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

November 2017

6 Tradeshow Visitors You’ll Run into at the Next Tradeshow

As a confirmed people-watcher, I’m always curious about tradeshow visitors. Who are they? What are they doing there? What are their goals? What’s on their agenda? Where are they from? What’s their life story? What do they do after the show?

tradeshow visitors

Given the wide variety of people you’ll see at a tradeshow, I thought it might be fun to take a look at a handful of visitors you’ll no doubt run into at your next show, whether as an exhibitor or attendee.

The Salesperson: Okay, the old-school salesperson. Usually, a guy, because that’s the nature of the job. An old-school salesman will gladly introduce himself and within a few minutes, he’ll download a gigabyte or two of information into your ears whether you asked for it or not. He’s all about the features and benefits! And not so much about trying to be a good communicator. To him, being a good communicator is getting all of that information out before you flee.

The Trick-or-Treater: All about the freebies. Grab a bag, fill it up, repeat.

The Uncomfortable “Me” Individual: Since they aren’t comfortable being at a show talking about their products or services, they’ll often talk just about themselves. It’s their favorite subject and as such, it’s easy to go on and on. And on. And on.

The Sharer: These people live via their social media outlets. They’ll snap your photo and post it in an instant; they’ll follow your platforms, and they’ll add you on LinkedIn at the drop of a hat.

The Newbie: Nope, never been to a show. It’s all a blur to them. If they’re lucky, they’ll make it through the three or four days onsite without waking up with a hangover. Because, since they’re newbies, they think being at the show is an opportunity to partay!

The Spy: This person could be a combination of the Escape Artist and the Job Seeker. The main thing is, you won’t see them as much as sense their presence – on occasion. The Spy as Escape Artist takes the few days of the show or conference to grab some sight-seeing time; the Spy as Job Seeker is making the rounds at various exhibits keeping their ears open for job openings.

The Dealmaker: Whether they’re looking to make a good deal, a great deal, or a lousy deal, they seem determined to cut a deal with someone. Anyone. Just make sure they have something to take back to the office that shows they’re doing their job.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 13, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

One great thing about doing a weekly podcast with guests is that I meet a lot of people. This week it was a pleasure to meet and talk with Roger Courville, who helps learning leaders prepare to reach, teach and lead in the Connectorship Age.

It was a fun conversation about events and tradeshows, how to bring value to attendees and much more. Take a look:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the reggae-tinged band Noiseshaper. I’m not sure if the band still exists or is active, and the website looks to reflect that: the last update looks to be about 8 or 9 nears ago. But they left some great music behind.

3 Extraordinarily Useful Tradeshow Marketing Exhibitor Magazine Articles

Yes, it can be said without fear of being wrong that you will find useful tradeshow marketing articles in Exhibitor. That’s their thing. But in browsing their site this week, I found three which I believe go a little above and beyond because of what you can DO by reading them.

tradeshow marketing

Let’s take a look:

How to Measure the Value of Tradeshow Marketing. Complete with downloadable worksheets, this one takes you through the steps to figure out what’s really going on with your tradeshow marketing efforts and all of that money you commit to it each year.

Taking the Lead. Collecting leads that are worthy of a challenge in and of itself. When you have to convert those leads to sales, that’s when the rubber meets the road so to speak. This article walks you through the steps on grading leads, setting goals, figuring out what questions to ask visitors and more.

Four Factors that Affect Graphic Costs. It seems that graphic design and production is often the item that doesn’t get checked until it’s too late. And lateness (among other things) can affect your cost dramatically. Check out these factors to help keep your costs in line.

A lot of exhibitors wouldn’t do nearly as well as they do without Exhibitor Magazine – often called the bible of the industry. Always good stuff there.

When it Comes to Tradeshow Exhibit Design, Are You Stuck in a Checklist?

Recently I was speaking with tradeshow expert Marlys Arnold of Image Specialist, and she made a comment that struck me: Are you stuck in a checklist?

3D exhibit design is part art, part craft, and part skill. I don’t claim to be a design expert, but I’ve seen thousands of exhibit booths over the years, and only a very few have really stood out. Why did they stand out? Because – to me – if you are familiar with the company and the brand, and you’re standing in front of the booth for the first time, you say to yourself, “They freaking nailed it with that design!” The design of the exhibit adheres so close to the brand’s identity that you can’t help but notice.

Why doesn’t this happen more often? Let’s go back to the checklist. Brand managers and designers can get into a trap of making sure that all the items needed for proper booth function are included – and stop there:

Storage? Check. Product Display? Check. Big backlit graphic? Check. Nice-looking greeting counter? Check. You see how this goes.

Don’t get me wrong. Checklists are important, and they’re a good place to start. But when the challenge is to create an exhibit that screams your brand does using the checklist – and only the checklist – really get you there?

Let’s say the branding guidelines advise the designer to use branding standards and follow natural and sustainable practices. Perhaps it adds that it should be made from sustainable materials. And then there’s a call-out for innovative ways to showcase products to draw attention and traffic.

It isn’t long before you get lost in corporate gibberish and bland buzzwords that don’t really communicate well. It’s not really the brand manager’s fault: this is how they think and how they’ve been trained.

So, what’s the answer?

