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

June 2017

#IFT17 TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards

I had the pleasure to attend the International Food Technologists 2017 show in Las Vegas this week, thanks to our client Meduri Farms, who set up their 20×20 custom island booth for the second time. In walking the floor, I ran across a lot of fun exhibits that should be highlighted for one reason or another. So, let’s jump into another edition of TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards – the #IFT17 Version! Let’s start with a look at the Meduri Farms booth, just because, well, to show off the exhibit:

Best Client Representation: Meduri Farms

It’s a custom 20×20 island designed by Greg Garrett Designs and fabricated by Classic Exhibits. Private meeting area, generous sampling and product display areas, and a nearly 16′ tall center tower that draws eyeballs from halfway across the floor:

exhibit awards
Meduri Farms 20×20 custom island exhibit

Best “Booth-In-A-Box:” Ardent Farms

There’s no easy way to view this exhibit in a single photo, so I’ll include a couple. Ardent Mills, of Denver, Colorado, simply drove in a trailer from an 18-wheeler, complete with kitchen and fold-down serving areas. Throw in some seating areas and signage and voila – you have a classy exhibit:

exhibit awards
Ardent Mills ‘drive-up’ booth
IFT exhibit awards

 

Best Exhibit Using Stuff We Build: International Paper

Nothing quite like showing off your stuff by having a booth built out of the stuff that you sell. In this case, International Paper bills themselves as one of the leading producers of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper. So of course many of their booth elements were created using corrugated cardboard and related materials. Especially eye-catching: the custom charging table built from corrugated material:

#IFT17 exhibit awards
#IFT17 exhibit awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up…

Simplest and Most Effective Backdrop: Bulk Supplements.com

Simple like being able to read and understand a billboard a 65 MPH. I spoke with Keven, the owner, and he said his purpose was to communicate what the company does loudly and simply. And that exactly what this 20′ wide back drop does, very effectively.

#IFT exhibit awards

Best Use of Grape Balloons: Welch’s

Well, it may be the only use of grape balloons, but in this case, they caught my eye from a good three aisle over. A great way to stand out from the crowd, indeed:

Welch’s and the High Grapes

The “Let’s Get Their Attention NOW!” Exhibit: S&D Coffee and Tea

This large hanging sign close to one of the main entrances was designed to capture your eyeballs within a second or two – and it worked. The juxtaposition of the woman in a stocking cap with gloves, the “COLD BRRRRRRREW” statement and the experience of visitors walking in from the 105-degree Las Vegas heat drew a crowd.

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
S&D Coffee and Tea gets your attention quickly and boldly.

Best Branding from Top to Bottom: Morton Salt

You could quibble on this award as there were a lot of exhibits at IFT that were exceptionally executed from communicating a brand. But Morton’s booth was well-thought out from side-to-side and top-to-bottom, down to the display of the different types of salts that you could actually put your hands on and feel and touch. Even the conference room had great information to communicate.

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

Best BluePrint for Ingredients and Innovation: Watson

From Connecticut, Watson Inc diagrams and displays more information than most people will bother to stop and read. But maybe that’s the point: the graphic design, displayed as if it were a blueprint, showcases information from infant formula to pet foods and leaves us impressed with the depth and breadth of their reach – all in a two-story exhibit that had plenty of room for meetings, storage and product display:

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

Best Use of Really Large Test-Tube Like Displays: Alquimia USA

More than eye-catching, this row of some 16 grains, beans, seeds and more also created a unique wall-off side of the booth.

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

And finally, a double/shared award to…

Best Use of the Periodoc Table: Asenzya and Land O’ Lakes

There may have been other uses of the periodic table of elements, but these two companies used the table to great effect, so show off the flavor elements and the seasons ingredients respectively. It’s a lot to digest (no pun intended), but great fun to take a look and see how they plotted out the display. Well done!

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

 


A couple of other observations from walking the floor…

There were a LOT of big monitors at the show, on the order of 60″ to 72″. Some exhibits had several of them. In speaking with on exhibitor, I suggested that in his next version of the video, that he added closed-captioning, since the ambient noise on the show floor made it nearly impossible to understand what was being said. “Good idea!”

#IFT Exhibit Awards

I ran across a few exhibitors touting Virtual Reality: sit down, put a headset on and enjoy some virtual reality – mainly a quick interactive look at a company’s production process. Frankly, I’m still waiting to be impressed with VR at a tradsehow. Having said that, I’ve only tried it a few times, so no doubt someone is ready with a really good VR experience somewhere. I watched some people sit down, try the headset on while wearing glasses (didn’t work for them, didn’t work for me, either), and then go through the experience. If you wear glasses, taking them off to slip the headset on means that things are not clear and sharp, although it didn’t keep me from comprehending what was going on. The best ones are those that show off the company’s production process, or give a tour through a field or something related to the company. But with more and more VR coming to tradeshows, they’re going to have to step up with a great experience, or it’ll be hard to justify the use of VR headsets and the accompanying cost of creating the program.

