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

August 2011

Social Media Tradeshow Marketing from the Bob Marley Songbook

If you’ve read this blog for awhile or know me at all, chances are you have discovered that, yes, I am a big Bob Marley fan. Have been since the mid 70s. Saw the guy on tour. Twice. Not to mention the tattoo.

So I thought it might be fun to thumb through Marley’s extensive library and pull some song titles for social media tradeshow marketing inspiration. And I thought it might be fun to grab some YouTube videos along the way… So here we go…!

Stir it Up


Before the show, get on Twitter and Facebook and let people know you’re going to be at the show. If you don’t stir the pot, so to speak, the only thing you have to depend on is how your booth is viewed and how your staff performs at the show itself. On the other hand, if you ‘stir it up’ on social media, you can spread the word about your booth (is it new?), where to find it, who and what are going to be there and generally create a bit of buzz.

Get Up, Stand Up


Not getting a fair shake from the show organizers? Getting a raw deal from a supplier? Well, don’t take it lying down! Get Up, Stand Up! Stand up for your rights! Be assertive (not aggressive) in making sure that you are getting the full measure of what you’re paying for. Be mindful of what you deserve – and think of those around you. Stand up for their rights as well when the time is right.

Rat Race


Yes, you’re in the rat race. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of exhibitors who are all trying to stand out from the crowd. No worries! As they say in Jamaica, soon come! Just realize that you’re part of the mix. Not only will you have a lot of competition, you can BE a lot of competition for the rest of the exhibitors. Present your booth and staff on a Positive Vibration and you’ll find that you won’t be Waiting in Vain.

Sun is Shining


What’s your outlook? Are you spreading positive vibrations, or are you Mr. Stick-in-the-Mud? If you believe that the sun eventually shine down on you, let your followers and friends online know about it!

One Love


Your clients and customers must feel some love for you in some way. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be buying your product or service. So return the love. When customers stop by, ask them if you can photograph them for your Facebook page. Or get them to sit down for a one-minute testimonial. Show them love by sharing the testimonial on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They’ll love the recognition!



At some point you will be faced with a crisis – small, medium or (hopefully not) large. Keep in mind, this happens to everybody! If you can keep your head while everyone else is losing yours, you’ll appear as the cool, calm collected individual that people can depend on. Always have a Plan B in mind.

Wake Up and Live


Tradeshows are a jam-packed, chaotic environment that goes by really, really fast! Before you know it, they’re over, and you’re left wondering ‘what happened?’ Don’t let that happen to you. Take a few moments during the show to bask in it – to soak it all in – and if the spirit moves you, to share it with your social media community.



The show is over! Hallelujah! You can get back to normal, whatever that is for you. But at the end of he show, don’t forget about those social media followers. Tweet out your thanks, photos, videos and other items at the end of the show. It’ll help remind those followers who you are and what you do. And if you do take time to thank people by name (individual or organization), you’ll be seen as that much more human.

Book Review: “Promo with Purpose” by Heidi Thorne

When it comes to promotion products, you gotta know what you’re doing or it could end up costing you a lot. Not only in terms of money, but in terms of brand damage. Or maybe brain damage, if you waste money AND do damage to your brand by giving away cheap, breakable SWAG.

Heidi Thorne aims to change all of that with her new book SWAG: How to Choose and Use Promotional Products for Marketing Your Business. (disclosure: Heidi is a tradeshow marketing online friend of mine and she offered me a review copy of the book for free).

It’s a brisk read – I went through it within an hour on a recent plan flight from Portland to Houston – and put together this review! And it’s packed full of useful, common-sense information designed to help anyone that’s intending to come up with the ‘perfect’ promotional item to give away.

Heidi covers more about finding and choosing promotional products than I knew existed. She goes into green products, sourcing of products, the shelf life of promo products, how to avoid promotional products PR disasters, how to handle holidays and much more.

Chapters are short and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s no fluff – this is all good, useful and actionable information.

For more information on this fun and useful book, check it out here…


Podcast: Interview with Everything Channel’s Robert DeMarzo

Robert DeMarzo

In this edition of the Tradeshow Marketing Podcast, we chat with Robert DeMarzo, the Senior VP of Strategic Content of Everything Channel.

The company, provider of IT channel-focused events, media, research, consulting and sales and marketing services, hosts more than a dozen events each year for the IT channel and solution provider communities. Social media has become an increasingly important communications vehicle for all Everything Channel events.

Check out the Everything Channel

Ten Things to Put in a One-Minute Tradeshow Teaser Video

So you’re going to shoot a tradeshow teaser video to get people to be aware of your upcoming appearance whetting their appetite to see your company’s exhibit at the show. But you’re rarely messed around with video. Maybe you don’t like getting in front of the camera. Or you don’t know what to put in a brief video.

Well, let’s take a look at ten things to think about when assembling your video.

