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

August 2010

Five Social Media Tradeshow Marketing Posts You Might Have Missed


Totally Tweet.

By Kipp Bodnar

A quick look at items such as:

  • Pongr/QR codes
  • Facebook SMS
  • Live Stream
  • Customer Interview
  • Live Tweeting

How To Use Social Media More Effectively In Trade Show Marketing

by Mark Armbrust

…including video clips from:

  • 24/7 Interactive – Will Burris
  • Virtual Partner – Tiffany Odutoye
  • Social Business Strategies – Nate Riggs
  • An OnScene Production – Eric Leslie

Trade Show Events Social Media Marketing Customer Interaction

timothymclain lists a number of tools you can use, including…

  • ScanLife
  • Foursquare
  • Gowalla
  • Tweetphoto
  • Facebook
  • Twitpro

3 Ways to Avoid Social Media Suicide On Or Off The Tradeshow Floor

by Susan Friedmann

A person suffers a near-fatal allergic reaction and tweets about it. Company responds with a solution. But the response was clumsy; the target tweeted more about the negativity…and it snowballed.

4 Tips For Using Social Media More Effectively at Trade Show Exhibits

By Chris A. Harmen

  • Use Technology Every Day
  • Live Audience Polling
  • Decide Which Social Media Site To Use
  • The Right Technology Tools

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photo credit: FindYourSearch

Are You Flirtin’ With Disaster?

Are you flirting with tradeshow disaster?

You may recall a little rockin’ song from the late 70’s by the Florida band Molly Hatchet called ‘Flirtin’ With Disaster’ – and when it came on the radio the other day it got me to thinking that in many areas of our life that’s exactly what we are doing!

Flirtin’ with Disaster!

So, are you baking up a Recipe for Disaster with your tradeshow marketing?

For instance, does your tradeshow planning look anything like this recipe?


4 medium bars of budget confusion

1/4 c. selfishness

1 tablespoon lackadaisical approach to planning

2 teaspoons bad booth design

7 pounds of inappropriate giveaways

3 oz. untrained booth staff (may be substituted with surly and/or disinterested staff)

4 tablespoons of planning brain freeze


Mix together for just a short time, spread unevenly on show floor and let percolate. For maximum results, feign interest in your visitors, discard most leads as ‘not for us’ and invent a story for the CEO as to why the show was unsuccessful.

Note: by using just a few of this recipe’s ingredients, you can still achieve a terrifically disappointing tradeshow experience!

Do Green Tradeshow Promotional Giveaways Exist?

Guest post by Heidi Thorne

Since I’m known on Twitter for having information on green marketing, my friend “Tradeshow Guy” Tim Patterson asked the question, “Are there items in the promotional giveaway world that are truly ‘green?’ And if not, that’s a story in itself!” It sure would be.

It really comes down to how do YOU define a “green” promotional product? Currently, defining what is green is all over the place. One can call a reusable bag or water bottle green because it would be reused several times and not immediately make its way to a landfill. For the most strict green marketers, a reusable item is a cop out. They might not be happy until the item has been made of plastic derived from organic non-food supply corn grown in the United States in a factory powered by sun or wind that is employee owned and gives 10 percent of its profits to charity.

Because it is so difficult to determine if a giveaway is green, some time back I developed the Green Promo Score Sheet which is available for free download at It helps you assess the “green-ness” of your giveaway based on over a dozen factors such as if it is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, organic, fair trade, etc.

If you do decide to go down the green giveaway path, make sure that you select a giveaway that matches your objectives or purpose. For example, if your company is promoting that you are using alternative energy, don’t give away something that uses standard batteries! You might want to consider a flashlight that uses dynamo power (usually a crank which you turn to provide power) or solar.

