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

June 2019

How to Annoy Your Prospects

There’s more than one way to annoy your prospects when it comes to trying to sell something to them. Whether it’s on the phone, in person, at a tradeshow or via email, it seems most of the pitches that hit me are designed to annoy.

That’s probably not really the case, but it seems that way.

Spam

Let’s take the example of spam. Okay, it’s a really easy example. But at least some of them appear to be trying. “Appear” to be. Just got an email from a software company inviting me to download an “employee performance management software pricing guide.” The email looked nice. Good graphic design which tells me that some thought went into the messaging. The message was clear. But it just wasn’t for me.

There are at least a couple of things wrong with this. First, it was emailed to an email address that I basically retired three years ago, so I know it’s from someone who didn’t care if the email was valid before sending something out. Secondly, they have no idea what kind of company we are – how many employees, what we do, how we do it. We are a project management company that works with subcontractors, not direct employees. They’re shooting in the dark, and it’s pointless and a waste of time, theirs and mine.

Cold Calls

Another easy way to annoy people is to call them at random and start pitching something without knowing what the company does. I’ve lost count of the number of calls I’ve gotten from call centers and the first thing out of their mouth is a pitch. No question about whether I even use the product or what my company does. They just ramble on, because that’s the script they were given and the instructions to deliver it quickly.

Tradeshows

At tradeshows, I’ve walked by booths and had my badge scanned without anyone even looking to find out if their product or service is of interest to me. Now I’m on their email list where I get pitches that have no relevance to me. I’ve had booth staffers stop me in the aisle and give me a minute or two or three of song and dance complete with in-depth details on the product they are hawking. But…I would never even buy the product. I’m not in their target market.

Do you sense a trend? One of the things I’ve learned in sales and marketing is that if you’re not marketing to an audience of people that are interested in your products or services, you’re wasting time, money and energy.

The Answer is Simple

It seems simple. Yet so many businesses today don’t care and don’t even bother to appear to care.

On occasion I’ll get a cold call from someone who’s actually done a little research. Maybe they looked at our company website, or they’re calling from a targeted list they purchased, which at least puts them in the right ballpark to have a conversation.

And yes, on a rare occasion or two, I’ve actually purchased something from someone who cold-called me. They knew what we did as a business, they understood how their product could help me, they patiently answered questions and gave me a chance to ponder the offer for a few days before deciding to move forward.

Yes, selling can be done properly, to people that are ready and willing to buy your products. But it won’t work when the pitch gets lost among people who will never be a customer.

Where is your sales pitch going?

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 17, 2019: Danny Orleans

Danny Orleans in action at Statistica’s booth

A professional tradeshow presenter can bring crowds of people to your tradeshow booth over and over again during the course of a tradeshow. Many use a combination of entertainment and product information to entice people. This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee takes a look at tradeshow presentations from the vantage point of Danny Orleans, Chief Magic Officer at Corporate Magic LTD. Take a look:


This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Paul McCartney’s most recent solo album, Egypt Station.

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Top Ten All-Time Most Viewed TradeshowGuy Blog Posts

I got an email the other day from someone whose newsletter I had just subscribed to, and in the introduction email there was a link to the top 5 most read blog posts on her blog. That’s when an idea light lit up over my head and gave me an idea for a blog post (as a blogger, you’re always looking for ideas, right?).

Next thing you know I was pawing through my Google Analytics account to find out what were the most-viewed posts on this blog. These are the ones that floated to the top, for whatever reason. It’s all organic. I don’t advertise, but I do share links now and then on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. On occasion there might be a link here from Pinterest. Or another blog.

This blog is aging. It’s over ten years old, having been launched in November, 2008. There are almost 1000 posts.

One more note: the analytics breakdown shows the front page as “most-viewed” and a couple of pages (not posts) showed up in the top ten as well, including the Contact Me page and the We Accept Blog Submissions page. But beyond that, here are the top ten blog posts since the beginning of the blog (in traditional countdown order):

Number Ten: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Exhibit RFPs. I created a one-page sheet on what should go into an Exhibit RFP (Request for Proposal), and posted it on Cheatography.com, a site for thousands of cheat sheets. Kind of fun. They regularly sent me emails telling me how many times it was downloaded (500! 1000! 1500!). Not sure how accurate that is, but obviously it’s been seen by a lot of people. From September 2017.

