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

December 2019

Tradeshows Succeed Because It’s Real Life

Back in the dark ages of technology and social media, say 2008 or so, I read many prognosticators who predicted that tradeshows would disappear. Or become shells of themselves, simply because everyone was going digital. I remember seeing online ‘virtual tradeshows’ where you could navigate from booth to booth and see what companies were hawking.

Except that virtual tradeshows never really got going so much. And the real thing is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Why? My hunch is that it’s because people are face-to-face. In real time. In real life. Instead of interacting online over Skype or virtual tradeshows.

Don’t get me wrong: there is a time and place for interacting online, for social media, for Skype or Zoom.

But tradeshows are here to stay and they’re growing.

A recent (July 2019) post from Marketing Charts indicates that tradeshows have not only proven to be effective across all stages of the buyer’s journey, the channel has a projected annual compound growth rate of 4.3% through 2023.

The article shares other key points, including that tradeshows are the second largest and fastest-growing source of B2B growth. The B2B tradeshow market is expected to be a $15.7 Billion market in 2019, moving up to $18.5 Billion by 2023.

Yes, tradeshows as a method of marketing are critical to a company’s success. The money spent on tradeshows often will take up as much as a third of a company’s marketing spend.

There are lot of reasons that companies are successful at tradeshow marketing (as well as many reasons they’re not successful!), but to my mind it all comes down to the face-to-face aspect.

It’s Real Life, not digital.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, December 9, 2019: Permission

Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to do something. You might be surprised to know that it’s harder than it sounds. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast/vlog, I dig into the concept of giving yourself permission to do – or not to do – creative things in your life.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The Oregon Ducks takedown of the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game Friday Night.

How do You Stand Out in a Crowd?

Back from Thanksgiving week, a nice few days away from work. Sit down at the computer Monday morning.

Hundreds of emails piled up in my in-box. 785 to be precise. Lots of them with pitches on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I mean, a ton of pitches.

Delete them all: delete, delete, delete. Don’t bother to read them. They do nothing for me.

On a few, I decide to unsubscribe. But that takes longer. And with most of the newsletters I unsubscribe from, I feel like they keep sending me stuff. So what’s a guy to do?

It’s obvious that none of those emails stood out. They did nothing for me (I think I said that already). I’m not looking for any Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, I have work to do. I’m not looking for Christmas presents for anyone, or to save money on things that I probably would not buy at any point. I’m busy and want to get these off of my to-do list as soon as possible, which means I’m scanning quickly and deleting almost everything once I determine it’s not a client, or a potential client.

I’m not their target market.

Email is one thing. Let’s move from email to other venues, such as retail, or online ads, or, hey, tradeshows!

When people walk by your retail store in a shopping mall, are you doing anything to stand out?

When you advertise online, what makes your ad stand out?

When people walk by your tradeshow booth, are you doing anything to stand out in a crowd?

It’s easy to ignore and delete an email. It’s easy to walk by a retail store without stopping. It’s a piece of cake to ignore ads on your screen.

It’s pretty easy to walk by a tradeshow booth, too, unless something really outstanding is going on at the booth. Maybe it’s a unique booth. Maybe it’s a presentation that draws you in, entertains you and informs you of the company’s products and services. Maybe it’s a unique food sample. Could be anything.

Tradeshows have a distinct advantage over emails, and here’s why: emails go out to people who have (supposedly) opted-in to a company’s pitches. But over time, it’s not uncommon for that company – which is often owned by another entity – to share that email address with another company, and soon you’re getting pitches from (somewhat) related companies or products or services. Has that happened to you? Happens all the time to me.

The difference that tradeshows have is that you have spent handsomely to be at the show. But the show is targeted, the audience is specialized. The people walking the show floor have also paid to be there, and they are usually there for specific reasons, the main one being that they are SHOPPING for something, and since you’re exhibiting there, chances are they’re SHOPPING FOR SOMETHING YOU ARE SELLING.

