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

April 2010

Your Emotions On the Tradeshow Floor

Just like the sales situation of a tradeshow floor is magnified by the intensity and chaos of the situation, so are the emotions of exhibitors and attendees.

If you’ve been to a lot of tradeshows like I have, and you pay attention to how people are (and take a few moments to talk one-on-on with them), you realize that people are holding emotions in. Not all of them, of course. We are human and those emotions come out. But many are buzzed, giddy, exhausted and likely stressed out to the max. Or not.

Constant interaction with people pushes stress higher. Standing on your feet all day makes you tired and exhausted, giving way to heightened emotions.

(click to enlarge)

In 1980 Robert Plutchik created the Wheel of Emotion (at left), showing eight basic emotions and eight advanced emotions each composed of two basic ones.

The basic emotions: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Distrust, Anger and Anticipation.

The advanced emotions are Optimism (Anticipation and Joy), Love (Joy and Trust), Submission (Trust and Fear), Awe (Fear and Surprise), Disappointment (Surprise and Sadness), Remorse (Sadness and Disgust), Contempt (Disgust and Anger), and Aggressiveness (Anger and Anticipation).

No matter what emotions you feel while attending or working a tradeshow, it’s easy to get caught up. Have you ever felt yourself feeling heightened instances of Joy, Anger, Anticipation or Sadness?

You feel JOY when you make a big sale. You feel ANGER or DISAPPOINTMENT when you’re told you have to work an extra two hours after having already spent the day on your feet. You may feel REMORSE when you said the wrong thing to a potential client or let slip some inside information to a competitor.

And you could be feeling more AGGRESSIVE than you might normally in the OPTIMISM of heading into a show where you want to knock ’em dead with a great presentation, a great booth and a terrific product backed up by a great marketing effort.

Other researchers have pointed to other emotions such as Doubt, Envy, Frustration, Guilt, Shame; Boredom, Despair, Disappointment, Hurt, Shock, Agitation, Amusement, Delight, Elation, Excitement, Affection, Empathy, Friendliness and Love.

Part of the challenge of attending tradeshows is to know that the intense activity of the tradeshow floor, the after-hours parties, break-out sessions or client meetings is to be expected: mentally prepare for them, and plan on some ‘down time’ in your hotel room before hitting your pillow.

If you’re prepared for the heightened emotions, you’ll be able to take them more in stride.

But of course…you gotta be YOU! And if that means getting carried away by the situation, so be it.

What does a tradeshow do to your emotions? Does it put you on a roller-coaster or do you take it all in and enjoy it for what it is?

graphic copyright Ivan Akira – used under Creative Commons usage guidelines

Who’s in Charge at This Tradeshow Booth?

Have you been to a tradeshow and seen an empty booth? Or staff talking on a cell phone? Playing games?

Watching TV? Ignoring attendees? Doesn’t it make you wonder WHO’S IN CHARGE, ANYWAY?

Naturally, when you see that kind of behavior at a tradeshow, you’re NOT inclined to go into the booth.

So the question ‘who’s in charge?’ is a good one! And not only does it matter that there is someone responsible for booth operations, but that person should be well trained and aware of the team’s mission objectives – and how best to bring about success in that endeavor!

When it comes to tradeshow success, 88% of a visitor’s overall first impression is based on the booth staffer. And that staffer also accounts for 80% of the final decision on whether or not they’ll do business with your company, according to various industry surveys (and quoted from Marlys K. Arnold’s “Build a Better Trade Show Image”).


The ‘Name Tag Guy’ Scott Ginsberg has made a career out of teaching and preaching ‘approachability.’ Simply put, it’s the attitude that you’re always open to starting a conversation with someone you don’t know. This is even more important at a tradeshow where it’s your JOB to do just that. Shy people probably won’t do well at a tradeshow, but even shy people can be trained and become effective.

One important item is your name tag. Put it up high on the right side of your chest so that when you’re shaking some one’s hand they have easy access to read your name. While having your name tag around your neck on a lanyard may open the doors to ‘approachability,’ you can add immensely to it by being friendly, offering a smile, and asking an engaging question.

Being informed adds to your approachability. If you are knowledgeable about your product or service, it will show within a few seconds of the start of a conversation.

