No doubt there are over a million tradeshow blogs dedicated to just the single topic of tradeshow marketing, wouldn’t you say? More? Less? No matter how you add them up, it seems like a lot. And now and then I peruse the Google machine to see what new listings show up. Not to brag, but what’s interesting to me is that this blog – the TradeshowGuyBlog – shows up on a few of these lists. Nice! Let’s review:
10 Tradeshow Blogs You Need to Read is from Exponet, and for some reason I made the top listing. Hey, the guy even acts as if he knows me. Published last month, he even mentions the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast/vlog, so you know he’s on top of it! TSNN and Exhibitor also made the cut on this list.
Never done tradeshow marketing before, but wonder if it’s something to finally seriously consider? Let’s take a look at seven signs you might recognize in your business that could steer you towards opting for tradeshow marketing as one of your marketing tools.
When your business has nearly maxed out its current marketing reach. One of the best and most cost-effective ways to reach new markets is through tradeshow marketing. You have access to buyers and decision makers far outside your local or regional markets if you set up an exhibit at a national tradeshow.
When you’re selling enough product so that you’re banking a decent amount of change, giving you the option to spread your wings a little more in the marketing arena.
When your product or service creates a buzz all on its own. Putting it on display at the right show can open even more doors.
When you have a great partner that’s already exhibiting and is willing to bring you along for the ride. Let’s say they have a larger island booth but for a fraction of the price of exhibiting in that big of a space, they’ll bring you on as a complementary product or service.
Your sales have plateaued, and you’re looking for a new source of prospects. Making the jump into tradeshow marketing is a great way to kick-start new sales and lead generation.
You’re ready for a laser-focused marketing event. Putting all your skills and talents on display at a tradeshow means you’re ready to show off to a ton of potential customers. You’ll benefit in new leads and increased brand awareness.
You’re ready to move from a small/local company to a regional or national company. If your product is ready for prime time (production and distribution), putting those wares on display at a tradeshow can open doors to new retailers and distributors that can help you achieve those higher goals.
No doubt there are other signs, but these 7 signals should alert you to the possibility that tradeshow marketing – if you haven’t done it yet – might be a good bet for your marketing dollars.
TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson on his weekly podcast, looks at how to get out of a creative slump, whether it’s writer’s block or some other creative endeavor, using brainstorming and other techniques to come up with new ideas.
What does it take for great tradeshow lead generation? Success comes mainly from paying attention to details. For instance, you probably made the effort at your last tradeshow to either scan someone’s badge, or got a business card and made a few notes on the back. But to really go the distance for a great lead, know that the success comes in executing the follow-up.
Naturally, you’ve gotten the lead’s name, company and contact info. But to be thorough, make sure that you’ve also got:
What product or service they’re interested in: be specific
How best they prefer to get a sample, if desired. Is it email, snail mail, telephone call, in-person visit?
When do they prefer to be contacted for follow-up? Date and time of day that works best for their schedule.
Where? If you are meeting offsite, such as a coffee shop, confirm the address. If it’s at their place of business, make sure you have the right address and not a satellite office or production facility.
Who are you meeting with? Is it just the main contact, or will there be other people involved?
Why are you meeting? Is the meeting a preliminary discussion, or is it to close a sale, or something in between?
When I was in journalism class in high school, we were instructed to get the 5 W’s and the 1 H: who, what where, when, why and how. It’s the same with sales follow-up.
Finally, make sure that your prospect understands the method of follow-up, along with the other pieces so that there is no mutual mystification – make sure all parties understand what is going to happen and when.
Once you’ve done that, you’ve nailed down a good lead. You’ve done your job on tradeshow lead generation. Now go close the sale!
On this morning’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, a quick romp through time management and time blocking and how it can help bring a little structure to your day. Also, some of the specifics of tradeshow lead follow up.
It’s a good question: what does a tradeshow manager do? And frankly, you can come at this question from a few angles.
