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

End of Tradeshow Logistics

So many exhibitors leave the end-of-tradeshow logistics to their staff or to the I&D crew. But what happens at the end of the tradeshow can have an impact on your bottom line and frankly your peace of mind.

Unless you’re intimately involved in the end-of-tradeshow dismantle and shipping, it’s easy to think that it almost happens by itself.

If only that were true, right?

A recent example from a client: the BOL (Bill of Lading) was handed in to the show services desk prior to the exhibit being dismantled and packed away. That was to happen the next morning. Unfortunately, the crates vanished. The BOL was in hand, so the order was given, and the crates were picked up. Fortunately, one of the I&D (Installation and Dismantle) crew caught the error and was able to track down the crates, which were at the nose-end of a trailer truck. But they were returned (at additional cost to the client), the exhibit was packed up and everything turned out as it should.

Tradeshow shipping is a different kind of cat as the saying goes, and there are a lot of moving parts. The best approach? Plan well ahead so you know what will happen and when.

Know when the advance warehouse will be able to receive incoming shipments. Working with a trucking company that is familiar with how the tradeshow shipping grind works will pay off. Time windows for both delivery and pickup can be a bit crazy, and it’s not uncommon for a truck to sit in line for hours (on the clock) awaiting their time to pick up their freight, especially at a busy show. This is even after they’ve checked in at the marshalling yard at the appropriate time.

tradeshow logistics

At the end of the show, someone that’s in charge of making sure the paperwork is handed will need to fill out an MHA (Material Handling Form) and give it to show services, which is paperwork that authorizes the show contractor to pick up your crates and deliver them to the loading dock – this is called drayage. And make sure to read the fine print. The MHA must be filled out accurately to make sure that the crates and other materials are picked up. The fine print will also tell you that the show contractor has no liability for handling materials after the show deadline has passed, which means they can choose to ship your materials back in any way they deem. If they do it at all.

The afore-mentioned BOL is a document that outlines the agreement between you and your transportation company that authorizes them to pick up the crates and deliver it back to the warehouse.

Often your EAC (Exhibitor Approved Contractor) that is charge of setting up and dismantling your exhibit can handle all of these logistics – they do it all the time. But to make sure that happens, coordinate with the supervisor or your client representative.

In short, the goal is to get your exhibit and materials packed up efficiently and properly, and have it picked up and shipped to the proper destination. Sounds easy, right! It isn’t hard, but there are a number of ways things can go sideways, so make sure all of the pieces are handled properly and you’ll be able to relax on your plane ride home.

How to Use Event Marketing to Sell and Showcase Your Products

This is a guest post by Mohamed Bah of Springrates.

If you have plans to exhibit at a tradeshow any time soon, or you want to bring your newest product to the latest conference, you’re going to need a way to market your product. Doing well at a show or conference is a great way to generate early buzz and test a product out before it hits the sales floor. If you’re still not sure about how you should be showcasing your product to promote sales, we have a few suggestions on the most effective methods you can use.

1. Do Something Differently You

Absolutely everyone will tout the effectiveness of being “unique,” or doing something that no one else does to stand out of the crowd. It’s for a reason: Being unique will help you stand out, but only if you do it right.

showcase your product

When you’re trying to find a way to stand out of the crowd, think about the things that make your product special, or the characteristics of your brand that are unique. A marketing strategy is more effective if it’s meant specifically for you! If your brand has a more “fall” theme, then something like business cards made in the shape of rectangular-ish fall leaves would be a specifically you strategy. Someone else could copy it, but it fits you far better than it would fit them.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad Display

Large displays can be intimidating. This is especially true when they’re not yours, but you don’t need to have the biggest budget to have a big wow display. Maximize your airspace and do something unexpected! Bigger isn’t necessarily better, but bolder can be pretty close.

Instead of going for a massive banner or a 3D style, try eye catching colors, or upright flags. It might be a throwback to grade school, but don’t hesitate to run the proverbial underwear up the flagpole: if you’ve got something that makes your product stand out, or you’ve got a brand-specific t-shirt, make sure it’s flying high for the duration of the show. It’s a quirky way to attract attention, and it should set you apart from the crowd.

3. Rescale Your Style

People, as a general rule, love seeing things in the wrong size. Is your product too big to hold in the human hand? Shrink it down to toy size, and watch people play with it all day. Is your product more on team teensy? Scale it up to enormous, and see people gawk over how huge it is.

