When it comes to tradeshow marketing, anything goes. Right?
Well, maybe not everything, but certainly it’s a time to try things. Do things
Or. Maybe not. Tradeshows are fraught with risk. You’re
putting a lot of money on the line. Generally speaking, the cost of tradeshow marketing
is about a third of a company’s overall marketing budget. Which means that it’s
a lot of money in play, making it hard for a company to risk much.
In a sense, tradeshows can be an interesting mix of the
precise and the experimental.
The precision is important, to be sure. Your tradeshow staff
is your front line. The most important piece of the puzzle. They need to know
what they’re doing and why. If mistakes are made, or if your staff isn’t as
well-trained as they could be, your company might miss out on a good amount of
Your exhibit is important. It’s the 3D representation of
your brand, and if it’s not spot-on, it’ll send mixed messages to your audience.
Your products, demos and sampling have to be well-thought
out and well-executed. Make some mistakes in these areas, and again, you’re
leaving potential money on the table.
Precision is important in these areas.
But tradeshows are also ripe for experimentation. You have opportunities to do surveys, market research, unusual activities, oddball booth items and much more that will grab eyeballs and attention without impacting the precision needed in other areas. VR, smoothie bikes, live music, projection mapping, unusual use of video….the list is endless as to how creative you can get at tradeshows and still do all of the precise things that you need to do to engage with attendees, capture leads, have an exhibit that captures your brand precisely.
Tradeshows are a balancing act no matter what you’re trying to balance. Adding some experimentation along with the precision gives you flexibility, a little tension (which makes people stop and look), and keeps you, your visitors and your competitors on your toes.
It’s 2020. Seems like everyone wants something new. After all, this century is no longer a teenager! Hey, if the century were a human, it could almost drink!
So…what’s new in the tradeshow industry?
At TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we work with a handful of vendors: designers, manufacturers and other suppliers in the tradeshow industry.
Our main partner since we started this business has been Classic Exhibits. If not for them, we wouldn’t be in business. Classic Exhibits is a ‘white label’ manufacturer that designs and sells products through a network of distributors. They’ve gone from kind of a kit designer and manufacturer to doing a lot of custom work. It’s where the industry is going, and Classic Exhibits is among the companies leading the way.
And when they introduce something new, it’s good. More than good. It’s groundbreaking. In the last couple of years, they introduced Gravitee, a tool-less exhibit system that sets up easily, breaks down quickly and ships flat. It’s made a difference to clients of ours at Classic Exhibits. In fact, the first time we set up a Gravitee wall with an installation and dismantle crew, they were impressed with how easy and quickly it went up.
Our new Tool-less SuperNova Lightboxes achieves all of those goals. While there may be more “complicated” solutions, there are none stronger or easier. We estimate the new tool-less connectors reduce assembly by 70-80%. Plus, the splines and the corner connectors can stay on the extrusion reducing the possibility of lost parts. Even the translucent knobs are innovative since they eliminate shadows and reflections.
Can’t wait to see these in action.
We also work with Orbus, which provides numerous – maybe countless – options for popups, banner stands, table throws and more. They have high quality combined with budget pricing – a good combination.
And they’re kicking off 2020 by introducing a variety of new products, including digital banners, outdoor tents, shaped signs, smaller (and larger) HopUp fabric stands, and more. Many of these are lightweight, easy to set up by just a person or two, and priced right. See the selection of new designs and products here.
We’ve enjoyed working with other manufacturers and vendors through the years, but when it comes to something new, both Classic Exhibits and Orbus have taken the initiative to keep bringing the “NEW” to the New Year.
If you’ve attended the same tradeshows over the years, no
doubt you’ve seen an interesting phenomenon: some companies attend for years
and then just stop.
Why? What caused them to disappear?
Certainly, there are a thousand answers to that question,
and much of those answers likely have a lot to do with internal dynamics as
much as the show itself.
