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

May 2017

Is Downsizing Your Exhibit the Right Move for You?

Many companies I work with are in the process of increasing the size of their booth, is that the right move for you? Perhaps downsizing is a better choice. So what comes into play when you consider the decision?

Often the choice is strategic. You may know that some of your major competitors are either not going to be exhibiting at a specific show where you want a presence, yet you don’t want to do the full exhibit that you’ve done in the past. Or it’s a show where the attendance is down, so having a smaller presence doesn’t hurt you.

Your brand is morphing into something different, and investing in a new exhibit doesn’t make sense. In this case, you can go for a smaller presence for less money. You might also consider renting an exhibit, which can give you significant savings in the short term.

You need to show a better ROI to the powers-that-be. Investing less in an exhibit is one way to cut up-front expenses and increase the overall ROI.

Downsize your tradeshow exhibit

You’re planning to invest more heavily in pre-show marketing. This is a simple re-focusing of your marketing tactics. Putting more emphasis on reaching visitors prior to the show with direct mail, for instance, can bring people directly to your booth with an appointment and plan in hand that is congruent with your goals.

The bigger shows get even more expensive, and yet you still need a presence there. One way to keep your presence at the show is to have a smaller exhibit. Smaller booth space may also mean you don’t have to send as many people to staff the booth, saving yet more money.

You’re reassessing your overall tradeshow marketing plan. I’ve seen some companies simply pull out of a show for a year or two. They’ve had a major presence for years, yet taking stock of the value of the show was important enough to them to not exhibit and to rather just send several members of management to meet with other exhibitors and partners offsite.

Having decided to downsize your exhibit, make sure that the smaller version of your brand is still impactful. This means that graphics have to be well-designed and of high quality, your exhibit structure should be of high quality, the booth space needs to be kept clean, your staff should be well-trained and well-prepared and your products and service offerings should be your latest and greatest.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 29, 2017 [video replay and podcast]

it’s a holiday, but hey, I’m still in front of the camera and microphone for TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee! A quick look at Memorial Day, unpacking the new 50th anniversary Sgt. Pepper, entertaining and educational podcasts and more:

Listen to the podcast and subscribe here.

Show Notes:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Edition

Timberline Lodge Ski Area

Blockchain

Your Tradeshow Visitors Want These 6 Things From You

Podcast: S-Town

Podcast: No Such Thing as a Fish

Podcast: In The Dark

Podcast: Rolling Stone Music Now

 

Your Tradeshow Visitors Want These 6 Things from You

As an exhibitor, one of the prime directives you have is to deliver the goods to your tradeshow visitors. So what exactly are your visitors looking for? Let’s go over the shortlist:

  1. They want to see the new stuff. Most tradeshow attendees are in a position of power with their company. Which means they are shopping for new things they can acquire. If you have something new, make sure it’s front and center. If you’re still showing products or services that you’ve had around for a year or more, try and put a different spin on it so they can see it from a different perspective.
  2. Tradeshow Visitors

    They want to be engaged. Lots of choices here: interactive exhibits, professional presentations, products that dazzle and more. Give ‘em something to do or see for a short time and you’ve given them something they want.

  3. They want a pro to handle them. Which means that your booth staffer should be well-trained; they should know the product and the company they represent.
  4. They want to be treated with respect. Chances are they’re on a tight schedule with a lot of stops that day. A warm smile and a pleasant sincere greeting goes a long way.
  5. Depending on the show and their needs, they may not want to carry of lot of papers and samples. If you can provide choices for sales sheets beyond handouts, it saves them the hassle of carrying more stuff around. A digital download or a PDF showing up in their email when they’re back in the office is better than losing something in the hotel room.
  6. They don’t want to have their time wasted. A visitor will often try to dodge hungry-looking booth staffers because they don’t want to get captured by a salesman never to be seen again. Ask questions, qualify and disqualify and if they are not a potential customer, thank them and let ‘em go. If they are a prospect, get to the point, ask the pertinent questions, collect follow up information and let ‘em go.

As exhibitors, it’s easy to think about what’s important from your perspective. And that’s very important. But put yourself in your visitor’s shoes, and walk a mile or two.

