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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6 Tradeshow Visitors You’ll Run into at the Next Tradeshow

As a confirmed people-watcher, I’m always curious about tradeshow visitors. Who are they? What are they doing there? What are their goals? What’s on their agenda? Where are they from? What’s their life story? What do they do after the show?

tradeshow visitors

Given the wide variety of people you’ll see at a tradeshow, I thought it might be fun to take a look at a handful of visitors you’ll no doubt run into at your next show, whether as an exhibitor or attendee.

The Salesperson: Okay, the old-school salesperson. Usually, a guy, because that’s the nature of the job. An old-school salesman will gladly introduce himself and within a few minutes, he’ll download a gigabyte or two of information into your ears whether you asked for it or not. He’s all about the features and benefits! And not so much about trying to be a good communicator. To him, being a good communicator is getting all of that information out before you flee.

The Trick-or-Treater: All about the freebies. Grab a bag, fill it up, repeat.

The Uncomfortable “Me” Individual: Since they aren’t comfortable being at a show talking about their products or services, they’ll often talk just about themselves. It’s their favorite subject and as such, it’s easy to go on and on. And on. And on.

The Sharer: These people live via their social media outlets. They’ll snap your photo and post it in an instant; they’ll follow your platforms, and they’ll add you on LinkedIn at the drop of a hat.

The Newbie: Nope, never been to a show. It’s all a blur to them. If they’re lucky, they’ll make it through the three or four days onsite without waking up with a hangover. Because, since they’re newbies, they think being at the show is an opportunity to partay!

The Spy: This person could be a combination of the Escape Artist and the Job Seeker. The main thing is, you won’t see them as much as sense their presence – on occasion. The Spy as Escape Artist takes the few days of the show or conference to grab some sight-seeing time; the Spy as Job Seeker is making the rounds at various exhibits keeping their ears open for job openings.

The Dealmaker: Whether they’re looking to make a good deal, a great deal, or a lousy deal, they seem determined to cut a deal with someone. Anyone. Just make sure they have something to take back to the office that shows they’re doing their job.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 13, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

One great thing about doing a weekly podcast with guests is that I meet a lot of people. This week it was a pleasure to meet and talk with Roger Courville, who helps learning leaders prepare to reach, teach and lead in the Connectorship Age.

It was a fun conversation about events and tradeshows, how to bring value to attendees and much more. Take a look:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the reggae-tinged band Noiseshaper. I’m not sure if the band still exists or is active, and the website looks to reflect that: the last update looks to be about 8 or 9 nears ago. But they left some great music behind.

3 Extraordinarily Useful Tradeshow Marketing Exhibitor Magazine Articles

Yes, it can be said without fear of being wrong that you will find useful tradeshow marketing articles in Exhibitor. That’s their thing. But in browsing their site this week, I found three which I believe go a little above and beyond because of what you can DO by reading them.

tradeshow marketing

Let’s take a look:

How to Measure the Value of Tradeshow Marketing. Complete with downloadable worksheets, this one takes you through the steps to figure out what’s really going on with your tradeshow marketing efforts and all of that money you commit to it each year.

Taking the Lead. Collecting leads that are worthy of a challenge in and of itself. When you have to convert those leads to sales, that’s when the rubber meets the road so to speak. This article walks you through the steps on grading leads, setting goals, figuring out what questions to ask visitors and more.

Four Factors that Affect Graphic Costs. It seems that graphic design and production is often the item that doesn’t get checked until it’s too late. And lateness (among other things) can affect your cost dramatically. Check out these factors to help keep your costs in line.

A lot of exhibitors wouldn’t do nearly as well as they do without Exhibitor Magazine – often called the bible of the industry. Always good stuff there.

When it Comes to Tradeshow Exhibit Design, Are You Stuck in a Checklist?

Recently I was speaking with tradeshow expert Marlys Arnold of Image Specialist, and she made a comment that struck me: Are you stuck in a checklist?

3D exhibit design is part art, part craft, and part skill. I don’t claim to be a design expert, but I’ve seen thousands of exhibit booths over the years, and only a very few have really stood out. Why did they stand out? Because – to me – if you are familiar with the company and the brand, and you’re standing in front of the booth for the first time, you say to yourself, “They freaking nailed it with that design!” The design of the exhibit adheres so close to the brand’s identity that you can’t help but notice.

