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

How Precise are Metrics, Really?

Podcast promoters like to flaunt the number of downloads and listeners they have. The bigger the number the better, the more successful, right!

But what does the number of downloads really tell you? I have a podcast app on my phone. I subscribe to 20 or 30 or 40 podcasts. Actually, I don’t know how many I subscribe to because I rarely listen to any of them. There are two, maybe three podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis, and depending on my schedule, I may or may not get to every one of them. And if they’re longer than twenty minutes or so, my attention span wanes. Or if the discussion veers into some weird minutiae that no longer interests me, I’ll find something else to listen to. Or if I get to the end of my drive and turn off the podcast, when I get back in the car, I may no longer have any interest in hearing any more of it.

Yes, I realize that I may not be a normal podcast listener. I don’t listen at home, or in the office. Only in my car. Not when I’m working out or riding my bike. Doesn’t work for me. Might work for others.

All of which brings up the question: how accurate are those metrics, anyway?

I don’t have an answer. I have questions.

When someone visits your website, analytics can tell you a whole bunch of things how long they stayed, what pages they looked at, what page they came in on, and what page they left on. You can see trends in how many people visit the site day after day, week after week, and month after month. Trends are good, I think. Mostly.

But those analytics won’t tell you what the visitor really thinks. Maybe they bought something. Maybe they read something. Maybe they were interrupted by someone in their office and never read anything on the page even though the browser tab was left open for an hour.

On this blog and in my books, I’ve discussed important metrics to keep at tradeshows: number of visitors, leads, sales, and so on. And those are all important. But only to a point.

Metrics are just a part of the bigger picture, but I don’t think you can use them to know exactly what’s going on in your prospect’s or client’s mind.

For that, you must have a real conversation. Find out what they’re really thinking. Learn what questions are really on their mind. Ask what problems they are really facing. Find out how your products or services are really helping them – or how those solutions are coming up short.

It’s all-important stuff to improve your business and serve your customers better.

Metrics are important, but dig deeper and see what the numbers are really telling you, and what CAN they actually tell you? Like podcast downloads, the number can’t tell you how many people actually listened all the way through. And if they did tell you that, they can’t tell you how close the listener actually was paying attention.

Maybe we can start a podcast about all of that. Do you think anyone would listen?

50 Essential Tradeshow Tips in 50 Minutes or Less (video replay)

Not a bad way to kick off June! I sat down with Mel White of Classic Exhibits, along with a few dozen viewers, for a presentation on tradeshow tips for newbies and wannabes. He invited me as part of their ongoing “Fast and Furious” webinar series, and I was grateful to be asked and glad to join. We nicknamed the presentation ‘From Tradeshow Stupid to Tradeshow Smart in 50 Minutes,’ but whatever you want to call it, I jammed a lot of stuff into the presentation. Take a look – hope you get something out of it, and thanks to Classic Exhibits for inviting me!

Ken Newman LP Review: What Am I Afraid Of?

I think this is a first for this blog, which focuses (mostly) on tradeshow marketing: an album review. I’ve done book reviews, but the album review, of longtime tradeshow presenter Ken Newman’s new LP, makes perfect sense.

I’ve known Ken for over fifteen years, back when he tweeted out some kind words about me and I picked up the phone and introduced myself. Since then, we’ve been friends, albeit from a distance, but we have gotten together a few times over the years to hang out.

And we’re both big music fans, and both musicians. Ken told me about his plans to record and album of original songs several years ago, so I’ve been following his progress, which was somewhat upended by the pandemic. But it’s finally here!

“What Am I Afraid Of” is a collection of rock and ballads that is packed with great hooks, solid songwriting and performances, and is topically about as on-point as one can get here in the third decade of the 21st century.

Ken’s shared numerous reviews of his LP on his Facebook page, including Must Have Media’s take which calls it ‘rough, raw, and revealing’; and an interview of Ken on Musical Notes Global in the lead up to the release, in which Ken digs deep in to the making of the album.

Cover of “What Am I Afraid Of?” by Ken Newman

The opening track, “What Am I Afraid Of?” wastes no time kicking into high gear with a rollicking rock and roll beat and finishes off with some Tom Petty-like grunginess. From there into “Nothing to See Here,” about the common response people have to hard-to-handle events in the world.

