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

September 2010

A Half Dozen Tradeshow Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

We check on how the tradeshow floor can be used as a research lab; look at new gadgest for exhibits; finding out what happens if your boss goes undercover; launching a new product; cutting costs at a convention, and look at how tradeshow planning increases your chances of success.

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The Research Lab of a Trade Show Floor

The Fall trade show season is upon us. It is time to show off our products and services to prospects and customers. But another big opportunity can present itself on the trade show floor and that is to “listen in” on all the conversations.

Continue reading here…

Twitter Ticker: A New Gadget for Trade Show Exhibits

More and more companies are turning to Twitter to amp up the excitement before a trade show. Once you get to the show you want to keep the momentum and communication going. This can be easily accomplished with Twisplays- a new LED sign that lets you display your Twitter streams.

Continue reading here…

What if Your Boss Went Undercover?

My mind has been pondering this question for awhile. However it was brought front and center when I read this announcement in the September 21 issue of MeetingsNet Extra. They had a brief about a hotel executive who is featured on the CBS reality show, Undercover Boss.

Continue reading here…

Launching a New Product and Utilizing Your Tradeshow Display

An exciting event that can occur within your trade show display is the launch of a new product. Many businesses use the venue to spread the word about new products and services. A successful product launch takes a lot work and preparation. Only those that put in the hours behind the scenes find success while exhibiting. There are three steps that cannot be overlooked during planning.

Continue reading here…

How to Cut Costs at Conventions

The recession may be over, but companies are still trying to recover from their losses by cutting costs. Trade shows are now more important than ever, since they allow you to promote your business/products in a venue with hundreds, maybe thousands, of attendees. There are ways to participate in exhibits without having to spend a lot.

Continue reading here…

Trade Show Planning: Your Roadmap To Success

Thoughtful, strategic trade show planning is essential to achieving your exhibiting goals and maximizing your return on investment, which includes both your money and time.

Continue reading here…

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photo credit: markhillary

Marketing Lessons From Yoko Ono

You don’t have to be a fan or even like Yoko Ono to learn from her.

And I say that because most people I know that have expressed an opinion about Yoko don’t have too many nice things to say about her.

“Yoko broke up the Beatles….”

“How can you stand her singing voice?”

“And that weird stuff she calls art…”

But I’ll come clean: I’ve liked Yoko and admired her art and music since the late 60s when my older brother started buying her albums. Yes, she put out weird music. Avant-garde. Different. But there was something in there that appealed to my young sensibilities.

And I never bought the story that Yoko broke up the Beatles. They would have broken up at about the same time anyway from what I can gather. They had matured to the point as people and musically where they all had to move on. It’s like getting out of college and getting on with your life. The crazy energy, the partying, the creative juices eventually all have to go in a different direction.

We looked at the marketing prowess and lessons learned from the Beatles awhile back on this blog, and thought it might be fun to look at what we can learn from Yoko Ono.

Yoko had early training as a classical musician, was from a well-to-do family that was reduced to begging on the streets during World War II, and went on i the early 60s to collaborate with avante-garde artists such as John Cage and Ornette Coleman.

She cuts a unique figure in the world of music and art. Her early films and performance art were simple, elegant and broke a lot of the rules. But they made a simple point. The famous story about John Lennon’s first meeting with Yoko went something like this: It was November 9, 1966 at Indica Gallery in London during a performance art installation by Ono. he had been enticed by the gallery’s co-owner, John Dunbar (ex-husband of singer Marianne Faithfull), who had told him about a “happening” that would be taking place there, featuring a Japanese woman from New York in a black bag. As John revealed to Playboy interviewer David Sheff, this sounded to him like something to do with sex: “Artsy-fartsy orgies. Great!”

After being introduced to “the millionaire Beatle,” the woman handed him a little card that said simply, “Breathe.” John, although puzzled, responded politely with a quick pant. Next, his eyes settled on a ladder leading up to a canvas suspended from the ceiling, with a spyglass hanging from it on the end of a chain. Climbing to the top of the ladder, he looked through the spyglass to read a word printed in tiny letters.

