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

Branding

Natural Products Expo West TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards

Walking the floor of the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, one is overwhelmed by the sheer number of tradeshow exhibitors and visitors. According to New Hope, the organization that puts on the show, there were over 80,000 visitors this year, and over 3,100 exhibitors.

That’s a lot of bone broth, honey, yogurt, Paleo diets and chocolate. Oh, the chocolate!

But there are literally tons of tradeshow exhibits, many of which stand out in unique ways. Let’s capture a few of these and call them out for service and recognition above and beyond.

Best Use of Bodily Function Statistics: GoodBelly

I watched as visitor after visitor stopped at the side of the GoodBelly exhibit and snapped a photo of The Poop Report, an infographic compiled from a survey of over 3000 people who visited the GoodBelly website.

The Poop Report: Good Belly
The Poop Report: Good Belly

Best Long Form Screenplay, er, uh, Exhibit: BabyGanics

BabyGanics have traditionally occupied an odd-shaped island space for years in the convention center, so I was a bit surprised to see that space occupied by another exhibit. It took a moment of spinning on my heels, but I did eventually find the 60′ (70′? 80′?) long exhibit. Just an inline exhibit, but they jammed a lot of longevity and functionality into the space.

BabyGanics Goes Looong!
BabyGanics Goes Looong!

Best Makeover: Nancy’s Yogurt

This booth is near and dear to my heart: it’s the second exhibit project I ever sold when I got into the business 15 years ago. So this is nearly 15 years old. For years, the booth has had the same look and feel. But a laminate makeover gave it an entirely new look and feel. In fact, I admit at first glance I thought it was an entirely new exhibit! But not the case – just a quick re-skin for a whole new look:

Nancy's Yogurt Before and After
Nancy’s Yogurt Before and After

Best Lettuce on a Wall: Indoor Farms of America

Inside Farms of America had a simple concept: show people what they do, and as a result it’s an eye-catching and ‘stop-in-your-tracks’ effect:

Best Lettuce Wall
Best Lettuce Wall

Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi

Kashi’s <1% display got people talking and snapping photos. It’s nothing but a large space with a hanging sign, the <1% display and, when you read the fine print, you discover their message about organic farmlands. Effectively done:

Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi
Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi

Best Use of Cactus Wisdom for Interactivity: Steaz Tea

There’s nothing like handing out cards with pre-printed fortunes to get people to line up. I know I did. Clever, interactive, and engaging in a fun way – a perfect fit for Expo West:

Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus
Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus

Seriously, I could go on forever with fun and silly awards for exhibits at Expo West: it’s a place with a lot of creativity. Yes, you’ll find uncreative low-budget exhibits that should (and probably did) embarrass the exhibitors, but what’s the fun in pointing those out? They know who they are, and they know when it’s time to upgrade. So let’s go with just one more that caught my eye:

Best Photo-Op Exhibit: StonyField Yogurt

A large painting on a wall and floor made it look like you’re standing in a bowl of yogurt, if photographed at the right angle. So I joined in. Lots of people waiting for their turn here throughout the show:

Best Interactive Photo-Op: Stonyfield Yogurt
Best Interactive Photo-Op: Stonyfield Yogurt

The Importance of Knowing Your Tradeshow Marketing Goals

What are your tradeshow marketing goals? It may seem an obvious question. But it bears some attention before schlepping off to the show, setting up and accosting attendees.

Each show is different with a unique audience and a unique set of competitors. How you determine your goals depends on those combinations. Some shows may be better at connecting you with retailers, some better at interacting with buyers, others better at connecting with bigwigs who can make big things happen.

In general, the tradeshow marketing goals can fall under three main areas:

the importance of knowing your tradeshow marketing goals

Brand Awareness and Perception

In this area, you can build on your company’s marketplace awareness with an effectively branded booth that shows off your credentials or capabilities. You can promote specific products, launch new products, position your company effectively against competitors, or even reach new markets.

Floor Activity Goals

This is where you can work to increase traffic, have one of your managers speak at a conference or panel, speak with industry media outlets, compile information about your competitors, interact with attendees, promote your message, give demos or hand out samples, work to build traffic through promotions and social media engagement and more.

Things to Measure

I’ve always advocated that exhibitors count visitors. It’s not always easy on the crazy chaos of a tradeshow floor, but if you can keep count you’ll know the number of visitors you had. Use that as a baseline and count the visitors at each show and compare year-to-year. You’ll also count leads and sales that result from those leads. Do a little market research by taking a survey or visitors and compile the results. Keep count of any new distributors, suppliers, retail buyers and more.

