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

Branding

Influencers That Influence ME

What is an INFLUENCER? To me it’s someone that gets your attention in any number of ways. It could be a video I saw. Could be a book or article or blog post. Or podcast. Or someone I know in my actual, real life as opposed to online.

These are the people whose tweets I read, whose podcasts I listen to, whose blog posts I read, whose newsletters I make sure not to miss. They write and say things that make me sit up and pay attention.

These are listed in no particular order. Some I’ve been aware of for years, others not so long. Some that were influencers ten or fifteen years ago may have popped back into my consciousness to make the list. And in a sense, it’s incomplete because it will always be incomplete. Influencers come and go. The ideas, writings and videos that catch anyone’s attention also wax and wane like the moon. But to me, these are all worth checking out:

Seth Godin: Daily blogger, host of the Akimbo podcast, speaker, author.

Peter Shankman: Founder of HARO (Help Out a Reporter). Speaks and writes frequently. Author of a new book about ADHD, working on a documentary about ADHD. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Scott Monty: Ford Motor Company’s first Social Media Director. Fortune 500 Advisor. Speaker, Pragmatic Futurist.

Jeff Barjorek: Parabola Consulting. Sales trainer, writer, speaker.

Jeffrey Gitomer: Sales trainer, author, speaker, podcaster.

Steve Miller: Author of Uncopyable (terrific book), speaker, blogger. Marketing gunslinger.

Pamela Slim: Author, business consultant, speaker, coach.

Bill Stainton: Emmy-winning producer, speaker, author. Also appeared on my podcast. Really fun newsletter. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Roy Williams: Former radio salesman who teaches sales, marketing and advertising. His Monday Morning Memo is not to be missed.

Shep Hyken: Hall of Famer in the National Speaker Association. Forward-thinking and best-selling author, blogger, writer and expert on customer service. Here’s his appearance on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Mel White: VP of Business Development at Classic Exhibits. Mel and I have known each other for close to a decade and a half. His insight and knowledge of the tradeshow world, and in particular the latest in tradeshow exhibit materials and trends has always been helpful. Not to mention his crucial help in making both of my books a reality. Here’s his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview.

Terry Brock: Relationship marketing speaker. Another Hall of Famer in the National Speaker Association. Holds forth all the time on the use of technology in communication and presentation. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Denise Wakeman: Blogger, author, writer, digital media marketing expert.

Casey Neistat: NYC-based videographer and story-teller. Ten million YouTube channel followers tells you something. Here’s one of his most-viewed and fun videos:

Gary Vaynerchuk: Social media expert at the highest level. Has parleyed his success with his family’s win business into a multi-million-dollar company, and he’s become an angel investor.

David Newman: Founder of Do It! Marketing. Marketing for Speakers, Authors, Consultants and Experts

Brene Brown: Best-selling author, research professor at University of Houston. Studies, speaks on courage, vulnerability, shape and empathy.

Candy Adams:. Long-time consultant in the tradeshow and event industry, known as The Booth Mom. See her TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

 

Unfinished – more to add later!

Pebble Beach concours d’elegance: Event Marketing Recap

I spent about a week in Monterey with an old friend recently to attend a couple of events: The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway and the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance. In a sense, both events are about as far away from tradeshows that you can get. But as event marketing goes, they’re at the top of their games.

Consider this: according to the website, “the competition attracts 15,000 affluent aficionados who pay a minimum of $325 for general admission.” And this: “Entrants often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a car, hundreds of thousands to restore it, and tens of thousands more to transport it to Pebble Beach to compete for our top award. Come day of show, the cars pulling onto the eighteenth fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links often have a total estimated value of half a billion dollars.”

So, yeah, the one-percenters, basically. And of course, there are a lot of other vintage car enthusiasts who like the show and the spectacle who are not in that top echelon (that would include me, just to be clear!).

Just driving around the area over the week gives you an opportunity to see hundreds of exotic and high-end cars that are just out cruising: Porches, McLarens, Teslas, Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls-Royces, and a few that are simply unrecognizable or unique one-of-a-kinds.

