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

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A Wrap Up of B2B Pandemic Survival Skills

A few recent newsletters that have popped up in my inbox have gotten me to thinking about B2B in the age of a pandemic. The tradeshow world is virtually shut down. Conferences aren’t happening. Events are 99.9% gone. Many of the writers behind these newsletters offer insightful observations about how business is now being done: what’s changing and what’s not.

I’ve compiled several of these thoughts and added a few of my own.

Embracing Digital

“Zoom Fatigue” has become a meme. But connecting via digital is about the only way to connect. Yes, you can pick up the phone – and I do – but a video call is more personal. Of course, there’s an extra step involved: you have to agree on a time and schedule the call and send the link. But taking those steps evinces a commitment to the meeting you might not have otherwise had.

Email: staying in touch is a little harder in this day and age. Many of the contacts I have are either working from home or have been laid off. Others are in the office only part time and their presence at work is not a given. Every company is dealing with the situation in their own way, and if an email isn’t answered in the time it typically would be, try a phone call.

Short videos

Beyond Zoom, email, and phone calls, create short videos that address challenges a typical customer might have. A recent Orbit Media Studios post examined what happened when they added video to their content strategy. It’s led me to create short videos every week to see if they get attention.

Bottom line on Digital

Be present online more than you ever have been before.

Know your priorities.

What’s important for your company? For you? For your employees? I spoke with a handful of distilleries in Oregon this week to see if they were making hand sanitizer, as many of them did at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many had made the product and were still making it but it was not a priority. A handful of them, though realized that there was a market there and it was going to be there awhile and were actually ramping up production. Others felt it was not their core business and they would rather be known for their high-quality distilled products.

Understand your customer’s priorities

Every customer is going through something different. Find out from as many as possible what their biggest challenges are. Segment them. And if you can help them, do it. Some might need to wait another month or two or three.

Find and form valuable partnerships

Partnerships can take you places you couldn’t go on your own. Manufacturers, builders, factories, processing plants. Keep an open mind to what the possibilities are and ask good questions. You might uncover an opportunity that you had no idea existed a few months ago.

Communicate clearly to everyone

It boils down to listening twice as much as you talk. Find out what’s important to other management members, employees, team members, clientele, prospects. But make sure to let them know what’s important to you as well. We’re all in this together, and communication will be the key.

Remove friction whenever possible

Just like forming a new habit, the easier it is, the more likely you’ll form that habit. It’s like saying to yourself that you’ll put on your running shoes each morning and run around the block. There’s not much friction in putting on your shoes. Once you have the shoes on, it’s easy to go around the block. After you do that a few times, it’ll be easier to run a half mile. Then a mile. Then two, five and so on. By reducing the friction to get anything done, both for you and your clients, the easier it will be to get bigger things done. Start small where there is little friction.

Acknowledge that it’s not business as usual

The final piece. We all know that, but many of us are acting as if it’s still 2019. Are you? It’s not. We’re in the future to stay. And it’s a different world. It’s not business as usual.


Here are some of the resources that helped inspire this collection:

Chief Marketer: How B2B Marketers are Embracing Digital During the Pandemic.

Marketing Profs: 5 B2B Marketing Strategies for Pandemic Survival and Beyond, by Mike Seiman.

Orbit Media: Adding Video to Your Content Strategy: The Impact to Traffic and Rankings, by Andy Crestodina


Playing What If: Real World vs. Imaginary World

We can get caught up in an imaginary world pretty easily. Just try following the stock market as it bounces and bounces. And bounces. See your IRA value go UP. See it go down. Yes, it’s real money, and yes, you are hoping it does well, but until you decide to actually pull the money out and put it to use, such as retirement, it’s not real. It’s just numbers on a screen or monthly statement. No matter how much your Tesla holdings have increased, until you sell and put the cash into a bank account, it’s a (mostly) imaginary world.

Same in the world of tradeshows. You can dream and plan and work towards your next show, but in these days of COVID-19, the actual date might not set. Your flight tickets are not purchased. Your hotels are not reserved. Your booth space may not be finalized. Your booth graphics will change, but until you know exactly what products you’ll be promoting at the show, it’s hard to plan much without knowing when the show take place. Or if it’ll take place.

What if?

What to do?

You can play ‘what if?’ There’s nothing wrong with a game of what if. It’s how ideas are brought forth. How they’re measured and assessed. Discarded or amended. Set aside for the future.

What if the show doesn’t happen until 2022? What if everything changes and suddenly, we have to have a new exhibit ready in three months? Playing what if doesn’t take much time, and it doesn’t commit you to anything. But it does allow you and your team to look at the various paths ahead that may or may not open up. It allows you to look at multiple contingencies. Yes, you may already be doing this, but try doing it and expanding the horizon. Try to imagine things that before may have been unimagineable.

We’re living in unprecedented times. Today you may be busier than you’ve been in months. But tomorrow you may have time to play a game of what if.