Knowing your tradeshow marketing goals gives you focus, especially since those goals change from show to show, from audience to audience.


Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

7 Kinds of Exhibits to Look for at the Tradeshow

There are hundreds of styles and types of exhibits at tradeshows, but in my estimation you can reduce them to just a handful of ‘kinds’ of exhibits. Do you recognize these?

  1. Super-Duper Over-the-Top Big Tent Exhibit. You know these kind. This exhibit has a hanging sign, a dozen or more people working the booth who are wearing matching tees or tops, are handing out samples and generally trying to be the ‘big dog’ in their niche. And with this kind or exhibit, they usually succeed.
  2. 7 Kinds of Exhibits to Look for at the Tradeshow

    Large Format Well-Branded Exhibit. Most likely an island, but you can tell in an instant who the exhibitor is. Highly professional. The staff is smiling, greeting everyone appropriately. Kicking ass and taking names.

  3. Something New. Often an inline exhibit from a company that changes it up frequently. Some companies take the same exhibit year after year after year. There are some exhibitors, however, that bring a brand new look almost every year. These are companies that are challenging their competitors and the status quo.
  4. Same Old Exhibit. Just referenced in last paragraph. The company that doesn’t even bother to change their sign from year to year even though a casual observer can tell they should probably do some updating.
  5. The Kluge Exhibit. Creativity run amok, where a (usually) small company has a couple of creative folks who take bicycle parts, discarded barn wood or whatever and somehow manage to come up with an exhibit that knocks your socks off. What are they selling again?
  6. Basic. Lots of companies start here. There’s not a lot of creativity, but simplicity is important and the message is clear.
  7. The WTF exhibit. Poorly executed graphics with unclear messaging, bored-looking staffers. It makes you wonder WTF are they doing at the show?!

Next time you walk the show floor, see how many of each kind of exhibits you can identify! And if you can add to our list, feel free to drop a comment!

7 Tradeshow Exhibit “Must-Haves”

Time for another list – this one is called 7 tradeshow exhibit “must-haves” and it’s pretty simple. What 7 things (items, people, plans) are essential to making your next tradeshow appearance a whopping success? Let’s count them:

  1. Branding that is clear as an angel’s giggle. A visitor should know at a glance what you sell and what kind of a company you are. She should be able to intuit so much with that glance: how you approach the marketplace, how the company culture works, how you view the environment, wha

    t kind of company you are. A good 3D exhibit designer working with a knowledgeable and responsive marketing team can work magic with the right design.

  2. Professionalism that is as obvious as, well, Captain Obvious. Your fully-trained staff will know how to approach visitors in a friendly and engaging way, and how to either answer their questions or get them to the right person. Staff training goes a long way and is worth more than you’ll ever spend on it.
  3. Lead capture system as effective and smooth as a glass of fifty-dollar bourbon. Once you have a prospect in your sights, make the transition from visitor to prospect so easy when gathering contact and follow-up information that they’ll barely know it’s happening.
  4. Interactivity that engages and draws a crowd. Okay, not every activity can draw a crowd at all times. But what if you had something in your booth that was interesting and engaging enough that once a few people got going, it attracted other people? And if that activity was directly related to your product or service, wouldn’t that be about the best you could do? Well, you could top that by making sure you were gathering contact and follow-up information from as many of those people as you could, once you qualified them.
  5. A comprehensive tradeshow marketing plan that covers months leading up to the show, through the show, and through the follow-up period. This would mean pre-show marketing, show execution and immediate follow-up with the hottest prospects.
  6. Enough STUFF: business cards, lead sheets, sell sheets, samples, demos – all of the stuff you need to hand out to visitors, show they what you do and so on. Take more than you think you’ll need. Unless its dated, you can always repack it and use it next time.
  7. Comfortable shoes. Ha! You saw this one coming, didn’t you?

Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Five Mistakes You’re Making at the Tradeshow

More than two-thirds of exhibitors do not have a solid plan in place and end up making mistakes at the tradeshow as they exhibit.

5 mistakes you're making at the tradeshow

In fact, not having an organized, comprehensive plan is one of the most common mistakes that exhibitors make.

