With so many places to order branded merchandise, how do you know what you’re really getting? Sometimes it takes an expert to help you figure it out. This episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee feature Mike Stanton of Agitprop Productions discussing the ins and outs of tracking down quality promotional branded items.
When it comes to tradeshow lead generation, you’ll find you can break it down into many steps. But for the purpose of simplification, let’s take a look at the four foundations of tradeshow lead generation that will allow you to not only bring in more leads, but bring in more qualified leads. And that’s what we want as exhibitors, right?
The first foundation is to have clear message on your exhibit graphics. The text should simply and clearly communicate what it is you do. What problems do you solve? Images should support that message. If the first impression is not clear and the reason that a prospect should stop at your booth is not immediately understood, you’ll lose potential customers.
The second foundation is asking the right questions. Once the visitor has made the decision to stop in your booth, your questions should be aimed at clarifying five things: do they currently use your product, are they presently considering the purchase of a product such as yours, when they are looking at the purchase, does this person make the buying decision, and does the company have the money to spend? If you can satisfactorily answer those questions, you can move on to the next phase.
The third foundation is the gathering of information. This may seem pretty straightforward, but don’t let the little details slip away. Capture all of the pertinent information: name and company, best contact method, what they’re interested in, and if they want any samples. Having all of this is important, but the final foundation seals it:
The fourth foundation is getting agreement from your prospect on the next step. Your visitor will often happily give you a lot of information, but before they leave, CONFIRM with them the type of follow up and when the follow up will take place. Is it a phone call? Is it an email? Are you sending them sample? Are you visiting them in person or schedule a video call? No matter the type of contact, confirm with the prospect what exactly that is, when it is, what will be discussed at that meeting.
Now that you have all four of those foundations in place, you will find that the leads you gather will be of more value to your sales crew, and a higher chance of closing more deals!
Of course, we always want to make sure our tradeshow best practices are out on display for everyone at all times. But as Steve Miller says, “Perfection is your enemy.”
And…we’re only human. That means you’ll find that your booth staff will sometimes be eating in the booth, or on their phone when people are walking by. Or they’ll fail to direct a visitor to the person with the right answer for the question. Or maybe you realize that your pre-show marketing efforts were lame this time around. Or your post-show follow up really left something to be desired.
Sometimes your graphics will be scuffed or torn. Perhaps your flooring is ripped and mended. All of these are irritating, aren’t they, because you want to always have the best presentation at all times. But perfection is not attainable.
So, keep moving forward. If one of your staffers is sitting in the back of the booth with hands in pockets, put on a smile and ask them to move to the aisle where they can be helpful. And vow to schedule a trainer who can teach staffers better habits. If your hanging sign or large graphics look great but are outdated because some minor branding thing changed, take a photo and plan to get together with management to find the dollars to make upgrades.
There are times that you’ll come up short. There may even be times you consider your tradeshow efforts a failure.
Improvement doesn’t happen all at once. But keeping tradeshow best practices in mind every time you’re involved in setting up the booth, planning upgrades, scheduling your booth staff and related show logistics, you will see improvement. But chances are you won’t see perfection.
You might think it’s easy enough to determine your tradeshow marketing goals. Just sell sell sell – increase your business and you’ve done the job, right? But in fact, it’s not be as cut and dried as you might think.
Every show is different, and your goals may vary significantly from show to show. And some goals are very specific while some are broader.
Some common goals might include:
Reaching new markets
Launch a new product or service
Build brand awareness
Meet current customers, partners or distributors
Find new hires
All of these are laudable, and all are doable. But doing them all at the same show is probably asking a lot, unless you have a thorough plan and the personnel to execute the plan. Even if you’re going to attempt to check them all off at a single show, it’s better to prioritize.
You may know your goals going into a show, but it’s still a great exercise to sit down with your team, especially if you have new members, and identify and clarify those goals. Tradeshow marketing is a significant part of a company’s marketing budget and those dollars should be spent wisely.
During your discussion, break down the various parts of the goals, figure out what steps are needed element, and assign those pieces to team members. It may mean coming up with some premium giveaways for current customers to show them you care, to determining how many samples are needed for giveaway; from knowing what your competitors are doing to having a good preshow marketing outreach to get the right people to your booth for the right reason.
Brand building and tradeshow execution means brand consistency throughout your various platforms. Plug any holes and iron out any deficiencies.
Once you have your specific set of prioritized goals, communicate that to your team so they understand the show’s specific objectives and how they tie in with the company’s overall marketing strategy. Goal setting isn’t hard – it just takes some time and thought.