If your booth visitor is wearing a nametag (and who doesn’t at a tradeshow), take a moment to get their name and use it in your greeting. “Hi, Deborah, how are you doing today?” means a lot more to Deborah than “Howdy, what brings you here?”

Bottom Line: make your guest feel welcome. They’ll only be there for a short time – and it’s easy to leave and never return. Every show attendee that turns away because your booth isn’t ‘welcoming’ is a missed opportunity.

Panning for Gold in Your Inbox: 5 Best Inbox Links of the Week

I admit it. I subscribe to waaay too many e-mail newsletters. Most I don’t get a chance to read. So if you’re going to get my attention on a regular basis in my inbox your stuff had better be damn good.

Thankfully, a number of marketing and sales folks manage to do that. I thought I’d put a short list together of the top __ blog post links that arrived in my e-mail the past week or so.

In no particular order:

5 Ways to Love Your Customer! from Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook

Paul consistently grabs my attention with his cool, fun, wacky bull-in-a-china-shop approach to blogging. Check some of the titles to his other blog posts, such as How My Death Taught Me To Live!, 247 Billion Emails – 6 Ways To Rethink Them!, How are you wasting your 2.1 hours today?, and Fire The Gatekeepers!

Yes, he uses a lot of exclamation points. But that’s okay…I think they’re pretty cheap when you get them in bulk.

4 Reasons PR Agencies Are Failing in Social Media from Valeria Maltoni’s Conversation Agent

Valeria digs deep into the marketing, sales and social media aspects of stuff that frankly I hardly ever think of. It’s like of like driving through a car wash with the windows down. Much of Valeria’s stuff is useful, thoughtful and a slap in the face at times.

21 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fanbase from Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner

The Social Media Examiner blew onto the web out of nowhere last year and is now one of the premier stopping points for useful posts for anyone looking to improve their social media skills. If you’re got a Facebook page, this is a great post.

Prepare for the mobile gold rush with your new mobile site from Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound

Joan celebrated her 500th newsletter with a look ahead. Not surprising. She had a blog post with some useful links to how she set up her mobile website

If you’ve ever thought of getting your website onto the mobile phone platform, this is a good introduction.

Finally, from Marcia Yudkin “The Marketing Minute” comes some great tips on How to Perk Up Your Bio:

On your “About” page, in conference materials, in media kits or elsewhere, a business bio should not be a cold, dry résumé, with every fact in its appropriate slot.

Nor should it be a chronology of your career.

Instead, in your bio, provide an overview of your achievements and distinctive work approach. Through what you say or how you say it, also impart a sense of you as a person.

To warm up your bio with sparks of life, include one or more of these:

* A quote from you or your personal motto
* A phrase clients or an authority figure use about you (clients call him “the uncoach” because his advice is so laid back and subtle)
* Fanciful or unexpected language (paints the scenes that beckon to her)
* Concrete details (trained his first dog, a Schnauzer, at age 10)
* Vivid extremes or contrasts (has taught everyone from CEOs to imprisoned drug dealers)
* Tantalizing numbers (the third most quoted Canadian chartered accountant)
* A fact that humbles you (Alan Weiss once appeared on Jeopardy, where he lost to a dancing waiter)

Find Marcia’s newsletter and blog here.

To my mind all of these newsletters are worth opening and at least scanning. A quick scan lets me know if I should dig deeper – and more often than not, I do.

What’s in your inbox that’s worth sharing?

Tradeshow & Event Folks to Follow on Twitter

Since my Twitter handle is @tradeshowguy, you’d think I follow a fair amount of people in the tradeshow and event industry on Twitter. And you’d be right.

And if you want to find out who they are, the easy way would be to just go to my Twitter page, click on ‘following’ and you’ll see the list.

But if you want to follow some of the #tradeshow and #eventprofs I follow you’ll find yourself wading through a few thousand folks – not all of whom are in the event industry. In fact many are probably not in the industry, and many more are only peripherally related.

But I ran across a cool tool thanks to Rob McGuire here in Salem. He had posted a list of Salem, Oregon tweeps, which intrigued me enough to see how he had created it.