1. Know whom you’re talking to

What is your intended audience thinking about the issue you’re going to talk about? Are they well informed? Ill-informed? Mis-informed? The more you can understand the mindset of your audience, the better your video will be. In the case of creating a short video that relates to a tradeshow appearance, does your audience know anything about you company or your product? Are they familiar with the show? Do they have the proper context for your presentation or are they coming in from the cold?

Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus
Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus

2. Pick a single topic and stick to it.

You’ve seen videos that try to do everything and cover a lot of ground. In the case of a short teaser video, know exactly what the topic and don’t waver. If you have more than one reason to invite people to your booth, do more than one video.

3. If you’re going to be on camera, rehearse your presentation a few times, but don’t overdo it.

There are other ways to create a video than to use a video camera. A screen-capture program, for instance, is a great way to put a video together without actually getting in front of a camera. But if you’re going to put your face onscreen, rehearse it a few times until you feel comfortable with the bullet points you’re going to cover. And yes, you should just cover bullet points, and NOT read a script. By rehearsing it a few times you’ll get comfortable with how you’re going to say it. Record a few times and go with the best. Don’t worry about perfection – there’s still no perfect presentation – but just relax and let it flow and you’ll be fine.

4. Fancy production or not?

In most cases, there’s no need for fancy production. If you’re a service company such as a dentist or accountant, just be real and show people who you are. If your company is a high-end video production company, yes, you should show your chops! But in most cases, expensive production is lost on YouTube. It depends on the expectations of your audience, which are being lowered continuously thanks to a lot of low-end video production.

5. Authenticity

Want to impress people? Don’t try and be someone you’re not. If you can show who you REALLY are – your AUTHENTIC self – people will find that much attractive than a horse-and-pony show that has little to do with who you are.

6. Don’t waste time – respect people’s time and use it wisely

If you have 60 seconds worth of information, don’t use three minutes to get it all out. Be short and sweet and then get it over with. Respect people’s time. If they get used to your short (and respectful) videos, they’ll have a greater inclination to come back and see more.

7. Don’t do a hard sell – talk conversationally

This goes back to authenticity. Most people don’t speak in a hard-sell mode in social situations. Imagine you’re in social situation and you’re talking casually with a friend or colleague. Now, use the same approach on your video and you’ll be fine.

8. Solve a problem

If you can describe how your product or service solves a problem in 60 seconds or less (and you should be able to do that!), you have a great chance of getting people to show up at your booth or shop. What exactly does your product do? Do you have a proven result? Tell how your solution will improve their situation. Share it.

9. Subtitles can increase response.

Okay, I have no evidence to support this! But to my way of thinking, by showing subtitles you are reinforcing your message. Of course, there are a few people that don’t hear well and the subtitles may assist them in understanding what you’re talking about. Plus, it’s a good place to put a phone number or web URL. Most video editing programs allow you to insert text on the screen. Again, don’t overdo it – but use it.

10. Put a smile in your voice!

One of the first and best lessons I learned when I got into radio as a teenager: put a smile into your voice! It comes across…really!



What does a Tradeshow Marketing Manager do with Social Media?

8 Ways to Use Social Media in your Tradeshow Marketing

  1. Be involved.
  2. Be proactive.
  3. Keep an ear to the ground (continued research)
  4. Plan and execute event-related social media campaigns
  5. Track metrics of engagement
  6. Write up reports on results
  7. Stay informed on cutting edge technology
  8. Use the technology that makes the most sense


Let’s break those down a bit more, okay?

1. Be involved.

Makes sense. If you’re going to use social media in your event and tradeshow marketing – and you should – you’ll have to be involved. That means checking in on your Facebook and Twitter feeds regularly, following and ‘liking’ people and businesses that are related in some way. It means engaging regularly with Twitter followers by offering good information, making your opinions known, and responding to tweets, questions and comments. Engagement!

2. Be Proactive.

Don’t just sit and wait for something to happen with your social media engagement. When you see a cool article that your audience might enjoy, share a link. When you have an opinion on something, write up a blog post (you DO have a blog, right?). When you go to an event, take photos and post them. When you stop at a booth, tell people who you are online and how to find you (this should be on your business card).

3. Keep an ear to the ground.

Your research and listening modules should be concise and easy to follow. If you’re not using a premium research tool, you should have Google Alerts set up on various industry brands, products and people. You should regularly search Twitter for keywords to see what conversations are going on. If you want to be in the know, you have to spend time learning what’s going on. There are tons of free and premium tools to help you do this.

Project 365: #57

4. Plan and execute event-related social media campaigns

Every show is unique and therefore every show should have a unique marketing plan for your social media engagement. You will have different people involved, different products to promote, and different targets to reach. Plans would include a variety of tweets, Facebook postings, videos and photos to be shot and produced, perhaps an editorial calendar of what information goes out when. Yes, it adds another layer to your entire tradeshow marketing plan, but it’s necessary if you want to get a handle on it and make it work effectively.

