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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Reverse Engineering Tradeshow Success

What do ya mean, reverse engineering tradeshow success? If you ask Wikipedia, you get this: “Reverse engineering, also called back engineering, is the processes of extracting knowledge or design information from a product and reproducing it or reproducing anything based on the extracted information.”

Or: disassemble something and analyze the components to see how it works.

Or make it simpler yet: start with the end in mind. Know what you want when all is said and done and then figure out what steps are required to get there.

reverse engineering tradeshow success

Let’s take a look at one of the main purposes of tradeshow marketing: generating leads. Want 300 leads at the end of three days? You’ll need on average, 100 a day. If it’s a 7 hour-a-day show, you’ll want to generate just over 14 leads per hour, or about one ever four minutes. Give or take.

If, in your experience based on tracking numbers at a particular show, you know that about 1 in 5 booth visitors is a good candidate for your product of service. And out of those 20% of visitors, one-third are judged to be strong or “A” leads, worthy of following up on in the first few days after the show.

Given that, about 1 in 15 booth visitors is an “A” lead. Do the math, and you see you need 4,500 booth visitors, or 1,500 per day.

When you examine that number, do you think it’s realistic that you’ll see enough people at your booth to get a true, qualified lead ever four or five minutes? Is that assumption based on past experience, or is it just a wild guess?

Let’s take another perspective. If you know that there are going to be about 70,000 visitors to the show (it’s a pretty big show!), and you want just 300 leads in three days, you need about one out of every 233 visitors to stop by and do your thing to qualify them.

That’s one way to reverse engineer the math.

Now it gets a little more difficult. How do you reverse engineer tradeshow success on other things, such as your exhibit, your people, your giveaways?

As far as your exhibit, if you need to accommodate 1500 visitors a day, that’s about 200 an hour. If you need about 5 minutes with each visitor to determine if they’re a qualified lead, that’s 1000 minutes. That means a total of 16 2/3 hours of actual time during each hour of the show. Rough math means you need about 20 people in your booth to be there for each hour. Which (doing the math again), you’ll need a sizeable booth space to accommodate 40 people at any given time.

If that’s not reasonable given your budget and space, you’ll want to spend time examining your overall realistic expectations for how many leads you’ll generate during the show.

Of course, real life doesn’t work just like the math we just walked through. Some visitors are disqualified instantly. Some people will take longer to qualify, especially when it comes to your follow up.

My advice? If you haven’t done so, set a baseline at your next show. Do your best to count booth visitors, track leads daily if not hourly, and add everything up once the show is over. Do it for each different show to see how they compare. Then when the same shows roll around next year, you have a starting point. Put practices into place that allow you to better engage visitors, create pre-show marketing strategies that bring more targeted folks to your booth, and make sure that your post-show follow-up system is solid.

Reverse engineering tradeshow success may be an odd way to look at how you get from Point A to Point B, but it’s as good as any, and better than many.

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

You’re a Tradeshow Manager? Face It: Your Job is Never Done

As a tradeshow manager, your job is never done. Is that a bit daunting? Not every tradeshow manager job is the same, but I would hazard a guess that many of the duties are similar from person to person.

tradeshow manager

You count the number of shows your company will exhibit at during a year. Some shows require that you ship the large island booth, some require the uber-cool inline booth and lots of products. Others require just a table top exhibit with a good backdrop. Some may need a professional presenter. Each show has its own guidelines, shipping and logistic requirements, not to mention your internal goals: different product launches or promotions, different personnel needs, different graphics for different audiences and more.

Then there’s the travel: scheduling and booking flights, hotels, rental cars, meetings and more. Packing, schlepping to the airport, to the hotel. Bring a good book to read, or get some work done on the plane.

Then its show time! Meet and greet, pitch products, answer questions, gather lead information, answer more questions, meet after hours with clients or friends. Sleep? Maybe a little! Feel sore from all the walking? Yes.

Once the show is over, it’s time to pack it up, ship it back, make sure the leads are categorized and sent to the sales team for follow up. Maybe check the exhibit when it gets back to the warehouse to make sure it’s ready to go for the next show.

Back in the office, it’s time to reconcile payments made with receipts, track costs, fill in spreadsheets to calculate ROI and more. File papers, submit reports, share photos, solicit feedback on what worked and what could be improved.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tradeshow manager and your job never ends. None of our jobs end until we decide. We learn to take breaks, get a breather, grab a coffee, go skiing, take a bike ride when we can.

Then we get back on the saddle and fully engage again. Because it’s a great job, isn’t it, and you wouldn’t stick with it if you didn’t love it, right?

7 Tradeshow Exhibit Add-Ons for Less Than $500

Your tradeshow exhibit may look great. It may function well. But once the show is underway, you find yourself always ducking into a storage room to grab some paperwork or literature or end up answering the same question over and over again. Or showing a demo on a laptop when you keep thinking it should be on a monitor because people are looking over your shoulder.