When purchasing green promotional products, ask your supplier if he tell you what makes the item green or ecofriendly if specific claims are not made in the offer. Here is an example that I saw at an area business’ expo. They were giving out “natural” canvas tote bags to hold literature. Kudos for using a reusable product. But that may not have been the optimal choice for this event that was touting green products. Here’s why…

A lot of people think that if it’s cotton, it’s natural and therefore organic. Not so! Standard cotton production is not very environmentally friendly. It uses large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and water. Organic cotton production uses non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, manual or natural weeding, and water saving techniques.

Watch for vague words in product descriptions such as natural, ecofriendly, or green. These need to be defined.

The number of green tradeshow giveaway items available is increasing all the time. While labeling standards are still in a state of flux, it pays to find out why a product is green before you spend your green.

About the Author

Heidi Thorne is a promotional products and social media marketing consultant, specializing in ecofriendly, USA and union made products. A variety of more ecofriendly promotional products is available at her shopsite. For more information on how to green up your marketing, visit her blog at

13 Common Trade Show Mistakes (part 2)

Guest post by Mel White, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits – see part 1 here

7. Poor Follow Up on Leads

Why would you bring your own rope to your hanging? And, yet, the vast majority of exhibitors spend considerable cash preparing and participating in a trade show and then neglect the leads they gathered at the show. Well, either they don’t value the leads or there’s no plan on how to handle them. Most of the time it’s the latter. What’s the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

8. No Daily Booth Preparation

When your in-laws come to town, you spend days cleaning, organizing, and stressing over dust bunnies. Three days later, you don’t care anymore. There are dirty dishes piled in sink and clothes draped over the recliner. The same scenario happens for most exhibitors. They polish and preen for hours before the show opens, and then by Day Two, they ignore the smudges, the carpet boogies, and the stray candy wrappers.

Every day is a new day in Exhibit-Land. Like Disneyworld, it’s gotta look perfect before the guests arrive. Assign that task to someone every day and create a checklist. Otherwise, it won’t get done, or the person with initiative will do it and resent it.

9. Partying and Socializing

It’s a trade show. You’re suppose to socialize and party during the off hours. But . . . and here’s the BIG BUT . . . you need to be smart about it. First, you’re on company time. Even when you think you’re not on company time, you’re on company time. That’s just the way it is. If the company expects you to socialize with clients, then socialize and be on your best behavior. If someone has to tell you what that means, then you shouldn’t be socializing with clients.

Second, trade shows may seem like a friendly gathering, and they can be, but they are actually a competition. What you say, where you say it, and who’s around when you say it, can have painful repercussions for you and your employer. We are all on high alert for hints, innuendos, and outright gossip about our competitors. It’s amazing what someone will tell you, or someone next to your will reveal, after a few drinks.

Finally, and this should go without saying, socializing should not interfere with your show responsibilities. Pace yourself cowboys and cowgirls. Showing up at the booth sweating tequila (no matter how good the tequila was) isn’t attractive.

10. Packing and Unpacking

I know. You’re tired, and you want to get back to your room, the airport, or home. That’s understandable. We all feel that way. But how you unpack or pack your booth will make your life much easier or much harder. You know deep down in your heart that it’s the right thing to do. Ultimately, the key to any successful trade show is planning and organization.Your exhibit is no exception.

Carefully unpacking the exhibit and organizing the packaging materials makes the assembly go faster and the repacking much easier. You eliminate the head scratching that invariably occurs at the end of the show. When you take the time to repack the exhibit right, you ensure that the exhibit arrives at the next destination in good condition and ready for the next show. Think of your exhibit as yarn. You have a choice. You can either toss the loose yarn in the case and hope for the best. Or you can wind it carefully into a ball.

11. Participating in the Wrong Shows (not participating in the right shows)

This one is tough. Too often, you never know until you participate. It’s kinda like “Mystery Date” where you don’t know if the person on the other side of the door is “dreamy” or a “dude.” The best advice is to ask your suppliers or strategic partners who may participate in the same show. What’s their take on the trade show and has it been beneficial? If possible, ask for specifics such as lead numbers, sales from the show, and promotional ideas. What works and what doesn’t work.