Things like rescaling the size of your product can also give you an opportunity to put it in context. It’s all well and good to have the full-size model next to your booth, but if you can provide a scale model of your brand’s lawnmower trundling around a standard-size yard, people are going to appreciate that a lot more than having to imagine what it might feel like. Alternatively, blowing up the size on something small can give people a better look at the little details they might not otherwise get to see.

4. Practice Proper Audience Participation

If your product is something that people can really get their hands into, why not let them? “Try before you buy” has become an increasingly popular selling tactic, and offering conference attendees and trade show goers the chance to test out something you’ve made demonstrates confidence. A bigger demonstration will also attract more attention to your booth, especially if you can work it into the schedule of main events.

This option also pairs well with the previous, and doubly so if your product is something like a game, or if you’re planning some kind of stunt for the demonstration. Getting your audience involved in the usage of your product, or creating some kind of game around how it works, will get them even more invested in what you’re doing and what you have on offer.

Event marketing is tough. Depending on where the event is held, you’re in a larger space, and you’re competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of other vendors, for a limited amount of time and attention. By focusing on what makes you great, and playing to your product’s strengths, you’ll be able to effectively draw attention and showcase and sell your product well.


Mohamed Bah

Mohamed Bah handles public relations for Springrates and in his free time enjoys playing with his dog, Leo, and working on cars.

Influencers That Influence ME

What is an INFLUENCER? To me it’s someone that gets your attention in any number of ways. It could be a video I saw. Could be a book or article or blog post. Or podcast. Or someone I know in my actual, real life as opposed to online.

These are the people whose tweets I read, whose podcasts I listen to, whose blog posts I read, whose newsletters I make sure not to miss. They write and say things that make me sit up and pay attention.

These are listed in no particular order. Some I’ve been aware of for years, others not so long. Some that were influencers ten or fifteen years ago may have popped back into my consciousness to make the list. And in a sense, it’s incomplete because it will always be incomplete. Influencers come and go. The ideas, writings and videos that catch anyone’s attention also wax and wane like the moon. But to me, these are all worth checking out:

Seth Godin: Daily blogger, host of the Akimbo podcast, speaker, author.

Peter Shankman: Founder of HARO (Help Out a Reporter). Speaks and writes frequently. Author of a new book about ADHD, working on a documentary about ADHD. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Scott Monty: Ford Motor Company’s first Social Media Director. Fortune 500 Advisor. Speaker, Pragmatic Futurist.

Jeff Barjorek: Parabola Consulting. Sales trainer, writer, speaker.

Jeffrey Gitomer: Sales trainer, author, speaker, podcaster.

Steve Miller: Author of Uncopyable (terrific book), speaker, blogger. Marketing gunslinger.

Pamela Slim: Author, business consultant, speaker, coach.

Bill Stainton: Emmy-winning producer, speaker, author. Also appeared on my podcast. Really fun newsletter. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Roy Williams: Former radio salesman who teaches sales, marketing and advertising. His Monday Morning Memo is not to be missed.

Shep Hyken: Hall of Famer in the National Speaker Association. Forward-thinking and best-selling author, blogger, writer and expert on customer service. Here’s his appearance on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Mel White: VP of Business Development at Classic Exhibits. Mel and I have known each other for close to a decade and a half. His insight and knowledge of the tradeshow world, and in particular the latest in tradeshow exhibit materials and trends has always been helpful. Not to mention his crucial help in making both of my books a reality. Here’s his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview.

Terry Brock: Relationship marketing speaker. Another Hall of Famer in the National Speaker Association. Holds forth all the time on the use of technology in communication and presentation. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Denise Wakeman: Blogger, author, writer, digital media marketing expert.

Casey Neistat: NYC-based videographer and story-teller. Ten million YouTube channel followers tells you something. Here’s one of his most-viewed and fun videos:

Gary Vaynerchuk: Social media expert at the highest level. Has parleyed his success with his family’s win business into a multi-million-dollar company, and he’s become an angel investor.

David Newman: Founder of Do It! Marketing. Marketing for Speakers, Authors, Consultants and Experts

Brene Brown: Best-selling author, research professor at University of Houston. Studies, speaks on courage, vulnerability, shape and empathy.

Candy Adams:. Long-time consultant in the tradeshow and event industry, known as The Booth Mom. See her TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

 

Unfinished – more to add later!

