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

August 2017

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 21, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

…in which I interview Public Relations pro Diane Weiss Jones of DJ Public Relations. We take on public relations, marketing, community relations, social media and more. Is there anything such as bad publicity? And much more. Fun convo:

 

Reach Diane Weiss Jones here:

Website

Twitter


ONE GOOD THING: The Pebble Beach concours d’elegance.

8 Ways to Completely Sabotage Your Tradeshow Appearance

While it’s great to know all of the things you should do at a tradeshow, it’s also enlightening to flip the coin and figure out ways to sabotage your tradeshow appearance. Y’know, to hopefully avoid doing so.

  1. Take any person from the office who’s willing to come. So what if they are new, or don’t know the products well, and are young and well-known partiers? You only need them to show up at the booth during show hours, no doubt.
    sabotage your tradeshow appearance
  2. Don’t tell anyone, such as potential or current clients that you’re going to the show. They’ll find you there anyway.
  3. Bring a notebook to write down the name of anyone that might be interested in your products or services. Low tech is best.
  4. Grab a handful of old product sell sheets. If there are any changes, you can jot them in the margins. Don’t want to let them go to waste.
  5. Plan on setting up the booth yourself. Even though you’ve never done that. After all, you’re an Ikea pro.
  6. Don’t bother to check out last year’s (or the year before’s) graphics. A picture is a picture.
  7. Wait until the last minute. Hey, the show’s only next month, right?
  8. Do the same thing next year as you did this year.

Put your effort into doing at least half of the preceding tips, and no doubt you’ll sabotage your tradeshow marketing efforts. And plan on updating your resume soon!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: August 14, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

Today’s podcast/vlog includes a pleasant conversation with Lynn Maria Thompson, ghost-writer, business advisor, business owner and shall we admit it – a former tradeshow coordinator for a big corporation. Well, she was at least heavily involved in tradeshows, back in the day. Now she is finishing up her new book, The Feline CEO: How Following a Cat’s Lead Can Make You a Better Business Leader. Here’s the recording, in your choice of audio or video:

 

Show Notes:

Lynn Maria Thompson’s The Feline CEO Facebook page

Check out Lynn’s OldMaidCatLady ecommerce site!

ONE GOOD THING (Two today!):

The book Lynn mentioned: How Big is Your But? by Rene Brent

Movie: Atomic Blonde (trailer). 5 stars!

Ask Me Anything: Answers to My Most-Asked Tradeshow Marketing Questions

As a company owner, salesman and project manager for TradeshowGuy Exhibits, I get tradeshow marketing questions. Hoobooy, I get a lot of questions. I thought it might be fun to answer a handful of the most common questions I get.

Our shipping costs are sky-high. How can we bring these costs down? Many questions are about costs, so it’s a good place to start. Certainly, if something is heavy it’s going to cost a lot to ship. Wood panels are heavy, and many older exhibits have a lot of wood pieces. It also adds up in drayage costs at the show. Some clients like the image that wood gives them, so they bite the bullet and build the cost of shipping into their exhibiting program. Others that want to bring the shipping costs down look at lighter materials, such as silicon-edge fabric graphic panels (SEG) that give a great look but don’t have the weight and heft of wooden or other types of panels.

How can we increase our ROI? It seems that tradeshow marketing is hit and miss. Yes, investing in tradeshow marketing can be expensive, but done right, it can be a boon and open doors to markets that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise reach. Sometimes it comes down to exhibiting at the right shows. It often means putting more time, energy and resources into pre-show marketing, booth staff training and a booth that accurately represents your brand (among others). There are a lot of moving parts and if you let a few of those parts go unattended to, it can contribute to your failure. I spoke with a former exhibitor recently who said the last time they exhibited was years ago and it was a bust. When we spent a few minute dissecting it, we come to the conclusion that as a small local business, one of their biggest challenges was finding a local show that could provide a large enough audience of potential customers. Without deeper digging, it was impossible to know in that brief call, but we both felt that we identified one of their most important challenges: getting in from of the right audience.

How do we work with a designer? We’ve never done that before. Often I end up working with exhibitors who are in a sense moving out of their comfort zone. Before now, they have purchased exhibits from a source that just shows them a catalog of pre-made items. Nothing wrong with that, there are hundreds and hundreds of modular exhibits and accessories that are more or less ‘off-the-shelf’ that will do a great job for you. But exhibitors will often reach the point where they have the budget and desire to move into something custom. Working with a designer is straightforward – but you have to choose a designer that knows how to design in 3D. Graphic designers typically won’t have the skill to do so. However, trained 3D exhibit designers know how to design exhibits that take into account all of your functional needs: storage space, display space, foot traffic flow, graphic layout and so much more. A typically-trained graphic designer won’t have the skill that a 3D designer does. As for working with a designer, it’s typical to have a long conversation, either in person, or on a conference call, with the company stakeholders so that all needs are discussed. At that point the designer will create a mockup or two for review and once comments are in, changes are made until the final design is agreed upon.

