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


Schmidt’s Naturals Up for Exhibitor Portable/Modular Award

A year ago, our new client Schmidt’s Naturals debuted a new custom 10×20 at the Natural Products Expo West. It was a custom exhibit designed by Classic Exhibits‘ designer Kim DiStefano. The design was submitted to Exhibitor Magazine’s annual Portable/Modular Awards, which honor design excellence in portable, modular and system exhibits. Here’s what it looked like on the floor of Expo West:

Exhibitor Portable Modular Award Entrant

A couple of years ago, one of our clients, SoYoung, was a winner in the competition. We’re glad that Schmidt’s Naturals got the nomination and we wish them the best when the winners are announced in late winter at ExhibitorLIVE!

We’d like to invite you to see all of the entrants in the Exhibitor Portable/Modular Awards take a look here and vote your favorite. And remember, you can vote once per day until the competition closes.

My Favorite and Most Useful Tools

Every now and then it’s good to take a look at the tools we use every day in our work – hence a list of my favorite useful tools. Whether it’s a piece of software, an app, a physical tool of some sort or just a mental approach. Here’s what I find most useful these days – the things I use the most:

favorite tools and apps

Computer Software

Microsoft Office 365 for Mac. This has everything, and at a modest price. I use MS Word for writing, Outlook for email, Excel for spreadsheets. PowerPoint is a part of the package, but I prefer Mac’s Keynote, which I find more elegant. There’s nothing wrong with PowerPoint, and at times I’ve had to export Keynote presentations to PowerPoint to play them on PCs. I was never fond of the Mac native Mail program, and was glad to see the recent upgrades to Outlook, which used to be Entourage. I’ve managed to carry my email database through several computers from PC to Macbook over the years, and the current version of Outlook for Mac is nearly flawless.

Keynote. It’s a Mac-only program and is useful for presentations of all kinds, whether for a recorded video or a live presentation.

Screenflow. My go-to for video has screen recording, video camera recording and the ability to choose a specific microphone. You can also record screens from your plugged-in device such as an iPhone or iPad, although I’ve never found an occasion where that was necessary or even useful. But hey, maybe someday! Along with Giphy, Screenflow can create easy gifs as well!

Hootsuite. An online multi-use tool for send out social media items. Send things to more than one platform, upload multiple posts for timed release.

Photoshop. Still the standby for creating quick graphics and photo editing with text overlays. I’m no graphic expert, but I know this program well enough after using it for a couple of decades to get done what I need to quickly. My old CS4 version hasn’t been updated for years, and it works well.

UltraEdit. Billed as the world’s best text editor. Developers and programmers use it for writing code. But I’m no coder and still use it all the time. For when you want text files with no formatting whatsoever. It also works when you have some heavily formatted text from a website that you want to keep without the formatting. Just copy from the website and paste into UltraEdit and all the formatting is gone.

Scrivener. The best book-writing software I’ve experienced. Great at organizing notes, drafts, thoughts and more.

Dropbox. Lots of alternatives, but this has been my go-to for archiving client files, sharing files with and from clients and archiving personal photos.

Filezilla. FTP software that works really well. Free is a very good price, too.

Microsoft OneNote. Part of Microsoft Office 365, available as a standalone download. With the MS Office 365, you get a terrabyte of storage which is very useful for storing notes and files. Very useful in some instances, but I come and go from this one. Lots of interesting things in this tool. You can take a photo of a whiteboard for instance, and the app will convert the writing to text. Put it on an iPhone or iPad and you can write notes. I don’t use this as much as I probably should!

Microsoft OneDrive. Similar to DropBox, Box and other cloud storage and sharing apps.

CleanMyMac. Between this and MacKeeper, my laptop stays humming pretty well. After all, it’s almost seven years old. I’ve upgraded it with a 1TB solid state drive and maxed out the RAM to 16 gig, but it still needs software to keep it clean.

Google Calendar. I’d be lost without reminders and notifications from Google Calendar. Syncs with the app on my phone.

Adobe Audition. Ever since my professional radio days ended, I still record and edit audio frequently. Part of it is due to my continued volunteering with my weekly reggae show (Monday nights at 6 pm Pacific – stream it live!) on the local community radio station, KMUZ, and part of that is my weekly vlog/podcast, the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee.

Zoom. I use this for video meetings, mainly to record the conversations for my vlog/podcast. Easy to use and will record the meeting with the click of a button.

Aweber. I’ve used AWeber for all of my newsletters, autoresponders, etc. for years. The program is easy to use and it keeps getting better. Lots of alternatives, but I’ve seen no real valid reason for switching.

LeadPages. Lead capture software. You know the ones – the annoying popups that ask you to opt in to a newsletter in exchange for some sort of goodie. Yes, popups can be annoying, but they work and people have gotten used to them. Integrates seamlessly with AWeber and other email programs. Highly recommended for its creativity and flexibility.

Carbonite. One of at least two backups I have. Carbonite works in the background to archive the essential files (not all kinds of files, though – it doesn’t typically back up video or audio files unless you ask it to). There is also a Carbonite app, but I’ve had issues with it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Although there have been times with Carbonite has save my ass on the floor of a tradeshow when I needed to pull up a critical file. More than once.

