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

January 2018

How to Do Tradeshow Math

Wait, you probably already know how to do tradeshow math, right? You add up all of the costs, hit “total” and you have a sum that tells you how much you need to spend.

Could be that easy. Let’s take a look.

I’m always doing math. In fact, my buddy Rich and I will always answer strange queries with “Do the math.” Even on things that supposedly have nothing to do with math.

“Hey, do we need another bottle of peppermint schnapps?”

“What do you think? Just do the math!”

“You gonna watch the new X-Files season?”

“Could be. Do the math!”

I guess you really can apply math to just about everything.

tradeshow math

When it comes to tradeshow math, you might want to take a more precise approach than just winging it like Rich and I do during our golfing sojourns.

Identify all of the various things that you need to spend money on: new or upgraded exhibit and all of the related items such as carpeting, electrical, sign hanging, exhibit set up and dismantle; then add in shipping (both directions), drayage, booth space rental and cleaning, internet access if desired.

Beyond that, if you’re looking at the whole picture for one show, what is the cost of creating a mailing piece to let people you know you’ll be at the show? Add the cost of mailing. Email is certainly significantly cheaper than sending out snail mail, but someone is still going to have to create and send the email. Is that done in-house, or is it done by a creative agency? And are you including the cost of email list rental?

Other pre-show and during-show activities may include social media creation (photos, video, blog posts or other). If your staffers are doing that as part of their job, it may not be an additional separate line item.

In-show marketing or activities may include badge scanner rental, sponsorships, professional demonstrators, lead form printing and more.

Take the last step and do the tradeshow math for the entire year. Add up all of the shows and see how your full year’s costs look. Then at the end of the year, add up the actual costs and compare to your estimates. Make adjustments as needed. Rinse and Repeat.

If you’d like to make it a little easier, just download this Excel spreadsheet we created here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits.

Walking the Floor at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference

Here in Oregon, the cannabis industry is fast-growing, which means that tradeshows promoting the industry are popping up frequently. I walked the floor of the Cannabis Collaborative Conference last week, meeting people and posting photos of participants and exhibits on my social media outlets, especially Instagram and Twitter. I came up with a few takeaways:

Participants are very upbeat and positive about the future of the industry, despite the federal classification of marijuana as a dangers drug, and despite the recent announcement by the DOJ that they would more aggressively target people under federal laws, even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

One comment came from an exhibitor, who observed that attendees and exhibitors at this particular show were more likely those who were new to the industry, wanted to get into the industry or were smaller players. “The bigger players don’t need to be at this show,” she said.

CDB (cannabidoil) is exploding, positioned as a “non-high” pain treatment. A year ago it was barely mentioned. Today in Oregon it’s seen everywhere, it seems, and is heavily promoted as an alternative to other over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

I managed to see a portion of one of the presentations, which was a panel discussion on the challenges that the industry faces in the banking industry. As a cash business, stores are faced with getting that money into a banking system that resists the cash because, as institutions that are regulated by the federal government, they may be punished for doing just that. No easy answers!

I see that Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, that supports the industry, gave a keynote addressing the Department of Justice’s decision to repeal the Cole Memo. Would have liked to see that!

From the perspective of a tradeshow marketer, I saw a mix of good, clever and creative exhibits along with those that barely were able to cobble together a printed vinyl sign backdrop. Those that I talked to were excited about their position in the industry, though, and looked forward to being able to afford more expensive exhibits in the future.

Here are a few photos from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference.

TradeshowGuy Monday morning Coffee, January 29, 2018: Anders Boulanger

Anders Boulanger is a professional presenter that works the tradeshow circuit with his company The Infotainers. I’ve know Anders for years – long distance – and finally got a chance to meet in person several months ago when our paths crossed in Las Vegas. As a guest on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Anders talks about his business, who he works with, how he does it from Winnipeg, Canada, and much more:

 

ONE GOOD THING: Scruff the Rescue Dog.

How to Stand Out at a Tradeshow

One of your biggest tradeshow marketing challenges is how to stand out at a tradeshow. Every other exhibitor is vying for the attention of visitors, so not only are you trying to grab the attention of the eyeballs and mind of a visitor, but every other exhibitor there is looking to do the same thing.

To stand out, you have to be unique. Or if not unique, you have to execute the various properties of your exhibit in such a way that you catch eyeballs.

What is unique? It’s something that no one has thought of before. An exhibit that I saw in the last year at Expo West in Anaheim was nothing more than a large “1%” that dominated the entirety of the booth. In the booth, by Kashi, there was a small sign that explained that the 1% referred to the amount of organic farmland in the US. That unique approach, along with well-informed booth staff, made for a presence that really stood out.

stand out at the tradeshow

Another way is to have an exhibit that represents your brand so well that frankly, no other exhibitor could have that exhibit. If you’re familiar with Bob’s Red Mill, you know that their brand is the iconic face of Bob Moore, and a red mill. Their exhibit shows that red mill down to the T. Bob Moore, in his late 80s, still represents the brand at the bigger shows, signs books, gives them away, and poses for pictures. Another way the company stands out at Expo West is when Bob and a small Dixieland band make an entrance every morning, marching throughout the show floor, finally ending at the booth.

stand out at the tradeshow

Other exhibitors stand out by having unique hands-on activities, mascots, celebrities (in the industry), unusual giveaways and more.

Standing out is critical to getting attention. What can you do to stand out?

Responsible for Drawing a Tradeshow Crowd? 9 Top Notch Ways to Spend Your Money

Drawing a tradeshow crowd is the boiled-down essence of the reason for exhibiting at a tradeshow. With hundreds or thousands of competing tradeshow exhibits, every single one of them wants to find a way to draw the biggest crowds throughout the tradeshow. Having a crowd – and knowing what to do with it – is the best path to success in your tradeshow marketing endeavors.

drawing a tradeshow crowd

Given that, let’s take a look at ways you can spend a little money and draw a crowd.

