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, October 11, 2021: Kevin Carty

Kevin Carty, EVP of Classic Exhibits in Portland, Oregon, shares thoughts on the upcoming ExhibitorLive, the tradeshow world, supply chains, price increases, staffing challenges, and more.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The return of the National Basketball Association. Season starts soon!

Tradeshows Aren’t Magic

When was the last time you saw a card trick? I mean, a good card trick where you were left scratching your head about how the heck the magician did that? You immediately want to know how it was done, right? But no, you never see that. Not really. A good magician works his magic and all you see is the result: the reveal.

If someone showed you how it was done, the magic of it sort of vanishes – poof! – right?
One of the emails I get is from a site called Penguin Magic. It seems like nearly every day they send out a video of a trick of some sort, and they’re offering to sell you the trick so that you can practice it and show it off to your friends and family.

I don’t have a big desire to be a magician and learn card tricks well enough to show them off (maybe I’m too busy writing novels and songs and other stuff in my limited spare time), but the concept of lifting the curtain to see how a trick is done is intriguing. But not enough to spend the time to practice card tricks.

When it comes to tradeshow marketing, there’s no magic involved, except to the visitor, and perhaps to only a few of them. First-time tradeshow visitors (and every tradeshow has its share of first-timers) might not fully understand what’s going on. They don’t know exactly how the exhibits get set up, although they can surmise that if they want. They don’t see all of the planning and organization and rushing and graphic layout and production and teeth-gnashing when deadlines get pushed and rush fees are instituted.

All they see is your booth, in all its glory (or not). They only see your staff. They don’t see what training, if any, that staff did prior to the show to know how to greet visitors, how to ask the right questions, how to discern between the prospects and the tire-kickers.

All they see is the result. They see the reveal.

The Perfect Tradeshow Experience

Yes, we’ve heard it a hundred time: perfect is the enemy of good. But what would a perfect tradeshow experience really look like – if you could make it happen?

From your perspective – the exhibit tradeshow manager or staff member – it might look like something like this:

  • Fair prices for booth space rental, material handling, shipping and other show services such as installation/dismantle, cleaning, etc.
  • Getting a nearby hotel, within walking distance, at a good price.
  • Twice as many leads as you had planned for and/or more sales than you anticipated.
  • Tradeshow exhibit getting plenty of compliments from visitors, maybe even recognition from the show itself with some sort of award. Graphics looked terrific, booth was always clean and presentable.

All of that would be great, right? Maybe not perfect, but as close as you can get.

But let’s flip the script and ask the question: what would be a perfect tradeshow experience for your visitors? Yeah, the people that come to the show – and to your booth – to learn about new products and services and hopefully find the right one that suits them to a T.

  • Immediate recognition by a booth staffer when you walk into the booth: a smile and a good opening question that engages them on a topic that is relatable to their specific situation regarding your product or service.
  • The visitor would feel like a welcome guest in your booth. After all, you’ve hired the best people and trained them well, so they know how to properly welcome visitors.
  • Good follow-up questions from the staffer. Perhaps even a product sample if appropriate.
  • Collection of contact information: no more and no less than what is needed for a timely follow-up.
  • Their visit to your booth was useful to them but didn’t end up being cut off or taking too long. After all, they have other booths they want to visit.
  • The follow-up was exactly as promised: on the day and time it was planned, and it happened like it was intended, whether an in-person visit, a phone call, an email, or a follow-up piece of mail with a sample or brochure or another promised piece.
  • Based on their visit, the prospect decided that your company was indeed exactly what they were looking for and feel that the business relationship is just starting and, assuming all continues to go well, will continue for years.

Now that you know what a perfect tradeshow experience might feel like from the attendees walking into your booth, what will it take to pull that off, again and again?

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, September 13, 2021: Shep Hyken

It’s been only a few months since Shep Hyken appeared on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, but with his new book out next week, I wanted to have him back to talk specifically about it. The book is called “”I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again.” Find it at IllBeBackBook.com.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Football season is back! NFL and NCAA are both underway. And yes, both my teams won over the weekend. It’s a good thing.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 30, 2021: Jan McInnis

What’s it like to be a keynote speaker, comedian and author and work your way through the pandemic? I caught up with Jan McInnis on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee to find out:

Find Jan McInnis at TheWorkLady.com.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the novel Since We Fell by Dennis Lahane.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 9, 2021: Drew Alcazar

In a timely chat, Russo and Steele CEO Drew Alcazar shares what it’s like to buy or sell a classic car at an auction. For years, I’ve attended car auctions in Monterey during Historic auto week. But I’ve been there only as a spectator, not as a buyer or seller. This year’s event is only a few days away – the week leading up to August 15th – and includes historic auto races, the Pebble Beach concourse d’elegance, and several car auctions.

