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

August 2018

Pebble Beach concours d’elegance: Event Marketing Recap

I spent about a week in Monterey with an old friend recently to attend a couple of events: The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway and the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance. In a sense, both events are about as far away from tradeshows that you can get. But as event marketing goes, they’re at the top of their games.

Consider this: according to the website, “the competition attracts 15,000 affluent aficionados who pay a minimum of $325 for general admission.” And this: “Entrants often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a car, hundreds of thousands to restore it, and tens of thousands more to transport it to Pebble Beach to compete for our top award. Come day of show, the cars pulling onto the eighteenth fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links often have a total estimated value of half a billion dollars.”

So, yeah, the one-percenters, basically. And of course, there are a lot of other vintage car enthusiasts who like the show and the spectacle who are not in that top echelon (that would include me, just to be clear!).

Just driving around the area over the week gives you an opportunity to see hundreds of exotic and high-end cars that are just out cruising: Porches, McLarens, Teslas, Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls-Royces, and a few that are simply unrecognizable or unique one-of-a-kinds.

This is a prime market ripe for pitching high-end products. There are numerous car auctions, one of which set a record over the weekend for selling a car at auction for a record $48.4 million. In case you’re wondering, it was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

Car manufacturers spend a ton to show off their newest models. Infiniti, for instance, sets up a large temporary building just above the festivities on the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach. During the runup to the event, they offer visitors a chance to drive new models for a couple of miles. Other car makers over the year have included Jeep, Cadillac, Chrysler, Tesla and many others. In fact, the first I ever heard of a Tesla was in 2008 when they introduced their roadster at the event. In 2016, Tesla was offering a chance to drive their new Model X (which I did).

Ferrari brought several dozen vintage autos and displayed them on the fairway of hole number one.

There were nine Tucker automobiles at the show, along with a handful of Chinese cars and a collection from the Raj of India.

Concept cars encircle the main putting green in front of the pro shop, where we’ve seen everything over the years from an electric VW bus, to McLarens, Rolls-Royces, Porches, Lincolns, Maseratis, Hennesseys, Genesis’ and many more – too many to count. Just a bunch of glorious eye candy for car fans.

Every year there is a raffle during the event, where up to four brand new model cars are given away. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno has done the honors for years, telling the same jokes year after year.

Some 1200 media members cover the event, with about a quarter of them from outside the United States.

But at the bottom line, the event is a fundraiser for several dozen charities in the area. Over the years the they event has generated millions of dollars that goes to help area children. This year the event raised $1.8 million which will be distributed by the Pebble Beach Company Foundation to 85 local charities.

Check out the gallery below. I’m sure I’ll be back next year. It’s already on my calendar.

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Why You Can’t Order a Tradeshow Exhibit Online

Who says you can’t order a tradeshow exhibit online? I’ve seen a ton of sites that claim it’s easy. Just find the exhibit you want, upload the graphics, submit your credit card and voila’ – you have an exhibit coming your way!

VK-1971 10' inline rent or purchase
VK-1971 10′ inline rent or purchase

The challenge with that plan is that if it works, it only works for smaller “off-the-shelf” items, such as banner stands and pop-up back walls.

When you order online, your choices are limited. You don’t know the quality of the products you’re getting. You don’t (usually) know where they were made. You don’t often know if you’re getting setup instructions in a language you can understand.

Instead, what is more likely – and a better result for both buyers and sellers – is when you find something online that you are interested in purchasing, that interest spurs a conversation. At TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we’ve sold a lot of exhibits to people that we haven’t met in person until finally meeting at a show. And we’ve sold to companies without ever meeting them. In a sense, they are buying, and we are selling, online.

But a true sale is only started online. For a buyer to get exactly what they want for a custom tradeshow exhibit, a number of questions have to be answered (see our 7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House). Often there are conversations with a 3D exhibit designer. Maybe you’ll talk with a project manager. You’ll cover items such as how is it packed? how is it shipped? do you need to hire someone to setup the exhibit? and many more.

If you browse our Exhibit Design Search, you’ll see a BUY button. Go ahead, take a look. When you click the BUY button, you’re taken to a page that, once you fill out and click “send” starts a conversation. It takes more than a click to buy an exhibit.