“You’re on this ladder — you feel like a fool, you could fall any minute — and you look through it and it just says ‘YES,’ ” he told David Sheff in 1980. “Well, all the so-called avant-garde art at the time, and everything that was supposedly interesting, was all negative; this smash-the-piano-with-a-hammer, break-the-sculpture, boring, negative crap. It was all anti-, anti-, anti-. Anti-art, anti-establishment. And just that ‘YES’ made me stay in a gallery full of apples and nails, instead of just walking out saying, ‘I’m not gonna buy any of this crap.'”

As a marketer, Yoko let her art do the talking. It either succeeded or failed on its merits. And it was often so unusual it generate enough comment to draw a crowd.

Once she and John became a couple, the two of them were able to use John’s star power: the Toronto Bed-in after their Gibralter wedding, where John recorded ‘Give Peace a Chance’; the ‘War is Over (if You Want it)’ poster and song campaign in 1972.

Among her many artworks of the past 30 years, Yoko flooded the city of Liverpool with banners, bags, stickers, postcards, flyers, posters and badges, with two images: one of a woman’s naked breast, the other of the same woman’s vulva. The piece, titled “My Mummy Was Beautiful”, was dedicated to Lennon’s mother, Julia, who had died when Lennon was a teenager.

On October 9, 2007 she officially lit the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Iceland, dedicated to peace and to Lennon.

Her art and media have drawn worldwide attention. You could say it’s mainly because of her association with John Lennon, but her work is considered to be very good – and spare: as David Quantick wrote for Uncut: “Yoko Ono’s art came from an uncluttered place; nobody save possibly John Cage has ever used so much space, and whiteness, and silence in their work.”

‘Ms. Ono’s well-preserved air of naïveté — and the license it gives her to say things simply and primally — has been her artistic gift since the ’60s, first as a conceptual artist and then, with John Lennon’s impetus, as a rocker and songwriter.’ –

So what are the marketing lessons we can take away from examining Yoko’s life, art and music?

  1. Don’t worry about what the press thinks. Think about your market instead.

  2. Be true to yourself.
  3. Simplicity and elegance lead the way.
  4. Use the tools at your disposal to the best of your ability (using her celebrity to promote her favorite causes, for example).
  5. It’s a marathon, not a sprint (still going strong at 77). Persevere.
  6. Overcome adversity in whatever form. What other choice do you have?
  7. Draw attention to your work, not yourself.
  8. Push your personal and creative boundaries.
  9. Dream. See what it brings.


Yoko’s Wikipedia page

Article by by Jon Pareles, New York Times

Yoko: Still walking on thin ice

Yoko Ono photos by Marcela Cataldi Cipolla

Podcast: Derek Mehraban Interview

Here’s the challenge: you’re sharing a booth with a much bigger and more visible partner. How do you create buzz, build traffic and get the word out? Bring on the social media, of course! But of course there’s more to it than just sending out a few tweets and creating a Facebook page.

Tim Patterson discusses the results of a virtual tradeshow with InGenex Digital Marketing CEO Derek Mehraban (psst – lots of great ideas in this podcast!)…


InGenex Digital Marketing

The Digital Bus Blog

Recent Podcasts on

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Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Got a few minutes to spend? Great! We have some great ways to help you wast, er, uh .. spend your time – and learn something while being entertained!

It’s called a podcast, in case you’ve been living on Mars since 1971. And here are a batch of them that have been posted on over the past several months.


Andy Saks: Andy’s a terrific presenter and trainer, and spends a fair amount of his time working for clients at tradeshows.

Lew Hoff of Bartizon discusses iLeads, the new iPhone app:

Steve Farnsworth: how to use YouTube to explode your traffic at tradeshows.

Mike O’Neill: Author of Rock the World With Your Online Presence discusses everything from LinkedIn and Facebook to and Twitter and how those various social media platforms can be used to promote events.

Matthew Selbie: What is the Opiniator? How can you use it in your business? What can you do with it at tradeshows?

Pooja Dhawan of Want to find out how Facebook can work to draw people to your tradeshow booth? Find out how Pooja Dhawan of, a wholesaler of womens young contemporary fashions used Facebook and other social media outlets successfully.