For instance, is the tradeshow manager (or coordinator, or project manager) employed by the company internally, to make sure the tradeshow appearance is as flawless and successful as possible? Does the tradeshow coordinator work for an exhibit house, tasked with making sure the new (or stored) exhibit is shipped to arrive on time, and get set up, dismantled and shipped back? Or does the company find a third party to coordinate the logistics from show to show on an as-needed basis?
There are several things to determine, such as: what is the scope of work? What tasks are expected of the tradeshow coordinator? Is there a marketing department that makes decisions on which shows to attend? Who determines the budget and where does that money come from? And so on.
Wearing several hats is not uncommon for someone with the larger and somewhat vague title of tradeshow coordinator. Mainly, she is responsible for:
Determining what shows to go to (usually in coordination with a larger team that vets the various options)
Scheduling or securing the booth space and coordinating logistics such as electricity, internet, cleaning, badge scanner and more
Work with vendors such as exhibit houses or printers for any updates to the exhibit
Scheduling exhibit shipping, I&D (installation and dismantle), return shipping, storage
Booth staffer hiring, training, scheduling and coordination of any special clothing such as branded t-shirts; develop and/or coordinate any pre-conference training for staffers
Coordinate with sales and marketing for any special product demos, etc.
Hire in-booth presenters if needed
Track expenses as required
Coordinate lead generation activities, system and delivery of leads to sales post-show
Pre-show marketing: mailers, emails, any specific phone invitations
Post-show follow-up communication
Record keeping: maintain show schedules, project checklists, exhibit management, photos from each show, logistic and travel expenses show to show and year over year
Each individual position may include more or less from this list, but these are the main tasks on a tradeshow manager’s job description list.
And, just for fun, I looked at tradeshow manager job listings across the USA recently. There are a ton of openings. Just sayin.’
Here on the USA’s Fourth of July Independence Day, let’s let freedom ring and celebrate in the tradeshow world.
No matter your political, economic or social stripes, I have no doubt you could make the case that our freedoms are under fire from many directions. But in the USA we still have the freedom to make the best case we can for our products and services: things we have put our careers on the line for and our talents to the test.
So let’s celebrate.
Celebrate your ability to go anywhere for any reason in this country to promote your business, products and services.
Let freedom ring and celebrate the willingness of buyers to show up at your tradeshow booth and palaver about your products, perhaps placing an order or making arrangements for a future discussion.
Celebrate the freedom to pitch your products in retail stores, online and through industry-focused tradeshows.
Celebrate your ability to hire the best people you can find to create those products and help market them at the tradeshow of your choice.
With freedom comes responsibility: you have the freedom to exhibit as modestly or extravagantly as you can. You also have the responsibility to present the best image that you and your team can assemble based on your ability and resources. You have the responsibility to squeeze the most out of those talents and resources as you can muster.
As an American, I have the freedom (and responsibility) to quibble about the way our country is run, and no doubt if you and got together over a beer we’d find we disagreed on a lot. But I would be that we’d probably agree on more than we disagree on.
So let’s let freedom ring and celebrate our diversity – and what we have in common – today.
I had the pleasure to attend the International Food Technologists 2017 show in Las Vegas this week, thanks to our client Meduri Farms, who set up their 20×20 custom island booth for the second time. In walking the floor, I ran across a lot of fun exhibits that should be highlighted for one reason or another. So, let’s jump into another edition of TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards – the #IFT17 Version! Let’s start with a look at the Meduri Farms booth, just because, well, to show off the exhibit:
Best Client Representation: Meduri Farms
It’s a custom 20×20 island designed by Greg Garrett Designs and fabricated by Classic Exhibits. Private meeting area, generous sampling and product display areas, and a nearly 16′ tall center tower that draws eyeballs from halfway across the floor:
Best “Booth-In-A-Box:” Ardent Farms
There’s no easy way to view this exhibit in a single photo, so I’ll include a couple. Ardent Mills, of Denver, Colorado, simply drove in a trailer from an 18-wheeler, complete with kitchen and fold-down serving areas. Throw in some seating areas and signage and voila – you have a classy exhibit:
Best Exhibit Using Stuff We Build: International Paper
Nothing quite like showing off your stuff by having a booth built out of the stuff that you sell. In this case, International Paper bills themselves as one of the leading producers of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper. So of course many of their booth elements were created using corrugated cardboard and related materials. Especially eye-catching: the custom charging table built from corrugated material:
Simplest and Most Effective Backdrop: Bulk Supplements.com
Simple like being able to read and understand a billboard a 65 MPH. I spoke with Keven, the owner, and he said his purpose was to communicate what the company does loudly and simply. And that exactly what this 20′ wide back drop does, very effectively.