  1. Hire a pro. Professional presenters know what they’re doing. They will put together a short presentation designed specifically to not only draw a crowd but inform and educate the crowd about your product or service.
  2. Have an exhibit that is visually appealing and feels comfortable to walk into. Many exhibits look great but feel intimidating and will turn people away. Does your exhibit invite visitors to come in?
  3. Do consistent pre-show marketing. Letting people know what to expect at your show is one of the keys to getting people to make a special trip to your exhibit.
  4. Have in activity that relates directly to your product. Digimarc’s appearance at the National Retail Federation expo in New York gave attendees a hands-on experience that was unique and unforgettable.
  5. Leverage your social media activity. Make sure that all posts include the show hashtag and your booth number.
  6. Have a famous person in your exhibit. No, you can’t hire the Brad Pitts, George Clooneys or Jennifer Lawrences, but you can hire an author or speaker that is well-known in your industry to draw a crowd.
  7. Have a well-trained and fun booth staff.
  8. Offer food. Yes, at a food show, you won’t stand out that much. But at a non-food show, it can help draw a crowd. One exhibitor I saw years ago at a tech show made smoothies for visitors. Since it took a minute or two for each smoothie to be made, the staff had plenty of time to chat with folks in the smoothie line to determine if they were prospects or not.
  9. Offer a unique giveaway. Promotional items are a dime a dozen, but if you are offering something useful and cool, word will get around.

And remember – once you have drawn a crowd, be sure you know what to do with them!

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Exhibiting at Another Tradeshow

asking good questions

As an exhibitor, or someone who manages an exhibit program for a company, you have oodles of details to keep track of each and every show. This often means you don’t have time to stop and ponder the very act of exhibiting at a tradeshow. But sometimes taking time to do just such a thing is a good thing. These questions are not aimed at the logistics of your exhibit, but are pointer more towards the internal conversation you may have with yourself and how you and your staff approach the act of marketing while standing in a tradeshow booth with the intent of finding potential clients or customers.

 

  1. Do you have any blind spots?
  2. What are your hidden strengths?
  3. Are you really focused on the things that are important?
  4. When it comes to networking, do you push your comfort zone or do you play it safe?
  5. How well do you take care of yourself during the few days of the show?
  6. Does everybody on your booth staff know all of your products or services well enough to talk about them fluently?
  7. Do you sometimes talk too much to visitors just to fill time instead of letting them talk?
  8. Do you have three good questions to start a conversation centered on the needs your product or service fulfills?
  9. What information do you need to determine if a visitor is a prospect or not?
  10. Once you qualify a visitor, what precise information do you need from them to move forward?
  11. Are you comfortable you’re doing all you can to maximize the company’s time on the tradeshow floor without doing too much and getting burned out?
  12. Do you have a tested plan to gather all leads and get them back to the sales team in a timely manner?

I could go on and on, but the point is to have you examine your involvement in tradeshow marketing from a different perspective and see if you could find some areas to improve. What questions should you be asking yourself or your team?

The Tradeshow Floor Sales Call

A tradeshow floor sales call is something a little different than a typical sales call. Okay, it’s a lot different. Let’s compare.

tradeshow floor sales call

With a typical call, whether in person or on the phone, a sales person will research the prospect, sometimes to the point of reviewing their LinkedIn Profile, the company, the possibility of doing business, their needs in regard to the offered service or product and maybe more. Sometimes the sales person just has an inkling that the target prospect may have a need for the product or service and they just make a call with little more to go on, figuring they’ll either uncover a need or disqualify them and remove them from a prospect list. Either approach is valid and each sales person has their own system for making contact and determining potential.

On the tradeshow floor, a sales call is something different. Not altogether different, but it is different than a typical sales call. The floor is controlled chaos with hundreds of people near your exhibit, either walking by or stopping if your exhibit has done a good job of pitching a proper message.

Once the person stops, the conversation is usually faster-paced, with an eye on qualifying or disqualifying quickly. A prepared booth staffer will have a few questions at the ready, and use them to find out if the visitor is a prospect. If they are, the next questions will determine if they’re in the market currently (or soon), if they make the buying decision and if they have the money to spend. As Richard Erschik put in in a recent interview, the five questions a staffer should have at hand are:

  1. Do you currently use our product?
  2. Are you considering the purchase of a product such as ours?
  3. If so, when?
  4. Do you make the buying decision?
  5. Do you have the money to spend?

In a more typical sales call, where the sales person is either on the phone or in their office, the conversation is a more nuanced approach, covering agreements on the amount of time agreed upon, the agreement that if there is no need for the product that the prospect will be honest about that, and if there is a need, the two parties will agree on the specifics of the next step.

During a tradeshow floor sales call, the timing is quicker – mainly you cut to the chase. If the visitor is prospect, determine the next step. If not, politely disengage and move on to the next person.

A tradeshow floor sales call may take place dozen, maybe a hundred or more times during a day, as opposed to just a few calls in person on location, or on the phone.

Knowing what to expect and being prepared will give you a distinct advantage over your competitors who are at the show without a concise plan.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, January 8, 2018: Charles Pappas

Welcome to a new year – so glad you found us online! This week’s interview on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee features the author of a new book called “Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs and Robot Overlords.” Charles Pappas, a senior writer at Exhibitor Magazine, was kind enough to sit down with me and discuss this unique historical look at expos, exhibitions and tradeshows:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The new Beck album, Colors.

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