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

April 2011

What a Dusty Web We Weave

Is your LinkedIn Profile a bit, shall we say, spare? Do your Facebook page updates come along every election and New Year’s Day? Is your Twitter account so empty of recent updates that it echoes when you walk in? Is your most recent YouTube video celebrating the latest and greatest…MySpace update?

Duck Son & Pinker

Sorry, dude, but if that’s the case – close it all down! Either pony up the time to create current updates or get out of the way.

It’s said that 80% +- Twitter accounts are inactive. Facebook is apparently a little better with about 50% of the 500 million+ users logging on regularly.

“I don’t have the time!”

If that’s the case, you have a few choices: either put up or shut up. If you don’t have the time to participate fully, what’s the point? A half-baked LinkedIn profile does you no good. People will rarely find you and when they do they won’t have much to see. If you’re not actively working to connect with more people on a regular basis, you probably shouldn’t be involved.

So many people are still dipping their toes in the waters of social media. Testing it out. Trying it on for size.

Okay, I get it. That’s fine, for a time. But if you’re still testing the waters a year or two later, I think you’ve tested enough. Either jump in all the way or go back to what you were doing before you dipped that toe.

Wanna build a community that you can tap into for next year’s tradeshow? Work to build it. Engage with it. Answer questions. Ask questions. Throw out comments and observations. Be yourself.

But do it regularly. Find a time every day when you can spend a few moments. Come up with a ‘morning video’ you can share with your readers. Grab something you like off of YouTube and embed it. Maybe it’s a cool rock song from the 70s. Maybe it’s a how-to that your audience will appreciate. Be yourself.

Share a link. Read the news and share something your audience will like. Share a quote. Come up with your own quote! Be yourself.

Find a way. Create a routine. Before long you’ll be comfortable with the engagement. And you’ll start to hear back from your growing community. Be Yourself!

You can post a few things in ten minutes. If you have a Hootsuite account, you can set up a half-dozen tweets to go out throughout the day in just a few minutes.

If you’re online – and if you want to create that community, but you’re not finding the time, you’re running out of excuses.

Fish or cut bait. S&*$ or get off the pot.

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photo credit: Aim low, play bass

Measure It!

Everything you do online can be measured in some fashion. So start measuring.

How many Facebook friends does your company have? How many Twitter followers? How many of your tweets are getting passed around by being re-tweeted? How many views did your recent blog post get?

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to measurements, to my mind, is to compare themselves to all of their competitors, or at least a few of their main ones.

Sure, that’s a good number to know – and perhaps important. But you really should start with comparing yourself to…YOU.

Are your key metrics growing or declining? By what percentage? What types of posts (video/photo/blog/tweets) are getting the most attention? What do people react to the most? The least?

Take note of trends. The more you know about what your audience is reacting to and why, the more you’ll be able to give them what they want.

As a volunteer for a local start-up non-profit community radio station I recently had the opportunity to see how our Facebook friends reacted to a local event we put on. The event was the ‘Beggar’s Ball,’ a raucous and rockin’ 8-hour event featuring live bands, a father-daughter circus act, a belly dancer, and a bevy of local non-profits who share their passions and challenges.

It was a great event. Everyone went away knowing they had experienced something pretty damn cool.

During the show we continually posted photos of the acts on the KMUZ Facebook page. Shortly after the show I posted a larger photo album of the show. A few days later I took stock of the number of impressions we made on Facebook, and how many comments we got about the photo postings.

The photos we posted into the KMUZ stream gathered 7997 impressions. We counted over 30 ‘likes’ of the posts, about half as many comments on the photos and posts.

For a small grass-roots-promoted event that drew 200 enthusiastic folks, we considered the event a huge success.

Again, it’s all in context. Now that we’ve taken the measurements of this particular event and our Facebook interaction, we’ll have something to compare to when we do our next event.

If you’re blogging, tweeting or Facebook-posting at a tradeshow, measure it. Compare to next time. And the time after that. Keep the stats. Build spreadsheets and watch the trends.

If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you tell where you’re and and where you’re going?

Preview the Social Media Tradeshow Marketing Bundle - Click Here!


You’re So Vain, You Probably Think Your Blog is About You

Do you have a blog? What is is about?

With a nod to Carly Simon’s Number One Hit “You’re So Vain” back in ’72 (aahh..the good ol’ days!), if your blog is about you and your company, you’re missing the boat. By a long shot.

At first blush, you’d think the purpose of a blog would be to tell the world about yourself and your company. After all, isn’t that what you see on other company blogs? A raft of press releases, horn-tooting and ‘wow, look at us!’ crap.

Who wants to read that? Do you?

If this blog was all about ME (Tim Patterson, @tradeshowguy, Interpretive Exhibits), how would that help you? How would it solve your everyday problems of trying to market to your target audience at tradeshows, events and conferences?