Best Use of Grape Balloons: Welch’s
Well, it may be the only use of grape balloons, but in this case, they caught my eye from a good three aisle over. A great way to stand out from the crowd, indeed:
The “Let’s Get Their Attention NOW!” Exhibit: S&D Coffee and Tea
This large hanging sign close to one of the main entrances was designed to capture your eyeballs within a second or two – and it worked. The juxtaposition of the woman in a stocking cap with gloves, the “COLD BRRRRRRREW” statement and the experience of visitors walking in from the 105-degree Las Vegas heat drew a crowd.
Best Branding from Top to Bottom: Morton Salt
You could quibble on this award as there were a lot of exhibits at IFT that were exceptionally executed from communicating a brand. But Morton’s booth was well-thought out from side-to-side and top-to-bottom, down to the display of the different types of salts that you could actually put your hands on and feel and touch. Even the conference room had great information to communicate.
Best BluePrint for Ingredients and Innovation: Watson
From Connecticut, Watson Inc diagrams and displays more information than most people will bother to stop and read. But maybe that’s the point: the graphic design, displayed as if it were a blueprint, showcases information from infant formula to pet foods and leaves us impressed with the depth and breadth of their reach – all in a two-story exhibit that had plenty of room for meetings, storage and product display:
Best Use of Really Large Test-Tube Like Displays: Alquimia USA
More than eye-catching, this row of some 16 grains, beans, seeds and more also created a unique wall-off side of the booth.
And finally, a double/shared award to…
Best Use of the Periodoc Table: Asenzya and Land O’ Lakes
There may have been other uses of the periodic table of elements, but these two companies used the table to great effect, so show off the flavor elements and the seasons ingredients respectively. It’s a lot to digest (no pun intended), but great fun to take a look and see how they plotted out the display. Well done!
A couple of other observations from walking the floor…
There were a LOT of big monitors at the show, on the order of 60″ to 72″. Some exhibits had several of them. In speaking with on exhibitor, I suggested that in his next version of the video, that he added closed-captioning, since the ambient noise on the show floor made it nearly impossible to understand what was being said. “Good idea!”
I ran across a few exhibitors touting Virtual Reality: sit down, put a headset on and enjoy some virtual reality – mainly a quick interactive look at a company’s production process. Frankly, I’m still waiting to be impressed with VR at a tradsehow. Having said that, I’ve only tried it a few times, so no doubt someone is ready with a really good VR experience somewhere. I watched some people sit down, try the headset on while wearing glasses (didn’t work for them, didn’t work for me, either), and then go through the experience. If you wear glasses, taking them off to slip the headset on means that things are not clear and sharp, although it didn’t keep me from comprehending what was going on. The best ones are those that show off the company’s production process, or give a tour through a field or something related to the company. But with more and more VR coming to tradeshows, they’re going to have to step up with a great experience, or it’ll be hard to justify the use of VR headsets and the accompanying cost of creating the program.
I really liked the larger 20′ wide center aisles that were spread in a few places on the floor, complete with park benches. A nice place to grab a quick respite from walking and talking without having to leave the hall:
I’m in Las Vegas for the IFT 2017 show (that’s the International Food Technologists), and I spend a few minutes discussing how I approach walking the floor of the show. Also, a quick look at the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show.