Turns out to be a tool created by TweepML which allows you to create a list and then encourage your readers and followers to easily pick and choose which one of those on the list you want to follow.

Pretty nifty…so check out the list of event folks that I follow: lots of industry people, publications, exhibitors, consultants, presenters and other folks – hopefully all of them related in some way to the event industry:

Or click here:

9 Tips to Put a Social Spin on Your Trade Show Marketing

The following is a guest post by Dennis Nixon, Sales Manager at Smash Hit Displays

In the days leading up to an exciting trade show attendees are likely tweeting about it, Facebooking about it, and blogging about it too. You’re likely doing the same as a trade show marketer, right? So take advantage of it! Integrating social media marketing into your trade show marketing before, during and after the main event can be the difference between having a successful trade show booth, and an unsuccessful one.

The world of social media and blogging can be quite an overwhelming one, but never fear. I’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you put a social media spin on your trade show marketing efforts.

Twitter Search

Did you know: every single conversation on Twitter (except those from people who have private Twitter streams) can be searched via Twitter search?  Simply type in the name of the trade show you’ll have a booth at and you’ll quickly see others talking about the same event. Make sure to vary your keywords, and soon you’ll find a plethora of data to start prospecting prior to the event.

Twitter Lists

If you’re an avid tweeter than you likely know about Twitter lists. These can be a great way to compile a list of potential attendees, whom you can follow during the trade show. What will they be saying at the event? Where will they be having dinner or after-trade show events? Stay up to date. You don’t even have to actually ‘follow’ the users to put them in a list. AND you can keep the list private if you don’t want your competition finding all the users you spent time finding. In addition, don’t forget about the value of using Twitter for traffic, discussed in the recent post: “Are You using Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Blog and Event?” on this blog.

Facebook Search

When you’re logged into Facebook you have access to their huge internal (and external for that matter) search engine. View all results for a specific term, people associated with that term, page associated with that term, groups, posts by everyone, posts by friends, etc… This can give you back results for many users going to the trade show, thinking about going, or just associated with it.

Facebook Groups and Pages

Using the search function detailed above, you can find groups and pages of prospects interested in the trade show you’re attending. This can be extremely helpful to start a conversation with prospects and tell them about your booth, where you’ll be located, and the fun stuff you’ll be giving away/doing at the event.

Use Flowtown

Have a prospects e-mail address but not sure if they are using social media? You HAVE to check out FlowTown. With this website you can upload your prospects e-mail addresses (before, during or after the event) and get information such as name, age, gender, occupation, location AND all the social networks that person is on.

Contests on Social Networks

Some trade show marketers suggest utilizing contests on social networks to help you spread the word about the trade show you’ll be at, in addition to getting a bit of notoriety and branding your business. Tell your fans and followers that you’ll be at the next big event, and the first five people to retweet or repost about it will get a prize when they show up to the event. There are so many ways you can spin a simple contest before and during the trade show, the possibilities are endless.


You’re likely using LinkedIn, heck millions are. But are you utilizing it to help with your trade show marketing? Tell your connections about your upcoming event, ask them to help you spread the word, or even connect with prospects after the event takes place. There’s so much you can do with LinkedIn, you just need to think outside the box.

LinkedIn Groups

If the event planner for the trade show you’re is good they’ll have set up a LinkedIn group. Use this opportunity to start connecting with prospects and chatting them up. Connect with others, help spread the word about the event, and afterward discuss what was learned or how it can apply to their future endeavors.

Blogger Outreach

Connecting with bloggers that are going to events is extremely important. They’re already tapping into the vein of your industry, so why not utilize their current reader base? Try securing a guest blogging spot, schmoozing them when they’re at the event, and staying in contact afterwards. You never know the types of connections you’ll be able to make over a few drinks.

If you still aren’t convinced that social media can work for you (or that others are using it), check out Tradeshow Insights post “Social Media and Tradeshow Marketing Results”, where respondents to a poll stated that a whopping 31% have already incorporated social media into their exhibit marketing!

Have you used social media in your trade show marketing before, during and after the event? What successes have you had with it?

About the Author: Dennis Nixon is the Sales Manager at Smash Hit Displays, a company providing trade show displays and booths to vendors throughout the United States.

