Write down all the shows you’re attending and the specific size of booths you’ll be setting up. Include dates, shipping addresses, products to be promoted, introduced or launched.
Plan social media broadcasts and interactions for the shows. Make a list of needed collateral, photos, videos and more that you’ll need to have.
List all of the various vendors you’ll use during the year, such as tradeshow exhibit houses, I&D (Installation and Dismantle) groups, shippers, graphic artists/designers, printers, promotional products providers and more.
Create a list of the people from your company will be attend each show. Check out show websites to find out dates that hotels open for reservations. Most show websites will have a downloadable PDF with critical dates, addresses and other information. Create a folder on your computer to store this information for easy reference.
Put all of the pertinent dates on your calendar with reminders if needed.
Speak to all of your vendors to get information on what is required for updates, including graphic file specs, turnaround time for any updates to the booth or repairs that need to be made.
Prepare sales and marketing materials.
Is your event staff going to wear uniforms or branded t-shirts? Get them ordered ahead of time.
Confirm event registration for all attendees.
Confirm booth registration for all shows.
Confirm schedule for payments and amounts.
Finalize budget for the year ahead.
Contact targeted attendees and book meetings a few weeks out, maybe a couple of months out if it’s a big show.
Being a tradeshow marketing manager is a non-stop, year-round job. Never-ending! By keeping things as organized as possible you’ll have a better handle on all of the loose ends that come up. Hopefully this list will help you out!
Online video is big and getting bigger. Even though you may recall the class action lawsuit against Facebook earlier this year for inflating video engagement numbers by as much as 900%, people still engage with online video BIG TIME.
This episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee looks at online video and offers a handful of tips on how to engage with tradeshow visitors using video.
Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we’re doing a little planning for 2019, but frankly, not much will change. Over the years I’ve recognized that some things work better than others, so I tend to focus on the things that work and not spend much time on things that haven’t proven to be successful in the past.
Having said that, in a way a lot of it is unpredictable. So much of marketing and business is a crap shoot, especially when you’re a small business. In a sense, you have to keep doing the things that got you this far.
When it comes to generating new business, the two most consistent things I can do are to attend tradeshows and meet people and keep in touch with them over time. They say that a potential client needs to see or hear from you at least seven times before they might become a client. In this business, in my experience it’s usually more, so I keep in touch as best as I can with phone calls, email and the occasional snail mail. Of course, having a book or two to send to potential clients is a good advantage to have, too. Maybe I’ll write another one this year, who knows!
We’ll continue to work with Classic Exhibits out of thePortland area for the bulk of our exhibit design and fabrication. They’ve gotten better over the years and their skills at designing and customizing exhibits is continually improving. Having them essentially in my back yard (we’re about 45 minutes away from their shop) makes things easier.And having them as an extremely supportive partner makes it easy to work with them.
We also work with a number of manufacturers for differentitems such as banner stands, lights and other things, and will continue to workwith them. Foremost among those companies is Orbus, which has been a dependable partner for years.
We also work with Eagle Management for client installation and dismantle, TransGroup Global Logistics for shipping, Cort Events for furniture rental. Over the years we’ve tried other companies, many of which are dependable, but in the past couple of years these companies have been steady partners and will likely continue to be.
If we’re staying the course, going steady as she goes as the saying goes, what does that mean and are any new things planned?
First, you’ll continue to see weekly postings of a video and audio version of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. As an old radio guy, sitting in front of a microphone (and laptop camera) is natural and easy and frankly fun. Guests are always great to have, and I strive to have them on the show more often than not, but if not, I typically find a topic to muse on for awhile. The objective, as I see it, is to share some personal and business observations, and great information as it comes. Guests and topics are generally event and tradeshow-oriented, but not exclusively. The idea is to attract non-event people if possible.
I’ll continue to post on the blog at least a couple of times
a week. Guest posts are always welcome as guests typically bring a different
perspective on a topic.
I’ll attend a handful of tradeshows, including NaturalProducts Expo West in March in Anaheim, where TradeshowGuy Exhibits has several clients. Other shows include the Northwest Food Service Show that bounces between Seattle and Portland year over year, and the Cannabis Collaborative Conference, where TradeshowGuy Exhibits will be exhibiting for the first time. There are a number of non-cannabis exhibitors there that support the industry and we hope to become a partner to companies in that space. Stay tuned to see how that goes – and find us in Space #420 at the Portland Expo on January 23rdand 24th, 2019.
As far as new things, I keep looking to work with strategic partners, such as branding agencies and graphic designers when it’s a good fit. You never know where projects come from, so I try to keep networking. And although I’m not a natural networker like some people, I do get better at it as time goes by. I currently belong to the Wilsonville, Oregon Tip Club, a B2B networking group that meets every month.
What about social media? So much time can be spent on social media – and so much can be wasted. I think there is a use for it – but as faras bring in business, it’s limited. My usage of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn has decreased ever-so-slightly over the years because – as much as I’d love to have a consistent presence on those outlets –it comes down to a choice of how to spend my time. And most of the time it’s more important to work with clients and seek new ones. No doubt you face that choice, too. I’ll continue to be there when it makes sense.