It could be your tradeshow exhibit might need a little add-on that will add an element that either functions, spruces it up, or shows visitors just a little more than what you had originally been thinking. Let’s look at a handful of add-ons for under five hundred bucks.

  1. iPad or Surface stand. Putting a table at the front of your exhibit often is an unspoken invitation for visitors to engage. These could be free-standing, or attachments that mount on an existing table or counter.
  2. Literature stand. Instead of stacking sales sheets on a counter where they’ll always get messed up or keeping them inside a counter where you’re always reaching for them, put out a literature stand. A literature stand could also be free-standing, or it could attach to an exhibit you already have.
  3. Easel. Easels are cool. And they’re old-school. But a well-placed easel can show off a larger poster-size graphic in a slightly different way.
  4. TV Monitor. It seems that most exhibits have a monitor of some sort, whether free-standing or mounted on a wall. Monitors up to about 50” can be had for under $500.
  5. Table throws. Maybe it’s just a small exhibit, or you’ve got a small table in the midst of a larger exhibit. In either case, adding a custom printed table throw is an easy call.
  6. Turn a table in to a charging table with an add-on charging kit. Probably won’t work on any table, but if it fits your table, it’s a great little feature that your visitors will thank you for!
  7. Banner Stands. Banner stands are an easy add-on and it’s easy to find one that’ll fit your budget of under $500.
  8. Rental plants. No, seriously, rental plants. Like a topiary ball or a 4 ft. hedge.

Check out our Exhibit Design Search.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 12, 2018: Vikram Rajan

Vikram Rajan of PhoneBlogger.net tells an interesting story of working with attorneys, speaking and attending conferences, tradeshows and similar events all in the pursuit of promoting his business. A very engaging and interesting conversation. Also on today’s podcast: Tradeshow Tip of the Week on how to take better exhibit and tradeshow photos with your smartphone.

Check it out on today’s vlog/podcast:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING:

Tesla Roadster in Space!

Books I’ve Recently Read

I grew up a reader. No TV, living in the mountains far away from friends. Which means that I soaked up rock and roll records, comic books, and science fiction.

In this day and age, it’s harder but not impossible to find time to read. I only wish it was more! I thought it might be fun to mention several books that I’ve made my way through (or most of the way) in the past eight to twelve months.

Books I've recently Read

Carl Hiaason: The Downhill Lie. I’m a hack golfer. This is a hilarious book. What else would you expect from the longtime Miami Herald columnist and author of Striptease, Chomp, Sick Puppy and Bad Monkey?

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series: Once I discovered these, I wanted to start at the beginning. With some twenty-two novels out featuring Reacher, it’ll take a while to make it through. But Reacher is a terrific character. A new version of the first book in the series explained how he came up with the name and the character, which set the tone for the whole series.  I have yet to see any of the Jack Reacher movies. But here’s the thing: in the book, Reacher is 6’ 5” and about 220 lbs. In the movies, he’s played by Tom Cruise, who’s 5’7” and 170 lbs. Not sure how that works!

Ricardo Semler: Maverick. I found Ricardo’s story through a lengthy interview on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. Fascinating story about reinventing a company. As Wikipedia puts it: “The book relates the management succession and increasingly unorthodox ethos of Semco, which grew to become one of Brazil’s largest conglomerates.”

Robert Hilburn: Corn Flakes With John Lennon. Hilburn was a longtime music critic with the Los Angeles Times (1975 – 2005). The book is a memoir, packed with stories that old rockers like us really appreciate. A fun and fast read.

Katy Tur: Unbelievable: My Front Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History. Another memoir, in a sense, that starts with Katy being asked to cover some Trump rallies for NBC and ends up on one of the more bizarre presidential campaigns the US has ever seen. As a long-time radio guy, journalist and media employee, it’s fascinating to see a lot of her thoughts on what it takes to get read to be on camera frequently. Well-written and worth a read, no matter your political stripes. And yes, a lot of it is hard to believe.

Michael Connelly: The Black Ice. Harry Bosch, the LA homicide detective, makes his first appearance in The Black Echo (1992), quickly followed by The Black Ice (1993). The character, played to a T by Titus Welliver, is now an Amazon series. Over twenty books in this series and I’m planning to alternate between Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch for fiction for the foreseeable future!.

Timothy Ferris: Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans. These books are not the kind that you could or would even want to sit down and read straight through. Instead, thumb through them, make notes on the pages or tag ideas using sticky notes. Both are treasure-troves of ideas, thought-starters and concrete actionable methods and tools.

Antonio Gerrido: Asking Questions. This is a Sandler Sales System book that is helpful to, well, sales people. Frankly, I’m less than half way through this but mention it because it’s been very helpful up to this point. Asking the right questions for the right reasons at the right time gives any sales person a big edge.

Roger Steffens: So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley. Roger is a friend of mine, and I knew this book was coming several months before it hit the shelves. As a longtime Marley fan, this is the best book that tells the story from people who knew Bob. Terrific book through and through.