So, yes, you can buy something online that is somewhat of an exhibit. But if you want a true exhibit, a custom exhibit, talk to your exhibit house.

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NEW Gravitee One-Step Modular Lightbox

At TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Classic Exhibits, one of the premier exhibit manufacturers in the country. Over the years, e’ve collaborated with them for a number of great custom builds, including the terrific 30×40 Bob’s Red Mill exhibit that still wows ’em at Natural Products Expo East and Expo West.

But just because they can build great custom designs doesn’t mean that they are not dedicating their creative energies to coming up with new things, like the Gravitee Modular System that doesn’t need any tools. None. Zip. Nada.

Their newest Gravitee creation is the One-Step Lightbox. the Gravitee lightbox attaches to other panels using no tools and no loose part connection. It’ll be available in both curved and flat options. There will be standard sizes, but yes, it’s something that you can customize to various sizes. Let’s take a look at Classic Exhibits’ video introduction, hosted by Kevin Carty:

For more information on Gravitee, click here. To find out more specifically about the Gravitee light box, and it’s soon-to-be announced release dates and pricing, fill out the forms on our contact page and we’ll get back to you!

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Tradeshow Marketing is a Competition

When you’re ramping up your tradeshow marketing machine for the next show, do you think of it as a competition? Or is it merely a chance to make your pitch to hundreds or thousands of visitors, almost as if you’re in a vacuum.

Methinks there is more than one way to view tradeshow marketing. Let’s look at two views in particular:

tradeshow marketing competition

First, it’s a unique marketing event where you’re setting up shop in a situation where the organizers have done their best to bring as many members of your target market to view products and services under one roof. You are showing off new products that are being launched. You are showing off your brand with graphics, 3D exhibit construction and your well-trained booth staff. For the people that stop by at your booth, you do your best to engage, interact and determine if they are prospective customers. If they are, you work to find out their pain points, explain how your products and services can help them. If not, you politely disengage, perhaps asking if they are able to refer any colleagues your way.

Second, it’s a competition. You are setting up shop in a situation where dozens, maybe a hundred or more, direct competitors are doing the same thing you are: showing off products and services, representing their brands, and trying to make a deal with the very people you’re trying to make a deal with.

Yes, tradeshow marketing is a competition, and generally it’s a friendly competition. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best: you should. But if you keep in mind that you’re not only there to engage visitors, you’re also there with hundreds, sometimes thousands of companies are competing directly with you.

What does it take to get an edge? There are dozens of ways. From the size and look and feel of your exhibit to your actual products, to the skill of your booth staff and many other ways where you’re working to get an edge.

As in any competition, you may win some, you may lose some. You may win with some people, you may lose with others. You may beat some competitors and you may lose to some other competitors.

From that perspective, to me the best you can do is to observe and learn, see what works and what doesn’t, and do your best to be better next time.

Because with tradeshow marketing competition, there’s always a next time.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 20, 2018: Vacations!

On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I plunge headfirst into a cold and bracing look at vacations, and how they can no only recharge your batteries, but can increase a company’s productivity – by making you leave for a week or three every year!

 

Also, be sure to listen for the Tradeshow Tip of the Week.

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING: the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance.

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Determination

Determination. Perseverance. Dedication. Focus.

Planning. Strategy. Tactics. Action.

Articulate. Explain. Observe.

Reframe. Review. Rest.

Creation. Discussion. Examination. Collaboration.

Research. Plan. Test. Compete. Dissect.

Uncertainty. Resoluteness. Conviction. Courage.

determination

Decision. Self-confidence. Energy. Willpower. Fortitude.

Principle. Purpose. Composure. Direction.

Measure. Aspire. Brainstorm. Dream.

Ambition. Desire. Probity. Teamwork.

Finesse. Coax. Emphasize. Differentiate.

Credentials. Communication. Specialization. Exceptional.

Context. Simplify. Spirit. Emulation.

Modify. Professionalism. Friendliness. Sincerity.

Values. Meaning. Abilities. Creativity.

