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

September 2013

Dear Tradeshow Exhibit Buyer, (an open letter to first-time exhibitors)

Dear Tradeshow Exhibit Buyer,

We haven’t met before, but I thought I might take a few moments to share some thoughts on your upcoming quest to find a new tradeshow booth consultant to assist with design and fabrication.

Bob's Red Mill custom booth at Expo West 2013
Bob’s Red Mill custom booth at Expo West 2013

First – congratulations! Tradeshow marketing is one of the most effective ways of marketing – IF you do it right. If you do it wrong, it can possibly be the biggest waste of marketing dollars you’ll spend this year. And if you do it wrong, you’ll have little to show for it. And if that happens, your mind will be poisoned with the thought that tradeshow marketing is a WASTE of TIME AND MONEY!

But…if done right, tradeshow marketing can be the BEST way to spend marketing dollars. Why? First, it brings you face-to-face with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people that are in the market for what you’re selling.

Second, it gives you a chance to establish a brand in visitors’ minds in just a few short seconds as they approach your booth. That brand can be reinforced by a well-trained staff once those visitors spend a few moments at your booth.

Third, it can cut the cost and the length of the sales cycle. By meeting people at a tradeshow and qualifying them (or disqualifying them as the case may be), you can quickly determine where they are in their pursuit of your product or service. That also quickly determines your next step – which can be confirmed with them before they leave your booth.

Finally, while tradeshow marketing can be exhausting, it can also be FUN. You can get your team away from the office to a far away city. By getting people out of their comfort zone, they tend to depend on each other. By focusing on the exhibiting task at hand during the day, you build trust and respect and confidence in your team. By letting off a little bit of steam after hours with each other, you help each of them appear more real.

So, what to do first?

Here’s a quick checklist before you choose an exhibit and design team.

  1. Know your goals. Define those goals and be specific. Even though the overall goal of tradeshow marketing – any kind of marketing – is to grow the business and bring in more sales, each show may have a slightly different goal because of the nature of the show. If you plan to exhibit only once a year, it may work to try different exhibit companies out. But if you plan to exhibit several times a year, take your time to work with an exhibit consultant that you are comfortable with and enjoy working with personally. If an exhibit house is competent – and certainly most are – the most important factor is how well you get along with them.
  2. Understand the timeline. If you are looking to purchase a small ten-foot inline booth from a catalog, you really don’t need much time to do that. Graphic design will usually take the most at this point. On the other hand, if you’re building a 30×30 custom booth, plan on several months. A recent large custom booth our company worked on took about 8 months from the kick-off meeting to the set-up at the show. Know your timeline and build in extra time for reviews and speed bumps – you’ll always have them. A good tradeshow project management knows what a realistic timetable is and can advise you on what it will take depending on what you want.
  3. Know your budget, and remember that exhibits can be expensive. If you don’t have a realistic idea up front what your company is able to spend for a tradeshow booth for design and fabrication, it can get awkward awful quick! Any reputable designer will not start on a design until he knows how much a company has to spend. A good consultant will likely start the conversation by sharing industry averages, and then explaining how their company’s pricing compares to those numbers. For a quick rule of thumb, for inline booths, expect to spend around $100 a linear foot. For custom island booths, the price can range upwards from about $140 per square foot. Electrics and special lighting can drive the cost up, but those are good rules of thumb to start with.
  4. Plan on training your team. Even if it’s a small show with just a couple of staffers, it pays to be prepared. When your team knows how to quickly qualify and disqualify visitors, it will immediately increase the lead count. Booth etiquette is important, too. No eating, talking on cell phones, standing with arms crossed, etc. All of those behaviors – and more – keep visitors away.
  5. There’s more than just the show – there’s pre-show marketing and post-show follow up. Before the show, your company should be reaching out to potential visitors, informing them of the tradeshow appearance, and what you’ll be doing there: new products/services, special appearances, contests, etc. A social media marketing full press before the show will help draw interest and people to the show and to your booth. A good tradeshow marketing consultant will be able to assist you with planning and execution of your pre-show marketing. Post-show follow up is twofold: sales and marketing. Sales will be following up on all of those leads based on urgency; marketing will be taking content created from the show (videos, photographs, etc) and dripping them out via social media and other outlets to not only remind people of your appearance, but to tease them a bit for next year’s show.
  6. Designate a point person for all ‘official’ communication between your company and the consultant company. While your company may have a marketing team all chiming in with their opinions on the design and fabrication process, when you designate a single person to funnel all communication through, decisions become easier – and final. If the team decides that the color is blue and the point person communicates that to the consultant company’s point person, then that decision is final and the process moves forward.
  7. Jump in! Once the kick-off meeting is underway, trust the process. If you’ve never gone through the process of designing and fabricating a tradeshow booth that fits your company’s needs, keep in mind that your consultant has done it – many times. They’re professionals. Trust them to stay in touch and guide you through the many decision points you’ll have along the way. Follow the designer’s lead and offer your candid assessment of the design and watch how it changes until it becomes a final product ready to be fabricated. Trust your graphic designers. Trust your instinct.