Other standouts include a rock version of an earlier song “I Can’t Breathe,” which came out of the phrase that George Floyd said over twenty times as a Minneapolis police officer held him down, knee on his throat, and “We Should Do This Again,” about what it’s like being homeless in America. It was originally featured in the Blanket the Homeless collection that was released in 2019 and is also highly recommended.

The whole album is strong from start to finish, and Ken’s voice and playing capture a wide emotional range. Yes, Ken’s a good friend, but I highly recommend the album. It’s really good.


Ken’s been featured on my vlog/podcast TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee several times.

Find the album and more here: Ken Newman Music

Traditional Advertising Methods That Are Still Effective Today

This is a guest post by Emma Grace Brown.

Despite what many people think, offline advertising is not dead. Traditional marketing methods still have their place in the digital age! At the Tradeshow Guy Blog, we know that long-forgotten advertising strategies can be just as effective as their online counterparts, particularly for local businesses with a community presence. Used in combination with digital marketing strategies like email and social media, you can create a powerful marketing plan with the help of old-school advertising methods.

Phone Calls

Phone calls are great both for promoting your business and learning about your target audience. It’s important to understand what your customer wants before you spend good money on advertising and calling up members of your target audience is a great way to extract this information. Call up your customers—or cold call potential leads—and ask them what they think of your product or service. Their answers will help you determine the best approach for your marketing, including what content will resonate best and on which marketing channels you should focus your efforts.

Tradeshows and Events

Events are fantastic opportunities to promote your local business. For example, Retail Insider explains that you can use trade shows to raise brand awareness, educate your customers, and expand your sales channels. Trade shows are also great for keeping an eye on your competitors! There’s a good chance that your top competitors will attend the same trade shows as you, so take advantage of the opportunity to see what they’re doing and learn from them.

If you want to get the most out of each trade show, you must plan ahead. Reach out to industry experts and vendors who will be attending and schedule quick meetings with them during the show. Make it easy for potential customers to provide their contact information so you can get in touch after the show. You could even print a poster with a QR code linking interested guests to your website!

Flyers and Brochures

Printed flyers and brochures are another cost-effective traditional advertising strategy. Because brochures hold a lot of information, they’re great for educating people about your product or service and spreading awareness about your business. Brochures can also give your business a sense of credibility and authority. You don’t need to limit yourself to mailing lists—remember to hand out your brochures at events and trade shows as well!

Take advantage of digital tools to make your brochure design appear sharp and professional. For example, Canva is a popular tool for designing graphics for websites, social media, and print materials. And if you really want to give your brochure a professional edge, don’t hesitate to hire a graphic designer!

Billboards and Banners

According to HubSpot, billboard advertising can be a powerful way to build brand awareness. When you rent space on a billboard, you get to broadcast your business to as many people as possible. The best billboards tell a story, which can be tough with a single image and one or two lines of text. Consider hiring a professional copywriter to ensure your content is captivating and engaging!

Similar to billboards, banners are great for advertising your business at local events. Consider sponsoring an event, like a sports game, festival, or fair, and printing banners to promote your company. This is a great chance to showcase your logo and build awareness around your brand. Don’t overlook traditional advertising methods! When done right, offline advertising methods can be great for getting the word out about your business and directing interested consumers to your website. Look for ways to bridge your online and offline marketing strategies, boost your conversions, and grow your business!


Emma Grace Brown lives her life by her rules, and it works! When she’s not snuggling puppies, Emma promotes female empowerment through her website. Her mission is to help those who live with self-doubt to realize they don’t have to mold themselves to conventionality.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 21, 2022: Dave Brown

Coming off a busy and successful week in Anaheim for the Natural Products Expo West, it’s the perfect time to get back into the podcast/vlog game.

Former TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee guest Dave Brown is now with Tive, a company that tracks shipments in real-time. That technology is now being applied to tradeshow shipments, which as you can probably imagine can offer great utility to tradeshow exhibitors and logistics managers.

Take a look:

Check out Tive.com.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Station Eleven, both the book and the TV series. Good stuff.

Natural Products Expo West 2022 Re-Cap

The thing I was most curious about while walking the floors and halls of Natural Products Expo West 2022 earlier this month in March was this: how many exhibitors and attendees showed up?