Podcast: Matthew Selbie Interview

Matt Selbie of Oberon3 in Portland, Oregon is a recent Oregon transplant. The company’s business-enhancement product The Opiniator is less than a year old. After finding my blog, Matt reached out to introduce himself (great networking) and after a conversation or two I thought I should get him on the blog with a podcast. What is the Opiniator? How can you use it in your business? What can you do with it at tradeshows? Matt addresses all of these questions and more…including the origin of that decidedly non-Oregonian accent.

Check out The Opiniator website


What is Tradeshow Marketing?

(the following was previously published in the Salem Statesman-Journal):

The tradeshow is a unique marketing beast with a lot of tentacles and unless you control them they’ll end up controlling you.

But trade show marketing can be one of the most effective uses of your marketing dollar – IF you know what you’re doing. A recent report by Forrester Research showed the top 3 tactics marketers rely on were email at 87%, Public Relations at 77% and trade show marketing at 74%.

To begin with, when you exhibit at a trade show (not a consumer show, but a show specific to your industry), the audience consists largely of decision-makers who have PAID to attend. So they want to see what’s new, exciting or improved.

Second, trade show marketing is unique in that it’s one of the few places you can engage with a prospect one-on-one and find out what’s really important to them.

And third (I love this one!) a trade show is great for spying on the competition to see what’s new and upcoming with them.

Exhibiting at a tradeshow is more than just renting or buying a booth, setting it up and handing out brochures. The tradeshow environment is like nothing else; prospects should be qualified or disqualified quickly with a few pointed questions.

But it does work: less than three months after launching a new 10’ x 20’ custom booth at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, Portland’s gDiapers (now former) National Sales Director Mike Internicola said, “Our business has doubled since Expo.”

Mountain Rose Herbs at Expo West
Mountain Rose Herbs at Expo West

Mountain Rose Herbs of Eugene has seen double-digit growth for the past several years. Operations Manager Shawn Donnille says it’s due to ‘brilliant marketing’ and the fact that they are hitting several markets that can use their product. Trade show marketing has been a major piece of their marketing strategy for years.

Interactivity is a big draw. By bringing people into your booth you have an opportunity to engage them one-on-one. Usually a few questions are sufficient to qualify or disqualify them as potential customers.

Your entire staff should onboard see the entire trade show marketing picture, from the company’s show objectives to the pre- and post-show efforts to the nuts and bolts of what questions you’re going to ask visitors to qualify them. Once they see that, it’s easier for them to understand their role and buy into the company’s show objectives.

7 Ways to Use Surveys at Tradeshow

What do you think?

When exhibiting at a tradeshow, you’re there to make sales, brand your business, brand your product, schmooze with industry partners, scout out competitors and okay, do a little partying (perhaps).

Are you using the time to do some specific research by using surveys? No? Too bad, it’s a great way to uncover useful information that you may not find elsewhere at ten times the price.

Since you’re already there at the tradeshow, you might as well take advantage of the opportunity. Here are seven ways you can use surveys at tradeshows to bring home more than just some sales and the memory of a great after-hours party.

1. Product comparison: put your product up against a top competitor, much like the old cola wars taste-tests. Take the labels off of your brand and a competitor’s (if you dare), and put them up against each other side by side. If the results come back in your favor, issue a press release, tweet it out.

2. Quickie 2 or 3-question survey: easy to put together and easy for your visitors to take 15 seconds to answer. You can hold a clipboard and pencil, and ask visitors if they can spare just 15 seconds to answer three questions. Be specific and don’t go past that time. Ask the questions, and then finish with a “Would you like to learn more about our product?” and if they say yes, direct them to an associate. If they say no, thank them for their valuable time and release ’em back to the wild.

3. More in-depth survey: offer this only to people that have indicated a willingness to learn more about your products or services. If they seem like good prospects, ask if they mind if you can take just three minutes with them. The survey should be handed to them either in the form of a piece of paper on a clipboard or a laptop. Either way, invite them to leave their name and contact information at the end so you can follow up with the more interested folks.