Still, you have to stand out in a crowd. Tradeshows have a lot of competition. Your biggest and best competitors are doing all they can to make their best pitch to the same people you’re pitching. That’s the name of the game.

Which means that whatever you do, it had better be good. It had better be worth your time and money.

It had better be something that stands out in a crowd.

What’s So Funny About Trade Shows: Book Review

Yes, there are a lot of books about tradeshows. In fact, I wrote two of them. Many – actually, most – are good investments. A candid, experienced author can walk any exhibitor through the briar patch of tradeshows, which can often ensnare the inexperienced exhibitor. Actually, tradeshows can ensnare the experienced exhibitor, too. It happens all the time. Just check out the Plan B column in the monthly Exhibitor Magazine, which is full of real tales of exhibitors having to MacGuyver their way through the crazy, deadline-heavy world of tradeshow exhibiting.

Mel White, the VP Marketing/Business Development at Classic Exhibits, has always been a prolific and entertaining writer. His blog posts enliven the pages at Classic Exhibits.com, and his insight into tradeshow marketing comes from years of experience. (Full disclosure: Mel was instrumental in going through both of my books with a fine tooth comb to make them much better than where they started, and encouraging me at every step).

And now Mel has released a book available as both a Kindle download and as paperback, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? A Humorous Guide to Effective Trade Show Marketing. Brilliantly illustrated by Meredith Lagerman, the book touches on a lot of the elements that make his blog posts entertaining and educational: zombies, Sasquatch, dumb stuff people do at tradeshows, why your booth staff kinda sucks and much more. And, of course it’s highly entertaining while making sure to impart great tips and tricks along the way.

As an introduction to tradeshow marketing, or as a refresher if you’ve been exhibiting for years, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? is a great addition to any marketing library. Highly recommended!

Pick up the paperback book or Kindle download now!

Or go to Classic Exhibits and get a free PDF download.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: 10 from 2019 Worth Another Listen

When you put out a new podcast/vlog every week, frankly, it’s hard to keep up. Makes sense. That’s a lot of content to devour, and it’s easy to let things slip by.

But 2019 has given me a lot of great guests, and chances are you may have missed some of the really good ones (and there are many!). So here’s a random list of 10 guests I hosted on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee this year that you might have missed. And even if you didn’t miss them, they could be worth another listen:

January 8: BJ Enright of Tradeshow Logic discusses the groundbreaking NAB Show Cares program that looks to address hefty drayage and material handling fees at the National Association of Broadcasters show.

March 25: Dave Scott, long time Portland on-air radio fixture, gets into the podcast game with his Embrace the Change podcast.

May 13: Phil Gorski discusses 3D Virtual Tour Technology and how it can affect tradeshow marketers.

April 8: Tom Beard of Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays talks sustainability in the exhibit world. This vlog/podcast made more timely by the recent announcement that Classic Exhibits and Eco-Systems are merging.

June 17: Danny Orleans. Magic on the tradeshow floor is always an attractor. Danny, Chief Magic Operator at Corporate Magic Ltd talks about how he works magic into a presentation.

June 3: David Newman of Do It Marketing talks, as you might expect, marketing. I have to admit that I like to read his emails, which come about once a day. Really short, but a good mix of very usable info and pitches.

July 22: Howard Berg. Fascinating, fast-paced learning. Howard was a gas.

July 15: Ken Newman of Magnet Productions. Ken travels the world doing his professional presentations for tradeshow clients. He is also a big presence in the Blanket the Homeless effort in the SF Bay area, and talks about both in this fun interview.

September 16: Jay Gilbert, a long time music industry executive has had his own company for years now. And while this is not much related to the tradeshow world, it’s a fascinating look at what it takes in the world of music promotion.

September 23: Laura Allen, The Pitch Girl, helps distill the essence of your pitch down to a simply formula. Very useful in so many situations!

There are many more of course – just search for TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – or browse the archives at your leisure.

We’ll be back next week with another episode.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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