In the end, you have to decide based on your own experience. Sometimes the show would have been better if only you had done this or that. That’s fine. You’ll make the adjustment next year. Other times, it wasn’t a good fit because you’re selling candy at a diabetics convention.

What you don’t want to do is allow tradition or momentum to dictate whether you participate. Just because you have (or haven’t) gone every year, shouldn’t determine whether you go or don’t go this year. Take the time to evaluate your marketing goals and determine whether the show contributes to those goals. If it does, then go.

12. Not Walking the Show and Talking to Competitors, Suppliers, and Potential Partners

It’s tempting to just hang out in your booth. After all, it’s safe and comfortable. But trade shows are two way streets. Potential customers are there to learn and discover new products, services, and suppliers. You’re there to work with those customers . . . but you’re also there to learn and discover as well.

Every show is an opportunity to improve your “game.” What are your competitors showing? What are they saying? Are there any new products or services which would benefit your company? Are there trends you’ve overlooked and need to study and implement?

No one is asking you to spy, but friendly conversation goes a long way with friends and foes alike. It’s all in your attitude and your approach. Don’t be afraid to say “Hello!” and ask how the show is going. You want to be seen as warm and friendly, and not as a medieval fortress with the drawbridge closed. Obviously the same rules apply as the “Party and Socialize” section — namely, you need to be smart about what you share (and don’t share).

13. No Pre-show Marketing

This may be last, but it’s certainly not least. In some ways, it should be #1 if only to get your attention. There’s no reason, absolute no reason (unless you want to fail) not to have a pre-show marketing plan. You can spend a little, or you can spend a lot. At a minimum, you should contact your customers to see if they are attending the show. What they tell you may influence what you bring to the show and what you feature in your graphics.

Beyond that, the opportunities are limited only by your imagination and your budget: from pre-show mailings and emails to advertising and contests, and from show sponsorships to industry press releases. You already spend much of your time trying to attract attention to your company throughout the year. Take that energy and creativity and apply it to your trade show marketing. If there was ever a venue for taking risks, it’s a trade show. The conservative, Namby Pamby approach rarely works in trade show marketing.

Be bold and beautiful my friend. The show starts in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

–Mel White

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photo credit: emilyonasunday

13 Common Trade Show Mistakes (part 1)

Guest post by Mel White, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits

In Pieces (An Auditory Experiment)

Mistakes happen whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned trade show veteran, but you can avoid the 13 Most Common Trade Show Mistakes by following this advice. So, let’s take a few minutes, while your competitors are reading about Lindsey Lohan or watching reruns of Jersey Shore, to super-size your trade show marketing skills.

1. Going Too Big

We all want to think we’re the big dog on the block, but we’re not. If you’re new to trade show marketing, starting with an inline 10 x 10 or 10 x 20 may make more sense. You learn what works — from graphics to display configurations — before investing in an island exhibit. For example, you’d be surprise how many folks think they need an enclosed conference room only to discover that their clients are more comfortable with an informal meeting area.

Most organizations participate in multiple trade shows each year. There’s usually a pecking order to those shows where some are more important than others. It may not make sense to “go big” at the secondary trade shows, when you could invest that money in your main show (where you’ll generate more leads and kick the bejesus out of your competitors).

2. Going Too Small

In general, smaller exhibits get less traffic than larger exhibits, if for no other reason than location. Bigger exhibits typically are centrally located, closer to the entrance, and along the main aisles. However, the largest benefit of bigger exhibits is square footage and height. Island exhibits can include presentation area(s), multiple kiosks, seating areas, ample storage, large format graphics, overhead signage, product displays. While these are still possible in inline displays, the space limits how much can be done.

There’s a school of thought that says, “At the very least, match the square footage of your main competitors.” Here’s another idea . . . determine what you want to accomplish at the show and what it will take to exceed those goals, and then design a booth that achieves them. It’s not rocket science folks.