It wouldn’t. Because what WE/ME are going through likely is not what YOU are going through. Oh, sure, we might find a few areas of common ground, but if all I did on this blog was toot my horn, you wouldn’t bother to come back. Not to say you should NEVER toot your own horn, just be aware of not over-doing it. Your blog is about your readers, not you. When researching a recent presentation on blogging, I looked for exhibit company blogs just to see what they were blogging about. MOST of them were self-congratulatory and PR-laden. In other words, boring and bland.

And the goal of a blog is to get people to come back.

You do that by offering information, insight, and (hopefully) solutions to issues and problems your audience is facing.

If your audience, for instance, is marketing at a tradeshow and want to use QR Codes or set up a SCVNGR smart-phone game, you’d want to find a blog that’s explored that.

If your readers chime in on a problem that you’re written about, it’s a good sign that they’re interested. Write more about that topic. Do some research, talk to experts, compile evidence. Show what works and what doesn’t.

For example, I was interested in QR Codes, so I contacted a company that used them. Found out a bunch, read a lot, spent time figuring out how they work. And blogged about it a few times.

As a result, some poor misguided fools now think I’m a QR Code expert! HA! Well, that’s they’re problem. Just this week I’ve been interviewed by two people who saw me as an expert source on QR Codes for tradeshow marketing, thanks to a recent blog post.

Last week, I was contacted by two companies that asked if they could re-publish my QR Code blog posts and QR Code Tradeshow Marketing Guide.

All because saw a hot topic that the readers of this blog were interested in, did a little research, made some personal observations and blogged about it. And as a result, I’ve gathered a lot of information about QR Codes. Perhaps I’m at least a pseudo-expert.

So if all you’re writing about on your company’s blog is your latest widget, or how the CEO got an award, or how you have a new shiny facility…face it, your audience doesn’t care.

Unless it’s about them.

Check out the Blogging 101 Webinar here



12 Ways to Engage at Events Using Social Media

Some notes from the presentation I’m working on for the Event Marketing Summit. I’m presenting on May 16th in Chicago at the Hyatt Regency. Will you be there?

Not sure if any or all of these will make it into the presentation, depending on how the whole thing plays out, but I thought these notes were fun and worth sharing:

Three ways to use Facebook to engage your market at events

  • Include a FB widget on your blog
  • Invite friends and followers to your event
  • Post, post, post! Videos, photos, comments – and invite people to chime in. And do it in REAL-TIME!

Three ways to use Twitter to engage your market at events

  • Invite people to stop at various locations, post a photo (Twitpic) and tweet giving them a chance to win
  • Stop at at least three booths of people you DON’T know, send out a tweet with the show hashtag; giving you a chance to win.
  • Set up a central ‘tweet’ area where you display all the tweets from a specific hashtag; invite all tweeters to follow everyone else that tweets with that hashtag at the show.

Three ways to use YouTube to engage your market at events

  • Post pre-show videos showing people what to expect at the show (new products, special visitors, special deals, etc)
  • Set up a camera in-booth asking customers for testimonials, post on YouTube
  • Put together videos post-show showing viewers that weren’t there what they missed (wrap-up)

Three ways to use LinkedIn to engage your market at events

  • List and invite people to events
  • Target specific people through searches; target by searching show groups and companies you want to do business with
  • Invite a few limited people to a special ‘exclusive’ preview or offer a premium giveaway to those that you want to especially target


Using Social Media to Reduce Your Tradeshow Carbon Footprint

After getting an email from Ewan MacDougall and his link to an interesting infographic on how tradeshows impact the environment, I got to thinking about how social media might help to mitigate some of those impacts.

Okay, it sounds like a good idea: using social media to reduce your impact on the environment while attending a tradeshow. But can we really make that idea work in a substantial way?

The most obvious ways would be to move most, if not all, of your tradeshow promotions to social media. Tweet it out, post Facebook updates and load videos onto YouTube and Facebook to promote your appearance at the show. It’s much more environmentally friendly than sending postcards or other mailers.

And of course, you can make documents such as brochures and other typical handouts available as a downloadable PDF. By incorporating the use of QR Codes, you can invite attendees to grab the documents easily through their smart phone. Just remember to optimize the landing page so they can actually READ it on their phone!

But what about other methods? Can Twitter be used for more than just a Tweetup or to send out promo messages? Sure, you can actually send out links to your downloadable PDFs and toot your own horn (tweet your horn?). You can also put up a sign inviting people to send out a tweet using an @ symbol and promise to send back a link to the downloadable brochures or documents. You can even set this up as an autoresponder to anyone who sends you a message using the Twitter @ symbol. The caveat here is to make sure that once the show is over to discontinue the autoresponder.

Facebook can also be used to post all of those documents (or at least links to them). Create a “Notes” page under your company profile listing the documents and invite people to “like” you – which then gives them access to the documents. In fact, your autoresponder Twitter reply could be used to invite people to “like” your Facebook page to grab the free brochures and other documents that you’d normally handout at the show.

The downside of using auto-reply tweets is that they’re so common and probably overused and are often ignored. So you’ll have to make sure that your sign promoting the free goodies encourages them to check their Twitter message in box.