New PlaceLyft Sell Sheets Provide More Information for Office Safety

In numerous conversations with office managers, facility managers and safety coordinators in Oregon (and a few out of state, to be sure), it’s clear that there are not a lot of common denominators for how and when offices will deal with the return of WFH employees.

Many state agencies and professional offices still have a large number of employees working from home. Others have brought everyone back, but with closures still upcoming, some are going back.

Some companies I’ve communicated with aren’t even going to think about bringing back employees from WFH until September at the earliest.

Like I said, all over the board. Some people have older-style fabric/metal cubicles in place. Others have nothing. Many have employees spread out in large rooms, or in separate office.

But they’re all doing their best they can to adhere to CDC and local or state guidelines to keep employees, clients and visitors safe.

Given all of that, some are still looking at solutions to how they might deal with the return of employees and keeping them safe and their anxiety levels low.

Our manufacturing partner, Classic Exhibits, has shared a handful of new sales and information sheets on the PlaceLyft Modular Office dividers and desktop safety dividers. Let’s take a look:

To save, either right-click and save the images above, or download PDFs:

Looking for a low-cost, elegant solution for safety separation? Call us to find out more and to get a quote based on your office requirements.


Exhibit Design Search Narrows Down Hand Sanitizer Stations and Office Dividers

If you’ve ever been to TradeshowGuy Exhibits’ Exhibit Design Search over at TradeshowBuy.com, you know there are literally thousands of exhibits and accessories to browse.

And yes, you can search for anything there and narrow down your search pretty quickly. Search for “hand sanitizer” and you get a good look at several hand sanitizer stations, along with a few other related (or not, perhaps) items that may have one of those keywords in the description.

Same with office dividers, which are the topic of the day in many businesses. But how easy are they to find? If you search for “office dividers” you will find a wide assortment of chairs, island exhibits, chairs, counters, pedestals and more. It’s not EDS’s fault. It’s just that finding what you want means knowing what search terms to input. And frankly, different people looking for the same thing will often use different search terms.

So….to make it easier to find a handful of things that might be useful to get to quickly, just click on these links or photos:

Hand Sanitizer Stands

PlaceLyft Office Environments

Interactive Displays

Maybe not related specifically to hand sanitizer stations, but with new ones coming out we wanted to make sure they’re included here – and easy to find.


The Five-Day Tradeshow Marketing Challenge

Yes, tradeshow marketing takes more than five days. Of course it does! It’s an ongoing process that keeps tradeshow managers up at night, especially when shows are impending. Some shows last about that long! So, what do I mean by the five day tradeshow marketing challenge?

Instead of trying to handle preparing for a show all at once, take five days. Perhaps in just a few moments a day you can line things up, get them prepared and be ready once tradeshows get back to normal.

Or whatever normal will look like.

Let’s assume the next big show is still several months away. Far enough away to not really worry if you start your Five-Day Tradeshow Marketing Challenge this week or next. But close enough so that you shouldn’t put it off too much longer!

Day One:

Plan.

Actually, every day is planning of some sort, but today, plan the basics:

What shows you’re going to.

What shows you’d love to go to at some point, but maybe not this year or next year.

What kind of presence you’d like at the show: size of booth; number of people. Perhaps what you’d like to spend on sponsorships or advertising at the show itself to help build awareness and move people to your booth.

This is also a good day to review past year tradeshow costs to assemble realistic budgets for the next series of shows. Pull out copies of documents that show actual costs vs. estimates. Build spreadsheets to give you a good sense of what you’ll have to invest to exhibit this time around.

Day Two:

Exhibit Changes / Additions

If you need a new exhibit, and it’s time to have that chat with management, that’s a longer process. But if you have a good exhibit and all you need is to make upgrades, today is a good day to start sketching out those changes. At this point, you don’t have all the information you’ll eventually need such as product launches, what products you’ll be promoting and so on. But it’s a good time to make a list of the number of graphic changes you’ll make, if any; the dimensions of the graphics and any other particulars you’ll want before design and production. Make notes about who you need to talk to to know what those product launches and so on will be. And give a heads up, if appropriate, to the designer who will be making the new graphics.

Day Three:

Promotions

Promotions can take almost any shape, from creating online videos to crafting a social media campaign, to coming up with a clever way to dress up your booth. Here on Day Three, you’ll just want to make lists with broad strokes of the top promotion ideas and concepts that will eventually flower.

Day Four:

Travel Logistics

How many people are going, where are they staying, who’s booking travel, who’s making the schedule for the booth and so on. Getting a firm grasp on this a few months ahead of time will reduce headaches as you get closer.

Day Five:

Shipping and Exhibit Installation/Dismantle Logistics

If you have worked with the same I&D crews and shipping companies for years, this is usually nothing more than giving them advance notice that you’re on board again this year. If you need to find someone new for these areas, now’s the time to determine who you’re going to work with, and how to find the right people for the tasks.

Now that you’ve spent an hour or two a day for five days, you should have a much better grasp on what’s coming and be more prepared for when you’re thrown a curveball. Which you probably will be!

