Yes, there are a lot of books about tradeshows. In fact, I wrote two of them. Many – actually, most – are good investments. A candid, experienced author can walk any exhibitor through the briar patch of tradeshows, which can often ensnare the inexperienced exhibitor. Actually, tradeshows can ensnare the experienced exhibitor, too. It happens all the time. Just check out the Plan B column in the monthly Exhibitor Magazine, which is full of real tales of exhibitors having to MacGuyver their way through the crazy, deadline-heavy world of tradeshow exhibiting.
Mel White, the VP Marketing/Business Development at Classic Exhibits, has always been a prolific and entertaining writer. His blog posts enliven the pages at Classic Exhibits.com, and his insight into tradeshow marketing comes from years of experience. (Full disclosure: Mel was instrumental in going through both of my books with a fine tooth comb to make them much better than where they started, and encouraging me at every step).
And now Mel has released a book available as both a Kindle download and as paperback, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? A Humorous Guide to Effective Trade Show Marketing. Brilliantly illustrated by Meredith Lagerman, the book touches on a lot of the elements that make his blog posts entertaining and educational: zombies, Sasquatch, dumb stuff people do at tradeshows, why your booth staff kinda sucks and much more. And, of course it’s highly entertaining while making sure to impart great tips and tricks along the way.
As an introduction to tradeshow marketing, or as a refresher if you’ve been exhibiting for years, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? is a great addition to any marketing library. Highly recommended!
I spent 25+ years in radio, switched careers in 2002 to the exhibit industry and used my writing and broadcasting skills to learn more about the industry, and created a blog in 2008 called TradeshowGuyBlog.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
Knowing that having a book is a great way to differentiate yourself from other exhibit sales and marketing people, I finally made myself do it in 2014/2015. I did it again in 2018 by compiling dozens of list posts from my blog. I sell some copies, but generally I use them as giveaways to potential clients.
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 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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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 Book.com, 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:
Break the Ice – find a point to begin engagement
Create a Rapport – find a business reason to keep engaging
Qualify the Person Quickly – is this the right person for your business?
Tell Your Story – Qualified or not, everyone should know your story and be able to retell it
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.