different than they’ve seen before.
What’s happening in the booth: something interactive, something hands-on can spur people to impulsively stop to find out more. VR headsets. Spinning wheel. Quiz. Anything that lets people get involved, even if only briefly.
Familiarity: of course, familiarity can count, too, especially if that familiarity is of a positive nature. If they’re familiar and fond of a brand, that can draw them in.
Cleanliness (or lack): clean floors, fresh and wrinkle-free graphics, garbage cans that aren’t overflowing all create a positive impression. Clutter, grimy, broken, old or frayed exhibit pieces can put people in the mind of being repelled. They may not even know why, but they’ll subconsciously steer clear of something that their mind recognizes as distasteful. Something that’s not clean can repel.
People: your booth staff is critical in getting tradeshow floorwalkers to stop or not. A well-trained staff knows how to ask a good opening question, and how to engage. A great staffer will override other flaws in your booth, such as an older exhibit, minor lack of cleanliness, unfamiliarity with your brand and so on.
With thousands of people walking the floor at a tradeshow, everything you do and everything that they can see in your booth space can influence their decision on whether or not they will stop. A small change can add up to a significant difference in your response rate. If you could increase your visitor rate by 20% just by having a clean booth, would that make a difference? If you could triple your leads by doubling the size of your booth space and installing a new exhibit, would that be worth it? I’ve seen it happen. Every little thing counts. So does every big thing. What is drawing visitors to your booth? And what is repelling them without you knowing? Take a closer look next time.
This blog post came thanks to an idea from Mel White at Classic Exhibits. Thanks!
As an exhibitor, you’ve got most of the moving parts handled: logistics, schedules, booth staff up to speed on how to handle prospects, ask opening questions and so on.
But what’s the last thing you should do once you have converted a prospect into a lead? It’s a step that a lot of people in sales, especially newer ones, tend to overlook. And it’s easy to let this critical piece slip by quickly.
At the beginning of the visit, you clarify if the visitor is interested in your product or service by asking good questions. During the conversation with them, you’re asking more clarifying and confirmation questions.
But what about the very last step?
Confirming everything before they leave. Make sure that their business card or scanned badge info is accurate down to the email address and phone number. If you can’t get back to them easily, they’re lost. Confirm the next step: when you’ll call (or write, or visit), what that next step entails (more product information, order sheet, longer product demo, etc.), what you might need to send them prior to the call or visit (sell sheets, white paper, etc.).
In every sales meeting – and let’s be clear that a tradeshow visit that gets this far and turns a prospect into lead is definitely a sales meeting – the last step before parting is to confirm what the next step is.
The challenge that comes up if you don’t clarify the next step is that you may forget. Or your lead may be unclear what to expect from you and when. Better to take an extra minute so that there is no mutual mystification. Make sure you both know what’s coming next and when.
What’s one of the best ways to represent yourself to someone who can’t see you in person? Show them a photograph! Not just any photograph, though. Make it professional photograph, taken by someone who know how to bring out the best “you” there is and capture it with a lens.
This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee features an interview with professional photographer Irina Leoni, who discusses her methods of preparing a subject so they can collaborate on the best possible image:
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Disconnecting from the world for just a few days.
There are a lot of people in the tradeshow industry who are well-travelled and highly experienced, and I love chatting with them about tradeshow marketing. In this episode I sat with Michael Thimmesch, long time Skyline marketer, now a consultant with his own company. We covered a lot of bases of tradeshow marketing, including his approach of the FIVE LEVELS of tradeshow marketing. Where are you? Take a look: