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

February 2011

Should you Outsource Your Social Media Marketing?

Doing social media right takes time and expertise, so should you outsource it?

Here are the basic arguments: by outsourcing social media you’re bringing in an expert that knows there way around the social media landscape and can get you up and running quickly. So from that aspect, it’s a good idea.

On the other hand, you should NOT outsource your social media marketing because nobody from outside your company knows the culture of your company like your own employees – and social media is a perfect platform to share your company’s culture with clients and prospects. So it’s worth it to take the time to have your own employees learn social media and do it all internally.

Both are valid viewpoints and both deserve consideration.

My viewpoint: in the short term, by hiring a professional you’re getting a lot of information quickly and putting your company’s brand into the social media marketplace in a short time. Beyond that, you’ll want an internal team to learn the ropes and eventually take over.

So how do you find a social media consultant that knows what they’re doing? Well, it makes sense that they’d have a strong social media presence. Check their blog (is it current? what to do they blog about?); follow them on Twitter and Facebook; see if they’re active on YouTube and have any of their key people listed on LinkedIn. Connect with them on some of these outposts and watch what they do. It won’t be long before you’re going to have a pretty good feel for how well they understand social media and engage their community.

Once you decide to get involved in social media, whether you do it in-house or bring in a pro, there are some basics that you must handle:

  • Make your company easy to find by including links on your website to your social network outposts
  • Put links in embedded e-mail signatures
  • Put links in all marketing materials and collateral
  • Put links on all press releases

According to Social Media Today, you should look to outsource a number of things and keep other things internal. For instance, a good consultant can assist in writing pre-scheduled content such as blog, Twitter and Facebook posts. She can also find and follow relevant friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook. Creating a branded landing page on Facebook and a branded Twitter background would also go to your agency.

But you should plan to schedule a few moments each day to interact with your Twitter and Facebook followers.

A social media consulting team should, if they do their job correctly, become obselete before too long.

Even though you may have an agency working with you to engage in social media, you still must make time to engage yourself. If you rarely visit your social media networks you may miss opportunities that only you would recognize. You might see a question on your Facebook or Twitter page that you are able to answer quickly that no one else in your company is equipped to handle.

You are the expert in your business. No one knows your job quite like you do.

Other considerations: budget, personnel, time. This all comes down to the old ‘time, money and energy’ equation. Every situation is different and only you know best.


The 75-Year Old Ski Bums

What can we learn from 75-year old ski bums? Well, personally, that’s exactly what I’ll be in a couple of decades, so I thought this video was really fun from that angle.

Next? These folks are HAVING FUN! Naturally, since they’re skiing. But given that I’ve been a ski bum since I was about 7 years old (knee-high to a grasshopper), I’ve always tried to incorporate skiing into my daily job. Or vice versa.

What else? They do their best at their skill level. And still take chances, even at 75+. I like that. We should all know our limits and know when to push them.

That’s enough lesson-learning from this. Watch this and have fun! And…it’s only 4 minutes!

Social Media is Useless

Or to expand a bit: social media for the sake of social media is useless. If the only thing you’re doing with social media is tweeting for fun, posting stuff on Facebook just to stuff some things into the cyber-ether, or goofing off with silly videos on YouTube, you’re most likely wasting your time.

However, if you’re doing useful things in social media, such as listening to the talk about your industry and products, responding quickly to comments and questions and reaching out to those who both praise or complain about your company – yes, you should keep doing that. Because you’re using social media in such a way that can actually impact your bottom line.

It’s the same if you’re getting involved in social media at tradeshows, events and conferences just for the sake of ‘being online’…you’re probably not getting much bang for your buck. If on the other hand, you are consciously communicating with clients and potential customers in such a way as to engage them thoughtfully, it can definitely impact your bottom line.

Let’s face it: social media is not free. Oh, sure the tools are generally free. Getting those Twitter and Facebook accounts just take a few moments, and there’s no monthly fee to have those accounts. But you are spending TIME to tweet and post on Facebook. And TIME is MONEY. If your employees are engaging in social media on your company’s behalf and doing it on the clock, yes, it costs money. So they’d damn well better be doing something useful.