Positioning. Marketing. Advertising. Branding.

Memorable. Unforgettable. Separate. Unique.

Quality. Knowable. Meaningful. Service.

Learn. Study. Digest. Regurgitate.

Laugh. Breathe. Relax. Sleep.

One. Two. Three. Four.

Let’s. Do. It. Again!

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Top 5 Challenges Facing Tradeshow Managers

Not every tradeshow manager faces the same challenges. Some are overwhelmed by being understaffed. Others have a boatload of shows to deal with and it seems as if there is never a breather.

But in the work I’ve done over the years with tradeshow managers, the same handful of issues keep coming up as being significant challenges:

tradeshow manager challenges

Logistics: there are a lot of moving parts in tradeshow marketing. Shipping and I&D (installation and dismantle) make up a big part of those logistics. Add to that shipping product samples, getting everyone scheduled for the show and the booking a convenient hotel and many other bits and pieces and handling the logistics of tradeshow marketing is often outsourced. That’s one reason why at TradeshowGuy Exhibits we are taking on more and more logistic coordination for clients.

Exhibit Brand Management: keeping the booth updated from show to show. New product launches, new services and more means that the exhibit needs to be updated for upcoming shows to reflect that. It’s common, but the timeline sneaks up on people. In a sense, the challenge here is coordination between graphic designers, production facilities and making sure all items get done prior to the booth crates being shipped out.

Company Growth: Many companies we work with are doing very well. But that means moving from small pop-up type exhibits to more complicated exhibits with light boxes, custom counters and more – all of which ship in larger crates and would be set up by hired EAC’s (Exhibitor Approved Contractors). All of this change means that the person handling the shift is moving out of their comfort zone. They face a lot of choices around whether to hire installers, how to package the exhibit for shipping (crates vs. a handful of plastic molded cases, for example), and more.

Getting Good Results: Exhibitors who don’t get good results complain that tradeshows are a waste of time and money. Yet other exhibitors at the same show rave about how great the show was, how many new leads they made and new contacts they came away with, and how many sales were closed. So what’s the difference? Frankly, many exhibitors don’t prepare or execute well. Tradeshow marketing is not rocket science, but with all of the moving parts it’s easy to let a few items slip through the cracks. And those missing items can make all the difference between success and failure.

Budget: It costs a lot of money to exhibit at tradeshows. For companies that do tradeshows, the amount invested in tradeshow marketing is about a third of their overall marketing budget. Making all of their tradeshow dollars stretch as far as possible is an ongoing challenge faced by all companies. For a long list of ways to cut costs at tradeshows, check out this webinar.

Other challenges include booth staff training, record-keeping, keeping track of your competition and other items, but if you can keep these few items under control, you’re doing better than a lot of your fellow exhibitors!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 13, 2018: Bill Lampton

On this week’s podcast/vlog, I catch up with Bill Lampton, Ph. D. I’ve been reading his great newsletter, Winning Words and Ways, for years. So when I asked him to join me for TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I was honored that he accepted. We had a great conversation on the importance of good communication skills in the business and personal world:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Bon: The Last Highway by Jesse Fink.

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Delegate for Tradeshow Project Success

It’s a good question to ask: how much do you delegate for tradeshow success? Most clients I deal with have someone in charge of the overall tradeshow project. Maybe they’re a Marketing Manager or Tradeshow Manager, or some other title such as Business Development Director. Most of them work with a small team.

delegation for tradeshow project success

Which means there is a certain amount of delegation and collaboration going on. Multi-tasking may be something that people try, but research tends to show that too much multi-tasking leads to less success. How do you walk that fine line between doing too much yourself as someone in charge of the project and just telling everyone else what to do, in essence leaving little for you except overseeing the project? Maybe if you’re a control freak you find it extremely difficult to give control over an aspect of the project to someone else – but you gotta learn how to do it! One of the challenges of doing it all yourself is that while you may have control over everything, there’s a chance that the standard of work will slip.

The good thing, I suppose, is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. Teams are different sizes, members have different skill sets and experience.

When it comes down to it, there are a handful of items to consider when managing a team for a tradeshow project.

