Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Book Review

Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies Are ON THE WAY!

The release date of May 1, 2018 has been set for my new book, Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies: 66 Lists Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Marketing. The print proof copy just came in and it looks great, and heck, I can’t even find any major errors in it! Thanks to all who helped, from Jesse Stark who did the illustrations, to Mel White at Classic Exhibits (and his wife Mary) who went through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, to the great team at CreateSpace who are always on top of their game and to all else who lent support and good words (Ken, Andy and Anders, I’m thinking of you! And Roger too!).

So what’s in the book?

Lists. A lot of them. 66 lists, in fact. Corralled in chapters such as Budgeting, Buying an Exhibit, Preshow Marketing, Postshow Follow Up and more, it’s a compilation of a lot of the lists that have appeared on this very blog since 2008. Not all of them, though. Some were outdated. Most have been revised and updated. The people I’ve shared the manuscript with have told me that it’s a fun and quick read, with lots of different topics and lists that can be digested deeply, or skimmed to pick up a tip or two or three.

I’ll be creating a Thunderclap promotion to release on May 1, so watch your social media outlets for that. And if you subscribe to my Tradeshow Superheroes book update list or the TradeshowGuy Newsletter, you’ll learn how to get involved in that little thing.

All in all, I’m excited! Damn! A new book!

Now I get to start figuring out what the next one should be…


Books I’ve Recently Read

I grew up a reader. No TV, living in the mountains far away from friends. Which means that I soaked up rock and roll records, comic books, and science fiction.

In this day and age, it’s harder but not impossible to find time to read. I only wish it was more! I thought it might be fun to mention several books that I’ve made my way through (or most of the way) in the past eight to twelve months.

Books I've recently Read

Carl Hiaason: The Downhill Lie. I’m a hack golfer. This is a hilarious book. What else would you expect from the longtime Miami Herald columnist and author of Striptease, Chomp, Sick Puppy and Bad Monkey?

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series: Once I discovered these, I wanted to start at the beginning. With some twenty-two novels out featuring Reacher, it’ll take a while to make it through. But Reacher is a terrific character. A new version of the first book in the series explained how he came up with the name and the character, which set the tone for the whole series.  I have yet to see any of the Jack Reacher movies. But here’s the thing: in the book, Reacher is 6’ 5” and about 220 lbs. In the movies, he’s played by Tom Cruise, who’s 5’7” and 170 lbs. Not sure how that works!

Ricardo Semler: Maverick. I found Ricardo’s story through a lengthy interview on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. Fascinating story about reinventing a company. As Wikipedia puts it: “The book relates the management succession and increasingly unorthodox ethos of Semco, which grew to become one of Brazil’s largest conglomerates.”

Robert Hilburn: Corn Flakes With John Lennon. Hilburn was a longtime music critic with the Los Angeles Times (1975 – 2005). The book is a memoir, packed with stories that old rockers like us really appreciate. A fun and fast read.

Katy Tur: Unbelievable: My Front Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History. Another memoir, in a sense, that starts with Katy being asked to cover some Trump rallies for NBC and ends up on one of the more bizarre presidential campaigns the US has ever seen. As a long-time radio guy, journalist and media employee, it’s fascinating to see a lot of her thoughts on what it takes to get read to be on camera frequently. Well-written and worth a read, no matter your political stripes. And yes, a lot of it is hard to believe.

Michael Connelly: The Black Ice. Harry Bosch, the LA homicide detective, makes his first appearance in The Black Echo (1992), quickly followed by The Black Ice (1993). The character, played to a T by Titus Welliver, is now an Amazon series. Over twenty books in this series and I’m planning to alternate between Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch for fiction for the foreseeable future!.

Timothy Ferris: Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans. These books are not the kind that you could or would even want to sit down and read straight through. Instead, thumb through them, make notes on the pages or tag ideas using sticky notes. Both are treasure-troves of ideas, thought-starters and concrete actionable methods and tools.

Antonio Gerrido: Asking Questions. This is a Sandler Sales System book that is helpful to, well, sales people. Frankly, I’m less than half way through this but mention it because it’s been very helpful up to this point. Asking the right questions for the right reasons at the right time gives any sales person a big edge.

Roger Steffens: So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley. Roger is a friend of mine, and I knew this book was coming several months before it hit the shelves. As a longtime Marley fan, this is the best book that tells the story from people who knew Bob. Terrific book through and through.

Steve Miller: Uncopyable: How to Create and Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition. Steve was a guest on my podcast recently and he was kind enough to send me a copy of his book. Easy and quick to read, but damn is it packed with a ton of good ideas. Get a copy.

Charles Pappas: Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs, and Robot Overlords. A very deep dive into the fascinating world of the history of large expositions, world fairs, and tradeshows. Virtually everything to eat, drink, drive or wear was introduced at a tradeshow or fair. Another podcast guest.

Dan Paulson: Apples to Apples: How to Stand Out from Your Competition. Dan was a guest of my podcast last year, and his book examines the reasons that make your company get to exponential growth. Another fun, useful and fairly quick read.

Nancy MacLean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Yes, it’s totally political. Yes, it’s a damn good read. Yes, it was hard to read because there was so much to absorb. Must have taken me several months to finally make it through. Regardless of your politics, I’d recommend taking a look. It’s also one of the most highly-researched books I’ve ever read.

What are you reading these days?


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, January 15, 2018: Steve Miller

Author, keynote speaker and event expert Steve Miller joins TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson to talk about his new book “Uncopyable,” and to discuss the event industry.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: the movie Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, January 8, 2018: Charles Pappas

Welcome to a new year – so glad you found us online! This week’s interview on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee features the author of a new book called “Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs and Robot Overlords.” Charles Pappas, a senior writer at Exhibitor Magazine, was kind enough to sit down with me and discuss this unique historical look at expos, exhibitions and tradeshows:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The new Beck album, Colors.