Which is where most companies tend to let the negative potential of social media keep them from doing anything. The trouble is, those companies that are operating on fear are going to be so late to the party that they might as well not bother to show up. They might as well go back to using the telephone, fax machine and cold calling as their only methods of sales communication.

It’s all about TRUST. If you don’t trust your employees to engage with your online community in a thoughtful and positive way, chances are they WON’T do it! However, if you’re letting your employees get involved in social media because you feel they know your company better than some highly-paid consultant, and you TRUST them to represent the company in a positive light, good things happen.

They share stories about why they love working there. They help customers and prospects to solve problems and leave them wanting and willing to tell friends and acquaintances about the great experience they had.

In a tradeshow setting, social media can be used to not only bring people to your tradeshow booth, but to wholly engage them while they’re at your booth – and get them to share that great experience with their community, making you look like the stars you are. Shoot videos of them raving about your product, share photos of them on Facebook or your blog, tweet out that ‘so-and-so just stopped by the booth!’

Using social media to show off your customers is a great way to make them feel loved and wanted. If you can do that successfully, you have created a customer that will naturally bring you more customers…without even trying.

Using the Location-Based SCVNGR Game at Tradeshows

I keep hearing how SCVNGR is being used to engage tradeshow attendees with pics, check-ins and other game activities. So let’s take a look at how it’s being done in a tradeshow or event setting.

First, what the heck is SCVNGR?

SCVNGR is a game. Playing is simple: Go places. Have fun and share with your friends. Check-in, snap pics, do the social check-in or try a challenge! Everywhere you go, you’ll earn points and start unlocking real-world rewards at over 12,000 locations (think free ice cream!). SCVNGR makes it easy to share where you are and what you’re up to with your friends on SCVNGR, Facebook and Twitter. Start playing SCVNGR by downloading our free iPhone & Android app. SCVNGR is funded by Google Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Balderton Capital. Visit to learn more.

Last summer the New England chapter of Meeting Professionals International looked for a social media activity that met the needs of buyers and suppliers, encouraged networking and interaction, helped give back to the community, and is really fun, too…is such a thing even out there? Turns out it is: SCVNGR.

They set up a 90-minute scavenger hunt for the 150 attendees. Each venue ponied up a sponsorship fee and once the scavenger hunters arrived they were tasked with doing something. “For example, arriving at restaurant Post 390, participants had to find the private function room. There, they had to try some hors d’oeuvres. After submitting a photo to prove they’d completed the task, participants got a text message noting that the restaurant has three private function rooms.”

Read more here.

Map Dynamics blog gives a blow-by-blow walkthrough of how to set up a SCVNGR game for your show or function.

Kodak set up a SCVNGR game at CES 2011 in Vegas earlier this year.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show used SCVNGR in Chicago last summer, and while the attendee participation was low, the time and energy required to set it up was very low. ‘According to Lee Anne Orange, IMTS exhibitions special project manager, the decision to use SCVNGR is an outgrowth of the show’s existing social media strategy, albeit in a less demanding exercise. “We use a couple other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter that require a certain amount of maintenance that we have a hard enough time keeping up with,” she says. “SCVNGR was appealing because it starts and ends here.”‘

Here’s another look at the event from Successful Meetings.

Also last summer, member of SCVNGR worked the SIGGRAPH show in Los Angeles. While the article broke the daily ration of using the word ‘awesome’ it is a great endorsement for using SCVNGR at an event.

And finally…ya gotta love bloggers. Unlike a news reporter who feels she might have to stick with convention on describing something, here’s a great example of a blogger who got all enthused about how SCVNGR worked (or might work) for them in a number of situations.

Amazing Internet Usage Stats From 2010

Every year or so I try and get a handle on how big the internet is. The numbers are staggering. So big that it’s hard to fathom some of them. But it’s enlightening, nonetheless, to see all of the facts and figures.