Number Nine: Breaking the Ice: How to Attract Tradeshow Visitors. I referenced a number of techniques taught by tradeshow colleague Andy Saks for this article, which appeared in December 2015.

Number Eight: 23 Pre-Show Marketing Tactics, Promotions and Ideas. A laundry list that was posted in October 2009 when the blog was not even a year old.

Number Seven: How to Build a Tradeshow-Specific Landing Page. Inspired by Portland’s Digimarc, it’s a look at the steps you can use to put together an online site specifically to interact with potential tradeshow booth visitors. From December 2017.

Number Six: Write More Orders at Tradeshows by Replacing Paper With Digital Technology. One of two guest posts on the Top Ten list, this is from Sarah Leung of Handshake. April 2015.

Number Five: Tradeshow Debriefing Questions. Another oldie but goodie, this post from September 2009 guides you through the after-show info-gathering process.

Number Four: Virtual Reality for Tradeshows. You’ve seen them at shows: people wearing VR goggles. Is it worth it? A brief exploration, from June 2016.

Number Three: Exhibit vs. Booth vs. Stand. They’re called different things in different parts of the world, so I took a whack at trying to explain it. Just last summer in July 2018.

Number Two: 10 Skills Every Tradeshow Staffer Should Have. Margaret Coleback of Vantage Advertising LLC dashed of a great list for staffers, which appeared in January 2015.

Aaaaand, at Number ONE: SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. It still surprises me that this post gets a whopping 3.95% of all of the traffic on the site. At the time I wrote it I had been spending a fair amount of time with a friend who was going through school to get his degree in marketing, and one thing that we discussed in depth was the SWOT Analysis. S=Strengths; W=Weaknesses; O=Opportunities; T=Threats. It’s a great exercise to work through in regards to your tradeshow marketing appearances. Check it out. It’s from February 2015.

Got any favorites?


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Creating Tension with your Tradeshow Marketing

What is tension in a business sense, or to be more precise, in a marketing sense?

Briefly, it’s the concept of conflict. It’s the process of creating a situation where a visitor can’t immediately reconcile one concept with another.

Think Coke vs. Pepsi.

Nike vs. Adidas

One brand vs. another is one source of tension.

And understand, tension is not fear. You could say it’s the opposite. Remember in high school when you were attracted to another person and the tension that was created around it. You wanted to be with that person, but since the very thought of expressing your feelings created tension, it made you, well, tense! But in a good way, because you really did want to get to know that person and spend time.

Another would be telling a story, but not giving away the end. Maybe harder to do in the chaos and quick turnover of a tradeshow, but I’ve seen it done. At the National Association of Broadcaster Show this year in Las Vegas, Adobe (and many others) had huge classes going on teaching their new software. That is a great story to tell: those that use the software want to know how things have changed and how they can use it, so they sign up for a free class to learn the story of the software and its changes. I’ve seen larger exhibits steer visitors through a maze where you don’t know what you’re getting into until you’ve seen the maze all the way through.

How do you tell the story of your product or service? By asking questions:

  • What is it?
  • How does it work?
  • When can I get it?
  • What does it taste like?
  • When will it be available?
  • Where can I get it?
  • What does it cost?

The price of something is a story in and of itself. Are you positioning your product against another similar product by offering it at a lower price? What tension does that create? What if you price it much higher than your competition? How does that affect the tension people feel?

Is your product something more or less “off the shelf?” In other words, do you simply manufacture it and put it on a shelf? In that case, price is a point of tension. Deciding to like the product or not is pretty straightforward and deciding to spend the money may come down to the perceived value.

But what if what you offer is customized? That means the customer has a number of choices to make, such as in the case of creating a new tradeshow exhibit. And having to make a lot of decisions can freak out some people, either in a good way or a bad way. Ideas can come pouring forth from some people. From other people, having to come up with a lot of ideas may mean they freeze up.

Many people are looking for something quick and easy. They want a “push-button” solution to their problems. That’s why “turnkey” solutions are often presented for more complex situations. Which is why customized products create tension and demand a lengthier decision process.

By creating tension in a good way, you’re making your product or service attractive to people. What tension can you create with your tradeshow marketing and story-telling?


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 10, 2019: Lessons Learned

We all learn lessons as we follow our path through life. Some lessons are good, some are hard, some are easy. This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee brings a handful of lessons that I’ve learned along the way:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Growing Your Own.