It was a question that kept coming up as I would turn the corner at the rear of one of the halls and instead of seeing rows and rows of small exhibits against the wall, I saw lots of empty space. Throughout the hall, instead of large island exhibits everywhere, you’d occasionally see a gathering spot with tables and chairs instead of a large island.

Which got me thinking about the final totals. On day one, I figured attendance for both exhibitors and attendees would be around 85%. On day two, after seeing more empty space, I revised that downward to about 80%.

On Monday, New Hope Network released numbers: over 57,000 registered attendees and over 2,700 exhibitors. Based on numbers in 2019 (which I’m dredging up from memory, but still, they’re close), which showed attendees at about 80,000 and exhibitors at about 3,400, the numbers this year showed a significant decline. Attendees were about 71% of 2019, and exhibitors came in at about the 79% level.

So, yeah, respectable. And people I spoke with, both exhibitors and attendees, found it a worthwhile show. Days One and Two were the best (no surprise), with all of the exhibitors I spoke with saying they’d had good conversations with a LOT of people. Day Three, of course, is more of a rush not only through the shortened day, but once two or three o’clock rolls around, a rush to the door.

A few observations:

There was a masking requirement in effect. Almost no one observed it. Maybe one in twenty. Given the pre-show health check confirming vaccinations or proof of negative tests, and the declining cases throughout the country, and of course, COVID fatigue, it didn’t surprise me that masks were mostly a no-show. Besides, with nearly 60,000 attendees, how do you actually enforce something like that?

But: QR Codes are back! If you search this blog for QR Codes, you’ll find an assortment of posts, ranging from how to use QR Codes at tradeshows, to posts questioning their validity anymore. But this year, QR Codes were back in full force. By the hundreds. I spoke with a number of people about it, and most either suggested, or agreed with the notion that one reason they’re so prevalent is that phones no longer need code-scanning apps. The ability to scan codes is built-in to the camera software. I lost count at over a hundred QR Codes.

Big Names Missing. Again, no real surprise that some brands chose to skip this year’s show. I tweeted about a handful of them that were missing: Kashi, Kettle Foods, Enjoy Life, Clif Bar, and Silk, all of which have previously appeared numerous times with large island booths. Not this year. I’m sure a few slipped my mind.

TradeshowGuy Exhibits’ client list also was reduced, but it was the busiest year I’ve ever had at the show. I spent a total of 9+ days at the show, supervising the installation and dismantling of two long-time clients, Bob’s Red Mill (30×40) and Mountain Rose Herbs (20×30). The Bob’s Red Mill exhibit is the iconic mill-like structure that captures their brand to a T. It’s been around since 2013. Mountain Rose Herbs, which hasn’t been at the show for nearly a decade, returned with a 20×30 new design focused on promoting new lines of essential oils and teas, and much more. The two main pieces of the exhibit are a 13’ tower/conference room and a 10’ tall display unit that was filled with herbs in a stratified style onsite prior to the show. It wowed. Great to work with both clients. We also had other clients at the show, including Greater Knead and Wildbrine, but like many exhibitors, some of our clients chose to sit this one out.

A few final words. I always approach Natural Products Expo West with both anticipation and a little dread. It’s a big show and can be stressful. But it’s always worth it. It was great to get back to seeing people in person, saying hello to people I’ve met over the years, and meeting new people.

And hey, there was even that celebrity siting! Jason Momoa popped in the North Halls for a short time and I managed to get his picture. He’s tall.

Shifting Sands

You’ve been there. Walking along on a solid path, maybe near a beach or in the forest. Suddenly, the ground shifts beneath your feet. What you thought was solid ground turns out to be rickety and unstable. Either you do a quick balance readjustment, or you stumble. Maybe you’ll even fall.

Two years into the pandemic (okay, we’re into the third year by now, but who’s counting, right?), and all of us are experiencing shifting ground beneath our feet to some extent. Labor shortages. Shipping price hikes and extended shipping times. Exhibit builders working to create stopgap products (hand sanitizer stands, plexiglass barriers, whatever) to keep people working.

Doing what I do best 🙂

We all tried a lot of things.

