Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.


How to Develop a Tradeshow Marketing Mindset

Is it as easy as setting up a booth, smiling as visitors come by, and asking a few questions?

Sure, that’s some of it. But creating a mindset in your team for tradeshow marketing involves more.

So let’s capture a few items that are critical in creating a tradeshow marketing mindset:

  • Realize that all of your visitors are rushing around and want to visit as many booths as possible. Which really means, don’t waste their time.
  • Some thing: you have hundreds of people you’d like to see. Don’t let unqualified visitors waste your time.
  • Prepare for a marathon. Three or four days of standing, meeting, greeting, collecting information, giving demos and answering questions can take it out of anyone. Make sure you’re in good physical shape prior to the big event.
  • With the fast proliferation of mobile devices, your customers are connected to their world through the smartphone they carry. They do research, make connections, pay bills, find a nearby restaurant and more while on the move. Realize how this affects your marketing message and methods and learn how to reach them on this platform while they’re on the move at a tradeshow.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. I can’t stress this enough. Too many exhibitors think about things a few weeks ahead and try to make major (or even minor) changes without putting thought into it or knowing how much time things change. From graphic changes to booth makeovers to staff training to pre-show marketing and post-show followup, know how much time all the items take and work backwards from the show date.
  • While a tradeshow is a single, specific event, the online discussion around it will start weeks prior to the show and will continue for weeks afterwards. When you are targeting a show, be sure to listen to the chatter by monitoring the show hashtag, and prepare what you’ll do with sharing information, photos and videos for weeks after the show as the energy dies down.
  • You’re one of hundreds, or thousands of other exhibitors. There are only a few ways to stand out: have a freakin’ awesome booth that stops people in their tracks, have something going on in your booth space that compels them to stop such as a professional demo or interactive activity, create a pre-show marketing message and campaign so powerful that people make a stop at your booth one of their priorities or have a product that everyone needs or wants to see NOW.
  • Once the show is over, your work is not done. To make the show worthwhile, all of those leads and related information must be delivered to the right sales folks to follow up in a timely manner. Again, the race is still underway and you’ll have competitors who are following up within 24-48 hours. What’s your follow up plan?

Mindset is everything. The more you’re prepared for what tradeshow marketing and execution entails, the better your results!


February Webinar: B2B Tradeshow Lead Generation Guaranteed

I’m getting together with Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics of Houston on February 16th as he presents “B2B Tradeshow Leads Guaranteed.” It’ll last about 45 minutes with a Q&A afterwards. Can you really guarantee lead generation? Hiett has been in the industry for 40 years, and has learned a thing or two.

Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston
Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston

Be sure to join us. Register today at Even if you can’t join us, you’ll get the replay. But you should be there live if you can!

It’s at 10 am Pacific / 11 am Mountain / 12 noon Central / 1 pm Eastern on Tuesday, February 16th.

Here’s Hiett with a brief discussion of tradeshow follow up:

Working Effectively With a 3D Exhibit Designer

You’ve decided it’s time for a new booth. Time to start from scratch. For whatever reason, your current booth no longer effectively represents the company brand, so you’re hiring a new exhibit designer.

Where do you start? To begin with, it’s not a bad idea to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal).

Once you’ve chosen a designer and/or exhibit house, it’s time to get off to a good start with your new 3D designer. You’ll want to keep a few things in mind:

First, if you’re working with a graphic designer to come up with a booth design, you may be starting with the wrong person. Graphic designers aren’t necessarily trained in 3D exhibit design, and 3D exhibit designers are necessarily adept at graphic design. Chances are you’ll want both.


Start by creating a design brief that details your overall marketing goals, and then details the specific tradeshow marketing goals. In fact, if you can detail the show-by-show goals, that will be even better. Define the objectives: branding awareness, lead generation, media and PR outreach, product sales and more. Not everything will be directly applicable to the 3D design, but your designer can absorb the information anyway.

Next, explain from your perspective, the company’s brand and how you’d like to represent it to the world. If you have information on how the brand is seen by consumers and clients, add that in too, especially if it’s different from your perspective.

Now, list your products and services. Sometimes, in the case where a company has hundreds of products, listing them all is probably unnecessary. However, a good description of the main product areas is important. Create a list of issues and problems that your products and services address: what do they solve? How do they help customers solve a problem, achieve a goal or satisfy a need?

Detail your target market. Are they young, old? Consumers or businesses? Men, women? Or some combination?

Sweetleaf 10x20 view

Next, write a paragraph or two on the look and feel of your new booth. Detail size, materials, and how the booth should make people feel when they see it. Is it traditional, cutting edge, modern? Space age, funky, unusual? What colors are in your brand?