Time Machine. The other Mac back up. I used it once a week to manually backup all of my latest files.

Soundcloud. This is the host of the audiofiles for the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast. Easy to use, easy to grab the code to embed the file into a blog post, and useful listening stats as well.

Quickbooks. Money tracking, check-writing, invoicing, etc., at its best.

iPhone apps

Beyond the usual text, email, messaging, maps and such, I find the following apps very useful (links are to the iTunes store):

Google Calendar. Mentioned earlier.

Microsoft OneNote. Mentioned earlier.

DropBox. Also mentioned earlier.

GasBuddy. Only when traveling do I really want to find the cheapest gas, but when I do, this is a great little tool.

Road Trip. Tracking of automobile gasoline and repair costs.

Waze logo

Waze. Another GPS enables navigation aid, complete with crowd-sourced warnings and alerts on traffic jams, stalled cars, accidents, police sitings and more.

Scanner Pro. A very useful document scanner that, when combined with uploading to Dropbox, lets me instantly scan documents and upload so that I can easily grab them on my laptop.

Point of Sale, formerly Square. The time or two a year that a client wants to pay by credit card, I use this app and the money shows up in my bank account a day or two later.

And a handful of fun, non-work apps:

Zillow. Not really a work tool, but fun to use when you’re traveling to see the market value of the homes nearby.

MapMyRide. Tracks my route, distance, etc. when riding my bicycle.

Fender Tune. Keeps my guitar in tune.

Soundhound. Lets me know the name of a song when I can’t pin it down. Although it’s not infallible – it can’t name every song!

Lose it! Tracks calories, exercise and more.

Ski Tracks. Tracks my routes and distance on the slope.

Hardware

Apple Macbook Pro. 13” early 2011. Upgraded to 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD hard drive. Rarely have I had a glitch with this.

Blue Yeti microphone

Blue Yeti USB Microphone. I switched to a USB microphone a couple of years ago when I couldn’t chase down an annoying hum in my analog board. Works great and is very reasonably priced. You see it in all of my podcast videos.

iPhone 6s, 128 GB of storage. Solid piece of gear through and through. Music, email, camera, you name it. It’s all there.

Sony MDR-V6 dynamic stereo headphones. I’ve used these headphones for more than twenty years, since my radio days. Still use them when recording and volunteering at the local community radio station. It’s my second pair.

SkullCandy ear buds. While I tend to go through a pair of these about every year, they deliver much better sound and comfort than the earphones that come with the iPhone.

Keen messenger bag. The model shown in the link isn’t the one I have, but very similar. Great for carrying laptop, books, lunch, whatever.

Am I missing anything? What are you using? Leave a comment!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: December 4, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

Today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee caught up with the very busy Booth Mom Candy Adams. She’s been in the industry helping companies succeed at tradeshow marketing for years and shares a lot of great insights into how it all works – especially when you have to pull Plan B out of your back pocket:

 

ONE GOOD THING: Robert Plant’s new CD Carry Fire.

5 Great Rental Exhibits that Look Custom

One of the ongoing debates I’ve heard since I joined the exhibit industry in early 2002 was this: which is better: a rental exhibit or an exhibit that you purchase to own?

There’s no right answer. Your situation may warrant one or the other. The other part of the debate I always heard is that once you rent two or three times, you have paid the full purchase price. That’s not always true, but it’s a good starting point.

One of our clients is based in Manhattan. They exhibit twice a year, often back to back. They don’t have room for storing the exhibit at their location. They don’t always have the same size exhibit, bouncing from a ten-foot exhibit to a twenty-foot inline. So renting makes perfect sense for them.

Other clients prefer the total customization that they couldn’t get from a rental exhibit. Buying makes sense to them. They can still change out graphics whenever they want, and they have the flexibility to use different versions of the booth in different situations without having to buy more parts.

And other clients use a combination of a purchased exhibit and rental pieces, such as renting a branded charging table and furniture to go with their purchased exhibit.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of the rentals that TradeshowGuy Exhibits offers that can be customized depending on your needs.

First things first. Recently we’ve added some options to our Exhibit Design Search that shows you which exhibits can be either purchased or rented. Just browse any segment and look for the small checkmark and RENT icon in the upper left corner.

For example, this 10’ inline exhibit, the VK-1971, offers back lit fabric graphics. It also comes in 20’ versions.

VK-1971 10' inline rent or purchase
VK-1971 10′ inline rent or purchase

Moving up to a 20’ inline you’ll find the ECO-2012-C | EcoFly which is also available as a rental or an outright purchase. Tension fabric graphics, frosted accent wings, standoff counters and more.

ECO-2012-C EcoFLy
ECO-2012-C EcoFLy

Heading up a little more to a 20×20 island exhibit, the ECO-4022 | Hybrid S Island works as either a rental or purchase option. Big tension fabric graphics, literature racks, monitor mounts, and yes, that big high graphic blaring out your brand.