But I’ve seen it happen frequently.
I’ve worked with some companies that have exhibited at the
same show for years, only to decide after seven or eight appearances that they
weren’t going to get anything useful out of another appearance.
Why’d you stop going? I’ve asked that question and received
a variety of answers:
“We’ve pretty much maxed out our ability to get new distributors, which is why we exhibited at that show. Our focus is on working with those retailers one on one to get more focused on giving them better products based on what their customers want.”
“The show moved a couple of weeks. Meaning it fell into a different fiscal year. And once the new company owners saw how much their tradeshow budget would be increasing for the fiscal year, they got to looking closer at all the marketing. We’ve decided to pull back and re-examine our entire marketing strategy.” This company did return to the show a couple of years later.
“We kept getting lousy locations which we couldn’t overcome. We put our marketing dollars elsewhere.” In this case, we wondered if they couldn’t have done better to market their appearance in spite of the bad location. It’s been done.”
“Our company has matured to the point that this particular show no longer works for us.”
And so on. There are a thousand reasons to continue
exhibiting at a show. And as many to decide not to exhibit again, or at least
for a couple of years.
Tradeshow marketing is expensive. For companies that are
investing in this marketing channel, it behooves them to make sure the dollars
are well-spent. And one of the questions that should be asked is: should we
really be at that show this year?
I first crossed paths with David Meerman Scott over a dozen years ago. Since then he’s written several books and been a keynote speaker at countless conferences, discussing the changing world of marketing and public relations. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, David joins me to talk about his just-released book, Fanocracy, co-written with his daughter Reiko Scott.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING. Actually, four of them!
These days, business owners spend a lot of their time on the internet. Many do not have actual space for office and spend their time looking for digital marketing strategies and making digital products. You might feel like you are working in a void when you run an online store, even if the work is very rewarding. You may not ever talk to colleagues or even your consumers besides over the phone and through email. Does this imply that face to face marketing has no place in e-commerce marketing?
answer is: no, it is not so. In fact, digital business owners can profit from face to face marketing as much as a
business owner with a physical store can.
What is Face-to-Face Marketing and Why Does It
marketing applies to any situation where you sell your business to a group or
an individual. You get to look at your customers in the eye as you offer your
angle or connect with them on an individual level. For example, you may meet
someone at a grocery store. They may ask what you do and you say that you
create online photography classes for enthusiastic.
conversation might change at this point. However, if the other person is into
photography, they may ask questions about your online class. You can offer your
website address or business card where that individual could discover more
about your class. This is an instance of spontaneous face to face marketing. You get benefits of this opportunity to let
them know about your store and the products you sell online.
how does face to face marketing matter?
Think back to the time you last went to a retail store. You were unsure what
you were looking for but you had a basic idea. You may experience more frequently
when you buy electronics. They may know they have come here to buy a tablet,
for example, but they don’t know what features will be most beneficial to them.
In a brick-and-mortar store, you are checking the collection out, perusing the
details of every product, and the price tag also. Eventually, a store
representative shows up, asking if you need help.
accept their offer gratefully and they explain what the tablet is all about and
if it meets your demands. The representative might also suggest a few other
models that could be suitable for you. You are grateful for their help and it
helps you choose, and thus, more prone to buy that tablet right away.
does this happen? It is because a personal connection was established between
you two. Maybe they shared a joke with you and answered all your questions. All
of these things are face to face
communication advantages. It just does not always have to happen in a
physical store. Therefore, face-to-face marketing matters because it’s a
totally diverse experience from digital marketing. You can meet prospects who
otherwise would not have known about your online business, and you can address
issues and pain points to boost the chances of a sale.
let us look at some of the benefits of face-to-face marketing.