Why doesn’t this happen more often? Let’s go back to the checklist. Brand managers and designers can get into a trap of making sure that all the items needed for proper booth function are included – and stop there:

Storage? Check. Product Display? Check. Big backlit graphic? Check. Nice-looking greeting counter? Check. You see how this goes.

Don’t get me wrong. Checklists are important, and they’re a good place to start. But when the challenge is to create an exhibit that screams your brand does using the checklist – and only the checklist – really get you there?

Let’s say the branding guidelines advise the designer to use branding standards and follow natural and sustainable practices. Perhaps it adds that it should be made from sustainable materials. And then there’s a call-out for innovative ways to showcase products to draw attention and traffic.

It isn’t long before you get lost in corporate gibberish and bland buzzwords that don’t really communicate well. It’s not really the brand manager’s fault: this is how they think and how they’ve been trained.

So, what’s the answer?

Frankly, I don’t think the answer is easy. And it’s not that hard, either.

tradeshow exhibit design

Some companies are better at communicating their needs than others. Some designers are better at sussing out what the company really wants than others. If you, as a tradeshow brand manager, can succinctly put into words what you’re looking for and avoid the corporate buzzwords and gibberish, you’re half the way there. If you pick a designer that has the skill to intuitively take those descriptions and create a 3D design that screams “your brand!” that’s the other half.

See: easy, right?

In projects I’ve been involved in that have fully succeeded in creating a 3D version of the brand, the power of description has been palpable. Usually, a sketch, even a napkin sketch, has been provided because the brand manager has taken time to visualize the exhibit. They don’t usually have the skill to bring it fully to life, but they can often effectively demonstrate what they’re looking for. Perhaps it’s taking the specific curves of a brand’s graphic look and incorporating that into the curves of a greeting counter. Or it might mean taking the iconic mill structure of a brand and making that the central piece of an exhibit.

Whatever your brand, I would tell you this – and this is coming from a non-designer: determine what visual elements of your brand are the most important, and work with your designer to recreate those elements in the design of the exhibit.

It’s not always easy, but if it’s done effectively, it’ll knock your audience’s socks off.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 6, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

Matt Kazam joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Matt has done stand-up comedy in Las Vegas for years and is moving into the corporate and tradeshow world, so we sat down to discuss how he’s approaching that and some of the challenges that come up around that endeavor.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Sandler Sales Training from Flywheel.

Are You Getting the Best Results from Your Tradeshow Lead Generation Tactics?

Face it: you and your competitors are going head-to-head in tradeshow lead generation. But are you really getting the best results you can possibly get?

If your main goal for going to a tradeshow is to generate leads for future sales, you’ll need to focus on that aspect of your tradeshow marketing program to maximize results. Sure, you also have to have other pieces of the puzzle in place, such as branding, messaging, booth function and more, but if your ultimate goal at the tradeshow is to come away with a bag full of good leads, maybe it’s time for a deep dive into what that takes.

tradeshow lead generation

Establish what you want for a good lead. What does it mean to you and your team? After all, not just any old person that stops by and kicks a tire in your booth, so to speak, is a lead. Determine what will you accept as a lead by defining what that is – and get very specific.

The first thing you have to know is if the booth visitor uses your product.

Next, find out if they are shopping around for a company that provides what you provide. There’s a good chance since they’re at a tradeshow that was organized to specifically draw a crowd in your market.

Third, determine who is the decision maker. If you’re speaking to that person, great. If not, can the person you’re talking speak for them, or direct you to them?

Fourth, do they have a budget to purchase your product? If they don’t have a budget, they’re not really a prospect. They’re ‘pie-in-the-sky’ at this point. It doesn’t mean they won’t have a budget in the future, but for now, they’re not a hot lead.

Finally, you need to know when they’re going to make that decision. If it’s not some far-off future date, but is closer to today’s date, that gives you all the information you need for a HOT lead.

Once you’ve done all of this, you can safely grade your leads. Or if they don’t pass the “lead” test they may become someone that can make a referral. Or they’re off your list for good if you don’t think they’ll ever lead to any business via a direct lead or referral.