How to Succeed Podcast: TradeshowGuy Guest Appearance

A few weeks back Mike Montague, host of the How to Succeed Podcast from Sandler Sales, interviewed me for his sales podcast. Had a great deal of fun! I’ve listened to this podcast for years and learned a lot. Now it’s my turn to join the conversation and share what I could about How to Succeed at Trade Shows:

And thanks, Mike, for having me!

Check out the How to Succeed Podcast here.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, September 10, 2018: Robert Middleton

Lots fun in this week’s podcast/vlog. Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing sits down to discuss the Five Pillars of Marketing for Self-Employed Professionals. So there’s that. You’ll also hear the story of how a search for a Harlan Ellison photo led to an article on Frank Sinatra which, well, you’ll just have to watch or listen.

On the podcast you’ll hear me tell the story of how, in looking for a couple of old photos from the 80s. It was when author Harlan Ellison did a book signing at Powell’s Books in Portland. I put on my sport jacket and headed down with a couple of items to have him sign.

From that search came a moment when I uncovered what Wikipedia wrote about a mid-60s article on Frank Sinatra.

Based on reading that article, I decided to make it this week’s ONE GOOD THING: Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.

And the photos:

How Can Personalization Improve Security at Tradeshows?

This is a guest post from Tamara Blackburn.

Trade shows continue to be immensely popular within a variety of industrial spheres for a number of reasons from networking opportunities to celebrating the launch of a new product, or simply allowing brands and professionals to come together to pool their very best lines. They are also a bustling hive of people who need to make sure they keep their own ID and brand ID safe and secure at all times.

Shows and exhibitions, when run correctly, can be very safe environments and can effectively ward off potential criminal activity with minimal effort. However, it always pays to keep your own wits about you and to protect your own data, and there are plenty of ways in which personalization of various products can help to assure the safety of personnel and firms alike.

Access Granted ID Cards

tradeshow security

It perhaps goes without saying that the primary reason for ID cards to be issued at all is to ensure that the right people have the right access to the right areas.  That’s a lot of rights and a lot of sensitive areas, so it’s important to give only the correct people access cards and to make sure they are security enhanced cards.

ID cards can be manipulated if they are not secure enough and whether it’s unwanted attention or potential criminal activity, it’s a very good idea to make sure that personalised ID and cards are produced to a high-end standard.  Make use of ID cards which have identification on the front to prove authorisation and are near impossible to clone.  This way, not only are show staff always assured that they are handling authorised personnel, but there is no chance of such cards being copied if they are stolen or lost.

The Power of Lanyards

Lanyards are often seen as freebie material which can be used to promote certain brands and services. Beyond marketing, however, they are a great way to both protect and show off personal ID and information which can be quickly and easily checked.  Personalized lanyards and otherwise, can be used to display who you are and why you request access to events and certain areas. What’s more, specifically printed lanyards with brand names and otherwise can also prove who you are working for or with – a great way to offer quick confirmation to anyone checking ID beyond the standard protocol.

Wristbands

The access wristband is a standard which has been around in several forms for many years now, and at trade shows, they are a great way for personalized information to be stored and displayed without thorough checks needing to be established on each and every occasion.  For example, a personal wristband can be printed and offered to a show guest once they have passed all initial mandatory checks and they can then simply display their bands should they wish to gain re-entry to certain rooms or areas.  This process of personalization and ID protection allows for fast verification, which is likely to be sought after at trade shows and exhibitions.

Controlling Your Access

Personalized items such as those discussed above offer plenty of power to the individual, and therefore, it is their responsibility to make sure they take care of such items at all times.  Personalized ID can help improve security as it essentially makes sure that each individual takes responsibility for their own data. It can help to cut down on access checks and the time it takes for mandatory protocol to be followed, meaning a smoother event.  Furthermore, it can help attendees to easily identify one another, on a different level to security benefits, so it can break the ice in terms of networking. It can also let other attendees know that you have full access rights to such an event and that you may well be an authority in your field.

Personalized access items are always recommended in a trade show setting. For the tightest control and for the most efficient checks, cards, lanyards and wristbands are essential apparel.


Tamara Blackburn is a hands-on Digital Marketer for the UK’s largest ID card company, Digital ID. Tamara has a passion for writing and specializes in creating high-quality content, mostly on topics relating to marketing, security, branding and even press releases to name a few.