Matt McCabe: what’s new and hot in the world of promotional products from Matt McCabe of

Eric Lukazewski: the tradeshow marketing ninja of Echelon Exhibits in Chicago discusses the company’s revamped website, social media marketing and Manny Ramirez’s arrival in Chicago.

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photo credit: 8one6

Coolest Tools I Use

I love productivity tools, and love sharing them with friends and colleagues. I got to thinking the other day that I’ve never actually compiled a list of those tools and posted it. So here ’tis: some are old friends, some are brand new tools. All of them help me do what I need to do with my online and offline world.

So…in no particular order or preference (all links open a new browser window)…


  • Do free webinars for unlimited audiences, follow-up with attendees and registrants. Download data from the webinars.
  • Ditto for teleconferences.
  • FedEx print online: Only had to use this a few times as I can usually print elsewhere, but on those occasions this service has knocked me out with how easy it is to use. Upload files, tell ’em what you want and when you want it, and go pick it up.
  • I realize that my Photoshop skills are lacking – but this membership site has proven to have the goods with tons of tutorials, downloads, web and WordPress templates and more.
  • Bluehost website hosting: All my sites are hosted by Unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains, thousands of e-mail addresses, one-click WordPress install and updates, and more bells and whistles that you can every use. All very easy. Great customer service when needed. And dirt cheap.
  • Aweber and Ratepoint e-mail marketing: I’ve used Constant Contact, which is a solid service. But they didn’t have a few items that AWeber did. I was pitched RatePoint one day and checked it out. I use it for my newsletter; I use AWeber for everything else (, and others).
  • Got a live or online event and want to track attendance, sell tickets, mine data? It’s all here. I’ve used it a couple of times and was very pleased. Looking forward to using it again.
  • Feedburner: If you have a blog, be sure to burn your feed with Feedburner. Tons of additional stats and tools with this free Google tool.
  • YouSendIt: Need to send a large file to someone that doesn’t have an FTP site? does it for free for most files.
  • WordPress: The best (in my humble opinion) blogging platform around. Tons of customization options.
  • Google Chrome: Chrome has taken over Firefox as my favorite web browser. It’s faster; the search-in-address-bar feature is easy, and there are more and more themes, plug-ins and extensions available all the time.
  • Google plug-in page rank status:  check the Alexa ranking of any website you’re on with a single click.
  • Carbonite back-up plus iPhone app to access any document at home or work from anywhere. My favorite new cool tool!
  • Google Calendar (and syncing to home and work PC’s); with Google Calendar iPhone app. No matter where I update a calendar from, it populates across all calendars. I also use ACT! which syncs with my Outlook calendar at work, so I see everything on all calendars no matter where I input it.
  • HARO: Peter Shankman’s is tops in connecting sources with news (and blog) outlets. Free.
  • GoToMyPc: remote access to your computer from anywhere you have a ‘net connection. Just remember to leave your computer ON!


  • Software995 to create and edit and combine PDFs. They have a free version, but if you spring for the few bucks you don’t get sent to their website after each PDF you print.
  • Camtasia screen capture program: Version 7 kills. So many different ways to use it. I produce video, screen captures and more with this intuitive, easy-to-use tool.
  • Filezilla: free FTP software, easy to use.
  • Adobe Audition: multi-tracking audio recording software with more effects than I’ll ever use.
  • Photoshop / Picasa: Both are great for manipulating photos; Picasa has an online storage and sharing tool; PhotoShop is the king of photo manipulation.
  • ALZip for creating compressed files for emailing or uploading.
  • AudioShell and MP3Tag for editing MP3 ID tags. I’ve used AudioShell for years with Windows XP. With my new Windows 7 box, it doesn’t work, so I found MP3Tag which does the trick. Not as neat and unfussy as AudioShell, but workable. I only hope that the folks at SoftPointer make it work with Windows 7 64Bit soon!
  • Skype: I’ve used it off and on for years, and with my new Windows Life Cam (below) it’s becoming more of a regular thing.
  • iTunes: when iTunes first came out I was a big Winamp fan. Years later I can hardly recall Winamp.
  • UltraEdit: A super-powered notebook text editing tool. On steroids. I’ve used this for a few years and can testify it’s a great program. Not for everyone; you have to get used to how it works, but for creating simple text-only copy for copying and pasting to other documents it’s a great tool to avoid the underlying coding issues you often get with MS Word.