Include your budget, booth size, note if it will be set up in different configurations, and the functional needs, such as storage, product display, meeting areas, demo counters, video monitors, greeting counters and other items such as banner stands, iPad kiosks, etc.

Include a few comments on how and where will the booth be stored and whether you expect your staff to set up the booth or if you plan to hire show labor.

Working with an experienced designer and exhibit house can save you money in the long run, especially if you exhibit multiple times a year. You’ll have a professional team working with you at each step to craft a creative and effective design and bring that design to life.


Always Somebody Smaller, Always Somebody Bigger

It doesn’t matter what size your company is. It doesn’t matter how big your tradeshow booth is compared to your neighbor or competitor at the big tradeshow.

There will always be a company that is bigger than you. There will always be a competitor that is smaller than you, and probably nipping your heels.

There’s a sports analogy here somewhere, let’s see if, by fishing for it, I can find it.

We can’t concern ourselves with the other team. We have to play our game to the best of our ability. – a coach somewhere

I’m sure that applies in business as well. You should be aware of your competition, certainly, but more importantly, take care of all business needs in-house. That’s the paramount need to succeed.

So when it comes to tradeshows, you’ll always be somewhere in the middle. Others will be bigger, richer, have wider distribution, more products and more staff. There will be competitors who are smaller, with fewer resources, have less distribution than you and fewer products available.

The biggest competitor – and the biggest cheerleader – will always be yourself.

Meet Me at Expo West for a TradeshowGuy Button


Nothing like a shameless promotional plug, eh?

Given my recent propensity to do more promotion that usual (see, I had one of those middle-on-the-night flashes: GET SOME TRADESHOWGUY BUTTONS! And GIVE THEM AWAY!

Of course. Why not?

So if you see me at a show, ask. I should have a handful in my pocket. And in March, I’ll have a hundred or two at Expo West in Anaheim, handing them out to exhibitors and attendees.

Just for fun, you know. Want some? Tweet me for a free button at Expo West!


Find Your Exhibit with Exhibit Design Search [Video]

Need to get your hands on your next great tradeshow exhibit but don’t know where to start? Here’s a place that will give you so many choices your head will spin. However, the great thing is that once you narrow your choices down, it’s easy to share with your colleagues and team members. Check out this video:

Check out the Exhibit Design Search now!

Your Tradeshow Marketing Questions Answered [Webinar Replay]

It appears that our first webinar of 2016 went off with a hitch or a hiccup. At least that’s what it felt like! Here’s a replay in case you missed it:

Sign up for future webinars at Our next one is set for February 16 at 10 am Pacific, and will feature Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston Texas. The title of his presentation is “Tradeshow Leads Guaranteed” so you’ll want to make sure to attend!

IBM’s WATSON: “You are heartfelt, and somewhat insensitive…”

One of my favorite weekly newsletters arrives every Monday morning. It’s called the Monday Morning Memo. Clever! Roy H. Williams of Austin, Texas, the Wizard of Ads, sends out an informative and entertaining missive every week that grabs my attention and makes me think. If only all writers could do that.

This past week he told the story of submitting several writing samples to have IBM’s Watson computer analyze them. He was noting that no matter what writing samples he submitted, the analysis was very similar. Conclusion? It’s pretty accurate.

Here’s what Watson had to say about the manuscript of Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level:

You are heartfelt and somewhat insensitive. You are calm under pressure… (click the image to see it a bit larger).

IBM Watson Tradeshow Success Analysis

Upload your own writing sample here.

Tradeshow Blogs and Articles – A Quick One

Time to wrap up a handful of recently spotted articles and blog posts about tradeshows.


Let’s start with the Huffington Post. Shuly Oletzky of Frigibar Industries posts this nice look at 9 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Appearance at a Tradeshow. Many great ideas here.

If you want some food for thought, check out’s The Death of Tradeshows by Dev Aujla, the Founder of DreamNow.

In the news, the White House has announced that President Obama is going to attend the world’s largest tradeshow for industrial technology. Here’s the Associated Press with the story.

TechCrunch believes that the recently completed 2016 Consumer Electronics Show is now a show for start-ups. Here’s their take.

David Saef at goes over The Secrets to Making Live Events Worth Every Penny.

Spark Pay details How to Get Prospects Flocking to Your Booth at a Tradeshow. Some great ideas here, such as investing in look and feel, the use of technology and getting the best location you can.

3 Common Mistakes of Tradeshow Exhibitors (And How to Avoid Them) comes from Contributing Writer Spider Graham at the Business Journals.

And finally Exhibitor magazine chimes in with tradeshow Budgeting: Stats and Formulas. Always a useful thing when preparing for a tradeshow.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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