Running a small business is challenging. But it’s fun. There’s almost nothing else I’d rather be doing (maybe skiing and playing the drums, but so far no one’s offering to pay me much for those skills!). So I’ll keep doing it, keep serving our current clients as well as I can, and keep searching for new exhibitors that want to work with someone who’s focused and dedicated to their success.
Best wishes for a great 2019! And…steady as she goes!
This month marks two years of the vlog/podcast TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. Most of the time I have a guest. And most of the time those guests are from the event industry. I don’t feel that guests must be from the tradeshow and event industry, but most of them are. I do want to have chats with people that are doing interesting things in business and would make for an interesting conversation. Browse through here for brief but insightful conversations with experts in tradeshow marketing, public speaking, communication, technology, entrepreneurship, photograph and much more!
Here’s a wrap of the guests that have appeared on the show in the past 6 months or so (all links open a new tab):
Kelly Mooney: a professional photographer with tips on creating a great headshot.
Internet marketer and public speaker Kathleen Gage discusses business, public speaking and marketing.
No guest on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. Instead, I muse a bit about unintended consequences, starting with Brexit. No, I don’t really get political – just trying to use that situation as an example of unintended consequences.
When I started looking through the analytics to determine the top ten 2018 TradeshowGuy blog posts, I faced somewhat of a dilemma. Many of the “most-viewed” posts of the year are not from 2018. Do I include those or not? Perhaps the best approach is to create two lists: one that includes the most-viewed, and the other narrows the list down to the most-viewed 2018-published blog posts.
Take a look – starting at Number One:
SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. This was posted in February of 2015, but still manages to get more traffic than any other post. And interestingly, more than half of those visits come from out of the US.
Most companies we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits work
with one exhibit house for several years, and the urge to change doesn’t come
around much. Maybe you’ve been comfortable or years, but something changes.
Could be minor, could be major. But it does happen. People change, goals
change, situations change. Changing vendors can be challenging and pose a set
of challenges. Lots of people are uncomfortable with change and prefer to stick
with something even though it’s a good idea to at least look around.
When doing your evaluation, look at all options. One option
might mean staying with your current vendor. But when evaluating, make one list
with those that are considered competent service providers and those that might
be looked at as critical partners.
What reasons might you have – valid reasons – for shopping
around for another exhibit house? Let’s take a look at some things that might
Your needs and goals have
changed. It may be that you’re working with an exhibit house that excels in
smaller exhibits, such as inline modular booths, but you want something custom.
Turns out that your current vendor may be able to do what you want, but it’s a
stretch. Or perhaps you want more, such as a coordinated tradeshow marketing
strategy with planning and execution, and all your current vendor does is
design and fabricate exhibits.
Their designers aren’t
thinking out of the box like you’d like. Exhibits can get really wild and
weird, believe me. I’m sure you’ve seen them! But if the exhibit house you
currently work with has a group of in-house designers that seem to stick with
the tried-and-true, and never really show you something wacky, it might be time
to find another designer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to move on from
the same fabricator, it may just mean bringing in an outside designer.
Communication. Do you hear from your exhibit house only when you reach out
to them for something? Or do they stay in communication frequently even though
a show is not currently pending?
Problems with Delivery.
In the tradeshow world, deadlines run the show. Does your exhibit house meet
deadlines without breaking a sweat, or do you feel that they’re struggling –
which means you’re anxious much of the time? The most reliable vendors can hit
a bump in the road on occasion, but if that happens do they communicate that to
you? Or is the failure to deliver consistently a trend in the wrong direction?
They take you for
granted. Big exhibit houses are equipped to handle everything from small
in-lines to gigantic island booths that spill out of a show’s floor, it seems.
If you’re one of their small customers, it may be that they just assume you’re
well-taken care of without really checking. Sometimes a lack of communication
tells you that they have other priorities.
Poor Service. If
a company really wants and values your business, you’ll see it in their service.
There shouldn’t be invoice errors, lack of attention to detail, slow response
The person that’s
handled your account has moved on. The new person doesn’t really “get” you.
It may mean that you have to work to get to know them better. But as the
account manager, that falls more heavily on them to retain the business than it
does on you.
This could be anything (politics, religion, brusqueness, and so on). It may not
mean it’s time to move on. It may just mean you need to deal with another
person at the company.
Pricing. Not only
what is the price, but what are you getting for the money? Some vendors are
great at providing a basic service at a good price. Others may be more skilled
with more resources who can creatively collaborate, but that may come at a cost
you’re not quite ready for. An unexpected price increase may also spur a change.
Price increase happen, everyone does it over time. But if a price increase is
coming on things that you normally purchase from your exhibit house (graphics,
labor for repairs and upgrades, etc.) and you aren’t informed ahead of time,
that is not good business.
not as big a deal if you’re not actually working for a company, when it would
be a really big deal. But sometimes that culture doesn’t transfer well and if
it makes everyone uncomfortable and awkward, it might be time to move on.