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Keep the Tradeshow Alive with a Post-Show Webinar

The tradeshow’s over. It was a success! You made a lot of contacts that you’re ready to follow up with, and hopefully that will lead to new clients down the road.

Then you realize that out of the thousands of show attendees, only a small percentage of them actually stopped by your booth, or if they did, they didn’t spend as much time as they might have liked because, well, the other few thousand exhibitors.

Bring them a post-show webinar to show them what they missed.

I’ve detailed the idea of using a pre-show webinar to outline the various products and people that would be in your booth as a means of engaging and inviting people to stop by.

But what about post-show? Hopefully, you have a lot of photos and video from the show. And of course, lots of information about how your new products were received by your booth visitors. While the photos and video aren’t critical, they might come in handy. And as far as information, one place to start might be to address some of the questions that came up about your products at the show.

Assemble all of those into a webinar and promote that to your email list, and throughout your social media channels.

This just happened to me. The NAB Show ended almost two months ago, and today I got an email from one of the exhibitors that invited me to one of two webinar sessions this week. The objective of the webinar? To give attendees a chance to go over the details of the new software products they launched at the show. Brilliant. And why not?

Hosting a post-show webinar is an effective way to do three things:

  1. Remind attendees about your appearance at the show. It puts your company back to a ‘top-of-mind’ position if only for a moment.
  2. Reminds attendees that you launched new products.
  3. Gives them an opportunity to take a more relaxed look at the product, and if the webinar is designed properly, gives them a chance to ask questions.

Again, to my mind it’s a brilliant concept.

You should give it a try!

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7 Tradeshow Pre-show Marketing Best Practices

Tradeshow pre-show marketing is kind of the lost stepchild of tradeshow marketing.

“Yeah, we don’t do as much as we’d like. Just don’t have the time.”

“Well, we post a few things on Twitter before the show, but that’s about it.”

If this is your approach, you shouldn’t be surprised if your results aren’t what you’d like. Let’s take a closer look at some tradeshow pre-show marketing best practices and see if those results don’t come up a bit.

tradeshow preshow marketing best practices
Follow tradeshow pre-show marketing best practices can bring more people to your booth space.
  1. Know Your Market. Who do you want to come see your booth? Do your best to identify them, whether it’s by title, company, region, demographic, or whatever. Next, what problem do you solve for them? Once you’ve identified your market and what you can do to help them, you can start crafting your messages and the channels you’ll use.
  2. Know Your Budget. It’s a given that most of your tradeshow budget will go to the actual show itself: the exhibit, shipping, travel expenses, booth space rental and more. But try to carve off a percentage of the overall budget for pre-show marketing.
  3. Know Where Your Market Spends Time. Not as easy as it sounds. Maybe they’re on social media, and if that’s the case, what platforms? Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Or is there a popular podcast in your market niche that’s worth looking at for possible advertising? Ask current customers and prospects where they spend their “industry time” and see what they say.
  4. Know the Channels You Can Use. Sure, email, social media and list rentals might work. But what about phone calls? Direct mail? In-person visits? Yeah, that last one is rare, but if you are speaking face-to-face with someone you’d like to be at the show, take a moment to remind them and invite them by.
  5. Know the Timeline You’ll Use. By creating a schedule of what to do when, and bringing everyone on your team up to speed on the schedule, you have a much better chance of succeeding. For instance, three months out is a good time to email a “save the date” notice for the show. Six weeks out might be appropriate to send a postcard or other piece of direct mail. A month out is a good time to start posting booth numbers on social media using show hashtags (be sure to include some cool photos from last year’s appearance!).
  6. Know Your Neighbors. Yup, your show neighbors. Learn who’s next to you and across the aisle from you. Reach out to their marketing person and see what they might tell you about their appearance. If they’re planning on doing a live presentation in their booth four times an hour, that might affect your approach.
  7. Know Your Lead Capture Process. Are you scanning badges? That’s a good start. But will that scan capture the time and manner of follow up, or the type of follow up that is agreed upon by the prospect? Have a system in place that works.

No doubt you can come up with a few more based on your own experience over the years. But maybe these can kickstart the conversation!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 3, 2019: David Newman

This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee makes a caffeine connection with Do It Marketing founder David Newman to talk about all things marketing. Lots of great tips here!

Check out David Newman at DoIt Marketing.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Apple’s audio production monster software, Logic Pro X (link opens in app store).

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