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

All posts by: Tim Patterson

Tradeshow Marketing Expert & Dynamic Public Speaker/Trainer

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 30, 2020: Choose a New Musical Theme

I’ve used the same 30″ theme as the opening ditty for this podcast/vlog since January 2018. It’s time for a change! I have several to play for you and have narrowed them down to a Final Four. Take a look/listen and leave a comment below or drop me a note.

Here’s the line-up if you need to go back and bounce through them again:

  • #1: Staircase (begins at 2:52)
  • #2: Subway (begins at 6:58)
  • #3: Punkadelic (begins at 7:50)
  • #4: Harlem at Night (begins at 8:52)

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is, of course, creating music. Or really creating anything. Just keep doing it. It’s good for ya. And please let me know which potential musical theme you like best! Leave a comment below.

Find Improvement at the Edges

Sure, we’d all like to make big changes. Swoop in, push all the old stuff aside, and institute something NEW and DASHING and DAZZLING and TERRIFIC, something that impresses the hell out of customers, the media, and especially your boss. Because if your boss is impressed, he’ll remember you and you might be in line for a promotion, which means a raise and so on and so forth.

Sounds great! Except that making big changes, making that one BIG CHANGE that gets all of that attention, isn’t easy. You have to start from scratch, tear everything down and do something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. And if you change everything, you’d better have a damn good reason. First off, it’ll cost more. Probably a lot more. It has to be a big bold idea. How many of those have you had lately? And you have to get buy-in from the right people, and especially the people who control the purse strings.

There’s a better way, and it doesn’t cost as much. It doesn’t require big bold ideas. It doesn’t change everyone’s job that’s involved in the initiative.

Make improvements at the edges. Opportunity lies in the margins. Find a way to bring ten percent more visitors to your booth. Generate another five or ten percent leads by adding a small interactive element to your booth. Move your booth space closer to the main entrance of a big show once you’ve accumulated enough points and time in the show to warrant it. Take a survey of half of your visitors to uncover what they really think of your new products or services, adding just a little new information to your product development.

There are a lot of little things you can do on the margins to make a notable improvement that doesn’t cost a lot, take much time, or strain the system (and your brain). Yet little changes can still have a strong positive impact on the bottom line.


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 23, 2020: Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving Week here in the USA. It’s also Black Friday Week, which is of course, the natural progression of Black Friday into a whole week long thing, but that’s another story. Given that it’s Thanksgiving Week, I thought I’d do a short podcast/vlog on a handful of things I’m very thankful for.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Jeff Tweedy’s book “How to Write One Song.”


What’s New in Exhibit Design Search: Video

Our online exhibit-finder, Exhibit Design Search, would be hard-pressed to get much better. It’s chock-full of 1000s of exhibits, rental furniture, accessories, helpful article, photos and much more.

Yet it keeps improving. Over the last few months a few new things have made their way onto the site at TradeshowBuy.com, including virtual exhibits, interactive exhibits, protective shields and more. Take a look:


The Winter Months

It’s pouring as I write this in my home office in Salem, Oregon. A guy just rode by my window on a bicycle, bundled up against the rain and wind. I took the dog for a walk this morning in the thankfully much lighter rain.

Ah, Oregon! I love it here! In 65 years, I have yet to find a good enough reason to move.

Technically, it’s still Autumn, but the dreary weather has kicked in full force with another four or five weeks until the official arrival of Winter. Seems my bicycle-riding days are over for a while although a sunny day may entice me out for a short ride.

No, my activity meter is revving up for ski season. It’s not that far away. My resort of choice, Hoodoo Ski Bowl, is 89 miles east and is a quick trip up for a day of skiing.

Me on the right, younger brother Ben on the left, enjoying a day in the mountain sun.

If this were a normal year, we’d likely be neck-deep in tradeshow exhibit projects at TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In the past, we often focused on exhibitors at Natural Products Expo West, which has in the past taken place in the first half of March. This years’ show, eight long months ago, was canceled a couple of days before the opening bell. Lots of exhibitors had their exhibits already set up and hundreds more were either in various stages of being set up or were sitting in unopened crates in their booth space. I spent a day and a half at the show coordinating return shipping for a number of clients then took a mini-vacation to Joshua Tree National Park and visited a few friends and relatives to fill out the scheduled week in southern California.

The 2021 NPEW has been moved to the end of May, although they’re still planning to hold the show live and in-person. Which makes sense, if for nothing else, it’s difficult to do a food sampling show on a virtual platform.

But of course, the possibility of a live food-sampling show six months from now presents its own issues and challenges, not the least of which is: will exhibitors and attendees be willing to commit to the show with enough time to actually pull it off? Given the reaction to a dozen or so NPEW exhibitors I’ve communicated with over the past week, it’ll be a tough call. Some are willing. Others are putting off all shows until 2022. Others are in a wait-and-see mode.

Which means that here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, like so many other exhibit designers and producers, we’re just trying to make it through the winter.

Even without an active exhibit business, we have some income from other sources, which means we’re one of the lucky few. I know it’s bad for so many people.

I wish you well in 2021. Meanwhile, I’ll be waxing my skis soon, walking the dog in the wind and rain at times, waiting for sunny days.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 16, 2020: Stephanie Selesnick

When it comes to exhibiting internationally, you probably couldn’t find many people more experienced than Stephanie Selesnick of International Trade Information. In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Stephanie and I talked about what it takes to exhibit overseas, what barriers exhibitors typically run into, how it’s going during the pandemic and more:

Find International Trade Information here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Seth Godin’s new book “The Practice.

Shows Are Coming Back Slowly. But Will Exhibitors Return?

This past week I’ve reached out to a couple of dozen former clients and prospects that have all exhibited for years at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. The show is usually in early March. You may recall that it was canceled on March 2nd this year, just a couple of days before it was supposed to open, just as the pandemic caused hundreds of exhibitors to pull out.

I happened to be sitting on a plane on the tarmac in Portland heading for the show that day when I saw the email from show organizers saying they were pulling the plug.

So what about next year? The show had originally been scheduled for early March again, but a few weeks ago it was pushed back to late May – a two and a half month delay, after a year in which it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Will it happen? Obviously, organizers hope so. But who the heck really knows?

To get a sense of what exhibitors were thinking, I reached out to a couple dozen of them. The answers were varied, as you might imagine.

One said they’d signed up, but with the caveat that they could pull out and get their deposit back within a certain time frame. Another handful said they’re still in the wait-and-see mode, as final decisions are needed until sometime in January. I did hear from a pair of long-time exhibitors who said they would definitely NOT be there. In fact, one said they had decided to participate in NO shows through 2021.

Fits and starts. That’s what the tradeshow industry seems to be right now, working in fits and starts. And I suspect that will hold for all of 2021.


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 9, 2020: Rich Kahn

CEO and co-founder of Anura, Rich Kahn, joins me on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee to talk about ad fraud. It’s one of the conversations where you keep learning stuff you didn’t previously know – which made it really worthwhile. I hope you find it the same way.

Find Anura.io here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: a new album coming in February from the Foo Fighters. They did a couple of songs over the weekend on Saturday Night Live. Here’s their new single:


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