3. “Live” visual feature or product comparison: set up a graphic and interactive exhibit that asks visitors to make a choice between various possible features or products you may be offering in the near future. Tell them that this research is part of the evaluation process your company is doing. Whether you’re showing 2 or 5 or 9 choices, make the graphics easy to understand and the choices easy to make (hopefully!). Have baskets or jars set up so that visitors can drop something (tennis balls, marbles, etc.) into a jar that echoes their sentiment. Over time each jar will slowly fill up with the choices. By doing this you are giving a visual accounting of how the ‘voting’ or surveying is going.

4. Brand effectiveness: depending on your company and brand, you may want to survey your visitors on how they perceive your brand in comparison to your competitors. While this may take a little more thought to set up, the survey can yield some very worthwhile results in how you are perceived in the marketplace.

5. Measure effectiveness of pre-event marketing: if you do extensive pre-event marketing within your industry in trade magazines or other media, you can survey the effectiveness. If you do a lot of social media promotion you can also judge its effectiveness. Set up a survey that asks visitors IF they heard of you, WHERE they heard of you and if the MESSAGE they saw inspired them to visit your booth (or if they just stumbled across it…).

6. Get input for future events: take some time to ask visitors what impacted them the most at the show. The feedback can be used to help craft your booth, marketing, graphics and promotional slant for the following year’s show.

7. Get feedback on a new product: if you have a product that’s been on the market a short time, the survey can be used to get feedback on how that product is perceived, used or consumed by visitors.

Take a few moments and ask yourself ‘what can I learn from all of those thousands of tradeshow visitors that will help the company?’ Then come up with a great way to elicit that information via a survey. Feel free to share any ideas you may have in the comment section!

Creative Commons License

photo credit: bisgovuk

Stepping UP: Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

Comfort level a concern

Most clients I work with on new booth projects are on the verge of moving out of their comfort zone. Why? Because they’re moving from simple pop-up type exhibits to full custom designed and fabricated booths, or at least some elements.

That means they’re stepping into dealing with a larger plan that involves shipping, storage, drayage, show labor and more. It’s not as easy as shipping a small booth case with a few graphics. Now you’re dealing with common carrier shipping lines, larger storage spaces, and coordinating a set-up staff that you may have little communication with or control over.

Don’t worry, it’s a common feeling! And from my vantage point, all the folks I work with are more than happy to have made the change, no matter how uncomfortable it may have been. They have a nicer, larger booth that proudly shows off their brand. Clients rave about the new booth and everyone goes home happier.

Even though the corporation is moving from small to large in their tradeshow presence, it’s the actual people that do it. Is there anyone in the company that’s experienced that move before? Much like a young sports team moving into the playoffs for the first time, having a few veterans around who have ‘been there, done that’ will help to ease the transition.

As in any endeavor, moving out of your comfort zone takes courage, thoughtfulness, planning and finally action. The more information you are able to detail before making the move, the less hassle you’ll run into along the way.

So you’ve taken on the challenge: you’re moving up and dealing with all that stuff – show labor, crate shipping, drayage, etc.  The simple fact that you are taking on the challenge as a company and human beings is significant: it takes you through the process. Now having been through the process once or twice, what used to be beyond your comfort zone becomes the new norm – the new comfort zone again.

Which means you’ll look to moving up even further in the not-too-distant future, right?

Creative Commons License

photo credit: p_x_g

Are You Genuinely Green?

Guest Post by Marcia Yudkin

Are you enthusiastic about preserving Earth?  If you want to highlight this commitment as part of your business pitch, be aware that cynicism lurks in the minds of many customers.

To show that you’re not just pretending to jump on today’s green wagon, incorporate as many as possible of these factors into your marketing copy, suggested in the new book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green by Shel Horowitz and Jay Conrad Levinson.

1. Hard facts (what you’ve done), not commitments (what you say you’ll do).

2. Substantiation for your claims – for example, back up the statement that your operations are carbon-neutral.

3. Third-party green certifications, with links that show what they mean.

4. Non-promotional material that helps readers understand the issues on which you’re taking action.

5. Advice for readers on how they too can follow suit.

6. Transparency and truthfulness. Don’t attempt to hide elements that go against your overall stance.

Your reward: The trust of those who share your convictions, respect from those who haven’t yet seen the light, and joyfulness in your conscience.

Reprinted with permission from the Marketing Minute

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