Benefits of Face-to-Face Marketing
are some of the benefits of face to face
you visit a restaurant for the first time and the food and wait staff impress
you so much that when a friend later asks your recommendation for a restaurant,
this one immediately comes to your mind. You recommend this restaurant because
of the awesome experience you had. This is called word-of-mouth marketing. When
someone likes a particular product or service, they are likely to tell everyone
they know about it.
similar concept works for face-to-face marketing for your online business. When
you meet people, you can create an experience that leaves a positive impact on
them. After the person becomes a consumer, you deliver an amazing digital
product that meets their requirements. Then, awed by your service, they will
talk about your product to other people.
Causes Your Audience to Come You
probably already know that online marketing becomes more challenging over time.
It’s not a waste of time surely, but online business owners are finding it more
difficult to find audiences organically. Face-to-face marketing takes away the
scalability aspect that affects several small businesses. Events can bring you
more customers directly than just waiting for customers to find you through
customer referrals, search engines, and social media.
can take the example of our photographer again. They can attend a convention or
show for photographers. When they put themselves in those events, they expose
themselves to many potential customers.
Credibility and Relationships
are what make up a business. The best business owners know that generating
relationships with their customers and prospects can enhance customer
acquisition and retention. You can consider your own relationship with your
local business. You may have been going to the same bakery for the last ten
years and you can’t even think about going anywhere else because you’re very
satisfied with their products and service. Developing similar relationships
with customers online is possible.
Yourself More Noticeable and Available
prefer it when businesses make themselves accessible. The people you help also
demand those things. If you are incapable to convey on their expectations,
you’ll possibly lose a buyer. You can utilize face-to-face marketing to ease
your prospects’ concerns. Tell them that you are both available and reliable so
that they feel more relaxed buying your product or service. Face-to-face
marketing makes you additionally more noticeable. This is particularly valid if
you talk at an event or associate in its construction.
For many businesspeople, interacting in person
proves far more comfortable than interacting online. When we communicate in
person, we appear more sincere and more natural than when we communicate online,
especially through text. They can see your body language, facial expression,
and the way you present yourself. Moreover, listening to your voices makes them
fully appreciate what you are saying based on delivery.
You can profit from face to face marketing in various ways. You can produce more ROI, profit from an identified audience, build relationships with potential and prevailing customers, increase your reliability, and interact more efficiently.
And they were all good, fun and worth your time to listen.
But I got to thinking about podcasts that actually gave you
solid actionable tips to make things happen. And there were several. Let’s
recap and give you a chance to dig in again.
Seth Kramer: Seth is a longtime professional presenter and, in this conversation, shares great tips on how to use a presenter, and how to prepare your staff for the influx of people and leads that will result. Other tips include how to gauge the interest of potential clients as they watch the presentation.
Sam Smith of Social Point: Sam talks about the many ways that games can be used to bring people to your booth and keep them there. Tips on creating an engaging activity, how to strategize to accomplish your objectives, and using new technology in tradeshow booths.
Francis Friedman: What’s happening with the Modern Digital Tradeshow? A lot! And Francis digs into how our industry is the foundation of the 1X per year event and the world is a 24/7/365 digital world.
Laura Allen is known as The Pitch Girl, and frankly, her method of distilling the essence of your pitch to a short soundbite is one of the handiest things you can have at a tradeshow when someone asks you what you do.
David Newman is a marketer’s marketer. His ideas work on so many levels, with tradeshows being just one. He discusses how to start a marketing plan, offers tips on marketing videos, how to use speaking (yes, at tradeshows) as a way to market your business and more.
Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound. Yes, this appeared in late 2018. But hey, this half-hour podcast is probably the best 30 minutes you’ll spend if you’re trying to get a handle on your tradeshow marketing with specific actionable tips. Tips on preparation (get the show manual, try to find a speaking or panel slot), what to do at the show (make sure you have enough handouts such as FAQs, cheat sheets, quizzes, flash drives, etc.), why you should hang out a few times near the media room (get a blogger to write something about your company, let media folks know you’re an expert in two or three areas of your industry and many more), how to visit competitors booths, how to follow up and so much more. Seriously, a goldmine of actionable information related specifically to tradeshow marketing.