3. No Specific Goals

For whatever reason, some companies are on autopilot when it comes to their trade show marketing. If you ask them what they want to accomplish, their response it usually “increase sales” or “generate more leads.” Really? If those are your only goals, then you might as well toss in “World Peace” and “Ending Global Hunger” too.

Chances are your trade show goals coincide with your overall marketing goals. The skill to execute them in a 3D face-to-face environment. That’s where working with a knowledgeable exhibit professional makes all the difference. Just because you are a superstar at marketing, it doesn’t mean you know diddly about trade show marketing or exhibit design. A smart trade show professional will spend much of their time asking you what you want to accomplish.

4. Cluttered Graphics

Think back to the bulletin boards in your elementary school classroom. Does that memory make you smile? That’s very sweet . . . now do exactly the opposite for your trade show graphics. All that clutter may have been perfect for developing minds hyped up on Elmer’s glue and Crayola crayons, but our older brains can’t process that much information in 3-4 seconds. We need clear, straight-forward messages. That doesn’t mean your graphics can’t be colorful, witty, and creative. They just can’t be thematic chaos. The message should state who you are, what you do, and what problem you are solving in less than 4 seconds. Everything else is just pretty paper on a package. We like the pretty paper, but we like what’s in the package a whole lot more.

5. Giveaways for the Sake of Giveaways

It’s funny how free pens, stress balls, and rulers can give us an inferiority complex. They have them. We don’t, so we feel like a second-class citizen on the trade show floor. At the next trade show, we have trinkets, and we spend half our time giving them away just to justify having them in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I like free stuff. But the free stuff better have a purpose. A bank that gives away nifty calculators. Smart. The chiropractor who gives away a pen shaped like a spine. Also smart. But when a software company gives away plastic water bottles. What’s the point?

The same rules apply for prizes or drawings. The drawing should create a buzz at the show, and should serve as a mechanism to engage potential clients in conversation. Fish bowls where attendees drop off business cards to win an iPod attract leads, but not quality leads. Do you really want a stack of unqualified leads for your sales team to sort through? Probably not.

6. Booth Staff Not Trained

I know you’re telling yourself, “My staff knows the products and they know the company, why should I have to train them?” True. Now recall the last time you went to the mall to shop. Those employees knew the products, and they knew the company. Did you feel like you received exceptional service. Did they approach you promptly, ask you open-ended questions, listen, and show you exactly what you wanted? Probably not.

Training before the show and before the show opens each day ensures that everyone understands the mission, that everyone knows their role, and that everyone gets their questions answered. Think of a trade show as a job interview. Every person who walks in the booth is deciding whether to hire you (or not). Can you really afford to lose a sale?

Stay tuned for the rest coming up next week!

(previously published at Tradeshow Tales, the blog of Classic Exhibits, and re-published with permission)

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photo credit: dusk-photography

4 Tips to Run a Successful Trade Show

Guest Post By Steve McMains

Dwell on Design 2010

Trade shows are great ways to promote a product or the brand identity of the company. Apart from that, you can also use a trade show to measure your competitors, there marketing tactics and their latest product development trends. Many companies that cannot afford to go for extensive market research or those who cannot directly communicate with the target market on a regular basis should go for different trade shows.

However, it is not enough to participate in a trade show to get the most out of it. You must prepare well in advance to end the show successfully. Here are some common mistakes done by many new companies along with tips to avoid them for better result.

Open your booth to visitors: Do you really think setting up a great looking booth is enough if the visitors do not feel comfortable? Many trade show participants often sit tight behind a 6 ft table and wait for the visitors to get in. However,smart marketers remove the table and try to get the visitors inside. In this process, you are actually walking a few steps ahead your competitors. This makes your booth more approachable to a prospective customer. If you really need some tables,get some bar-height pedestal tables so that your representatives can communicate or demonstrate the product in a one to one environment.