One of the first places I started was at InternetWorldStats. According to their numbers, Facebook had 518 million users as of August 2010, the most recent number on this website.

Checking Google I came across an interactive chart that shows “Internet users as percentage of population” and gives you a list of countries so you’re able to compare them. In this chart, over 75% of the US are on the internet.

I’m also curious to see how much internet traffic is made up email. In 2010, there were 107 TRILLION emails sent. The Royal Pingdom also has a list of other current stats, including the fact that almost 9 of 10 emails were spam. Yikes!

Checking Facebook’s own stats is an interesting learning experience. Among other things, we find that the average user creates 90 pieces of content each month – that’s an average of three a day!

The size of the world wide web is demonstrated in real-time with, which tracks the number of web pages indexed by various search engines.

And finally, this Mashable article looks at the number of videos that were uploaded and viewed on YouTube in 2010.

Amazing stuff. The video numbers continue to grow. Whether or not you’re finding a way to work video into your marketing mix at tradeshows or otherwise, you can’t help but admit that your audience is consuming online video in a big way.

6 Posts on Using iPads at Tradeshows You Might Have Missed

…in which our intrepid reporter takes a stroll through a number of blogs and news outlets. And takes a couple of the companies to task for, well, various things…

Alexis Exhibits details a number of ways tradeshows will benefit from using iPads, including:

  • videos and photos
  • lead retrival and demos
  • attendee schedules
  • and more…

As an aside, I was disappointed in the Alexis website for one BIG reason: they only list a toll-free number and general e-mail but NO other contact information. Who are these people? Where are they? Why the mystery?

Tradeshowfeed, courtesy of Rogers Exhibits, lists several ways to use the iPad at a tradeshow:

  • incorporating multimedia
  • interactive demos
  • agendas, one-to-one appointments, and personalized agendas
  • way-finding
  • and more…

The Tradeshowfeed blog is actually a nice enough blog with useful information and a good look, but seems pretty inactive. However, when you click the ‘Latest” link, the four most recent posts are from Feb 8, 2011, November, 2010; October, 2010 and August of 2010. Uhm, that’s barely enough to fog a mirror, folks.

Eric Lukazewski’s “Tradeshow Insight” blogs is one of the more active and interesting tradeshow blogs that you’ll find and this post lists 5 iPad apps that may make your tradeshow world a little easier.

Sullen iPad Catalog App Launches At Trade Shows” details a custom catalog that is being used on tradeshow floors to demo an art-driven lifestayle apparel brand. Nicely done.

Alexis Exhibits covers some of the same ground as their other iPad post, but still offers a batch of good ideas for using iPads at tradeshows:

  • Personal demos
  • Portability
  • Interactivity
  • Create a hands-on kiosk
  • and more…

The Monetate Market Optimization Blog offers a review of their experience using the iPad to demo their marketing software at a recent tradeshow. One thing that they like was the personal interaction that the iPad offers over a larger flat screen.

iPad photo (CC-BY-SA) by Glenn Fleishman from Seattle, Washington

Telecommuting In Style

Are you stuck in the office all day long, five days a week? Happens to all of us. Happens to me most of the time. But every once in awhile I get inspired and take my work to the ski resort. Can’t do it every day, because on many occasions I have to meet clients in person. But if that’s not the case, I can often handle a lot of the details of work remotely, via a smartphone or laptop.

So Tuesday of this week I took my work to the slopes at Hoodoo Ski Bowl, my ‘home’ resort. And had a ton of fun while doing it. And answered a few client calls, an email or two and communicated with the office on a critical project as well. Yeah, the first time you might feel a little odd about actually taking a client call on the chairlift, but when you’ve handled the issue, you hang up and smile…

Can you work remotely? Can you find a way to mix pleasure with your job? It doesn’t always mean heading to Cabo or the ski resort. It might mean you’re taking meetings offsite to your favorite coffee shop. Or finding a way to engage with your clients or prospects through social media while you’re enjoying a day off. The lines are blurring and will continue to blur between our “work” hours and our “off” hours as we get deeper and deeper and more familiar with tools such as smartphones and the online platforms that allow us stay in front of other people’s minds much easier than before.