Hope you enjoy these seven podcast/vlog replays and find some great tips to put to use as you head into your 2020 tradeshow marketing schedule!
Let’s assume that your company does a fair amount of
tradeshow marketing. Maybe a dozen shows, including two or three large national
shows and smaller, regional or more-focused shows where your product fits in.
Your first show of the new year is still a couple of months
away, so you’re probably thinking you have time to make sure all is right.
And you’re probably on the right track.
But it might be worthwhile to go over your checklist for the
new year one last time.
Let’s assume that you had decent results last year but would
like to improve on those results in 2020.
Here are a number of areas to look at and things to consider
as you plan your show schedule.
Know Your ROI
Return on Investment is critical for tradeshow success. Just
because you’re getting sales doesn’t mean you’re making money. Calculating your
ROI is, in theory, straightforward enough. You’ll need to know a few things,
such as how much it cost you to exhibit at a specific show. Add those numbers
up, including travel, booth space, any capital investments such as a new
exhibit, any samples you handed out, drayage, shipping – all of it – until you
get a final number.
Now, gather all the leads from that show, check with sales
to learn how much profit the company actually netted from those leads. Then do
Beyond your goals of making money, see what else you can do
to make your tradeshow investment worthwhile. Drive traffic to your website or
social media platforms, track the number of booth visitors, networking with industry
colleagues, launching new products and more – these are all valid and valuable
things to track.
Plan Some Surveys
A tradeshow is a great place to do a little casual market research.
Set up a survey on a tablet, offer a prize to people that answer questions, and
see what useful information you get.
Train Your Staff
Really, when was the last time you paid a professional to
come in and train your booth staff? The proof is in the pudding. A well-trained
booth staff is one of the most important things you can do to increase your
level of success.
Hire a Professional Presenter
Perhaps not every tradeshow booth needs a presenter, but if
you’re going to get serious about showing off a complicated product, having a
professional presenter that knows how to draw a crowd and distill the critical
bits and pieces of your product or service in invaluable. And worth every
Beyond these ideas, it always helps to keep your staff
informed on plans as appropriate. If your staff knows what you’re planning and
what the company’s goals are, and why, they will be much more likely to have
buy-in to the company’s success.
It’s a little hackneyed, I know, but how often do you say to
yourself, “Where does the time go?”
I said it again just a day or two ago when I noticed the calendar, did the math, and said, Holy Smoke, where does the time go?
2020 beckons. Are you ready?
I don’t usually do a formal year-end assessment of my
business, TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In the past I have shared on these pages and
in the weekly podcast, the state of the business. And I don’t plan to do a
formal assessment this year.
But, having said that, I can safely say that 2019 was the
best year yet for TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In terms of new business, new clients,
and total dollars. Which means we must be doing something right.
The challenge of running your own business, and specifically
a business in the tradeshow world, is that cycles often determine the amount of
business and the number of clients we work with at any given time.
For example, the first four months of the year were
incredible. New projects, new clients galore. The next four months were good,
not great. Certainly not like the first four months. And the last four months
have seen us hunting and wishing for more business. But like the cycles that we
end up living with, I can already see a few months into the future and see
things picking up. Perhaps not as grand as it was 12 months ago, but still
Another 100 or so articles, along with the podcast, were posted on this blog, bringing the total posts to over 1000. In November the blog also celebrated its eleventh birthday. If you’d have told me I’d still be blogging eleven years later, I would have probably choked. But wow, here we are.
And personally, I kept up a consistent exercise routine of
daily yoga, daily walks (with the dog who insists!), lots of bicycle riding and
lots of skiing.
How about you? How was your year? Was it what you expected? What
do you have planned for 2020?
Whatever you are looking for next year, buckle up – it should
be a wild ride!