Keep enough space for visitors: Many new trade show participants often keep the booth crowded with their own representatives. They keep them to tackle heave traffic in the booth. However, there is hardly any need to do so. There is no need to put as many representatives as you can. It is always great to put smart people who can easily identify prospective customers from a crowd and can attend the visitors accordingly. You must remember that you have a very limited period and thus, there is no need to entertain the whole crowd. If you find that a very particular time of the day, you will get huge traffic, you can arrange for more work force. However, once the situation is over, it is better to remove the excess.

Polite, smart and ready to solve problems: This subheading tells all about the quality of your representatives. If the visitors do not feel that the representatives are warm and approachable, there are high chances that your trade show will turn out to be a failure. So make sure that they greet visitors with a warm smile and ask your representatives to keep their cell phones switched-off. While selecting your representatives make sure that they are well dressed and have a good sense of decency.

Company and Product knowledge: We often see that companies hire people from different agencies to represent them in a trade show. These people often do not have enough information about the company or the product. If they are your first line for interaction with the visitors, this is not a problem. However, if they are the only people representing your company in the trade show, there is a problem. If you hire these people, make sure that they know whatever they are supposed to know and put a person of your company present there so that people can approach him or her for further information on anything.

Event marketing can be very profitable. It just needs some more attention from you.

Steve is a media professional and writes for different online publications on media and advertising industry. For more information on event marketing, he recommends you to visit

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photo credit: Charles & Hudson

Trade Show Booth Flooring – A Key Consideration

Guest Article by Jules Sowder

Long parquet tiles inside exhibition

Trade show booth flooring is often overlooked as an important trade show accessory. Yet, your exhibit area floor covering can play a vital role in furthering your company brand image, enhancing the overall booth design, and creating a welcoming environment that draws prospects into your booth.

Consider that you have invested a tremendous amount of time and money producing a beautiful, high-impact display. This includes carefully selecting your display layout and graphics, lighting, accessories, and promotional item to help ensure you maximize your effectiveness and achieve your objectives from show participation.

Rather than work with the concrete or other plain utilitarian flooring most exhibit halls feature, it will serve you well to go the extra step to design and order custom flooring that complements your exhibit. Your flooring contributes to making an impression that reflects the quality of your product, as well as plays a role in attracting visitors who want to learn more about your products.

For example, custom carpet with your logo sends a strong message of professionalism and character. Beautiful area rugs create a warm, inviting atmosphere that emanates comfort and service.

Bold colored carpets depict strength and cool colors like blue and gray create a professional and crisp environment. Your flooring also can be crafted with color changes and lines to help the traffic pattern in your booth.

Another consideration with your flooring is the padding beneath your carpets. A good pad adds comfort and makes it less tiring to be on your feet for hours at a time. While attendees may not notice, those working the exhibit will feel the difference and see the difference in the number of leads that are generated from your efforts.

This article was written by Jules Sowder, an executive marketing adviser. For more information, visit her online tradeshow guide designed to help exhibitors maximize success:

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photo credit: Horia Varlan

How to Effectively Use a Roll Up Banner Stand

Guest post by Brantley Graham

164 - Another Trade Show

A roll up banner stand is an excellent way for a company to make the most of their presence at a tradeshow or exhibition. By controlling every aspect of your customer’s experience at your booth, it is possible to manipulate how they perceive you. However, in order to be able to do this, there are a lot of things that you are going to have to keep in mind. In order to properly take advantage of the benefits of banner stands and banners, you will need to have a very close attention to detail. All aspects of the banner set up should be considered, including lighting and assembly of the unit.

The first thing you should keep in mind when purchasing a roll up banner stand is that not all stands are created equal. There are stands that are ideal for businesses that travel frequently. These stands are fast and easy to set up, require very little in the way of assembly, and pack down into small, lightweight cases that are easy to transport. For those who need a larger set up, there are larger stands that are heavier and bulky, but are compatible with larger sized banners. This can be useful if you are planning on doing a long term branding campaign at one location. When you are selecting your stands, you should carefully consider how much money you wish to invest and how often you wish to travel. These factors will make a big difference in which stands will best fit your needs.