There are a lot of reasons that companies are not a good
fit. And there’s no wrong answers. There are a lot of exhibit houses out there
vying for your business. We hate to turn business down, but it happens because for
whatever reason, it’s not a good fit.
On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Nathan Grepke, President of Blue Pony, joins me to go over some of the latest technology and some of the things they’re up to in video production, presentation and mogician. Yup, mogician. Just take a look / listen:
You might think that when I mention “tradeshow awareness” that I’m thinking of how you make visitors aware of your tradeshow booth, so you can draw people in. Sure, that’s important, but that’s not what I’m getting at here.
Let’s look at the other side: the awareness you as a tradeshow exhibitor has. What do I mean?
There are a number of things that, if you’re aware of, can help increase your success.
Let’s give an example that’s not related to tradeshows. For example, let’s say you want to lose 10 or 15 pounds. Not an unreasonable goal, right? But how does awareness come into play and how does it affect your efforts to lose that weight?
The most obvious way is to be aware of how much we’re eating and how much we’re exercising. And thankfully in today’s digital world, there are a lot of apps that can help you be more aware. One app I’ve used, Lose It!, lets you track calorie consumption, water consumption, and your daily exercise habits. After using it for over a year, not only did I lose the 15-20 pounds I was aiming for, but I realized that the very fact of being aware of my calorie intake and my exercise habits was a big contributor to the success of reaching my goal.
When you eat a cookie, let’s say, if you want to track the calories, you have to know how many calories it contains. Which means you have to look it up. If it’s a package of store-bought cookies, as opposed to home-cooked, the calories per cookie are listed on the package. If a cookie is 150 calories, log it when you eat it.
Same with breakfast, lunch, dinner and any other snacks you have. Once you’ve inputted your data (age, weight, sex, goals, etc.) the app calculates a daily calorie regimen. Stay under the daily allowance, and you’re likely to see your weight slowly drop. Go over the allowance consistently, and you won’t! Easy enough, right?
Then when you exercise, such as take a bike ride or go for a walk, enter that data, and the app calculates the amount of calories you’ve burned. Which means you can either increase your calorie intake or not. You get a visual reminder of everything. It works great.
But the key is awareness. If you weren’t aware of how many calories that cookie contains, you might not care. But now that you’re aware, you realize that each and every bite you take adds to your calorie count. Given that an adult needs approximately 2000 calories a day to maintain an even weight, it’s easy to go over that amount if you don’t count calories. If you’re not AWARE.
How does awareness play into your tradeshow success? Same principle. If you’re not aware of certain things, you won’t be impacted. If you are aware, the simple fact of being aware can likely make a positive impact.
What to Be Aware Of
What things are important to be aware of on the tradeshow floor?
Traffic: I would wager that most people don’t count the number of visitors in the booth at any given tradeshow. They may have a sense that the visitor count in their booth goes up or down year over year, but without an actual count, it’s just a feeling, and not actual data. Imagine if you could know exactly, or within a reasonable number, how many people visit your booth per day, or per hour, or per show.
Engagement: this might be a metric that is a little harder to measure, but if you are aware of what a good engagement with a visitor is, and you work to create better engagement through staff training, demonstrations or sampling, you’ll have a good idea of what outcomes those engagements lead to. Remember, you can’t control the outcomes, but you can control the behaviors that lead to outcomes. If your lack of engagement with visitors keeps your lead generation and engagement low, figure out what it takes to increase visitor engagement.
Leads: lead count is important. But so is the quality of leads. If you collect 300 leads at a show, but haven’t graded them as to hot, warm or cool, your follow-up will not be as good. But if out of those 300 leads, you know that 75 are HOT and need to be called within two days of returning from the show, and that 155 are warm and should be followed up within three weeks, and that the final 70 are COOL and need only be put on a tickler file or an email-later list, then the follow-up is going to be more consistent and likely more fruitful.
Booth staff: if you have a booth staff that is trained on how to interact with visitors, and how to be more aware of who’s in the booth, your results can only improve. Booth staff training is one of the key factors to success. Do you have a booth staff that is aware of what they need to do, how they need to do it and, how to engage with visitors?
Competition: awareness of competition may seem secondary to your company’s immediate success at any given tradeshow. But look at it this way: you have a lot of competitors at a show. The more aware of who they are, how they present themselves, what products they have (what’s new and what’s not) and the way those products are branded, the more well-informed you’ll be about the state of your competition. In a sense it can be a bit of a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) from the floor of a tradeshow. If you’re good at gabbing, you can pick up all sorts of insights about competitors: personnel changes, strength of company, management moves, new products and so on. After all, every exhibitor is showing off their best and latest, and if you’re not aware of your competition, don’t you think its time you paid more attention?
Finally, awareness of how your actual exhibit looks compared to your competition. Gotta say it: everyone compares their exhibits to their neighbors and competitors. How does yours stack up? Is it normal, staid, complacent, expected? Or is it sparkling, engaging, new and different than others?
Awareness is critical to success in so many areas of our lives. Being aware of how things are working on a tradeshow floor is one of those things. Awareness will naturally help you make better decisions and as a result, show more success for your efforts.