  • Flip Video camera: bought this a couple of years ago and love it. Easy to care, easy to use with a single stop-start button; it creates digital files that are easy to edit and post on YouTube or your blog.
  • ScottEVest coat – high tech clothing. Ran across this thanks to Peter Shankman. The best travel clothing. More pockets than I can use. Even lost my wallet in my coat once. Knew it was there, couldn’t get it out for five minutes until I found the right zipper.
  • Microsoft Lifecam (hi-def): My friend Tony Marino turned me on to this cool webcam which I’ve had less than a month and love it. Great quality, easy to use, powerful microphone built-in. About $55 if you look around.

What cool tools do you love? Please share!

Do the Yelp Dance!

You’re at a tradeshow, it’s time to close up the booth and head out for dinner and drinks. Maybe catch a Tweetup. Or maybe it’s still several weeks to the tradeshow and you want to schedule a Tweetup. How do you find a good place to meet, or to have dinner and drinks?

Try Yelp. They’re quickly building a reputation as an information provider that offers reviews of businesses – from people that have patronized the business. From Yelp’s website: “Yelp allows consumers to share the experiences they’ve had with local businesses and lets business owners share information about their business with their customers. Simply put, it’s word of mouth–amplified.”

Word of mouth – amplified.

This works from two directions: if you have a business that’s near a convention center, you’d better be listed on Yelp. If not, it takes a few moments to set up an account.

If you’re a small business, you’d better be looking at building a customer community program this year. Starting building an email (and SMS) list so you can offer specials and promotions to those customers. If you’re at a tradeshow or convention, Yelp is a great resource: on a recent vacation I used Yelp to track down a number of restaurants that I never would have otherwise found. All were worthwhile – some more than others – but each Yelp review gave insight into other customers’ experiences and thoughts.

Of course, Yelp can be a double-edged sword if you’re a small business. Treat a customer badly and you might create a firestorm of negativity – deserved or not. With new location-based and customer-review services popping up, it’s going to be a harder line for businesses to walk.

Besides Yelp, your business should be visible and listed on Google Maps and Facebook. Consider looking at newer and not-so-well-known platforms such as FireEagle,  Loopt,  Gowalla,  or Rummble or any of another hundred or more LBS-services.

With more and more people going mobile, the niche-oriented businesses such as Foursquare and Yelp will become bigger and bigger players. Not only can you use them to connect with people, find a great restaurant or coffee shop or tire store, as a business you’ll find a competitive advantage by being first to be found by that small but growing number of people using the services.

Is Foursquare the Next Killer App for Tradeshow Marketing?

The year: 2016

The scene: a busy tradeshow floor in Chicago


The situation: almost half of the exhibitors at the show are welcoming visitors to the show, who are ‘checking in’ via Foursquare (or some similar app – who’s to know what will survive that long). After then check in at the booth, they’re rewarded with a couple of spiffs. Maybe a free download just for show visitors, a store discount, or a chance to win something cool. Maybe they get a free one-on-one with the CEO. Doesn’t matter, could be anything of value. By checking in, they also automatically are asked if they want to opt-in to receiving special offers via text message or old-fashioned e-mail.

When visitors check the stats in Foursquare they see that hundreds of visitors have also checked in at the booth, as well as many others. There’s a thriving online community of people who are also connecting face-to-face thanks to location-based-marketing apps. It could be Facebook, could be Foursquare or any other of the LBS (location based services) apps that are thriving in the new, increasingly connected world. With the deep personal profiling that has grown in the past few years, it’s easy to connect with people who are interested in the same things, or have certain characteristics in common, such as location, similar job titles, or even off-job interests like golf or skiing. Meetings are arranged either by users or companies who have an interest in bringing these small groups together. Kind of like a Tweetup on steroids.

The scene is not that far from reality. Location based marketing is exploding. Mobile marketing is right behind. Some people are already starting to use the mobile and GPS tools to great effect. Sarah Perez writes on Read Write Web that the key to success for your location-base app is to find a way to reward people for their activities. So what’s your reward?