This is a prime market ripe for pitching high-end products. There are numerous car auctions, one of which set a record over the weekend for selling a car at auction for a record $48.4 million. In case you’re wondering, it was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

Car manufacturers spend a ton to show off their newest models. Infiniti, for instance, sets up a large temporary building just above the festivities on the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach. During the runup to the event, they offer visitors a chance to drive new models for a couple of miles. Other car makers over the year have included Jeep, Cadillac, Chrysler, Tesla and many others. In fact, the first I ever heard of a Tesla was in 2008 when they introduced their roadster at the event. In 2016, Tesla was offering a chance to drive their new Model X (which I did).

Ferrari brought several dozen vintage autos and displayed them on the fairway of hole number one.

There were nine Tucker automobiles at the show, along with a handful of Chinese cars and a collection from the Raj of India.

Concept cars encircle the main putting green in front of the pro shop, where we’ve seen everything over the years from an electric VW bus, to McLarens, Rolls-Royces, Porches, Lincolns, Maseratis, Hennesseys, Genesis’ and many more – too many to count. Just a bunch of glorious eye candy for car fans.

Every year there is a raffle during the event, where up to four brand new model cars are given away. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno has done the honors for years, telling the same jokes year after year.

Some 1200 media members cover the event, with about a quarter of them from outside the United States.

But at the bottom line, the event is a fundraiser for several dozen charities in the area. Over the years the they event has generated millions of dollars that goes to help area children. This year the event raised $1.8 million which will be distributed by the Pebble Beach Company Foundation to 85 local charities.

Check out the gallery below. I’m sure I’ll be back next year. It’s already on my calendar.

Determination

Determination. Perseverance. Dedication. Focus.

Planning. Strategy. Tactics. Action.

Articulate. Explain. Observe.

Reframe. Review. Rest.

Creation. Discussion. Examination. Collaboration.

Research. Plan. Test. Compete. Dissect.

Uncertainty. Resoluteness. Conviction. Courage.

determination

Decision. Self-confidence. Energy. Willpower. Fortitude.

Principle. Purpose. Composure. Direction.

Measure. Aspire. Brainstorm. Dream.

Ambition. Desire. Probity. Teamwork.

Finesse. Coax. Emphasize. Differentiate.

Credentials. Communication. Specialization. Exceptional.

Context. Simplify. Spirit. Emulation.

Modify. Professionalism. Friendliness. Sincerity.

Values. Meaning. Abilities. Creativity.

Positioning. Marketing. Advertising. Branding.

Memorable. Unforgettable. Separate. Unique.

Quality. Knowable. Meaningful. Service.

Learn. Study. Digest. Regurgitate.

Laugh. Breathe. Relax. Sleep.

One. Two. Three. Four.

Let’s. Do. It. Again!

Top 5 Challenges Facing Tradeshow Managers

Not every tradeshow manager faces the same challenges. Some are overwhelmed by being understaffed. Others have a boatload of shows to deal with and it seems as if there is never a breather.

But in the work I’ve done over the years with tradeshow managers, the same handful of issues keep coming up as being significant challenges:

tradeshow manager challenges

Logistics: there are a lot of moving parts in tradeshow marketing. Shipping and I&D (installation and dismantle) make up a big part of those logistics. Add to that shipping product samples, getting everyone scheduled for the show and the booking a convenient hotel and many other bits and pieces and handling the logistics of tradeshow marketing is often outsourced. That’s one reason why at TradeshowGuy Exhibits we are taking on more and more logistic coordination for clients.

Exhibit Brand Management: keeping the booth updated from show to show. New product launches, new services and more means that the exhibit needs to be updated for upcoming shows to reflect that. It’s common, but the timeline sneaks up on people. In a sense, the challenge here is coordination between graphic designers, production facilities and making sure all items get done prior to the booth crates being shipped out.

Company Growth: Many companies we work with are doing very well. But that means moving from small pop-up type exhibits to more complicated exhibits with light boxes, custom counters and more – all of which ship in larger crates and would be set up by hired EAC’s (Exhibitor Approved Contractors). All of this change means that the person handling the shift is moving out of their comfort zone. They face a lot of choices around whether to hire installers, how to package the exhibit for shipping (crates vs. a handful of plastic molded cases, for example), and more.

