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.
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.
When it comes to promotion products, you gotta know what you’re doing or it could end up costing you a lot. Not only in terms of money, but in terms of brand damage. Or maybe brain damage, if you waste money AND do damage to your brand by giving away cheap, breakable SWAG.
Heidi Thorne aims to change all of that with her new book SWAG: How to Choose and Use Promotional Products for Marketing Your Business. (disclosure: Heidi is a tradeshow marketing online friend of mine and she offered me a review copy of the book for free).
It’s a brisk read – I went through it within an hour on a recent plan flight from Portland to Houston – and put together this review! And it’s packed full of useful, common-sense information designed to help anyone that’s intending to come up with the ‘perfect’ promotional item to give away.
Heidi covers more about finding and choosing promotional products than I knew existed. She goes into green products, sourcing of products, the shelf life of promo products, how to avoid promotional products PR disasters, how to handle holidays and much more.
Chapters are short and it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s no fluff – this is all good, useful and actionable information.
Erik and Kyle show how to use today’s social media platforms to attract new business and job opportunities you’ll never find any other way. Erik discusses some of the common mistakes people make in using social media, how to get job leads and projects through friends and followers and much more.
I’m halfway through a little book called ‘Branding Basics for Small Businesses’ by Maria Ross, which is full of helpful information, and while reading the book, it occurred to me that there is no better place to showcase your brand than at a tradeshow.
Virtually everything about your company comes into play: image, interaction with the public, products, sales team…it’s all there.
And when you think about branding, don’t mistakenly believe that your brand is just your products and services and your logo. Or your advertising.
Everything about your company transmits and broadcasts your brand.
In the book, Maria gave a great example of how a brand is shouted out by the small interactions.
“My husband and I want to love and support a local bookstore in our neighborhood. Based on location, name and visual identity, the store offers a warm, personal book-buying experience unlike the big box bookstores. Unfortunately, my husband was turned off by an incident that didn’t seem important at the time. One day when we entered the store, someone behind us left the door open as we walked in and they walked out. The clerk glanced up, saw the open door, and headed over in a huff to close it. Her body language told us she was miffed and assumed we left the door open. She nearly pushed us out of the way in her haste to make a point and shut the door.”
As she continues, because one clerk didn’t live up to the promise of the store’s brand, her husband is left with a negative impression of the business – and doesn’t feel like going back.
This little eye-opener should help you focus on the little things: is your staff always smiling and helpful? Do you have enough free samples if you’re offering them? Is the floor of your booth as clean as possible? Do you have staff purses, coats and other personal items stacked haphazardly in plain view of visitors?
Any little thing that’s ‘off’ can create a negative impression. And that negativity echoes through a visitor’s mind long after the show is over.
It’s your company. It’s your brand. Everything from your logo to how you answer the phone to how you interact with people at a tradeshow must be derived from how you would like people to perceive your brand.
At your next tradeshow, pay careful attention and see if all that a visitor sees is a positive representation of your brand. If not, find out how to fix it.