Finally keep in mind, a goal should follow the S.M.A.R.T. plan to be effective. In other words, Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and meet a Timeline.
When it comes to tradeshow shipping, you certainly have options. And, like all of the aspects of tradeshow marketing, there are many moving parts. No pun intended.
For shipping, to make it easy, rely on great tips from the Freight Pros, who remind you that it all starts with the BOL (Bill of Lading). Article author Logan Theissen discusses other items such as freight class, freight carrier, delivery windows and the dicey ways of getting in and out of busy tradeshow shipping docks.
Shipping in advance to the show warehouse is more economical than shipping direct to the show, but it does mean that you’ll need to ship a week or more sooner than you would when shipping direct to the show. Shipping direct is more of a juggling act, as you have to find a shipper that can deliver at a specified time to a specified location. If you are shipping smaller items, such as product samples or replacement graphics, shipping to yourself or another employee at your hotel may be a good option, so that you can simply carry the items onto the show floor.
Another few tips courtesy of My Display Source: always keep records – tracking numbers, phone numbers of shippers and contacts, BOLs, etc. Take photos of all of the paperwork at the show. And if something shows up damaged, photos are a necessity. Before you go to the show, know what is shipping back and how, and what, if anything, is to be discarded. And don’t make the mistake of shipping items to the show that you won’t use. You’re paying for it, make sure you don’t ship extraneous items.
What about another aspect of shipping, such as the choice between a large custom wooden crate, or smaller molded plastic shipping cases? Many clients we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have exhibits that are of a size (10×10, 10×20) that frankly could go either way. A modest 10×10 can be shipped in a custom-jigged, padded wooden crate. Exhibits last a long time when shipped with that kind of protection. But the same 10×10 that ships in a single custom crate may take three, four, or even five roto-molded plastic cases.
There is a huge variety of cases and crates to choose from, and it’s an important thing to consider when purchasing a new exhibit. Some clients like to have a custom crate, and have additional space built in so that they can include sample products and other essential items for your tradeshow tool kit.
Some clients prefer not to have to deal with freight companies or shipping docks and fork lifts, and opt for the smaller plastic cases. Some cases double as counters and can be branded or modified with printed wraps as well.
When making that choice between cases or crates, talk to your exhibit house. Do they provide custom-cut die-cut foam packaging to protect all pieces during shipping, or do they just wrap things in plastic or bubble wrap and toss it into the case? It makes a difference, so be sure to ask!
For a closer look at a few of the various types of shipping containers, browse this gallery:
What makes a good sustainable exhibit? I caught up with John-Paull Davidson of Boothster out of Portland, Oregon on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee to take a look at what kind of work his company does for exhibitors who place a high value on using sustainable materials.
Thought I’d take a look back at all of the guests that I’ve had on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee since the turn of the year calendar in January. It’s been quite a few in three months, and I’ve enjoyed sharing these conversations with you (all links open up new tabs). Have you heard/seen all of these?
March 19: Nicky Omohundro of Little Family Adventures discusses her experiences as an official blogger at Natural Products Expo West.
March 26: Shep Hyken. As Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations, Shep’s been working with companies such as AT&T, Disney, Lexus and Merrill Lynch on customer engagement.
These guests have all been great fun, entertaining and educational – and thanks to all of them! I look forward to speaking with many more people later this year on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee! Subscribe to the audio podcast here.
The release date of May 1, 2018 has been set for my new book, Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies: 66 Lists Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Marketing. The print proof copy just came in and it looks great, and heck, I can’t even find any major errors in it! Thanks to all who helped, from Jesse Stark who did the illustrations, to Mel White at Classic Exhibits (and his wife Mary) who went through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, to the great team at CreateSpace who are always on top of their game and to all else who lent support and good words (Ken, Andy and Anders, I’m thinking of you! And Roger too!).
So what’s in the book?
Lists. A lot of them. 66 lists, in fact. Corralled in chapters such as Budgeting, Buying an Exhibit, Preshow Marketing, Postshow Follow Up and more, it’s a compilation of a lot of the lists that have appeared on this very blog since 2008. Not all of them, though. Some were outdated. Most have been revised and updated. The people I’ve shared the manuscript with have told me that it’s a fun and quick read, with lots of different topics and lists that can be digested deeply, or skimmed to pick up a tip or two or three.
How do you get people to attend shows? And once they attend, what’s the best strategy to keep them coming? That’s the topic and TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson and Trade Show Ready’s Nick McCallion tackle in this wide-ranging interview. Plus: Tradeshow Tip of the Week and ONE GOOD THING!