10 Tradeshow Marketing Secrets They Didn’t Tell You

Well, these might not be actual tradeshow marketing secrets, simply because by its very definition, a secret is something that is not well known. The following items are fairly well known and no doubt you can easily find them online – but the question is: are you using them to their full capacity and capability?

tradeshow marketing secrets
  1. First, let’s look at first impressions. Hey, you only get one chance! And as you know, in tradeshows, perception is everything. Make your first impression strong, and the second piece of the puzzle will fall into place a little easier.
  2. Next, know that the image you put out at a tradeshow isn’t just a random piece of your brand – it’s your whole brand. It IS your brand. If you miss the mark here, your next puzzle piece just got harder.
  3. Up next: your staff. You can have the sweetest exhibit at the show, but if your staff sucks, it will all go for naught. Which means that your staff should not only know what they’re doing and be presentable and friendly and good with people, they should be well-trained in the challenges of dealing with hundreds of people on the chaos of the tradeshow floor.
  4. Now, be sure to have something for people to do when they arrive at your booth. It could be a product demo, an interactive tool, a video to watch, a virtual reality headset to wear – anything that engages them for more than 8.4 seconds.
  5. Ninety percent of success is showing up. Of course, you say, you’ll show up. But do you really? Are you really there for the full show? Are you there ready to listen to a client’s complaints and respond? Are you there to jump in when there is a problem or challenge and not leave it for someone else? Be there. All the time. Not just when you’re on the clock.
  6. Get the word out before the show. Pre-show marketing can take many forms. First question: do you have a plan? Second question: does your plan work?
  7. Cross your T’s. Dot your i’s! Details are important. When you slip on an important detail, someone – perhaps a potential client – is bound to notice.
  8. Yes, details are important, but so is keeping your eye on the bigger picture. Tradeshows are a powerful way to reach markets that you otherwise would not be able to access so easily and economically.
  9. Really, it’s all in the follow-up. Yup, I was kidding back in that earlier paragraph where I said the key to tradeshow marketing success was to draw a crowd and then know what to do with them. You’ve got to have a good follow-up plan in place. And be sure the work the plan.
  10. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes, you just gotta MacGuyver things and adjust to a changing landscape. Be willing to go with the flow and see where it leads, as long as your overall strategy doesn’t change.

Tradeshow Giveaways for 2017

Frankly, I don’t know that much about tradeshow giveaways. I tend to leave that to the people I know who have been doing it for years. Maybe it’s easy to pick something out of a catalog and submit an order. Choosing the right giveaway that resonates with your audience takes more thought and insight.

So I thought it might be fun to see what shows up when you search for tradeshow giveaways + blog posts + 2017.

What’s New for 2017?

First, here’s a post from the Delta Marketing Group. It’s a 2014 post that was updated earlier this year. It highlights tech giveaways such as smartphone smart phones, cable dock magnet mounts, keystands and more. There are also several with non-tech items such as socks, adult coloring books and more.

Perry Office Plus offers a look at light-up items, chargers, LED flashlights and others.

EmbroidMe offers a variety of items in this infographic.

tradeshow giveaways 2017

The idea behind tradeshow giveaways would seem to be to make something useful so that they keep the item around for a long time. IAEE looks at some of these items, which included phone chargers, wearable tech and others. If your giveaway is environmentally friendly, it leaves the visitor with a positive impression of your company.

Metro Exhibits looks at some of the best ideas for 2017 giveaways, including keychain LED lights, sports bottles, drawstring bags and more.

Let’s wrap it up with this blog post from Crazy Dave’s Promos, which offers tradeshow giveaways such as USB flash drives, totes and bags, stylus pens and more.

Of course you can easily go online and order tradeshow giveaways. But to me it makes more sense to find a trusted partner that you can work with over time. It’s a good way to keep you aware of trends. This helps you come up with unique offerings that match with what your company is trying to do with tradeshow giveaways.


Twice a month we send out some great deals – and nothing else! Get on the list now – click here!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 15, 2017 [video replay & podcast]

Dale Obrochta joins me today for a wide-ranging discussion of tradeshow marketing, focusing on how to draw a crowd at a tradeshow booth, and once you do that, what you do with it! Dale and I had a great time on this interview – which didn’t make it live to Facebook because I’m still wrestling with the software that interacts with Facebook live. AAAND, when I checked the video screen recording, his video was gone, but the audio remained. Must be a Ghost in the Machine, makes me #wannacry. Yikes. But we punted: Dale sent along a handful of photos which almost makes it look like he’s live with me if you squint or forget to put your readers on. Take a look – or listen to or download the audio podcast below:

Find Dale here:

Put a Twist On it

YouTube channel: I Talk DEO


7 Ways to Create Social Media Buzz Before the Tradeshow

So you wanna create social media buzz before the tradeshow but aren’t sure exactly how to pull it off? Of course there are dozens of strategies and tactics that will raise your profile above the average company, but not all will work in all situations and of course nothing is guaranteed. Your tweets and Instagram posts could be swept away by an unforeseen event or distraction that swoops up the eyeballs you were hoping to grab!

Create Social Media Buzz
Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill marches into Expo West with a dixieland band.

One of the most memorable methods was one I saw years ago when Griffin refurbished an old VW bus and drove across the country for a couple of weeks, tweeting and posting photos and videos all the way. By the time they drove the bus onto the tradeshow floor, hundreds of people were waiting for them. So you might consider how to play up your travel to the event. It might grab attention if it’s different than the norm. Anyone want to bounce from SF to LA on a pogostick wearing a branded shirt? Hey, just a thought!