I really liked the larger 20′ wide center aisles that were spread in a few places on the floor, complete with park benches. A nice place to grab a quick respite from walking and talking without having to leave the hall:

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 26, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

I’m in Las Vegas for the IFT 2017 show (that’s the International Food Technologists), and I spend a few minutes discussing how I approach walking the floor of the show. Also, a quick look at the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show.

ONE GOOD THING: The Beatles Love show by Cirque du Soleil

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It’s All in the Follow-Through

When I was a kid, my basketball coach used to tell me to follow through on shooting free throws and making basic passes. When I started playing golf, the instructor told me to be sure to follow through on my swing.

Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. My instinct was to believe that the initial movement, not the follow through, was important. Hell, the follow through had nothing to do with the original shot or pass or golf swing, so what was the point?

follow through

But have you tried to swing a golf club without doing a proper follow through? It’s like you’re doing half a swing. How do you pull up short? Even if the club swing has nothing to do with the trajectory or distance of the ball, for some reason, it does play an important part.

Same thing with your tradeshow marketing. If you don’t have a good follow through, you’re only doing half the show. And in your tradeshow efforts, it makes a bigger difference than your free throw or golf swing, because without a good follow through or follow up, you’re leaving money on the table. A LOT of money. In fact, it could be said that without a good follow up on your tradeshow marketing after the show, you might as well not go.

When I first got into the business of tradeshow marketing, the one statistic that stood out like a sore thumb was that almost 8 out of 10 tradeshow leads are NOT followed up on. That’s still pretty true. Yup, somewhere between 70 to 80% of tradeshow leads don’t get followed up on for any number of the following reasons:

  • Not properly scored (cool, warm, hot), so the sales person making the call has no idea where the prospect is in the sales process.
  • Incomplete contact information.
  • Incomplete follow up info: what does the prospect want from the call and when does she expect the follow up?
  • Lost between the show and the office.
  • Sales people don’t understand the importance or urgency of the lead, so it sits on their desk for way too long until it doesn’t matter anymore.

Any of these means that money is left on the table. Follow up is simple.

And speaking of follow through / follow up: Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 19, 2017 [video replay and podcast]

I take a look at blogging: what it takes, why to do it, how it works, what kinds of content you can use, and a little commentary on how it’s worked for me at TradeshowGuyBlog.com.

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Tradeshow Tweets

When’s the last time you searched for #tradeshow tweets on Twitter? Let’s have a little fun and see what people are tweeting about:

The power of socializing at a tradeshow:

A quick look at #ASD in Vegas:

A good question to ask:

Finishing the show up in Chicago!

Another successful show:

Well, this is big!

Sure, I’ll publish a photo of a Tesla anytime:

Fun video:

Attracting a crowd is important!

A rare moment of being able to sit down!

And finally, let’s grab an international travel checklist:

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 12, 2017

TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson discusses the philosophy and application of continuing education for person and professional reasons. What does it take to be a lifelong learner? Take a look:

Mentioned in the show: Peter Shankman’s Shankminds.

And if you want to wish someone a Happy Birthday, you can send them this!

Here’s the audio version. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast here.

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The Tradeshow Road Warrior Web Roundup

When it comes to assembling a list of what it takes to be a tradeshow road warrior, there’s nothing like tripping around the web to see what other people say, right? I travel a handful of times a year for work, and maybe a time or two for pleasure, but the real road warriors know more than I. Let’s take a look:

Morag Barrett, founder and CEO of SkyeTeam chimes in on Entrepreneur with These Five Tips Will Turn You Into a True Road Warrior. For example, use TSA Precheck, take shoe bags and make sure you have backup power for your devices.

Tradeshow Road Warrior

At Inc.com, Suzanne Lucas takes the flip perspective: 10 Tips to Survive Life with a Road Warrior. If you’re a spouse or partner who’s home with the kids, life can be difficult. She offers tips such as making use of technology to stay in touch, don’t save things until he gets home, make family a priority and more.

Jessica Pettitt offers Packing and Travel Tips to Become a True Road Warrior in a post on Speaker Magazine. She speaks staying in touch with family and friends, getting good exercise, and of course, packing!