By following this checklist, you’ll go into your booth project with eyes open.

And that’s a good thing!

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

Generate Buzz By Getting Social For Your Next Tradeshow

This is a guest post by Matthew Brennan.

Tradeshows can wield a terrific impact for businesses. The effect of waves of people coming to your tradeshow booth to find out more about what you do – and buying from you – can be great for the bottom line.


The thing is that trade shows can be crowded, and you need to work hard to set yourself apart from the competition. That can be accomplished in person with great banners, marketing materials, and branding. But there are things that you can also do with social media to generate a buzz that will keep people talking for a long time.

Use Twitter Hashtags to communicate – Twitter hashtags are a great way to make sure that the conversation keeps going. If people have a question after they leave your tradeshow booth, or simply want to talk about what they saw, they can leave a tweet with the tradeshow hashtag. That way they can be sure that the right people see what they’re talking about.

Hashtags are simply the pound sign immediately before a word on a tweet. It makes them searchable in Twitter, so anyone attending the show, or looking to find out more information, can find it.

Use giveaways – Are you giving some promotional products away at your Nimlok tradeshow booth? You can use these items to spark a little interest online. Mentioning them on your Facebook page or in a tweet can motivate people to make an appearance, and see what you have to offer in person.

Why not let people know that you’ll have a free _____________ to the first 100 people? If what you’re giving away is truly valuable, it may just be the incentive to get them to come earlier, creating a demand.

Preview your exhibits at the show – Do you have something great planned for your tradeshow booth? Facebook and Twitter are the perfect place to give your customers and fans a little taste of what they’ll be in for on the tradeshow floor.

What aspects of your industry or business are you highlighting? Is there something specific that you’re looking to promote? This is the place to expand your reach and get in front of people. Letting people know what they can expect ahead of time can increase the crowd.

Use QR Codes – Your marketing doesn’t have to be strictly from the online world to the trade show floor. You can use your tradeshow presence to drive people back to your website and social platforms and create more long term relationships. This can be achieved easily through the use of QR codes. You can put these simple codes on any of your marketing materials, and when your customers scan them, it will return them to a specific website of your choice.

You can send them to your Facebook page, if you want them to become a fan. You can send them to your blog if that’s where you’re publishing your best content. You can send them to a Pinterest page, if that’s where some of the best pictures of your work reside. The possibilities are endless. This is a great way to keep people wanting more.

Use The Same Graphics And Logo – You worked hard to come up with the perfect banners, branding and message for your offline tradeshow presence. Don’t throw that all away. Make sure that your Facebook and Twitter cover photos incorporate the same design. This will help keep a consistent look and feel between your offline business and your online presence.

About the author: Matthew Brennan is a marketing writer based in the Chicago area. He regularly writes about content marketing, blogging, and engaging with your audience. He has been published on ProBlogger, Soshable, and Business2Community. Connect with Matthew on his website,, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+

Five ways to use social media at your next trade show event

The following is a guest post by Amanda of It’s Blogworthy.

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Several years ago, trade shows were a completely different type of event. Vendors spent time face-to-face with clients, but after clients moved to the next booth, the interaction was essentially over. Marketers at trade show events worked tirelessly to bring customers in to their company’s area with giveaways, door prizes and specialty items.

In the past few years, trade shows have become an interactive event that begins before the show starts and doesn’t end until far after the booths have been packed up. Although marketers still use traditional materials (free pen, anyone?) social media has allowed them to connect with clients and potential clients in a whole new way. Will you be attending a trade show soon? Download the best apps for trade shows and check out these five ideas for making the most of social media at your next trade show.

Promote your attendance before the trade show begins on Facebook to build excitement about the event. Encourage customers who will be attending the event to visit your awesome Nimlok booth, and use your social channels to engage with them before you set foot at the event. Create a Facebook event and invite your customers, which can help you see what kind of traffic your booth might have. Use questions and polls to gauge interest. During the event, post up-to-the-minute pictures and behind-the-scenes shots of your booth, and don’t forget to post a post-event wrap-up.