5. Track metrics of engagement

Plan on what metrics you’re going to track, how they’re going to be tracked and who’s going to do the tracking. Is it Facebook ‘likes’? Is it the number of people that show up in your booth in response to tweets? Is it pageviews on your blog? Video views on YouTube? Sales as a results of social media engagement? Before you can track metrics, know what’s important for your business and how you’re going to assemble the numbers.

6. Write up reports on results

After each show, it’ll be up to you to include a segment on your post-show report that reflects your social media engagement. It’s generally pretty straightforward stuff, but don’t discount the importance of the essence of the report: who did what, how it worked, what the results were (compared to expectations, if any), and what your recommendations are for the next show.

7. Stay informed on cutting edge technology

“Oh, no, there’s something NEW? Holy crap, I’m only starting to figure out the older stuff!” Yes, there’s always something new, especially in the fast-paced world of social media. Take smartphones, for example. Are your websites optimized for the mobile platform? Are you using QR Codes? If so, are you making sure that QR Code is doing what it’s supposed to do? What about Foursquare and SCVNGR?

By tracking a few blogs, you should be able to keep up on much of what’s new. My favorites are Mashable and Hubspot, but there are certainly others as well.

8. Use the technology that makes the most sense

Just because you CAN use a technology doesn’t mean you SHOULD. While it’s easy to say that you should stay with what you’re comfortable, I think it’s important to keep stretching your comfort zone. Don’t know how to set up a QR Code? Learn about them, and figure out if it’s something your market might react positively to. Not sure if video works in your industry? See what others are doing and assess your company’s capabilities and make a decision based on that assessment.

There will ALWAYS be new technology headed your way. You should at least be aware of it, what the implications might be and how you might potentially use it.

Adding social media to your other duties as tradeshow manager might make you pull your hair out, but the fact remains: your competition is working to do the same. Some are ahead of you, some are behind. The more comfortable you are with all of the tools and gadgets of social media, the better off you and your company will be.

Creative Commons License

 photo credit: RobeRt Vega

Why YouTube is Essential to Your Tradeshow Marketing Success

Let’s put a box around this: YouTube doesn’t make or break your tradeshow marketing success. Certainly you can find exhibitors that have never been on YouTube that have packed up after a show, ecstatic at the results they got at the show.

YouTube - Tradeshow Marketing
YouTube - Tradeshow Marketing

Nope – YouTube is essential if you want to delve into new media and touch people you’ve never reached before and have never bothered to see your booth at a show. Because, let’s face it, having a tradeshow booth is great. Tradeshow marketing, if done thoughtfully and effectively, can be one of the most worthwhile places to put your marketing dollars.

With YouTube, though, you’re moving into a whole new realm. If you haven’t added videos to the YouTube mix, here are a number of reasons why you should seriously consider using the platform as part of your tradeshow marketing efforts.

  • YouTube is the second largest search engine on the ‘net, right behind Google. Videos on YouTube can show up on the top results for both YouTube and Google.
  • Videos are cheap and easy to shoot, unlike the old days of only a few years ago when video editing software was really expensive, good cameras were a king’s ransom, and the whole package was bulky and unwieldy – and expensive. Nowadays, video from small handheld cameras like the Flip or a recent model smartphone are very good quality.
  • By adding links to the description of your YouTube video, your viewers are just a click away from your website. If your video is product specific, that link should be to a specific landing page, not to a generic front-page site link.
  • YouTube videos are extremely easy to share on YouTube and Twitter, and a simple cut-and-paste embeds them in your blog or website.
  • By shooting acres and yards of digital footage at your next tradeshow, you’re gathering material that can be used and posted for months.
  • People are easily informed with video, and there are millions of folks who prefer a two-minute video to a two-minute text blog post. Give those types of consumers the choice of video to win them over.
  • Video allows you to demonstrate things easily. By showing, your audience is knowing.
  • Videos are personal. When you interview a client for a testimonial, it’s easy to see exactly how they feel about your product or service.
  • It’s easy to add sub-titles or captions to videos to enhance what’s on-screen.
  • By making videos focus on a single idea or concept, you can keep them short – which means more people are willing to take a chance on them. There’s no hard and fast rule length of online videos, other than this: they should be as long as needed to get out the necessary information, but not one second longer.


Video on is hot: YouTube almost half a million unique visitors a month. Together, those users spend 2.9 billion hours on YouTube during the month. That’s 326,294 years.  You’ll find everything on YouTube, from business, biting babies and music videos to dancing cats.

By shooting video and posting it before your tradeshow to promote your appearance, you’re giving potential visitors a chance to find out more about you in a way they previously couldn’t.

By shooting video during the show you’re letting prospects and clients see what you’re all about – in living color.

By posting video from the show over the next few months, you’re stretching time to remind people of what you did at the show, and tease them on what they missed, and can likely see at the next show, whetting their appetite for the next go-round.

Video and YouTube may not make or break your tradeshow marketing, but it can exponentially increase your reach and influence. Which puts you miles ahead of your competition.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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