On Salesforce.com, Laura Stack gives us The Way of the Productive Road Warrior: Advice for Newbie Business Travelers. She covers how to plan for travel, plan for lots of downtime, be loyal to your airline for more points, and more.

From the Wrike blog for brilliant teams, Emily Bonnie offers Road Warrior Productivity: Must-Have Tips and Tools. Tips include carrying extra business cards, tackling the busy-work (emails, expense reports, organizing your computer, etc.). Tools include having a good battery backup for devices, staying hydrated during long flights, and taking podcasts along.

Heading to Europe for business and pleasure? Here are some tips for saving $$ from Rebecca Lehman on Brad’s Deals: 20 Things I’ve Learned That Save Money While Traveling in Europe. Tips include do a lot of walking, take public transit, don’t tip at restaurants and eat at food cars, among others.

Whether you travel half the time, or just a few times a year, it does take some time and thought, and yes, some experience, to make the travel go smoothly.


Grab our Free Report: 7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

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The 3 Most Important Reasons to Exhibit at a Tradeshow

Well, actually, you can probably narrow it down to the one most important reason to exhibit at a tradeshow: to build your business! To grow! To see your bottom line increase!

Sure, but in a sense, pretty much any good reason you can think of to exhibit has a chance to fall into the top three of any list, depending on your company’s overall goals. And remember that your specific goals can, and probably will, change from show to show.

important reasons to exhibit at tradeshows

So let’s start with reason Number One. To generate leads. Not just any leads, but qualified leads. The definition can vary from business to business, but it boils down to this: a prospect who has shown interest to buy, is qualified to buy, and is planning on making a decision in the near future to purchase whatever it is you’re selling. So let’s be clear on what a lead is NOT. A lead is not a business card that lands in a fishbowl where you’re giving away a par if Bluetooth speakers. A lead is NOT scanning a badge of virtually anyone who passes through. No, a lead is ONLY someone who has passed the tests of being interested, having the ability to pay your price and are in the process of making a decision soon. And by exhibiting at the right shows, your company is reaching markets and new leads that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to reach.

The second most important reason to exhibit at a tradeshow is to show off your brand. A damn fine exhibit can do that in the most eloquent and engaging way. But your exhibit is not the only thing that represents your brand, although it’s critical. First impressions are imprinted on visitors’ minds, and they carry that impression with them for a long time. But beyond that, the impression your people leave is as important than your exhibit, and probably more so.  Is your booth staff friendly, prepared and trained to handle the onslaught of visitors and the chaos of a tradeshow floor?

The third most important reason to exhibit at tradeshows? I hinted at it in reason number one: the expansion of your market reach. Bob Moore, the iconic Bob of Bob’s Red Mill, has stated in more than one interview that their consistent exhibiting at tradeshows gives them access to markets they could not otherwise reach. Period. When you exhibit at tradeshows, be prepared to interact with potential clients that are in a position to either purchase your products or services, or help you bring them to new audiences that will help grow your sales.

There are other reasons to exhibit at tradeshows, but by focusing on these three items, all other reasons will almost take care of themselves.


Check our Exhibit Design Search tool now.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 5, 2017 [video replay and podcast]

Exhibit renting vs. exhibit purchase: which makes more sense? There’s no one answer, and often there’s not a clear answer. But I spoke to Mel White, VP of Marketing and Business Development for Classic Exhibits in Portland, Oregon, to go over some of the aspects of the question on today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:

 

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Embrace the Tradeshow Marketing Learning Curve

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
― Isaac Asimov

There are countless books written about how you can do something better, whether it is tradeshow marketing or underwater basket weaving. But the real secret to improvement is to approach the task with the intent of seeing what works and what doesn’t and use that information to increase your outcome the next time.

tradeshow marketing learning curve

Which means that no matter what book you read, you are responsible for the success or failure of that venture. Or, as Peter Shankman recently said, “Lose is not an option. Your options are to win or learn.”

Frankly, even the most seasoned tradeshow marketers run up against forces that give them less than stellar results, leaving them to question their approach.

But if you’re a rookie tradeshow marketer, the learning curve can be steep with many bumps and potholes along the way. Don’t let that dissuade you. Yes, you’re under pressure from the boss to bring home more leads than last time, and to have your sales team close more sales from those leads.

What if the lead count is not what you want? What if the sales results are not optimal? Your choices are to keep moving forward and ignoring the reasons why you had those results, or dig into the various moving parts to learn what happened. Was your booth visitor count down? Did your booth staff perform poorly because they were not as well-trained as they should have been? Did your competition have a better product or service?

All of these and more can affect your results, and the more you understand about why you got the results you did, the better you can respond and improve.

Learn. Review. Adjust. Act. Repeat.

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