And it’s safe to say that nearly all exhibitors don’t have a solid grasp of the metrics of their success or failure that comes from that tradeshow appearance. Why? Because companies tend to put all of their energy, time and money into putting on a good show, and very little into counting the results after the end of the show. Measuring your results – leads, sales closed – is one of the most critical measurements you can make.

Let’s look at some of the common mistakes you might make as you exhibit at the tradeshow.

  • First, you don’t have a comprehensive plan. This means going from A-Z and planning to cover all your bases, from pre-show marketing and show execution to having an exhibit that accurately represents your brand and communicates your message to counting leads and sales after the show is done. Know what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, how you’re planning to get back your return on the investment and where your tradeshow appearance fits in your overall marketing strategy.
  • Secondly, you may have the wrong people in the booth. Tradeshow floors are a chaotic busy mess where hundreds or thousands of people come and go all day long. Without proper preparation, which usually means staff training and picking the right people, you’ll end up with sales people or other staffers that can’t interact with precision, veracity and alacrity with those visitors. They’re not asking proper questions, they’re letting big fish get away and they’re spending too much time on little fish or people that won’t ever buy.
  • Third: you’re repeating yourself. Do you ever see the same company at the same show with the same exhibit year after year, showing off the same products? On close examination it seems nothing really changes from year to year. A company that’s on top of their game will upgrade the booth regularly or replace it when necessary; they’ll have new products to show off and new ways of interacting with visitors.
  • Fourth: you’re cheapening your brand by having inappropriate brand ambassadors in your booth. Pretty models in skimpy outfits may attract a crowd, but they do nothing to improve or define your company’s brand unless, of course, your brand is built on pretty models in skimpy outfits. Otherwise, in today’s climate, exhibiting in the US using those types of representatives will likely get you negative feedback.
  • Fifth: the biggest tradeshow marketing sin of all – you’re not following up on all of those leads in a timely manner. The fact that tradeshow leads are cheaper by the dozen and more targeted than any other kind of lead, coupled with the fact that your competitors have many of the same leads in their bucket, means that you must strike while the iron is hot. Letting a lead sit more than a few weeks means it grows colder and colder until you might as well toss it out with the other dead fish.

We all make mistakes – it’s part of life – but the more you can minimize mistakes with oodles of tradeshow marketing dollars on the table, the better off you’ll be.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

Tradeshow Exhibit Design and Promotion Ideas: A Blog Wrap-Up

Hey, it’s time to do another wrap up of tradeshow exhibit design and promotion ideas. Let’s take a swing around the internet, shall we?

First, we stop at FitSmallBusiness.com for a look at over two dozen design and promotion ideas. One idea I really like is to walk the show floor prior to the doors opening to the public and introducing yourself and inviting other exhibitors to come by your booth for a freebie.

From the Tradeshow Advisor comes a look at how to use all the display elements at your disposal to attract eyeballs. Using lighting, motion, sound and smell, you can get attendees senses involved.

Pinnacle Displays offers the 10 commandments for designing effective tradeshow graphics.

Northwest Creative Imaging posted a great infographic that details the best practices for tradeshow booth design. It’s a good one.

Our old friends at Handshake.com offer several booth design ideas to help you stand out at tradeshows.

And finally, let’s swing by Envision Creative Group for 5 Elements of an Awesome Booth Design.

All in all, some good company to keep and excellent ideas to ponder and incorporate!

 

6 Unforgettable Tradeshow Tips

Here are six random but unforgettable tradeshow tips to take you to a successful tradeshow experience.

  1. Standing out. Your tradeshow exhibit should stand out from others in any way it can. Of course, with hundreds or even thousands of booths trying to attract eyeballs, that may be difficult. But if you realize that every other booth is trying to do the same, you can stand out by being different. That may mean a dynamic color, a hanging sign, bright colors, bold statements and compelling questions in your marketing message.
  2. Freebies. There are right and wrong ways to approach giving away trinkets and tchotchkes. Don’t give something away just for the sake of giving something away. Having a pen with your logo on it may mean something to you, but to a visitor, it’s like every other pen they got that day. If the giveaway is usable and memorable, it may get noticed longer. For instance, a premium giveaway for a special visitor that you’re really trying to sell may mean a metal coffee cup with your logo or something similar. Work with your promotional products company to find the appropriate freebie.
  3. Business cards. When was the last time you went to a networking event or tradeshow and realized you didn’t have enou

    gh business cards? It happens. In fact, it happened to me last week! Plan ahead and don’t forget to take more than you think you’ll need.