The leads can be graded HOT, WARM or COOL. But frankly, I usually only use HOT and WARM. HOT is obvious: it’s a lead that needs to be followed up on quickly because there is an explicit and stated desire for your product. WARM is probably a little more flexible depending on your product, sales cycle and so forth. COOL may only apply to those that you know the bare minimum: they will at least use your product occasionally but have no immediate interest or desire or budget or you don’t know the decision maker. So this puts them in the COOL pile but given their at least occasional use they are not a DISCARD.

In any event, the better your planning and the more thorough execution on your tradeshow lead generation tactics, the better your results.

 

6 Classic Rock Songs to Help You Become a Better Tradeshow Marketer

Let’s have a little fun, and rock out a little at the same time. Let’s find inspiration from some of the old classics and see how they play into your tradeshow marketing plan.

The Who: Who Are You: Yes, you need to know who you are as a company and an entity so that you can clearly communicate that information to your visitors using the elements of your exhibit, how you interact with visitors and help them solve problems.

Beatles: Can’t Buy Me Love. You might be able to spend your way to increased market share or a bigger booth space, but if you want your customers or clients to really love you, it takes more than money. It takes passion, belief, engagement, and follow-through.

Rolling Stones: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. As a marketer, it’s a great feeling to come off the floor after a successful tradeshow. It means you’ve done a lot RIGHT. But don’t get too satisfied. You can do better next time – and your competition still is trying to take clients and customer and make them theirs.

Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? Experience counts for a lot in the tradeshow world. The more experienced booth staffers, for instance, the better they’re able to engage with attendees. The more experienced your exhibit designers and fabricators, the better the exhibit. And so on. Experience counts for a lot. And don’t forget that many of your visitors have decades of experience behind them as well.

Dire Straits: Love Over Gold: Yes, we do it for the money. But when I see people that do it for love – and are really loving what they’re doing – that is something that’s hard to compete with. If your competition is LOVING what they’re doing and you’re not, and all other things are equal – who’s going to come out on top?

T. Rex: Bang a Gong (Get it On): one of the most important pieces of exhibiting at a tradeshow is to tell people that you’re there. Let that information ring out everywhere: press releases, local TV/Radio if appropriate, social media, email blasts, phone calls, direct mail and more.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee October 30, 2017 [video/podcast]

Entrepreneur and Author Peter Shankman has a new book out – his first ‘non-business’ book – and I got a chance to talk to him about it on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. The book is called “Faster Than Normal,” and the topic was a good one for discussion:

 

Find the book “Faster Than Normal: Turbocharge Your Focus, Productivity, and Success with the Secrets of the ADHD Brain” here on Amazon.

Peter’s Faster Than Normal podcast is here.

ONE GOOD THING: Tickets to an upcoming Foo Fighters concert!

What the Heck Are Tradeshow Logistics?

Do you fret and worry about tradeshow logistics to the point of even wondering what they are and what you might be missing?

Let’s go over some basics, as much to refresh my memory as yours.

Tradeshow logistics generally refers to the actions it takes to get things and people to and from the tradeshow:

Shipping: exhibit properties, products, and samples

I&D: setting up and dismantling the exhibit on the show site

tradeshow logistics

Travel: making sure that people who are attending the show have flights, hotels, and transportation scheduled.

SHIPPING: Advice from the pros: plan ahead on as much as possible. Ship to the advanced warehouse to save money. Get all the paperwork done ahead of time. Label everything clearly. Don’t leave anything to chance: schedule the shipment ahead of time and call ahead the day before to confirm the pickup.

At the show, get all your paperwork in order, including the MHA (material handling agreement), work with the show services folks to make sure you have everything properly labeled and communicate pickup times to your freight company to avoid “forced freight” which will cost you an arm and a leg, for starters.

I&D: Installation and Dismantle: frankly, it all begins with the design. Properly designed, a tradeshow booth will minimize show labor onsite during installation and dismantle. Your exhibit should be designed to be as show-ready as possible. Sometimes that means shipping a counter fully assembled.

If you’ve hired an I&D team for your exhibit, be a part. Arrive early to supervise and monitor so that if any questions come up you can either answer them or pull out your phone where your exhibit house is undoubtedly on speed-dial.