Getting Good Results: Exhibitors who don’t get good results complain that tradeshows are a waste of time and money. Yet other exhibitors at the same show rave about how great the show was, how many new leads they made and new contacts they came away with, and how many sales were closed. So what’s the difference? Frankly, many exhibitors don’t prepare or execute well. Tradeshow marketing is not rocket science, but with all of the moving parts it’s easy to let a few items slip through the cracks. And those missing items can make all the difference between success and failure.

Budget: It costs a lot of money to exhibit at tradeshows. For companies that do tradeshows, the amount invested in tradeshow marketing is about a third of their overall marketing budget. Making all of their tradeshow dollars stretch as far as possible is an ongoing challenge faced by all companies. For a long list of ways to cut costs at tradeshows, check out this webinar.

Other challenges include booth staff training, record-keeping, keeping track of your competition and other items, but if you can keep these few items under control, you’re doing better than a lot of your fellow exhibitors!

TradeshowGuy Exhibits: Planning Notes for Cannabis Collaborative Conference

cannabis collaborative conference

Since we made the decision to exhibit at a regional cannabis show in January, the Portland Cannabis Collaborative Conference at the Portland Expo Center, we’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas on how to approach it. Thought it might be fun to share some notes about what is crossing our minds regarding the show.

First, the Cannabis Collaborative Conference is a relatively small gathering. Around 125 – 130 exhibitors will set up shop for a few days, January 22 – 24, 2019. There will be two days of conferences, breakfasts, lunches and networking. And of course, exhibiting! In discussions with Mary Lou Burton, the organizer, it was apparent that a number of companies that are not directly involved in the cannabis industry exhibit at the show. There are companies involved in banking, insurance, legal, energy reduction, marketing and more. Given that the show is pretty popular, and the industry is growing, we felt it was a good fit to invest in exhibiting at the show as a potential supporting marketing partner of companies in the cannabis industry that do tradeshows.

Now that the decision has been made, what to do?

As any tradeshow planner knows, it all revolves around budget. From booth space, to travel, from the exhibit itself to giveaways and more, budgets must be decided upon and hopefully adhered to.

At first blush, our budget for the show will be modest. Here are some thoughts on what we might do for our 10×10 space – #420. Yes, we’re in #420.

Exhibit: Lots of things to consider. After all, we have access to a lot of styles of exhibits, from pop-up graphic back walls that set up in seconds, to aluminum extrusion framed light boxes, to typical  10×10 exhibits (rental and purchase) to banner stands and more. The first thing that comes to mind is to do a big back drop (maybe even a light box with fabric graphic) with a large striking image, company name, maybe a few bullet points. I’ll work with a professional designer for this – I ain’t a designer.

Giveaways: of course, I have a couple of books that I’ll either giveaway or sell on the cheap. The organizers have said I can sell the books at my booth (some shows direct sales are not allowed, so I checked). We might also come up with some branded swag. If we can find an item that really makes sense for the show that is a good giveaway, we may do that.

cannabis collaborative conference

PreShow Marketing: the organizers gave me a list of some 2500 people that attended the last show. While it might be helpful to reach out to them via email, our interest is more in the exhibitors – they’re our target market. We might do a couple of email blasts to the group to let them know we’re there and what we do. Email is cheap. Direct mail is probably not a great option, mainly due to the cost. But, even if the attendees aren’t exhibitors, many of them are retail shop owners and are potential customers for other items we can supply. Since I’m active on social media – and especially with the booth number 420 – you can expect that we’ll have a lot of fun both before and during the show promoting both the show and our booth space.

During the show: one thought is to make the rounds at the other exhibits at the very outset of the show opening and invite them to come to booth 420 to pick up a free copy of my book while they last. Once they’re there, we’d be ready to capture their information for follow up. And I think it’s always a good idea to have some sort of thing to do – some interactive element – which bears more thought.

At this writing the show is still 182 days away – half a year. And most of these thoughts and notes on what we’ll do is just that – incomplete ideas. Still, I always tell clients that when a show is a half a year away, THAT is the time to be slowly creating the ideas, talking with team members and getting the juices flowing so that as time goes by they will coalesce and become more concrete until they become a plan that can be executed.

Stay tuned! And if you’re planning to be in Portland in mid-January of next year, put this show on your calendar and come see us!