ECO-4022 Hybrid S Island
ECO-4022 Hybrid S Island

At number 4, our Gravitee “no tools no kidding” exhibit gives you that RE-2051 | Gravitee Inline. Large format tension fabric or direct print graphics. Full size closet and a simple spare look. And easy to set up and take down.

RE-2051 Gravitee Inline
RE-2051 Gravitee Inline

And since 10×20 rentals are very popular, let’s look at one more: the RE-2059 Hybrid Inline. Loads of great things in this for small gatherings: closet with locking door, reception counter, iPad clamshell, metal brochure holders, large tension fabric graphics and more.

RE-2059 Hybrid Inline
RE-2059 Hybrid Inline

It used to be that rental exhibits were not the kind you’d want to show off much, but just get one to save some money and make an appearance. No more. Rentals have really come into their own.

Everybody is Better Than You

Wait a minute – everyone is better than you? How does that work? After all, you’ve been to school, you’ve gotten years of hard-knocks experience and street skillz, right? So how does that make everybody better than you? Certainly, there are some people and companies that you’ve surpassed.

But maybe they are better. Better at marketing. Better at sales. Better at creating good products. Better at making and sustaining good relationships. Better at just about everything.

It could be that I’m kidding, just a bit. Not everybody is better than you. There are a lot of companies and people tha

Everybody is better than you

t have fewer skills and less experience.

But you’re not competing with the ones you are already better than everything at. You’re competing with the ones who are better than you. You’re already selling better than those competitors. You’re putting out better products. You’re building better relationships than those people who are not as adept as you at communicating.

No, you’re really competing with those who really ARE better than you. It may be that not too many companies or people are better than you. Or it may be that almost all other companies that you compete against are bigger and better. But those are the only ones that really matter. The only ones that you still have left to pursue. And of those, everybody is better than you.

The only ones you have left to compete against are the ones who are better than you. Aren’t those the ones you want to compete against? Of course they are. Those are the ones that bring out the best.

It’s like the championship series or game in sports. As a fan, you secretly love it when the other team’s star goes out with an injury. It gives you a better chance of winning. But if you win, you are not beating them at their peak. You’re beating them with their best player on the bench. But if you beat them when the best player is competing at his or her best, you’re really proving something to everyone.

So, don’t worry about all of those other companies that you’ve already surpassed. If they become better at what they do, then they’ll become fierce competitors and you can worry about them then. Right now, focus on everybody that is better than you. Those are the ones you’re trying to beat. And right now, everybody ahead of you is better than you.

6 Tradeshow Visitors You’ll Run into at the Next Tradeshow

As a confirmed people-watcher, I’m always curious about tradeshow visitors. Who are they? What are they doing there? What are their goals? What’s on their agenda? Where are they from? What’s their life story? What do they do after the show?

tradeshow visitors

Given the wide variety of people you’ll see at a tradeshow, I thought it might be fun to take a look at a handful of visitors you’ll no doubt run into at your next show, whether as an exhibitor or attendee.

The Salesperson: Okay, the old-school salesperson. Usually, a guy, because that’s the nature of the job. An old-school salesman will gladly introduce himself and within a few minutes, he’ll download a gigabyte or two of information into your ears whether you asked for it or not. He’s all about the features and benefits! And not so much about trying to be a good communicator. To him, being a good communicator is getting all of that information out before you flee.

The Trick-or-Treater: All about the freebies. Grab a bag, fill it up, repeat.

The Uncomfortable “Me” Individual: Since they aren’t comfortable being at a show talking about their products or services, they’ll often talk just about themselves. It’s their favorite subject and as such, it’s easy to go on and on. And on. And on.

The Sharer: These people live via their social media outlets. They’ll snap your photo and post it in an instant; they’ll follow your platforms, and they’ll add you on LinkedIn at the drop of a hat.

The Newbie: Nope, never been to a show. It’s all a blur to them. If they’re lucky, they’ll make it through the three or four days onsite without waking up with a hangover. Because, since they’re newbies, they think being at the show is an opportunity to partay!

The Spy: This person could be a combination of the Escape Artist and the Job Seeker. The main thing is, you won’t see them as much as sense their presence – on occasion. The Spy as Escape Artist takes the few days of the show or conference to grab some sight-seeing time; the Spy as Job Seeker is making the rounds at various exhibits keeping their ears open for job openings.

The Dealmaker: Whether they’re looking to make a good deal, a great deal, or a lousy deal, they seem determined to cut a deal with someone. Anyone. Just make sure they have something to take back to the office that shows they’re doing their job.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 13, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

One great thing about doing a weekly podcast with guests is that I meet a lot of people. This week it was a pleasure to meet and talk with Roger Courville, who helps learning leaders prepare to reach, teach and lead in the Connectorship Age.

It was a fun conversation about events and tradeshows, how to bring value to attendees and much more. Take a look:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the reggae-tinged band Noiseshaper. I’m not sure if the band still exists or is active, and the website looks to reflect that: the last update looks to be about 8 or 9 nears ago. But they left some great music behind.

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