So here are some more thoughts and ideas on how to create a little social media buzz prior to the show:

  1. Know the show hashtag, so that everything you put out is trackable and findable by show followers, whether they follow your actual account or not.
  2. If you have new products or services, create a teaser video or three and get them out onto your social media platforms.
  3. Maybe you’re going to debut a new exhibit at the show. Work with your exhibit house to tease elements of the exhibit with photos prior to the show.
  4. Consider creating a special landing page on your website just for the show. Let people make appointments, view more videos, learn about new products, get invited to parties, sign up for email or text notifications, whatever.
  5. If you have a company CEO or other management member speaking at the show or being part of a panel, be sure to include that in any information you post. And if you’re sponsoring a specific event or area of the show, don’t forget that.
  6. Got a contest or something else to draw people to your booth? Start promoting the contest online a week or so prior to the show. Any sooner and it becomes old quickly. Wait too long and you won’t reach as many people.
  7. Create a special hashtag just for your company for just this show and invite people to post photos of themselves wearing your product using the hashtag. Draw several prize winners from among the photos during the show and give away a bunch of your products to both show attendees and those that weren’t able to attend.

By engaging with attendees prior to the show, you create social media buzz that increases the odds you’ll draw more people to your booth during the show. If you manage to come up with this year’s VW bus promotion that goes viral, you might even get a raise!

Uncovering the Prospect’s Real Issue at the Tradeshow

If you’re standing at the edge of your tradeshow booth ready to engage with a visitor, remember that as try you qualify him or her, you’re really trying to find the prospect’s real issue. Once you do that, you can determine if you can be of assistance, or if you can’t.

Prospect's real issue

Tradeshow selling take place in a chaotic environment. Hundreds or thousands of competing exhibitors, and thousands or tens of thousands of attendees means everyone is vying for attention and they all have their own personal agenda. So when you get an opportunity to interact with a booth visitor, the best recipe for a successful encounter is to know where you want to go.

And often that destination is reached by trying to uncover the prospect’s real issue. How do you do that? By asking questions.

Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a show to get more leads for your IT business such as virus eradication and firewalls and related services Your visitor mention that they think their IT department is doing okay. That’s a bit of an opening – not much – but it should give you an opportunity to peel back the onion a bit.

“When you say that ‘you think’ the IT department is doing okay, what do you mean?”

They may tell you that from what their IT guy says, they seem to have dealt with most of the recent viruses with a rebuilt firewall. Or something. He’s not an IT guy.

“What do you mean by most? Can you tell me more?”

They go on to say that the IT guy only “swore for half the day” earlier in the week at something-or-other that was taking up all his time instead of being able to add on to the network which he was supposed to be doing.

“So your network administrator only ‘swore for half the day’ at having to deal with viruses? It sounds like he must have dealt with it. So it’s a done deal, right?” (You’re trying to backpedal a bit: psychologically it’s going to spur them to open up a bit more. If you suddenly tried to sell them your services without knowing if they need it, their defenses would likely go up).

Naah, he says, still some work to do. But he doesn’t know because he’s not the IT guy. Maybe it would be worth giving you his contact number, he says.

“Well,” you say, “that may be a good move. But he probably has his own go-to team to deal with issues like this, right?” (Still back-pedaling and acting like it’s not a big deal, to get him to open up more).

He doesn’t think so. In fact, just an hour ago when he was having lunch with the IT guy, the guy got a phone call from his assistant and they must have sworn back and forth for ten minutes over the situation. In fact, the IT guy may have to leave the show early to go deal with it.

“He and his assistant swore about the situation for ten minutes while you were eating? So the assistant has it handled, then?”

Uh, no, says the visitor. Gulp. Doesn’t sound like it. But then, he says again, he’s not an IT guy.

Now you’ve uncovered the real issue. It took a bit of doing, because your visitor was unwilling to reveal that information until you kept asking questions – and following up those questions with some ‘aw, shucks, it’s probably not a big deal, right?’ questions. And with your laidback but curious approach designed to get more information, he’s revealed the issue: that there really is a problem that your IT guy is trying to solve. Trying to put out a fire, in fact.

Sales is essentially the same whether it’s on the tradeshow floor, on the phone, or in someone’s office. It’s not about features and benefits. It’s about uncovering the problem and seeing if there is a fit between your prospect’s problems and your potential solutions. If there is, you’ll find an opportunity to discuss it in full at the earliest opportunity. If there is no fit, you wish him or her well and move on to the next.

Next time you’re on the tradeshow floor, try to refrain from hitting your visitors with a list of features and benefits at the first sign of a possible lead. Instead, drill down by playing a bit dumb, asking more questions and getting to the prospect’s real issues. Then you can schedule the next move that both of your agree on.

 

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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