How a Small Company Can Look Bigger

make small company appear big

What can you do to make your small company look bigger than it really is? And why would you want to do that? Perhaps you like the idea of being a small company, positioning yourself as a boutique company that specializes in working with a very specific type of client. A client that can afford to pay a little more for the personal service that you, as a small company, can provide.

Can They Find You?

make small company look bigger

Perhaps maybe the question isn’t that you should look bigger, but to make sure that the right companies are able to find you. It used to be that a prospective client would start to judge you on the size of your brick-and-mortar store. Then they’d gauge your ability to handle their needs. Sometimes a small neighborhood hardware store with personal service will serve a customer better than a big box store.

Back to the original question: how can you look bigger than you really are? And a secondary question: how do you attract the right customers?

Perception is everything, especially in a first interaction or first notice of a potential customer. What are they looking for and what do they find? I’m guessing that 98% of your potential client’s first interactions will be online, even they’ve gotten a referral. They’ll plug a search term in and click GO. They’ll look through the first 5 or 6 results, click one and spend a few seconds eyeing your website, if you were lucky enough to show up in the top half-dozen search results. If they have a name of your company, they’ll search directly for you.

Blogging

blogging

One way to appear bigger – to show that you have a larger reach than companies bigger than you – is to blog. Consistently. Hundreds of people come on the TradeshowGuy Blog every month through random searches. The most popular are the ones that might surprise you. For instance, one of the most-viewed pages so far this year has to do with how a SWOT Analysis applies to tradeshows. Yeah, really. And over half of the companies that find that blog post are not from the USA. Another interesting factoid.

The next most popular post is about skills that a tradeshow manager needs. Following that, the single page that gets the most views is how to replace paper at tradeshows using digital technology (a guest post from 2015). Followed by how to build a tradeshow-specific landing page.

With over 700 posts in the past 9+ years, the search engines have archived them all, so random tradeshow-related searches will find them.

There are that many posts because years ago I made a commitment to post regularly and write about as many tradeshow-related topics as I could think of. The goal was to just do it (because I like writing and publishing) and see what benefits might accrue.

Podcast/Vlog

make small company look big

What about the page views of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee vlog/podcast? While individual podcast posts aren’t in the top ten most pages, the category search of podcasts is in the top five most-viewed. Which tells me that while a specific podcast might not get a lot of views, people are searching the category to see what’s been posted recently. That tells me the podcast is gaining a little traction. Which also tells me that the time investment is worth it. Not only that, but each interview helps build relationships with those people, most (but not all) of which are in the tradeshow industry.

Someone asked me once if blogging, podcasting, publishing a weekly newsletter, posting videos on YouTube channel and spending time on social media actually gets me business. In other words, they’re asking if they should make the time and energy commitment to see if it gets them business? There is not a simply answer to that question. Let’s look at where business comes from. In 2016, 2/3 of our business at TradeshowGuy Exhibits came from people that found us online. In 2017, it was less than ten percent. In 2018, there’s not much to show on the bottom line (yet) as a direct consequence of people finding the blog and then contacting us to make a purchase or to inquire about a project. But when I do communication with people, either through cold calling, prospecting with people I know, or via email, when I bring up the blog or send a link to a pertinent blog post, the feedback is always positive. Especially when they see the depth of article on the blog with the number and types of posts (video, audio, photographic, lists, etc.).

YouTube Channel

Speaking of video, I’ve had a YouTube channel for almost a decade. In the beginning I had no idea what I was doing other than creating a few how-to videos and tradeshow advice and posting them. It wasn’t regular and not many of them were viewed more than a few dozen times. Although the first ever post has over a thousand view. In a sense, that’s still the case, although I do create a video version of my podcast and post it there as another way to get the content out there.

And that’s what all of that is about: creating content. Always. It’s not easy, but having done it for years, it’s not that hard, either. I just make time to do it.

Does the blog make TradeshowGuy Exhibits look bigger? In a sense, yes. So does the weekly podcast/vlog and the newsletter. It puts more and more materials out there online where searchers can find us.

