No doubt there are over a million tradeshow blogs dedicated to just the single topic of tradeshow marketing, wouldn’t you say? More? Less? No matter how you add them up, it seems like a lot. And now and then I peruse the Google machine to see what new listings show up. Not to brag, but what’s interesting to me is that this blog – the TradeshowGuyBlog – shows up on a few of these lists. Nice! Let’s review:
10 Tradeshow Blogs You Need to Read is from Exponet, and for some reason I made the top listing. Hey, the guy even acts as if he knows me. Published last month, he even mentions the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast/vlog, so you know he’s on top of it! TSNN and Exhibitor also made the cut on this list.
What is the state of the TradeshowGuy Blog in 2017?
This blog started in December of 2008 with a podcast interview with Magic Seth. Since then, there have been 600+ posts that discuss and explore the tradeshow world and what it takes to succeed as a tradeshow marketer. The aim has always been to give useful information to small and medium-sized business tradeshow managers. In many ways, it’s succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. In some ways, I feel there’s much more work to do.
I started the blog when I was VP of Sales and Marketing for Interpretive Exhibits in Salem, Oregon. I picked the name TradeshowGuy mostly at random, but it wasn’t without some spurring by an old radio colleague who, when asking about my new job, I said I was no longer a radio guy, I was a tradeshow guy.
“Tradeshow Guy!” he exclaimed. So for lack of anything better, I named the blog TradeshowGuy Blog and it’s stuck. Hell, it’s copyrighted now and my company is named TradeshowGuy Exhibits, so it must have been a good pick.
Over the years I’ve followed some of the metrics associated with the blog, but I can’t say I obsess on them. In about the fourth or fifth year of the blog, shortly after I started tracking traffic using Google Analytics, I discovered there were about 3000 visitors a month. Not a ton, but certainly nothing to sneeze at. That was when I was posting as often as I could manage something substantial. Two or three years later I was too busy to post much and I noticed that traffic had dropped to about a tenth of than, around 300 a month.
Since then I’ve endeavored to post 2 – 3 times a week. Something. Anything: photo albums, tips, lists, videos, you name it. Traffic is now at its highest. According to Sitelock, human visitors add up to over 6000 visitors a month – about 210 a day over the past three months.
Buuuuut, when you look at Google Analytics, it shows 938 page views in 716 sessions with 632 users in the past month.
So who to believe?
Sitelock tracks both human and bot traffic and separates them out. Bot traffic is usually 10 – 15 times more than human traffic.
Any way you look at it, traffic is there and it’s consistent.
According to Google, 63% of visitors are there from organic search, and 26% comes from direct links (such as a newsletter). 8% comes from social media links.
I could ramble on and on about what it takes to come up with content for the blog for hours. In fact, I have taught courses about blogging, and done webinars about blogging and creating content. But that doesn’t make it easier. In fact, I don’t even know if I have a process. But I do have a goal: create at least 2 – 3 posts per week. If I do that, I know that traffic comes and people find me more often.
Content can come in many forms. Articles, video posts, podcasts, photographs, lists, guest articles, web travels and so much more. I still get a kick out of creating a great posts and clicking ‘publish.’
And I know it works. Our company TradeshowGuy Exhibits, see business as a direct result of people finding the blog and reaching out to make contact because they have questions about tradeshow marketing. Last year, in fact, over half of the business we did in dollars came as a direct result of people finding us online and either sending an email or filling out a quote request form. The year before, I know we acquired at least three clients as a direct result of the blog – so I know it gets attention in the tradeshow marketing industry space. But there’s no direct push-button response. There’s no way to predict these things! I can’t write eighteen blog posts and put up three videos to get a client. It just doesn’t work that way – if only it did! But when I started the blog eight years ago, I figured it couldn’t hurt. But as I said, it’s not predictable, so I don’t count on it – it’s just an additional benefit. I still do sales calls, attend tradeshows, network and prospect as any good sales person should.
Blogs are not the platform that they were six or eight years ago. Popular blogs back then got a lot of comments. Now most comments end up on Facebook and comments on blogs, even really popular ones, tend to be much less than just a few years ago. Facebook is the giant gorilla in the online space, and yes, you can find our TradeshowGuy Blog page here on Facebook, where all of the posts show up.