Frankly, I don’t think the answer is easy. And it’s not that hard, either.

tradeshow exhibit design

Some companies are better at communicating their needs than others. Some designers are better at sussing out what the company really wants than others. If you, as a tradeshow brand manager, can succinctly put into words what you’re looking for and avoid the corporate buzzwords and gibberish, you’re half the way there. If you pick a designer that has the skill to intuitively take those descriptions and create a 3D design that screams “your brand!” that’s the other half.

See: easy, right?

In projects I’ve been involved in that have fully succeeded in creating a 3D version of the brand, the power of description has been palpable. Usually, a sketch, even a napkin sketch, has been provided because the brand manager has taken time to visualize the exhibit. They don’t usually have the skill to bring it fully to life, but they can often effectively demonstrate what they’re looking for. Perhaps it’s taking the specific curves of a brand’s graphic look and incorporating that into the curves of a greeting counter. Or it might mean taking the iconic mill structure of a brand and making that the central piece of an exhibit.

Whatever your brand, I would tell you this – and this is coming from a non-designer: determine what visual elements of your brand are the most important, and work with your designer to recreate those elements in the design of the exhibit.

It’s not always easy, but if it’s done effectively, it’ll knock your audience’s socks off.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 6, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

Matt Kazam joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Matt has done stand-up comedy in Las Vegas for years and is moving into the corporate and tradeshow world, so we sat down to discuss how he’s approaching that and some of the challenges that come up around that endeavor.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Sandler Sales Training from Flywheel.

Are You Getting the Best Results from Your Tradeshow Lead Generation Tactics?

Face it: you and your competitors are going head-to-head in tradeshow lead generation. But are you really getting the best results you can possibly get?

If your main goal for going to a tradeshow is to generate leads for future sales, you’ll need to focus on that aspect of your tradeshow marketing program to maximize results. Sure, you also have to have other pieces of the puzzle in place, such as branding, messaging, booth function and more, but if your ultimate goal at the tradeshow is to come away with a bag full of good leads, maybe it’s time for a deep dive into what that takes.

tradeshow lead generation

Establish what you want for a good lead. What does it mean to you and your team? After all, not just any old person that stops by and kicks a tire in your booth, so to speak, is a lead. Determine what will you accept as a lead by defining what that is – and get very specific.

The first thing you have to know is if the booth visitor uses your product.

Next, find out if they are shopping around for a company that provides what you provide. There’s a good chance since they’re at a tradeshow that was organized to specifically draw a crowd in your market.

Third, determine who is the decision maker. If you’re speaking to that person, great. If not, can the person you’re talking speak for them, or direct you to them?

Fourth, do they have a budget to purchase your product? If they don’t have a budget, they’re not really a prospect. They’re ‘pie-in-the-sky’ at this point. It doesn’t mean they won’t have a budget in the future, but for now, they’re not a hot lead.

Finally, you need to know when they’re going to make that decision. If it’s not some far-off future date, but is closer to today’s date, that gives you all the information you need for a HOT lead.

Once you’ve done all of this, you can safely grade your leads. Or if they don’t pass the “lead” test they may become someone that can make a referral. Or they’re off your list for good if you don’t think they’ll ever lead to any business via a direct lead or referral.

The leads can be graded HOT, WARM or COOL. But frankly, I usually only use HOT and WARM. HOT is obvious: it’s a lead that needs to be followed up on quickly because there is an explicit and stated desire for your product. WARM is probably a little more flexible depending on your product, sales cycle and so forth. COOL may only apply to those that you know the bare minimum: they will at least use your product occasionally but have no immediate interest or desire or budget or you don’t know the decision maker. So this puts them in the COOL pile but given their at least occasional use they are not a DISCARD.

In any event, the better your planning and the more thorough execution on your tradeshow lead generation tactics, the better your results.

 

6 Classic Rock Songs to Help You Become a Better Tradeshow Marketer

Let’s have a little fun, and rock out a little at the same time. Let’s find inspiration from some of the old classics and see how they play into your tradeshow marketing plan.

The Who: Who Are You: Yes, you need to know who you are as a company and an entity so that you can clearly communicate that information to your visitors using the elements of your exhibit, how you interact with visitors and help them solve problems.

Beatles: Can’t Buy Me Love. You might be able to spend your way to increased market share or a bigger booth space, but if you want your customers or clients to really love you, it takes more than money. It takes passion, belief, engagement, and follow-through.

Rolling Stones: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. As a marketer, it’s a great feeling to come off the floor after a successful tradeshow. It means you’ve done a lot RIGHT. But don’t get too satisfied. You can do better next time – and your competition still is trying to take clients and customer and make them theirs.

Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? Experience counts for a lot in the tradeshow world. The more experienced booth staffers, for instance, the better they’re able to engage with attendees. The more experienced your exhibit designers and fabricators, the better the exhibit. And so on. Experience counts for a lot. And don’t forget that many of your visitors have decades of experience behind them as well.

Dire Straits: Love Over Gold: Yes, we do it for the money. But when I see people that do it for love – and are really loving what they’re doing – that is something that’s hard to compete with. If your competition is LOVING what they’re doing and you’re not, and all other things are equal – who’s going to come out on top?

T. Rex: Bang a Gong (Get it On): one of the most important pieces of exhibiting at a tradeshow is to tell people that you’re there. Let that information ring out everywhere: press releases, local TV/Radio if appropriate, social media, email blasts, phone calls, direct mail and more.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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