In addition to picking the best roll up banner stand for your needs, you will also need to take care to pick the best banners. Having banners that match your stands is very important. However, having banners that successfully pass the message you want and demand interest in your business is vital if you want your investment to be profitable. When you go to purchase your stands, you will have the option to order banners at the same time. Many businesses choose to take advantage of this option. If you do not have a design completed, you may also be able to request assistance in making a design for your banners. When you pick your design, you want to make certain that you are able to control how your clients perceive your company. If you are branding, you want to make certain that your logo and company name are both clearly visible. In many cases, a simple design is much more effective than a cluttered and busy design. Take your time picking your banner design as this is one of the most important aspects of your purchase.

Once you have purchased your roll up banner stand, you will need to make certain that you properly care for it. Whenever you finish with a stand at an event, check it over for damage. If either the banner or the stand gets wet, dry it out completely before putting it into storage. Damp equipment can cause health problems, discolorations on the banner and odours. Taking proper care of your equipment can help guarantee that it will last you for years to come.

Visit to place a quick quote for Roll Up Banner Stand for conference, meeting and other events from display boards suppliers. is the largest UK conference and event website and by submitting a quick quote, your requirements will be sent to multiple suppliers so that you can find various items including exhibition stands and display boards.

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photo credit: eyeliam

The Big Problem With Tradeshow Lead Collecting


Companies spend boats full of dollar bills on tradeshow marketing. They’ll spend to train their staff, spend to put up a great booth, spend to spiff it up with cool graphics and maybe contrive an outstanding demo of their products.

They may do it so well, in fact, that they’ve got hundreds of folks clamoring for their product. These hot prospects leave contact information and details on their wants and needs in regard to the product or service.

Then they go back to their office, expecting a follow-up call or email. Or brochure, or postcard. Something. Anything!

But they get nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Squat.

Why? Because the company with the booth dropped the ball. They didn’t follow up consistently. The sales staff didn’t see the value in the leads. Or they made a couple of calls, ran into a few dead ends and assumed that all the leads were equal. And stopped calling.

Or the leads were delivered to the sales staff, but someone there didn’t do much with them. Because it was, after all, a pretty big job. With hundreds of leads, the idea of calling or writing all of those folks was intimidating to say the least! So the follow up was far short of what was necessary to drum up more business. Which was, in fact, the whole point of going to the tradeshow.

So often the long chain of events that starts with the decision to exhibit at a tradeshow falls apart with a single weak link.

In this case the tradeshow leads were collected – a lot of them! – but there was minimal follow up, mainly because the system broke down. Or expectations were unrealistic. Or the manpower to follow through wasn’t available. Or the will was weak. Or something.

Before heading off to the tradeshow, make sure the ‘back end’ is set up. Put your system into place which takes into account the following:

  • How will the leads be distributed?
  • Who will follow up?
  • What is the nature of the follow up?
  • How many leads are expected?
  • Is the manpower sufficient to handle the new show leads?
  • Is the budget in place to make sure the follow up happens?
  • Is someone actually in charge?

Tradeshow leads – by themselves – are worthless. Like a great idea that sounds cool over a can of beer, nothing happens until the action takes place.

If your tradeshow leads remain in stasis, you won’t write any business. Without action, you’re like the wallflower at the dance thinking about asking the pretty girl to dance. You’re just standing there. In the shadows. Against the wall.

If on the other hand you have a plan – and a system – for tracking the leads, the follow up (phone, email, direct mail, in-person visits), and the inevitable customer wants and desires, you can actually make hay with tradeshow leads.

In a recent chat with Fred Trembley with, he confirmed what most people in the tradeshow consulting business say: that almost 80% of all tradeshow leads go a-wasting. He says that a system is definitely needed to prevent that from happening.

And I say that if you are able to follow up on most of your tradeshow leads, you’re at least one important step ahead of 80% of your competitors!

Are your leads wasted?

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photo credit: aikijuanma

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