For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning, I was curious to see what made the car auction part of the event tick:

Find Russo and Steele here.

Learn more about Monterey’s Historic Auto week here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Andy Weir‘s “Project Hail Mary.”

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 2, 2021: Dr. Stevie Dawn

Challenging times means people in positions of leadership are being asked to step up and provide solid guidance for those that look up to them. In this week’s episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I got to connect with Dr. Stevie Dawn, a speaker, executive coach and lover of sharks (just listen to find out why).

 
 
 

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The new Jackson Brown album, Downhill From Everywhere (click to stream on Spotify).

The Fits and Starts of the Tradeshow World: Late July 2021 Edition

The on-again-off-again return to events is proceeding as you might expect: with unexpected twists and turns that are keeping everyone a little off-balance.

In the past week, I’ve seen the following:

  • A return to masking for the most populated counties in Nevada, which of course affects tradeshows and events in Las Vegas.
  • A noticeable and stressful challenge is still with us when it comes to shipping. A recent email from our main exhibit manufacturer Classic Exhibits to its distributors outlines freight size limitations. Many tradeshow exhibit crates are 98 – 103” long, but now many freight forwarders will not accept any shipments that are not skidded or crated, and will no longer accept any shipments that are over 96” L or 96” H.
A recent note from Classic Exhibits outlined some of the shipping challenges they’re seeing now.
  • A note just came in this afternoon from Freeman, which says that effective August 1st, Freeman will require anyone on their property or show site to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Freeman employees are also required to either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours to be able to work.
  • A Facebook page I follow had a recent post where the HIMSS Show has been canceled, but at this point, it seems to be a rumor. The show’s main page doesn’t mention any cancellation, but there are details on how they’re now requiring masks (see the above story on Nevada’s return to mask mandates), even for fully vaccinated people.
  • Another one: we’re working with a client for a show in late October, and with the recent news of the past week, I point-blank asked if they were still planning to attend and move forward with a new booth project. Suffice it to say that they’re still in discussion about it and haven’t made a final decision yet (which has to be made within the next couple of weeks). Contrast that to just a couple of weeks ago where they were full speed ahead.

Yes, as Mink DeVille once sang, it’s a mixed up, shook up world (okay, they were singing about a mixed up, shook up girl, but hey, it’s about the same thing, right?)

All I can say is hang in there, in spite of the two-step-forward-one-step-back world we’re living in. We’ll make it through. I got faith in the world and in the industry.

Stranger in a Strange Land: the New World of Tradeshows

If you’re a fan of Robert Heinlein’s classic science fiction book “Stranger in a Strange Land,” you know the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who was born on Mars, raised by Martians, and comes to Earth in early adulthood. He ends up in a political power struggle and as the title suggests, he’s a little lost in the whole thing.

I sense that many people are feeling a similar way when it comes to returning to the tradeshow floor. Exhibit designers, builders and exhibitors are looking to the future when things will return to normal and they can get back to the action of exhibiting and all that entails.

Except…

This morning I see a post in a tradeshow group on Facebook that a client has canceled an appearance in an upcoming show in early August. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the resurgence of the delta variant of the virus and the continued resistance by a significant portion of the population to getting vaccinated.

Another commented that they also had a cancellation at the same show, and a second cancellation by another client at another show in October. Also due to uncertainty of the virus numbers.

But for some exhibitors who are looking at shows in late October, the assumption is that everything will be fine and they’re proceeding with plans for new exhibits. So they’re forging ahead on designs and are getting ready to put significant money down on new exhibits.

I get the sense that with all the players involved – organizers, exhibitors, attendees, designers, fabricators, labor and support services – no one is sure of which way to jump, and unfortunately we’ll all have to jump several times before we learn where we’re going to land.

In the TV show “Billions,” one of the questions that come up now and then is: “Are you certain?” And the response is meant to be “I am not uncertain.”

But I don’t think anyone has much certainty right now about the tradeshow world and when it might return to normal. Or even settle into a “new normal,” which will be different but at least predictable.


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