And finally, it’s worth mentioning that I’m ramping up my online visibility with the TradeshowGuy Webinars training portion. For all of 2016 I did a webinar a month, usually with a guest but sometimes not (you can find them here), and as the year wound down I decided to change it up a bit. I still use the WebinarJam/Google Hangout platform which seems to work relatively bugfree, but instead of monthly webinars, I’m doing live weekly Monday Morning Coffee gatherings and posting the video shortly thereafter on the blog. I’ve thought that I should probably podcast the audio as well, but as of today that hasn’t happened yet. I’m still trying to convince myself that the extra step is worthwhile!
If you’re tasked with creating blog content, you know the challenge you’re facing. A blog has a never-ending appetite for content, whether it’s the written word, audio, photos or video.
Guess what? Your next tradeshow appearance can give you weeks if not months worth of material!
To do so, though, you’re got to be prepared. If you’re involved in the blog in any way, shape or form, you likely already have your ears perked up for content ideas. But at a tradeshow it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and forget to actually make any notes until the show is over. So the first thing to do is to keep a notepad handy. Or whatever device you use to make notes. Could be your smartphone: just open up the audio recorder, make a few comments, put a label and that’s it.
You can get blog post ideas from prospects, visitors and your competition. Ask questions about problems they’re looking to solve and challenges they’re facing. Ask what specific industry they’re in and jot it down. Ask what the hot items are in your visitor’s world. Note what your competition is promoting and what they’re leaving behind that surprises you. Talk to industry leaders if you can find them, ask about products and services that their customers are asking about, and ask about what problems they also face in serving their clients.
Take photos and videos. If you have a client in your booth, ask them to sit down for a 60-second testimonial and ask what they like about your product. Take photos of booth staffers, managers and visitors (make sure you get names of visitors), and post them on your blog and on social media.
Ask your staffers what they learned – what their takeaways were at the end of the show. Ask what worked, what didn’t.
A tradeshow has oodles of ideas for content. All you have to do it be aware, make notes, record bits and pieces with your camera and write it up back at the hotel as well as when you get back to the office. You’ll have content ideas for weeks or months to come!
It must be because I was a rock-and-roller from about the age of eight. Or maybe it was the first time I sat down at a drumset when I was 11 and knew I had to have one of my own. Or maybe it was when I finally figured out at the age of 16 what a bar chord on a guitar was, and how I could move it up and down the neck of the guitar for different chords.
Or maybe it’s just because I gotta have music in my life as much as possible. I listen all day long, and grab my guitar to work on chord progressions, play an old favorite or sit down at the drums often to bash out something.
So you can imagine as my iTunes library’s some 47,412 selections (and counting) is set on shuffle day after day, I hear a lot of music. And that music inspires me in interesting directions.
Like the song I’m listening to now called “The Endless Night” by Return to Forever. I put “tradeshow endless night blog post” the Google box and on the first page was a link to “Ten Very Cool Examples of Experiential Marketing” by David Moth at Ecocunsultancy. Now that’s some inspiration!
Next comes “Red Rain” by Peter Gabriel. Let’s see what happens when I search for “tradeshow blog red rain.” Up came “Running a Live Lab at a Tradeshow” by Redgate on their blog. What an inspired idea for a tradeshow!
Next: “Hidden Treasure” by Traffic. A search for “hidden treasure tradeshow blog” gave me “The 4 Most Annoying Hidden Tradeshow Costs”on the Expo Marketing blog. Hey, saving money on shipping, drayage, deadlines and labor is definitely inspiring!
How about one more? One of my favorite Sixties bands, The Troggs, came along on my computer and played “Girl in Black.” So when I searched for “tradeshow blog girl in black,” on page one was an article from Classic Exhibits’ blog titled “What Not to Wear at a Tradeshow,” which is definitely a good read.
Now that you’re found out the wide diversity of music that inspires me, I want to know – what inspires you?
Over the years I’ve done a number of webinars, some for myself and some because other entities have asked me to do so. I’ve thought for the last year or so that I wanted to start doing them regularly, so I’ve committed to a schedule of at least one webinar a month for 2016.
I’ll be using the WebinarJam platform. I checked out a number of platforms, compared costs and related tools, and think it’s a good match for what I would like to do. I’ve also joined Webinara, which is a webinar promotion platform, so we’ll see what happens with that affiliation. Webinara, if you aren’t familiar with them, is a Norway-based company that looks to spread the word about webinars across many different markets. Again, we’ll see what happens with that!