  1. Use Twitter to connect with your customers and other vendors using the official hashtag for the event. You can use this hashtag to judge social media interest in the event and seek out your target audience. Twiter is a great way to break the ice before the event and establish friendly relationships with potential customers, which may encourage them to stop by your booth when they arrive. Twitter is also a great way to connect with reporters, media outlets and influencers who will be covering the event; you may be able to spread news about promotions or company news through these channels.
  2. If you have products that can be demoed – or an especially charismatic sales rep who will be attending the trade show – YouTube can be a great marketing tool before your trade show, during and after. Think about creating a series of videos hyping up your booth and sharing it through your social media channels and on the official hashtag for your event. At the trade show, take a quick video of your booth in action, or short interviews with individuals who stop by your booth (especially if he or she has a large social media network and may re-share your content.) YouTube makes it easy to create fun, informative videos and get them out to your audience quickly.
  3. Create a Foursquare listing for your booth and encourage people to check in when they stop by. Foursquare may not be utilized by an extremely wide audience, but for the tech crowd, “mayorships” and badges can be highly sought-after social media rewards. Also, offer a prize for checking in to encourage the use of this channel with your audience.
  4. Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare are all fun ways to enhance your trade show experience, but LinkedIn may be the way to close the deal with new clients or customers. Encourage them to join your company’s LinkedIn page to learn more about your business and connect on a professional level. You can also use your LinkedIn channel to promote professional development seminars or speaking engagements during the trade show event.

About the author: Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She’s also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves coffee, fashion, social media, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on and Visit Amanda’s blog, It’s Blogworthy or follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Best Apps for Tradeshow Travel

A tradeshow attracts all sorts of people: vendors, exhibitors, store owners, tradeshow managers, booth handlers and more. They all have different goals at the show. But it’s safe to say that many of them end up doing a lot of the same tasks with a smart phone or iPad, which means that many use the same apps.

Here is a list of apps I’ve used a past tradeshow junkets that come in handy. Some are essential while others are just nice have.

Google Maps

Google Maps

Whether you use Google Maps of the native iPhone mapping app, getting from Point A to Point B in a rental car should be as easy as possible.




Alarm Clock

Yeah, who needs the hotel alarm clock when you have your clock app? I was glad I had it the time the power went out at the hotel!





Having a camera on your smart phone can be the handiest thing you’ll ever use. Need a picture of a booth? Want to record a quick video testimonial?

The Weather Channel

Yes, you spend most of your time inside, but knowing what’s going on outside can help you adjust travel and meeting schedules.



You could just open up your web browser, but the Wikipedia app makes it that much easier to look up something specific.




Driving a rental car means you assume risks. AAA’s app is very useful in helping you get roadside assistance, searching for hotels, and perhaps cashing in on member-only deals.


WC Finder

WC Finder

Out walking and need a potty? The WC Finder may help you out. I say ‘may’ because it doesn’t always have accurate information – although I’ve found it is correct more often than not.


Gas Buddy


You have to fill up the rental car before returning it. This app gives you easy access to the closest, lowest-priced gasoline.





Helps find your iPhone if you lose it. Of course, you’ll need a laptop or an iPad or you’ll have to coordinate with someone back in the office to find it, but Hidden is great at tracking lost iPhones.

ATT Scanner


ATT Scanner

One of many QR code scanners on the market.




Is Vine a source of silly six-second videos or does it help capture a client’s buzz and help spread it around? Once you try it, you may find you like it.




Set up your account to ping you whenever you get an @reply. Great way to keep up with online buzz by searching hashtags.




Post photos, updates and more quickly.




Check into places – you might even learn something about the area or see that a client or prospect is on Foursquare, too.





This has saved me more times than I can remember. Back up the computers at home and have immediate access to any archived file, like a forgotten set-up drawing or contact information. Easy to view and download files, which you can then forward via email.




Much the same as Dropbox, although there are strong differences. Dropbox can have shared files and folders, which can give clients access to files with more ease than Carbonite.




While I’ve used this app for a couple of years, I know that I haven’t come close to using all of its features. Those that do rave about it for file clipping and saving things that you can easily access on any device.




99 apps in one, including things like auto camera, Clinometer, Decibel measurement, flashlight, Plumb Bob, Sleep Aid and even a ton of fun things like generating a fake phone call or fake text when you just have to have a good excuse to get out of a meeting.




Everyone is here posting filtered photos, are you? Not essential, but lots of eyeballs there.





Great place to view and post photos of clients, booths, meetings, people and more.




Make cheap phone calls on wi-fi or 4G.





Find and pay for coffee.




Listen to your favorite tunes!



What are your favorite tradeshow travel apps?

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