Exhibit Design Search

Frankly, so does the Exhibit Design Search, which is a branded search tool that looks just like it’s part of our lineup of websites. EDS is the work of our main design and fabrication partner, Classic Exhibits, and we use it all the time. When we send some ideas from EDS to potential clients the reaction is often “Wow! I had no idea you could do all of that!” Aligning yourself with a company that offers such a great tool definitely makes us look bigger.

I’d add that using solid sales techniques, creating and executing a plan is part of the process of making TradeshowGuy Exhibits look or feel bigger than it might really be. I spent a year with Sandler Sales Training and picked up a ton of great ideas and techniques along with good strategy and a much better understanding of how buyers operate. Knowing how to approach people in a non-threatening way with an eye to understanding their needs has been valuable to the success we’ve had.

Other Websites

Tradeshow Superheroes

We also have a handful of other URLs that are used for various purposes. For example, TradeshowSuccessBook.com is a landing page that offers a free digital download of my first book in exchange for subscribing to my newsletter. TradeshowSuperheroes.com is a book-specific page solely for the purpose of promoting and sharing info on my second book. TradeshowExhibitBuyersKit.com is a landing page to promote a package of tools we put together aimed at potential exhibit buyers (as you might imagine!). And TradeshowGuyWebinars.com is a collection of webinars we’ve put on at TradeshowGuy Exhibits.

Social Media

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you are probably aware that I’ve been active on social media from the very beginning. That happened because I like to play with new toys, and social media seemed like something fun to play with. I’ve bounced back and forth from Twitter to Pinterest, from YouTube to LinkedIn, to Instagram and Facebook and back. It’s a great to engage with people, share opinions, point to blog posts and podcasts, and to see what other people are up to. I’d rank the usefulness and effectiveness by putting Twitter on top, followed by YouTube, then LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. But that’s subject to change!

Making the Clients Look Good

Finally, what’s important to me is that when we deal with clients and prospects, we want them to know a couple of things: when you work with TradeshowGuy, you’re almost always working directly with the head of the company. And secondly, we want you to know that our success is tied directly to yours. If we make a company’s tradeshow manager look good to their boss by doing a great job, by providing an excellent service, by designing and fabricating an exhibit that gets extremely positive feedback, we’ve done our job. If we make you look good, we feel good. By standing tall when it comes to delivering great products and service, no matter our size, we look gigantic to our clients. It’s as simple as that.

Is This the Golden Age of Tradeshow Marketing?

I’ve been in the tradeshow industry for almost 20 years, and it seems like we’re moving into what may be the Golden Age of Tradeshow Marketing. Usually when you think of the “Golden Age,” you’re thinking of that long-forgotten past. A time of fun, peace and prosperity and good times. Us older folks might think of the Golden Age of Rock and Roll, for example, as the time when Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly were making music and leading the music charts. Or maybe we think of the Sixties as the Golden Age of Rock and Roll, when the Beatles led the British Invasion and with the help of bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Yardbirds and The Searchers dominated the music charts for years.

golden age of tradeshow marketing

What about movies? Was the Golden Age the days of great movie stars such as Clark Gable, Dorothy Lamour, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, Greta Garbo and others lit up the big screen?

Or is the Golden Age something that might be happening today, and we won’t realize it for decades to come?

Tradeshow marketing may, in fact, be moving into something of a Golden Age. Look at what’s happened in the past decade or so: an influx of a variety of new products and technologies that is impacting the bottom line and exhibiting capabilities and impact in unforeseen ways.

Fabric graphics, for example, have pretty much taken over the tradeshow floor. Sure, you could see fabric graphics ten years ago, but they weren’t much to look at. The printing quality was suspect, and the fabrics were not all that great. But technology has improved fabric printing by leaps and bounds, and the same has happened to the fabric that is used for printing.

And what about light boxes or back lit fabrics? Just a decade ago salesmen would come through our door pitching the next generation of LED lights, which were definitely impressive. But the past ten years have seen a drastic drop in the cost of LED lights, and a sharp uptick in the quality of the lights.

And what about social media? Fifteen years ago, social media frankly didn’t exist. Online promotions were barebones at best. Email marketing was fairly well established, but preshow marketing stuck mainly to traditional channels such as direct mail and advertising. But now, any company that doesn’t engage in using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and add on some elements of their outreach via YouTube and LinkedIn is increasingly rare. All of those social media channels have matured greatly and can be used to drive traffic and move people around a tradeshow floor.