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Jan 16, 2017 [video replay]

On this TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I discuss the various tools I use to keep the business humming. Email marketing, CRM, devices, etc.

Today’s GOOD THING: Timothy Ferriss’s new book “Tools of Titans.”


Exhibitor Magazine Features Tradeshow Success Book

Some Mondays are definitely better than others. After a long bike ride this afternoon, I came back to the office to an email alerting me to the finally-published interview I did earlier this year with Exhibitor Magazine. I’m told that it’ll appear in the November print version as well.


Writing a book ain’t easy. This one took me a full year, and that was after at least two or three years of false starts. But as of this month, Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level has been out a year. And as you might imagine, one of the challenges after you publish is to promote it. During my run-up to the publishing date, I reached out to several authors to get their ideas on how to promote a book, and one of the suggestions was to ‘promote it for as long as it took you to write it.’ So yes, I’m still promoting it!

As for the article, it’s nice to see, I admit. It’s longer than I thought, with much more to the interview than I recall. And that custom illustration – hey, thanks to Exhibitor Magazine for getting Nigel Buchanan to put it together – pretty cool!

Check out the full article here – and look for it in the upcoming issue of Exhibitor Magazine!


IBM’s WATSON: “You are heartfelt, and somewhat insensitive…”

One of my favorite weekly newsletters arrives every Monday morning. It’s called the Monday Morning Memo. Clever! Roy H. Williams of Austin, Texas, the Wizard of Ads, sends out an informative and entertaining missive every week that grabs my attention and makes me think. If only all writers could do that.

This past week he told the story of submitting several writing samples to have IBM’s Watson computer analyze them. He was noting that no matter what writing samples he submitted, the analysis was very similar. Conclusion? It’s pretty accurate.

Here’s what Watson had to say about the manuscript of Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level:

You are heartfelt and somewhat insensitive. You are calm under pressure… (click the image to see it a bit larger).

IBM Watson Tradeshow Success Analysis

Upload your own writing sample here.


Book Look: Three Feet From Seven Figures

David Spark’s new book, “Three Feet From Seven Figures,” takes a look at the interaction between show visitors and booth staff, and takes the position that it’s the most critical element of successful tradeshow marketing.


Hard to argue with that view.

Going through his free sample at Three Feet, it’s easy to see why he feels that way. You also get a quick glance at his potential solutions. For instance, David outlines a 7-step process to create the most positive qualified engagements:

  1. Break the Ice – find a point to begin engagement
  2. Create a Rapport – find a business reason to keep engaging
  3. Qualify the Person Quickly – is this the right person for your business?
  4. Tell Your Story – Qualified or not, everyone should know your story and be able to retell it
  5. Go grab the free sample for 5, 6 and 7…you’ll be glad you did!

As he puts it, “we put too much reliance on everything but the people.” Yes, you can have a great booth, but people don’t stop to talk to a great booth. It’s just a framework for the people inhabiting the booth and representing the company. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that just because all of the booth elements are terrific that you’re going to have a successful show.

Good luck on the book, David!

David runs Spark Media Solutions, a brand journalism firm in the San Francisco area.


14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level: The Video Series

As part of the promotion of my new book Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level, I assembled 14 videos. Each short video focused on a specific step as detailed in the book. If you hang out on Twitter or LinkedIn and follow me, you may have seen them. They’re quick and descriptive, and are good introduction to the book. Here’s the playlist of all of the videos:


Tradeshow Marketing Book Update

I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter in the last several months about my book-in-progress, including at one point running a Survey Monkey poll asking people to chime in on possible titles. Thought it might be fun to post an update on where the book is and when it might be released.


After working steadily since Fall 2014, the manuscript is virtually done. It’s been edited, cleaned up, spiffed up and it feels like it’s well-organized and flows pretty damn well! I’ve been working with, among others, editors at CreateSpace who, once they see the most recent version, will move into formatting the book. Then we’ll insert the title pages, index (with accurate page reference notes – one of the last things to be completed), upload the cover and send it to press (update 7.28.15: manuscript is now in the formatting stage).

This is without a doubt the biggest writing project I’ve done. Or at least seen this far through. There was that movie script ten years ago. And at least three unfinished books that are still sitting around. But this is important to me. Not only to finish it and get it out there, but to spread it around. I think it’s good. I’m involved in every aspect, from sourcing the illustrator for the inside drawings, to mocking up the cover (although the final cover will be done by someone who knows what they’re really doing), to putting marketing material together (again, getting some help here!).

So what will it be called? We (my helpers and I) have gone through at least a dozen or more potential titles, trying to land on the one short and sweet and ultimately pointedly descriptive title that tells potential viewers at a glance exactly what it’s about.

It’ll be called “Deconstructing Tradeshows: 14 Steps to Tradeshow Mastery.” It’ll show the 14 steps, from organization, budgeting, booth design, booth staff training, in-booth professional presenters and more, that I feel an exhibitor needs in this day and age to succeed – really succeed at tradeshow marketing.

The book grew out of my frustration at seeing exhibitor after exhibitor spend thousands of dollars on really nice exhibits but come away from the show wondering why they didn’t bring home more leads or connect with more people. Turns out that they really were missing many of the critical steps that successful exhibitors don’t miss.

Even though it would be fun, I can’t consult with everyone. So writing the book was my way of sharing all of this important stuff I’ve learned in nearly 15 years in the industry.

When? How about September? If not September, perhaps October. In any event, it’s getting closer. Want to be notified when it comes out so you can latch on to your own copy? Just subscribe to my newsletter by filling in the form here.

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