If you are setting up a simple inline booth that pulls out of a rolling shipping case, chances are you won’t need to hire show labor. If you think that’s the case, make sure you know how long it will take to set it up ahead of time, and how many people you think it will take.

TRAVEL: here the only real question is: do you want each attendee that you’re taking to schedule their own travel, hotel, and transportation, or is someone doing it for all of them and then passing on the travel arrangements? In any event, I’ve found that if you’re booking hotels through the show site it’s better to do it earlier. In some popular shows, the good/cheap/close hotel rooms go very quickly. I’ve also had good luck booking through Airbnb. I try to book those several months ahead of time. As for travel, it’s been said – and I’m no expert – that booking your flight about six weeks out is the best. It seems to work for me.

10 Questions to Ponder on Whether to Stay With – Or Leave – Your Exhibit House

It’s a common question: should you stay with your current exhibit house or move on to a new one? Naturally, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. So, let’s go over some of the situations where the question might arise.

  1. How long have you been with your exhibit house? While the length of association isn’t a critical factor, it’s often one of the items that people look at first. If you’ve been using the same company for a decade, you may start to wonder if you’re being taken for granted. Which takes us to the next question:
  2. Are you being taken for granted? As a longtime salesperson and project manager working with clients in the exhibit world, it’s easy to slip into the ‘take it for granted’ mode. You think that once you have a client, they’ll always be there. After all, loyalty works both ways, right? No. It doesn’t.
  3. Is their creativity limited? Even though you’ve been working with the same vendor for years, do they have enough creativity to help you as you expand? This gets to the next question:
    change exhibit house
  4. Are you outgrowing your own exhibit house? You may work for a company that is growing by leaps and bounds. If your current exhibit provider only offers standard kits or modular exhibit properties and you’re ready for a custom-design-and-build, maybe it is time to move along.
  5. Is there a change in your management? Often, changes in vendors come about because someone new in management has made the decision, or given heavy influence, to using a vendor that he or she has worked with in the past. It could be because they have a good working relationship, or they’re good friends with someone at the other exhibit house. In any event, changes in key positions at a company can lead to changes in vendors.
  6. Are you shopping around? Often, changes come because a new, large project is in the offing and the marketing team wants to have a handful of exhibit houses compete for the job, so a Request for Proposal or RFP is released to a few select companies. May the best company win!
  7. How successful has your overall exhibiting program been – and how crucial to that success has your current vendor been? I’ve seen some clients I’ve worked with grow significantly during my association with them. Our part – design and fabrication of the booth – may be a small part of their tradeshow marketing program, but it’s a key element. And since it works well, from their point of view, there’s no reason to change. Why fix what isn’t broken?
  8. Do you get along with all the key players? No matter what you’re buying or contracting for, if the project or ongoing business association demands a lot of interaction, it’s critical that everybody has a good working relationship. If not, things get uncomfortable quick. Getting along with someone and having good communication when issues arise means more than almost anything else.
  9. Does your current exhibit house struggle to fill your needs? Are they a good fit? This may be one of those ‘you can’t see it because it’s behind the scenes’ situations, but if you sense that the vendor is stretched thin to meet your needs, they may not be a good fit. For example, at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, there’s no way we could handle a NIKE. It’d just be too much for us, even though having the contract would be a feather in our cap. You know, something to brag about to Mom. Our ‘wheelhouse,’ if we have one, is designing and fabricating smaller exhibits, from 10x10s to small islands, along with coordination of logistics when desired. Your exhibit house should know their capabilities and tell you if what you’re looking for isn’t a good fit for them.
  10. Finally, when it comes to fit, are you lost in the crowd? Smaller exhibitors may work with large exhibit houses, but in some cases, your small 10×10 project may be such a small project for a company that is used to building those large custom islands, that your teeny-tiny inline exhibit is not all that important to them. And if your project doesn’t feel important, you don’t feel important to them.

There’s no definitive answer to the question of when you should leave your current exhibit vendor. If you’ve been with your current vendor, it may take a significant change in your needs or changes in key positions to get to that point. In any event, there are hundreds of exhibit providers ready to assist you if you’re ready to make a change.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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