  4. 30-second pitch. Most standard sales pitches will be packed with features and benefits, but that is a good way to become very forgettable. Instead, come up with an engaging question, or an introductory question that gets a visitor to stop. Then you can go into a pitch that focuses on how you work with clients: “we help frustrated marketers that can’t find a good graphic designer, or they’re embarrassed by poor printing, or they don’t have an overall program to get their brand image out online – I don’t suppose any of these concerns or challenges affect you?”
  5. Traffic Flow. If your booth is blocked off from the aisle by tables and chairs, people won’t come inside your booth. If they don’t come inside your booth, you can’t have a comfortable conversation with them about what their challenges are and how your product or service may help them. No matter what size your booth, the traffic flow should be a prime consideration of your booth design.
  6. Have fun! Tradeshows are a short-term, high energy commitment. The more fun it looks like you and your staff are having, the more people you’ll attract. And tradeshow are all about attracting people and knowing what to do with them!

Take these 6 unforgettable tradeshow tips and use them to make your next tradeshow appearance a successful one!

Tradeshows Bring Buyers

It may be obvious, but tradeshows bring buyers to your booth. Often, as exhibitors, we’re so focused on presenting a cohesive message, making sure our staffers are on top of things, keeping the booth clean, greeting visitors and answering questions that when someone is ready to buy we miss a beat!

Tradeshows bring buyers

In some tradeshows you’re looking for distributors, in some you’re looking for customers, in some you’re looking to solidify and strengthen relationships with existing customers, distributors and clients. But at the bottom line, you’re at a tradeshow to connect with more buyers. More people who will say YES and open their wallet to your products and services.

By keeping this YES top of mind during the show, your staffers will be more prepared when the question does arise. Certainly not everyone in your booth is a buyer, but buying decisions and referrals are made at tradeshows. THAT’S WHY THE ATTENDEES ARE THERE: TRADESHOWS BRING BUYERS. They’re there to check out new products, new services, new releases, new iterations of current products and so on. If they’re at the show, there’s a real chance they may either eventually BUY from you or know someone who will.

Exhibit Surveys Inc’s Trade Show Trends Report from a couple of years ago shows that 49% of tradeshow attendees come to a show with the intent to purchase. Yes, that’s why they’re there – to BUY, and hopefully from you.

Are you doing all you can to facilitate the buying activity?


Subscribe to our Tradeshow Marketing Newsletter

3 Tradeshow Webinars That Are Worth Your Time

I love webinars.

No wait, I hate webinars.

I’ve attended so many webinars over the years that it’s easy to come away with both feelings: love and hate. Hate when you spend an hour only to have the presenter take the first 20 minutes giving you his poor sob story, 14 minutes of actual information that you can use, and 26 minutes trying to sell you on his $2,000 product.

But then there are those that cut to the chase, make it worth your while by delivering the goods. So I thought it might be fun to cruise YouTube and try to track down a handful of tradeshow webinars that are actually worth your time.

To begin, Ruth Stevens teams up with Lands’ End in 2013 for a tradeshow webinar called “Get More Out of Your Tradeshow Marketing,” which last about a half hour and is packed full of great information presented professionally.

Udi Ledorgor, author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller “The 50 Secrets of Tradeshow Success,” joined Pepperi for a fun-and-info-filled webinar. It clocks in at just under 40 minutes, so if you’re keeping score and home you now have almost 70 minutes of education to soak up by staying on this page. And if you do, of course, Google will love you, I’ll love you, and more people will find me. So you’re watching these now for TWO reasons: you’re going to learn something that will make you better at tradeshow execution and for the good of all mankind.

But wait, there’s more!

I ran across a rather long, but worthwhile webinar called “5 Tips to Maximize Your Tradeshow Experience” put on in advance of a show in 2016 called QuickBooks Connect by Kelly Bistriceanu of TSheets and Yoseph West of Hubdoc. While there are a number of QBConnect-only mentions for meetups and so forth, these two speak very knowledgeably and discuss some good ideas on planning and execution of tradeshows during this hour-plus webinar:

Okay, if you managed to make it through these webinars, I’ve taken up a couple of hours of your time by now. But y’know what? You’re smarter! And you’ve earned a break and probably a cup of coffee.


Sign up for TradeshowGuy Webinars – click here!

© 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