January 20 Webinar: Your Tradeshow Marketing Questions Answered
As for the first webinar, it’s set for January 20, 2016 at 10 am Pacific. I’m going to do a Q&A on tradeshow marketing. So if you have a question, make sure you register for the webinar. It could run ten minutes, it could run 90! I don’t know. We’ll see how many people submit questions or join us online. It should be fun, and in any event, the WebinarJam platform records the webinar automatically and makes it available on my YouTube channel.
Here are the details:
Title: Your Tradeshow Marketing Questions Answered
Date: January 20, 2016
Time: 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mountain, 12 noon Central, 1 pm Eastern
Among all of the various promotion tools at your disposal, one of the best branding and outreach tools is a personal or company blog. I admit that this blog has brought me business and gotten me speaking gigs, so as much work as I put into it, I think it’s worth the time.
So the question is: are you blogging? If not, why not? If you are, what are you blogging about?
Here’s a collection of short videos I put together recently on how blogging might be best approached. The whole collection of five videos come to almost an hour of training, so if you can’t watch them now, bookmark this page!
Blogging 101: WHY You Should Consider Blogging
Blogging 101: Naming your blog and more
Blogging 101: Creating Great Posts
Blogging 101: Nuts and Bolts of WordPress (and other platforms)
The most common trap bloggers and social media content publishers fall into is the old ‘tell everybody everything’ trap. This misleading line of thinking leads them to publish blog posts that are self-centered and of little use to their intended audience. The kind of content I’m referring to could be press releases about company awards, self-congratulatory ‘look how cool we are’ posts and items that have no intent behind them to assist their readership in any way, shape or form.
At this point your blog or Facebook page becomes nearly unreadable and useless, except as an example of what NOT to do.
Easy: identify and solve problems. If you haven’t already identified several issues that your product or service helps alleviate, use your Facebook page to ask questions, take surveys and keep your ear to the ground for those problems.
By solving problems – even if those problems don’t directly relate to your product or service – you’re positioning your company in a leadership role in the minds of those readers.
Beyond solving problems, move out in front of the pack by offering lead-edge thoughts on what’s going on in your industry. Anything that you can think of that’s worth sharing is worth publishing somewhere. Create videos, write blog posts, engage your readership online in as many ways as possible. Even short one-thought bursts such as those that Seth Godin comes up with may be useful to your readership.
You may recall the 1971 David Bowie song “Changes.” While it was often seen as a ‘manifesto for his chameleonic personality’ (Wikipedia), it’s not much of a stretch to say that the song applies to virtually everything in life. We live in a world full of changes, and when it comes to following the bouncing ball that is social media, we often get lost trying to keep up with the fast-paced world.
So where should you look in your attempts to follow changes? I’d love to say that this blog follows changes, but as a one-man band that’s a difficult, if not impossible task. However, there are a number of social media-related blogs and websites that I follow that do a great job. Some have dozens (or hundreds) of contributors that follow a wide variety of social media and web-related activity.
The challenge is winnowing the information down to what’s important to YOU. That’s not the easiest thing, and while I consume a lot of information, it’s difficult to read only the blog posts and articles that directly affect me. And in fact, I’m not sure that we should limit our intake to specific topics, because often a related topic or item can later become important.
So let’s look at a handful sites that have proven to be useful in tracking changes and keeping readers up-to-date.
Mashable: to me this is more of a tech-related site, but they do a darn fine job of tracking news and changes in all related spheres, from business and tech to lifestyle and fun watercooler topics, including a lot of social media. It started out on a much smaller scale, but as it’s popularity and readership rise, its horizons have expanded. They have smartphone apps and of course RSS feeds which make it easy to follow.
Social Media Examiner: Much more focused on social media that Mashable, the Social Media Examiner is often my first stop when I want to research any social media-related topic. Founded by Michael Stelzner a few years ago, the SME is the best at following trends and giving you countless how-to’s along the way.
Social Media Today: covering social media from blogging to tweeting and all points in between, Social Media Today casts a wide net.
Soshableis not high on my list, but the few times I’ve landed there I’ve come away impressed. Lots of good articles and a ton of tech and social media-related infographics make this very interesting reading.
Scott Monty: he’s the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company and knows his stuff. Scott is a fun read and you’ll always pick up some good information and tips when you land here.
Peter Shankman, the founder of Help Out a Reporter, is a globe-trotting writer, speaker and author. If you want cutting edge, read his blog.
Finally, this round-up from Hubspot is worth a look. There’s a list of 36 ‘don’t-miss’ social media blogs that they claim you should check out. I haven’t checked them all out, but cursory look at a handful of them shows that you can’t go wrong here.