Indeed. Give something of value to a group of people that are hungry for that item and you’ve started opening the door to a new client-customer relationship.

While Lopez refers to a recent study by Forrester Research that shows ‘only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based apps such as these, and only 1% out of those that use them do so more than once per week’ – just think back to the middle part of the last decade where people were just getting excited about podcasting and blogging, both of which are now well established. Web 2.0 was the new buzz. Since 2005, the incredible growth of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has been the focus of countless media spotlights.

The world is going mobile, and GPS-related services and location-based marketing is poised to take off big time. There’s huge potential there for the masses. And even now, as the Forrester research points out, the current small group of users of Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, MyTown, Brightkite are all very influential. People look to them for opinions and leadership. Friend ask what they’re up to and who’d they buy from.

It may not be the time to jump into location-based marketing quite yet for a tradeshow, but if you did you would not be too far ahead of anyone.

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photo credit: abulhussain

Just Ask for What You Want!

Life lessons are sometimes slow to present themselves. It wasn’t until I hit my 40s that the idea of ‘ask for what you want’ really came true for me. Now I do it all the time. Well, when I think of it and when it makes sense.

But it is amazing what you can get if you ask. Now I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to tie this to tradeshow marketing, but I bet it can be applied somewhere. Perhaps to a vendor, a client, a potential customer…somebody. If you want something, just ask!

For instance, I’m a Comcast cable subscriber. I’ve heard that many people through the years have not been happy with the service. Truthfully, it’s always been great for me. The few issues I’ve had have been handled promptly and courteously.

I got started with Comcast when I signed up one of those service bundles. You know the kind: they package internet, cable and phone service and give you a sweet deal so you’ll buy all of them. And of course it’s a limited offer; the price will go up after a year.

So I bought it knowing that the price would go up after a year (this was several years ago, by the way). At the end of the year I got the latest bill in the mail – which showed the increased pricing – and I decided to give them a call, since the price was going to go up about $30 a month.

“Hi, I’m a customer of about a year and I notice that the price for my bundled service expires. I’m actually shopping around and am interested in what you can do for me.”

“Hang on a minute, let me check.”

I wait for a moment before the service rep comes back. “I see that you’ve been paying your bills on time every month and that you’re currently paying X for the bundle. I can give you the current bundle price. It’s not the same as it was when you signed on, but it will still save you $20 a month. How does that sound?”

“Great! Thanks!”

Another example:

One of the credit cards I’ve had for several years hit me with an annual fee earlier this year. I hear that’s happened to a lot of people since the new rules went into effect. So I got on the horn to the service rep and asked if they’d mind waiving the fee. I told them if they didn’t I’d probably cancel the card. The balance at that point was $0 and it wasn’t a card I used a lot. Made sense to ask them if they’d drop the fee.

They checked my history (“you’re a long-time customer and we appreciate your business!”), and after a moment said they’d be glad to give me a one-time waiver on the fee. That saved me $39. If they try to hit me again next year with the feel, I’ll ask again to have them waive it. May not get it, but if I don’t ask it’s certain that I won’t.

One more example – this time I got a great deal by keeping my mouth shut. Sort of.

I was at the rental car kiosk in Anaheim a couple of years ago. I had reserved a compact car. They happened to be out of compact cars and told me they could upgrade me for a small fee. I politely said no because I’d been through this before and wanted to see what they were willing to do for me. In a sense I was silently asking to see what they could come up with instead of quickly agreeing to his first offer.

After a few minutes of poking around his computer, the agent said he could upgrade me for no extra charge to a Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible – one of the few cars they had available. Would that be okay?

Uh. Yeah. That’d work.

So I drove with the top down in a hot little sports car for four days in LA. My suitcase didn’t fit in the trunk but I was able to wedge it in the back seat area so I didn’t care – it was all good.

Point is: keep on asking. As a salesperson, keep on asking your customers for the business. If you’re setting up a tradeshow booth, ask the show services folks how they might upgrade your booth. Ask for a better space a few days before the show – perhaps someone has dropped out.

Ask to be upgraded to a suite at your hotel for no extra charge. Ask for a complimentary meal.

Ask. Ask. Ask!

You may not get it even if you ask.

You will definitely NOT get it if you DON’T ASK!


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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