Top 5 Most-Viewed Podcast Interviews of the Past Year

I thought it might be fun to see what people have gravitated to on this blog when it comes to the weekly vlog/podcast I do under the title TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. The podcast is more or less a diary of my business and more broadly, the event and tradeshow industry, and beyond that, the business world. Or at least what interests me on any given day.

I don’t always have interviews on the show, but they’re always fun. I love speaking with industry colleagues and getting to know them, even though most of them are only “Zoom” friends, and we aren’t sitting down across a table for coffee!

Still, they’re enlightening and fun. Here are the top five most-viewed based on analytics looking back twelve months.

Number Five (we’re counting down to Number One!): Dominic Rubino of BizStratPlan.com talked about an easy formula for difficult business conversations.

Number Four: Phil Gorski of Ava-Nee Productions and his company’s VR approach to tradeshow exhibits (and other fun things).

Number Three: Danny Orleans is a tradeshow entertainer and Chief Magic Officer at Corporate Magic LTD.

Number Two: Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, offered numerous tips on creating publicity at tradeshows. Worth another look. Bring your notepad.

Number One: a long-ranging discussion from March with Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits, Marcus Vahle of Share Experience Company and Andy Saks of Spark Presentations.

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

The Workplace is Shifting. Are You Ready?

In the past few weeks, new stories have popped up on the New York Times, Reuters, National Geographic, and others about the COVID-19 Pandemic affecting the feasibility of an open office format in workplaces. It’s a good question and there are no easy answers.

An open office puts people, sometimes dozens of them (or more) into an environment where people work within a few feet of other. In today’s social distancing world, even as states and businesses work to get back to some semblance of normal, many employees will not be as enthusiastic about the open office as their managers might be.

Employee Anxiety Levels

A good manager will likely realize that the anxiety of their employees will range from one end of the spectrum to the other, and will go to lengths to provide safety, both physical and emotional, to their employees.

What does that mean on a practical level? For one, it might mean that many people continue to work from home. If it works, it may be the thing to do.

But other companies and other employees may be itching to get back to the office. Yeah, working from home has its bennies, but it also has its challenges: kids, neighborhood noises, spouses also working from home. Juggling all of those elements can’t be easy (I know from personal experience), and that may mean employees are leaning towards getting back to the workplace, where a more normal reality awaits.

Or does it?

Meeting New Needs

Companies and managers that are sensitive to the needs of the employees will no doubt be looking at ready-made solutions to separate employees. The old “cubicle” may come back in some form.

You may not be surprised to learn that what works to build a great, easy-to set-up and dismantle exhibit also works to form functional and efficient office dividers, or if you like, office pods. The manufacturer we most often work with, Classic Exhibits in Portland, has been working with architects and space planners for several weeks now to come up with appropriate office dividers at a competitive price.

They’ve even named the product PlaceLyft and have a number of options that range from simple and economical to more complex. Lyft One, Lyft Two, Lyft Three and Custom Solutions. Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we have at least fifteen years of working hand-in-hand with Classic Exhibits, so we know the level of quality and commitment that they bring to any endeavor.

Cleaning the Dividers

Fabric or cloth-covered cubicle walls are difficult to clean. There’s no getting around that. How would that work? Steam-cleaning? Time-consuming and perhaps not that effective. But when faced with cleaning various optional divider materials with these Office Pods, all are easy to clean:

  • Sintra and Dibond: a clean look available in many color options. You can print to it if you want. Both are easy to clean; just spray and wipe it down.
  • Grease board (dibond): metal versions as well as standard which you can put magnets on. Available in at least eight standard colors.
  • Acrylics: available in clear or color. Some of the acrylics are not suitable for frequent cleaning, so the right cleaner is needed. Peroxide based cleaners are best for Acrylics.

Learn More

These panels have a lot going for them: adjustable wire management, adjustable feet for leveling and running wire underneath, custom heights, option to put a thin panel in the middle of the Gravitee frame for potential sound-proofing, removable fabric graphics that are easily laundered for cleaning and much more.

We have a number of informational sell sheets available on the Office Pods here. Take a look and please contact us for more information if you have questions.

Download PDFs:

View PDF Images:

Introducing Symphony

Every now and then a new exhibit modification comes along that sucks the air out of the room, so to speak. Gravitee, a tool-less exhibit designed and manufactured by Classic Exhibits, came along offering full-size fully-assembled panels that pull from the crate and lock together without tools. Clients love it. Show labor loves it, too, because it goes up quickly and easily.

Now we have Symphony, the first portable display to blend easy tool-less assembly with elegant design and clever accessories. Symphony can be dressed up with all kinds of add-ons and accessories, including counters, workstations, floating graphics, tablet, and monitor mounts. Additional options include wireless/wired charging pads, locking storage, brochure holders, and LED lighting.

Lots of 10x10s and 10x20s, great counters, and priced to sell and/or rent. Check out these great looks here and visit TradeshowBuy.com for the complete selection.

Download the Symphony Summary Sheet and Accessory Guide.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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