Know Your Team

Many marketing teams we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have an assortment of methods of getting the job done. For example, some teams outsource graphic design. Others outsource shipping and logistics. Some keep all of those things in-house. Most will hire an exhibit house for the final exhibit design and fabrication if it’s a new project, but the remainder of the tasks will often lie elsewhere. If it’s another show with your current exhibit, but a certain amount of updating needs to take place, it may not be as time-consuming and involved, but it still has to be done right.

Communicate Clearly and Often

The lack of communication is one of the biggest downfalls of collaboration and delegation. When a task is delegated, make sure that both parties are in full understanding of, and in agreement of, the specific tasks assigned and the deadline under which they must be completed. Even though you may have an in-person conversation or a phone call, I always recommend that a short email be created that details the tasks – if nothing else, in bullet points. There should also be an expectation that if problems, issues or challenges come up, that those will be brought to your attention as soon as possible. Like one of my old bosses once told me: “Bring me good news as soon as possible. Bring me the bad news even quicker.”

Know What to Delegate

Some items on the project to-do list will need approval from management for them to be completed. Other items will be less demanding. Since you’re in charge, it would make sense to keep the highest-skilled tasks to yourself, and the ones that till need buy-in and approval from management. Many tasks that go to other team members will also need instructions, especially if they’re new to your team. It may seem obvious to you how something is done, but if you’re assigning a task to someone, make sure they understand how it’s done – and how to know it’s done correctly.

Feedback is a Two-Way street

Once the project is complete, give feedback. If your team has done well, publicly thank them for the work and hand out genuine praise. But if some of them have come up short, let them know that as well. I’ve heard it said that you should “praise in public, criticize in private.” It’s a good approach. And make sure that all of your team members are free to offer their thoughts on how you’re delegating: did you give instructions that were clear? Did you make sure the right people got the right tasks, etc.?

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Small Event Collaboration to Generate Sales Leads

During a two-hour workshop with trainer, author and content marketer Kathleen Gage this week, I took more notes and learned more about small event collaboration for lead generation than I think I’ve taken in for years.

While it’s true I collaborate with other people, I certainly don’t do it at the level that I could. That was clear in this workshop. Frankly, the ideas Kathleen presented gave me a lot to chew over.

small event collaboration

Think of a small event as one where you and some partners team up to bring a very focused target market together. This would generally a small group of anywhere from a few dozen to maybe a couple of hundred depending on your goals and scope of the event. The attraction to having people come to the event would be to have a few experts in the field share their knowledge. Show the value you offer, and if appropriate, make an offer during the event. It may or may not be appropriate.

Without giving away Kathleen’s secret sauce, the model for creating a winning event is to have a specific objective, determine what type of event will work, come up with a budget and assess your resources, find potential collaborative partners, and promote through media releases, email, phone calls, direct mail and more.

To me one of the key takeaways was to make sure that everyone at the event fills out an evaluation, where you ask the attendees if they are interested in a free consultation. During that follow up consultation, the conversation wouldn’t be focused on sales, but on determining if the potential client has a pain or a problem that you can fix. Only then would the actual sales conversation take place.

A few of the notes I jotted down during the event:

  • Create value before creating the offer.
  • Ask the right questions and get a better answer.
  • Disqualify people first – are they really qualified to do business with you?
  • What is your story? (Kathleen shared her story about her love of rescued animals – hence the pug photo!)
  • There is a difference between a “customer” and a “client.”
  • Until we create value, no matter what we sell, we are a commodity.
  • Get really clear on the type of client we really want.

As you search for your ideal client, look at your current clients: what are your common denominators? Kids? Pets? Sports?

Collaboration with partners using small (or maybe not so small) events can be a great avenue to growing your business, if done smartly and if the risk is minimized and spread around. Make it so that all partners have a lot to gain. It may not be like putting on a regular tradeshow, but a small private event can have a big impact, and I’m looking forward to exploring this whole concept with Kathleen further. Because, you know, in her evaluation she asked if I wanted a free, no-strings-attached consultation. I said yes.

Check out the podcast interview I did with Kathleen Gage here, and browse her website Power Up For Profits.

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