tradeshow marketing questions

I need a new exhibit. Should I prepare and issue an RFP (Request for Proposal)? It depends. There’s no definitive answer on this one. An RFP does a couple of things: it helps clarify your exhibit needs by forcing you to articulate all of your needs, budget, timeline and so on. Putting it all in black and white is a great exercise whether you’re putting out an RFP or not. If you don’t have an exhibit house in mind, issuing an RFP allows you to vet a handful (probably 4 – 6) companies, and make them jump through some hoops to make their case, and perhaps even do mock designs for you. On the other hand, if you have been working with an exhibit house that has done you well – has created great exhibits for you in the past, has been an effective partner for years – then no doubt you’re in good shape staying with them.

How much does it cost? It’s a question people don’t really like to ask, but usually end up blurting it out. Some items come with a set price, like the off-the-shelf catalog items, but if they’re shopping for a custom exhibit, there is no obvious answer. In my younger salesperson days, I’d answer the question with “well, what’s your budget?” but that’s not really a good answer. The better response I believe, is to ask them how they come up with a budget from their end. What is their process for determining how much they are willing to invest? There are industry standards – which are pretty accurate, and a good starting place – but the client has to work through a number of internal issues unique to come up with a realistic budget for their project. A final thought on this: if their internal discussion gives them a number that isn’t realistic for their expectations, a reputable exhibit house will tell them so.

How quick can you get it done? Or: how long will this take? This question often comes from an exhibitor who hasn’t paid close enough attention to the calendar and are now scrambling to get something in place. A recent exhibitor asked me – months (almost a year) ahead of their need  and asked “how long does the process usually take?” The question was about designing and fabricating an island booth from scratch. I silently gave him kudos for asking the question up front (and not waiting until a month or two before the show), then told him my answer: for an island exhibit, we’d love to have 3-4 months at minimum. Six months is better. But we’ve turned around island exhibits in 5 or 6 weeks IF the client has a really strong idea of what they want and all that’s need for design is for the designer to create the rendering and confirm that the look and feel and dimensions are accurate – and then we’re off to the races.

Certainly there are other questions I hear, but in reflecting the past year or two, these seem to be what come up the most-asked tradeshow marketing questions. What questions do YOU have about exhibit creation or tradeshow marketing?

 

13 Tradeshow and Event-Related Twitter Accounts to Follow

Hey, doesn’t everybody use Twitter? Okay, not everybody, but certainly a lot of folks do. It’s the go-to immediate social media platform to post quick-hitting comments, links and videos. You can track chatter about topics galore, and if you’re trying to keep up with social media interaction relating to a specific tradeshow, just plug in the show hashtag and you’re seeing dozens and dozens of tweets, photos and videos.

Frankly, it’s tough to find a tradeshow-related Twitter account that doesn’t commit one of the sins of tweeting: too much self-promotion, nothing but retweeting, or just ignoring the ability to personally relate by tweeting our photos or individual comments.

Let’s get highly subjective and track down a baker’s dozen of tradeshow and event-related Twitter accounts that you might take a look at:


Julius Solaris, Editor of Event Manager Blog, Author.

 


Melissa P. Michel, tradeshow and event specialist, and in case you didn’t notice, a softball fanatic!

 


ExpoStars: Team training, booth staff, effective engagement.


Sarah Michel, The Wonder Woman of Networking, VP of Connexity, CSP at Velvet Chainsaw.

 


Kyle Hillman, CMM, Hillman Events, wearer of all hats

 


Liz King. NYC based Event Planning Superhero

 


BizBash: Ideas, News and Resources for Event Planners & Experiental Marketers

 


EventBrite: The world’s largest event technology platform.

 


Shawna McKinley, Event Sustainability

 


Sparks Marketing: Brand experience agency.

 


Corbin Ball, CSP CMP, Event and Tradeshow Technology Analyst

 


Rachel Wimberly, TSNN,  Editor-in-Chief of the Tradeshow News Network

 


Adrian Segar, Conferences that work, consultant for interactive, innovative, attendee-driven events.

 


MelmWhite, Classic Exhibits, VP of Business Development for exhibit manufacturer Classic Exhibits

 


Anders Boulanger, Tradeshow Crowds: Infotainer that draws crowds

 


There you have it. Take a closer look. And let me know about other Twitter tradeshow and event activists that I should know about!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: August 7, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I take a look at the various ways to create flowcharts and mindmaps for pinning down the aspects of a process, whether it’s complicated or not. Also, on this week’s tradeshow tip, the 7 signs you may be ready for tradeshow marketing.

 

 

Mentioned in the show:

Lucidchart

Microsoft Visio

And here’s a great mind-mapping software, XMind.

And for the ONE GOOD THING – Check out The Last Tycoon on Amazon.