Even at a tradeshow you can easily stay in touch with people in other cities, keeping your business going in several areas while also seeing people face-to-face at the show.

Today’s work world means getting adept at using all of the available tools – and knowing which ones work for you and which ones to leave aside.

Some of the tools I use which help me work remotely include Dropbox and Carbonite. They allow me to access documents from anywhere and either work on them or email them when needed. Checking in with your community by using Facebook is also very useful and not time-consuming at all. By linking several accounts together (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn) you can reach people on all of those platforms by interacting with only one.

Do Pretty Ads Ring the Cash Registers?

Like millions I watched the Super Bowl over the weekend, not only to root for the Packers (!), but to gawk at the ads. Lots of clever ads put together which were damn entertaining. According to the Portland Business Journal, some of the most popular were produced by Portland’s Weiden + Kennedy, well known for creating great Nike ads over the years. They created the Chrysler and Coca-Cola ads which got a lot of critical and viewer praise.

My favorite (and it’s hard to choose, so if I were to write this article tomorrow, my fave choice might change) was the very popular VW ad with the mini-Darth Vader called “The Force.” It went viral before the Super Bowl and by Monday had garnered over 16 million views on YouTube:


While the Super Bowl is a terrific showcase for ad creativity, many critics (me included) wonder about the effectiveness of the ads. Advertisers spend around $3 million for a 30-second slot. Not to mention the time, energy and money that goes into creating the ad. Must be another three mil, at least, right?

That’s a ton of money, even if you’re Coca-Cola or Chrysler. As an advertiser you want it to pay off.

If the ad is number one on the popular charts but doesn’t sell more than a few bottles of coke or more than a few new cars, is the ad worth the investment? Hard to justify in my mind. But if the ad creates huge brand awareness and you’re able to point back to the ad as a key point in a rise in sales, you can probably justify it.

Hey, it’s the same with tradeshows – which is just another marketing tactic.

You spend a ton of money (it’s not cheap!), and hope the sales increase as a result.

So…some questions to ask as you prepare your creative for the tradeshow:

  • Is the booth pretty or effective? Or both?
  • Is your graphic message popular or does it ring the cash registers? Or both?
  • Is your in-booth demo clever and does it grab solid leads? Or is it just plain clever..?
  • Do your staffers have great questions for your visitors and do they use those questions to qualify a ton of great leads?
  • Do your leads make a nice pile of paper but fail when it comes to getting them to pulling out their checkbook to purchase your product or service?

It’s the same with websites, by the way. I’ve seen incredible looking websites which did virtually nothing for the business. And I’ve seen ugly websites that were extremely effective at turning a visitor into a customer.

Pretty and popular is nice. But sales effectiveness and lead conversion pay the bills.

Podcast: Interview with LinkedIn Expert JD Gershbein

While LinkedIn is a powerful research and business connectivity tool, lots of folks are still grasping for ways to use LinkedIn to benefit their tradeshow, event and conference appearances. Thanks to a recent HARO request, I spoke with JD Gershbein, CEO of Owlish Communications, considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world, about leveraging your LinkedIn profile for just those appearances.

JD’s bio: J.D. GERSHBEIN, CEO of OWLISH COMMUNICATIONS, is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn.  He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, salespeople and their companies.  Dubbed “LinkedIn’s #1 Brand Ambassador” and “The LinkedIn Black Belt,” J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn education.  He has been featured on FOX News, in the Chicago Tribune, has guested on prominent coast-to-coast talk radio programs and contributed numerous articles to online publications.  A nationally known A-list speaker and workshop facilitator, J.D.’s keynote message encompasses LinkedIn profile content, personal and corporate branding, cognitive marketing, communication etiquette, and business development on LinkedIn – at all levels of fluency, from novice to dedicated user.

Contact/connection points:

Follow J.D. on Twitter:  @jdgershbein
The Wisdom Zone (JD’s Blog):

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