For the longest time, I kept cranking away at this blog. For a dozen years, starting in late 2008, I’ve posted here regularly, sometimes once a day, usually two or three times a week. In the beginning, there was a podcast that showed up on the blog, but it eventually faded. Starting in 2015 I began doing monthly live webinars (they’re archived here and there are a bunch of good interviews and topics). Then I morphed to doing weekly Monday morning live interviews, but that became a bit unwieldy without an actual producer who could book guests and get everything lined up. So, it went to a weekly interview/check-in. It was a great challenge, and I enjoyed it. Certainly, I learned a lot from the people I interviewed, whether it was old friends/colleagues in the biz, or new people that somehow connected with me. Good stuff.

But in mid-summer 2021, I started to run out of gas. My energies shifted. My weekly interviews become bi-weekly, as did the newsletter. My creative energies were focused elsewhere (I’ve written first, second, and sometimes third drafts of five novels and I’m working on one of them to get it to the point where there’s a good chance a publisher might pick it up – fingers crossed).

Like many exhibit companies, we work with a small group of loyal clients. Some of them have decided to sit out 2021 and 2022. Others are going full speed ahead – we’re even working on a new custom 20×30 for one long-time client that’ll make its debut in March in Anaheim. As a business, TradeshowGuy Exhibits is having a good start to the year.

How important has blogging been to that success? The answer is all over the board. I can specifically point to a handful of projects in 2015 and 2016 that came as a direct result of clients finding the blog online and reaching out to me. But it’s not like pushing a button. You can’t publish a post and expect it to have any results. The readership of the blog was a little higher six or seven years ago, but it’s still consistent regardless of how often I post. Could it be better? Sure. Could it be worse? Of course.

Now, of course, if you were to check the dates of the last few posts, you’ll see that I haven’t posted anything here since November of last year. Every time I start to plan a post, I think, I’ve done that before. With around 1200 posts over a dozen years, yeah, I’ve covered a lot of tradeshow-related topics, most of them aimed at tradeshow managers for small to medium-sized companies. And I hate to repeat myself, although it’s not hard to take a topic and approach it from a different angle.

All this to say that this blog, while not on official hiatus, is certainly backing off from regular posts. The newsletter is also on a semi-unpredictable schedule. My work energy is focused on making sure clients are happy and taken care of. Creative energy is going into writing fiction and playing more music (I’m a drummer and guitarist).

Having said that, guest articles are always welcome (guidelines here). And if you know someone, or are someone, that would make a good guest for the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Podcast, be sure to reach out.

And best wishes for 2022!

Can Limitations Help Your Creativity?

Unlimited choices. Seems like having the pick of anything we want would make things easier, right? For example, I have a subscription to Apple Music. Yeah, it could be Pandora or Spotify or any of the music streaming services. But with a streaming subscription, you have instant access to millions – literally millions – of choices when it comes to what songs or artists or albums to listen to.

Yet often I find myself stumped, not knowing what I should listen to. So I go back to my own library, which has only 50,000 or so tracks. Much easier to find something.

But too many choices? Yeah, doesn’t always work. Yeah, when I hear about the new album from Coldplay or Jackson Browne, I can easily jump over and listen.

The less choice you have, the more you must use those constraints to your benefit. I think the same thing applies to the scope of your tradeshow exhibit project.

Sure, you may love to have a large island, 20 x 30 or even larger. Just think of the things you can do with such a large space! But if you have only half or less of that space, it forces you to consider every square foot. And as a result, you can still come up with some very creative tradeshow exhibits.

Want eco-friendly? Use cardboard tubing, bamboo wood, or actual live plant enhancements as part of your design.

Need a table but want it to still be an eye-catcher? Try a custom branded, LED-highlighted odd-shaped table.

A custom LED-highlighted table takes up little space but catches eyes.

Need to save on cost and still have a nice-looking booth? I’ve seen several booths that use the shipping cases as building blocks for counters and back walls.

Looking for a way to draw attention to your small booth presentations? Hire a dynamic and charismatic presenter that’s experienced in drawing small but enthusiastic crowds.

Creativity isn’t limited to large canvases. You can get creative in countless ways. Just pull out your thinking cap and collaborate with others.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 8, 2021: Ken Newman

Ken Newman of Magnet Productions is a long-time colleague and industry friend. He’s appeared on the show several times, but since it was his first time at ExhibitorLive I was curious to get his take on it. As usual, he was glad to chime in and didn’t pull any punches.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING. Paul McCartney’s new book, The Lyrics.

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

Call 800-654-6946 for Prompt Service
Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected <br />
QA4E-AZFW-VWIR-5NYJ