Steve Miller: Uncopyable: How to Create and Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition. Steve was a guest on my podcast recently and he was kind enough to send me a copy of his book. Easy and quick to read, but damn is it packed with a ton of good ideas. Get a copy.

Charles Pappas: Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords. A very deep dive into the fascinating world of the history of large expositions, world fairs, and tradeshows. Virtually everything to eat, drink, drive or wear was introduced at a tradeshow or fair. Another podcast guest.

Dan Paulson: Apples to Apples: How to Stand Out from Your Competition. Dan was a guest of my podcast last year, and his book examines the reasons that make your company get to exponential growth. Another fun, useful and fairly quick read.

Nancy MacLean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Yes, it’s totally political. Yes, it’s a damn good read. Yes, it was hard to read because there was so much to absorb. Must have taken me several months to finally make it through. Regardless of your politics, I’d recommend taking a look. It’s also one of the most highly-researched books I’ve ever read.

What are you reading these days?

How to Do Tradeshow Math

Wait, you probably already know how to do tradeshow math, right? You add up all of the costs, hit “total” and you have a sum that tells you how much you need to spend.

Could be that easy. Let’s take a look.

I’m always doing math. In fact, my buddy Rich and I will always answer strange queries with “Do the math.” Even on things that supposedly have nothing to do with math.

“Hey, do we need another bottle of peppermint schnapps?”

“What do you think? Just do the math!”

“You gonna watch the new X-Files season?”

“Could be. Do the math!”

I guess you really can apply math to just about everything.

tradeshow math

When it comes to tradeshow math, you might want to take a more precise approach than just winging it like Rich and I do during our golfing sojourns.

Identify all of the various things that you need to spend money on: new or upgraded exhibit and all of the related items such as carpeting, electrical, sign hanging, exhibit set up and dismantle; then add in shipping (both directions), drayage, booth space rental and cleaning, internet access if desired.

Beyond that, if you’re looking at the whole picture for one show, what is the cost of creating a mailing piece to let people you know you’ll be at the show? Add the cost of mailing. Email is certainly significantly cheaper than sending out snail mail, but someone is still going to have to create and send the email. Is that done in-house, or is it done by a creative agency? And are you including the cost of email list rental?

Other pre-show and during-show activities may include social media creation (photos, video, blog posts or other). If your staffers are doing that as part of their job, it may not be an additional separate line item.

In-show marketing or activities may include badge scanner rental, sponsorships, professional demonstrators, lead form printing and more.

Take the last step and do the tradeshow math for the entire year. Add up all of the shows and see how your full year’s costs look. Then at the end of the year, add up the actual costs and compare to your estimates. Make adjustments as needed. Rinse and Repeat.

If you’d like to make it a little easier, just download this Excel spreadsheet we created here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits.

Walking the Floor at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference

Here in Oregon, the cannabis industry is fast-growing, which means that tradeshows promoting the industry are popping up frequently. I walked the floor of the Cannabis Collaborative Conference last week, meeting people and posting photos of participants and exhibits on my social media outlets, especially Instagram and Twitter. I came up with a few takeaways:

Participants are very upbeat and positive about the future of the industry, despite the federal classification of marijuana as a dangers drug, and despite the recent announcement by the DOJ that they would more aggressively target people under federal laws, even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

One comment came from an exhibitor, who observed that attendees and exhibitors at this particular show were more likely those who were new to the industry, wanted to get into the industry or were smaller players. “The bigger players don’t need to be at this show,” she said.

CDB (cannabidoil) is exploding, positioned as a “non-high” pain treatment. A year ago it was barely mentioned. Today in Oregon it’s seen everywhere, it seems, and is heavily promoted as an alternative to other over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

I managed to see a portion of one of the presentations, which was a panel discussion on the challenges that the industry faces in the banking industry. As a cash business, stores are faced with getting that money into a banking system that resists the cash because, as institutions that are regulated by the federal government, they may be punished for doing just that. No easy answers!

I see that Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, that supports the industry, gave a keynote addressing the Department of Justice’s decision to repeal the Cole Memo. Would have liked to see that!

From the perspective of a tradeshow marketer, I saw a mix of good, clever and creative exhibits along with those that barely were able to cobble together a printed vinyl sign backdrop. Those that I talked to were excited about their position in the industry, though, and looked forward to being able to afford more expensive exhibits in the future.

Here are a few photos from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference.

TradeshowGuy Monday morning Coffee, January 29, 2018: Anders Boulanger

Anders Boulanger is a professional presenter that works the tradeshow circuit with his company The Infotainers. I’ve know Anders for years – long distance – and finally got a chance to meet in person several months ago when our paths crossed in Las Vegas. As a guest on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Anders talks about his business, who he works with, how he does it from Winnipeg, Canada, and much more:

 

ONE GOOD THING: Scruff the Rescue Dog.

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