2017 Tradeshow Exhibiting Trends

I’m the last guy to claim to be a trend-setter, but I do try to keep at least one half-open eye on tradeshow exhibiting trends. So I took a look at some of the things that are showing up on various 2017 tradeshow exhibit trends lists and added in a couple of things I’ve seen at shows this year. Yes, we’re into the second half of the year – so how did these trend article from earlier in the year predict what’s happening on the ground?

Virtual Reality: I’m still unconvinced this will really take off in the tradeshow world. The challenges are many: crowded floors, busy visitors, cost of creating custom content that not only engages but impresses and leaves people glad they spent the time. But it looks like the technology is there and will do nothing but improve. The few times I’ve seen it at shows, people did not seem all that interested, and several VR headsets sat unused for long periods of time. When they were used, visitors commented that it was nice, but no one I spoke with raved about the experience. Again, it comes down to getting the best and most engaging content possible.

tradeshow exhibit trends

According to this great article from Exhibitor Magazine, some other trends for the year include Artificial Intelligence (think Siri and Alexa), new ways of visitor engagement (digital games, for example), and Tradeshow Campaign Themes.

From Freeman comes an article that brings up sustainable materials as still trending (look for LED backlit smart fabric walls), immersive hubs from show organizers (activities, video content and more), and education that is customized to the level of expertise in the audience groups. There’s also a mention of one way that might be a good workaround on the prohibitive cost of shipping large engines and equipment around the world: 3D-printing that can replicate the machinery or equipment to a T.

Absolute Exhibits from Tustin, CA, offers a handful of tech trends for tradeshow exhibits this year, including digital lounges for recharging (figuratively and literally), brighter and more attractive signage, push notifications through the show’s mobile app, games and contests, and interactive video walls and touch screens.

Exhibit Concepts offers up trends including finding new ways to engage face-to-face, the wide incorporation of technology into every corner of a tradeshow exhibit (Bluetooth beacons that integrate with a client’s products), and the increasing use of custom exhibit rentals to keep costs down.

From my perspective, I see the growing use of backlit fabric graphics taking over much of the tradeshow floor. The cost is coming down (still), and the quality of the fabric printing is nearly indistinguishable from high-quality paper printing, as long as you’re using the latest generation of printers (be sure to ask!)

Another item I see frequently is large-format, simple graphics that do a terrific job of grabbing eyeballs, either through the bold simple easy-to-read text, or bold images combined with sparse text.

When it comes to charging stations, I recently saw something a little different: lockable stations where you can plug in and leave your device. When you return just enter your code (that you came up with earlier), and retrieve the device. This charging unit was NOT in an exhibitor booth, but was instead provided by the show.

The last couple of shows I attended (Expo West in March and IFT in June) both had great, easy-to-use show apps. Quick to download, easy to navigate, and when you set up push notifications you really don’t miss a thing. Kudos to the various app designers that make them so friendly and good-looking.

These topics are echoed in many other posts throughout the tradeshow world, and now that we’re on the downward slide into 2018, it’ll be interesting to see what comes to the fore next year that everyone wants to be a part of.

Why It’s Easier to Succeed with Pre-Show Marketing Than You Might Think

pre-show marketing

When it comes to achieving tradeshow success, actual time spent at the tradeshow gets all the attention – so where does that leave pre-show marketing? Out in the cold, of course.

So bring pre-show marketing out of the cold and into the daylight.

The two questions to address are simple: what is my pre-show outreach, and who do I reach out to?

The ideal scenario of pre-show outreach is built on multiple touches: email, snail mail (postcards are good and cost-effective), and social media. Each of these could be broken down a bit more. Mailings could include more than just a postcard: if you have some high-value prospects in mind, send something a little more special and high-end that whets their appetite and gets them to your booth. Social media can include tweets and Facebook posts about your new products and services, or industry-famous guests at your booth. You can also create videos to promote your appearance at the show and share those as well.

So who gets the communication? The first channel to address would be your in-house list of clients, prospects and those that have inquired over the years. They know who you are and even if they’re not planning on going to the tradeshow, your invitation may help them change their mind. At the very least, they’ll know you’re exhibiting, which shows them you care enough about your company and brand to put it out there for all to see.

The second channel is to use a list provided by show organizers. But don’t just assume you can import the information into a spreadsheet and do a mail-merge and click send or print. No, you should go over the list to weed out competitors and non-prospects so they aren’t on the receiving end of your pitch.

It sounds easy – and in theory, it is. But pre-show marketing takes time and attention to detail. Create a plan that includes a timeline for each item, and then create the content and promotional material that will go out. Once execution of the plan is underway, track results as best as possible, and of course do your best to track the names and companies that actually responded and showed up to your exhibit.

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

Call 800-654-6946 for Prompt Service
Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected <br />
QA4E-AZFW-VWIR-5NYJ