There’s Always a Tradeoff

When I first got into the exhibit industry in the early ‘00s, the company I was hired by, Interpretive Exhibits in Salem, was heavily involved in an exhibit for the Army Corps of Engineers. It was a permanent installation (still there) at The Dalles Dam in The Dalles, Oregon. The theme of the exhibit was “Tradeoffs” and it addresses the various parties involved in the needs and desires of the Columbia River. For every group that had in interest in utilizing the Columbia River as a resource, there was a tradeoff

of sorts. Sports fishermen, Native Americans and their fishing rights, shipping and transportation, recreation and so on – there were all sorts of groups that wanted something out of the river. The exhibit went into detail to explain each group’s interests and how they had to compromise, in a sense, to get a lot (but not all) of what they wanted.

That concept – the tradeoff – comes up in my mind frequently, and it can be applied to virtually anything that you are involved in.

Apply it to the tradeshow world: if you are willing to spend the money on a larger exhibit, the tradeoff is often that you must also be willing to hire a crew to setup and dismantle the exhibit, and you must be willing to pay more for shipping.

If you want an exhibit that can quickly be setup by one or two people, the tradeoff is that you must be willing to settle for a very simple design with limited bells and whistles and perhaps a lesser impact than something more complex.

If you want to have a professional presenter in your booth space pitching attendees several times an hour, the tradeoff is that not only do you need to invest in hiring that presenter, but you’ll need to make sure you have enough staff on hand to engage as many of those attendees as possible before they slip away.

It seems like we’re always giving up one thing to get another. We don’t live in a world where we have it all. Or a world where we have nothing at all.

We live in a world where we’re always calculating a tradeoff that works best for us.

Pebble Beach concours d’elegance: Event Marketing Recap

I spent about a week in Monterey with an old friend recently to attend a couple of events: The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway and the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance. In a sense, both events are about as far away from tradeshows that you can get. But as event marketing goes, they’re at the top of their games.

Consider this: according to the website, “the competition attracts 15,000 affluent aficionados who pay a minimum of $325 for general admission.” And this: “Entrants often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a car, hundreds of thousands to restore it, and tens of thousands more to transport it to Pebble Beach to compete for our top award. Come day of show, the cars pulling onto the eighteenth fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links often have a total estimated value of half a billion dollars.”

So, yeah, the one-percenters, basically. And of course, there are a lot of other vintage car enthusiasts who like the show and the spectacle who are not in that top echelon (that would include me, just to be clear!).

Just driving around the area over the week gives you an opportunity to see hundreds of exotic and high-end cars that are just out cruising: Porches, McLarens, Teslas, Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls-Royces, and a few that are simply unrecognizable or unique one-of-a-kinds.

This is a prime market ripe for pitching high-end products. There are numerous car auctions, one of which set a record over the weekend for selling a car at auction for a record $48.4 million. In case you’re wondering, it was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

Car manufacturers spend a ton to show off their newest models. Infiniti, for instance, sets up a large temporary building just above the festivities on the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach. During the runup to the event, they offer visitors a chance to drive new models for a couple of miles. Other car makers over the year have included Jeep, Cadillac, Chrysler, Tesla and many others. In fact, the first I ever heard of a Tesla was in 2008 when they introduced their roadster at the event. In 2016, Tesla was offering a chance to drive their new Model X (which I did).

Ferrari brought several dozen vintage autos and displayed them on the fairway of hole number one.

There were nine Tucker automobiles at the show, along with a handful of Chinese cars and a collection from the Raj of India.

Concept cars encircle the main putting green in front of the pro shop, where we’ve seen everything over the years from an electric VW bus, to McLarens, Rolls-Royces, Porches, Lincolns, Maseratis, Hennesseys, Genesis’ and many more – too many to count. Just a bunch of glorious eye candy for car fans.

Every year there is a raffle during the event, where up to four brand new model cars are given away. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno has done the honors for years, telling the same jokes year after year.

Some 1200 media members cover the event, with about a quarter of them from outside the United States.

But at the bottom line, the event is a fundraiser for several dozen charities in the area. Over the years the they event has generated millions of dollars that goes to help area children. This year the event raised $1.8 million which will be distributed by the Pebble Beach Company Foundation to 85 local charities.

Check out the gallery below. I’m sure I’ll be back next year. It’s already on my calendar.

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