There are some aspects of tradeshow marketing that are more difficult to reduce carbon usage. Travel, for instance. Hard to avoid flying if you’re traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to go to a 4-day show. But I know that some airlines allow you to check in via your smart phone. Using other apps, such as Yelp to find a good restaurant, or Skype to talk with people internationally for free, also helps reduce cost and time. Southwest was the first airline to release an iPhone app (in 2009) and many others followed suit.

There are also iPhone apps, such as SAP’s Carbon Tracker, that allow you to track every aspect of your business activities that relate to your carbon footprint. Simply by knowing your carbon impact, you’ll find ways to cut down. And as they say, every little bit helps!



Podcast: Interview with Erik Deckers

One of the most important things you can do online via social media is to brand yourself, whether as an individual or as a company.

This podcast features and interview with Erik Deckers, who along with co-author Kyle Lacy, recently released the book “Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself.”

Erik and Kyle show how to use today’s social media platforms to attract new business and job opportunities you’ll never find any other way. Erik discusses some of the common mistakes people make in using social media, how to get job leads and projects through friends and followers and much more.



Social Media ROI?

What is your Return on Investment in Social Media? Seems to be a logical and oft-repeated question these days in the marketing world.

But to answer that you have to define both of those terms. When it comes to social media, what is your actual INVESTMENT in making social media happen? And how (and what) do you measure your RETURN on social media?

Your investment could be a lot of different things: time spent, money spent, videos and photos shot and shared, tweets, blog posts, brand impressions made, efforts to make those connections with people you meet online (how will those turn out?)…can you think of anything else? Goodwill spread? Number of fans? Number of new fans that are created by your brand ambassadors that you don’t even know about, that are now a part of your community?

And what about your return? Try defining that: is it actual sales dollars generated? Customer service dollars saved by having less people in your CS department thanks to your awesome social media engagement? Future sales results of new connections you’re making now online? The dollar value of the goodwill you created by responding to a crisis in real-time? Number of fans on Facebook? Or the number of interactions you have on Facebook with those fans? No doubt you can think of more if you put your mind to it.

10:365 Bills Bills Bills!

It appears that ROI in the social media world has too many moving parts to pin down to a specific number, or even a general number. Because as soon as you do that, someone is going to say, ‘well, did you include_____?’ and you have to start over again.

Trust me. There’s a lot of value in the ROI of social media. It just depends on how you slice it.

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photo credit: Camera Eye Photography

Why do a Social Media Audit?

You’re tweeting, posting to Facebook, keep the blog up-to-date…but you have that nagging feeling that something’s missing. Perhaps you should have done a couple of extra blog posts before the last tradeshow. Could be your social media icons and branding on your company’s website aren’t big enough to be noticeable.

Something’s amiss, but you’re just not sure what.

Launch the social media audit!

There are a lot of good reasons to do a thorough social media audit. If you’ve never done one, your initial run-through should be as thorough as you can afford (time and/or money). After that, a yearly audit of the pertinent pieces, at minimum, should be done.

At minimum, your social media audit should include the following:

  • Strategy: identify visions, goals, desired outcomes. Choose your target market, platforms. listening/monitoring tools. Define internal policies and evaluate your assets.
  • Implementation: tools/platforms, community growth and development, training, potential partners, monitor and evaluate
  • Integration: organization website, blog, social media platforms, offline support (print, business cards, etc.)
  • Support: executive, funding for personnel, staff involvement

So yes – there’s a lot involved, so how do you accomplish all of this? Do you make it happen internally, or do you hire an outside expert to come in? Either way, it’ll take some time to accomplish a thorough and useful social media audit.

The process should start with interviews with the principals involved: the tweeters, bloggers and creators of video and other social media content. They’ll be able to give you a good sense of the overall reach and current shortfalls.

  • Surveys also work well. They offer all participants a chance to answer the same questions with the same methodology.
  • Event analysis: there’s a good chance that each participant in an organization’s social media initiatives have anecdotes about how something worked or didn’t work. Analyzying these events helps to see how communication works in real-life situations.
  • Communication flow: how is information exchanged between all parties? By taking a close look at how a company’s communication network works, it’s possible to reveal where blockages happen and show opportunities for untapped paths.
  • Observation: as part of the social media audit, you should spend time actually observing how each person interacts with the company’s community.

If you’ve been involved in social media for some time but still are trying to get a handle on what exactly you’re doing and how it’s affecting your marketing efforts, a social media audit is a solid place to start.



Grab a CR Code Tradeshow Marketing Guide

After the #socialmedia #tradeshow #marketing #checklist went over so well last week, I put together another (hopefully) helpful marketing guide. This one is all about making your QR Code marketing come alive. It’s a freebie download, so grab it now. Either link direct to it here, or head over to the Freebie Tradeshow Downloads page and grab the QR Code guide along with the other free downloads there.

As always, would love your feedback so that the next updated edition can be New and Improved!


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