Video is also part of the renaissance of tradeshow marketing which contributes to the idea that we’re experiencing a Golden Age. More and more exhibits show off one or more video monitors, and you’ll increasingly see video walls, which grabs visitors’ eyeballs with a visual impact that was previously unobtainable, or only at an ungodly price. Video production has also come down drastically in price and obtaining great footage to go with your video messaging at a lower cost means more exhibitors can show off a lot more of their brand for less. Drones, for one example, have given anyone the ability to drop in aerial footage into their brand videos for a few dollars, instead of the thousands of dollars it used to cost. Most brand videos I see at tradeshows have at least some drone footage, and I suspect that most people don’t even give it a second thought (I do – drone footage is freaking cool, man!).

golden age of tradeshow marketing

Add to all of that the coming-of-age of Virtual Reality, which will open doors to creative people getting involved to do more fantastic VR for tradeshows. The VR I’ve seen so far has been disappointing, as were the first few VR games and programs I’ve seen. But lately the bar has been raised, and the quality and creativity will come up.

What about data tracking and electronic product showcases, such as ShowcaseXD? This and similar programs will not only allow exhibitors to show off products in an easy format, the data that comes out of these systems proves to be extremely useful to companies. Didn’t have anything as sophisticated as that only a decade ago.

Automated email has been around for perhaps a couple of decades, but that also gets more and more sophisticated, and combined with a data entry, product catalog or context on a tablet, marketers can send out detailed, personalized responses based on visitors’ interests.

All of these – and more technologies that I’ve either missed or are in their infancy – are having a great impact on tradeshows and giving exhibitors the ability to maximize their dollars, create a bigger splash, take home more data and find an edge in a very competitive marketplace.

If not a new Golden Age of Tradeshow Marketing, at least a Renaissance or resurgence.

Another Place to Find A Mess of Great Tradeshow Tips

How do you find great information – tradeshow tips – from people that go to a lot of shows and see a lot of exhibits? The first ting most of us do is fire up your favorite search engine and just plug in “tradeshow tip” or “tradeshow marketing tips” or something similar and see what comes up. If you’re lucky, you might find a link to an article on this blog (it happens a lot!).

tradeshow tips

Which beings me to this: you may not know about the great batch of tradeshow tips on our Exhibit Design Search. Seriously. You can find any exhibit or accessory that you’re looking for – and a bunch that you may not have thought about – but you can also find

The tips are grouped together for easy browsing in the following subheadings:

  • USA Tradeshow Regulations and Photos
  • Humor (always important when exhibiting at tradeshows!)
  • Getting Started
  • Becoming an Exhibit Marketing Expert
  • Displays and Exhibits
  • Design, Lighting and Graphic Tips
  • Fine-Tune Your Tradeshow Knowledge
  • Rental Displays
  • Tradeshow Training
  • Tradeshow Resources
  • General (But Important) Stuff

Something for Everyone

Easy to browse, easy to find something useful for your next show or exhibit. For example, under the heading Getting Started, you’ll find Ten Common Tradeshow Myths, which knocks down some rather daunting ideas that many people think about tradeshows. Like tradeshows are just a big party. Or tradeshows are a waste of time. Or tradeshows are just flat-out expensive.

Under the Design, Lighting and Graphic Tips heading, you’ll find The Importance of Color – Here’s Looking at Hue. Color is an attention-getting tool. In the world of exhibits, color is the first thing that visitors see in your booth.

Check out the heading Fine Tune Your Tradeshow Knowledge, you’ll find a very useful and important three-part series on How to Cut Your Tradeshow Costs.

One more thing before you head on over to check out the selection of Tradeshow and Event Tips. On each article, on the upper-left black bar above the article, you’ll see “+ My Gallery.” If you click on this link, you’ll add that article to your gallery, which you can access at the upper left navigation bar at the top of every page. Not only can you add articles, but you’ll find that +My Gallery button an each and every exhibit in the entire Exhibit Design Search site. After you’ve added articles, exhibit, accessories or whatever, you can share them with colleagues by clicking on the My Gallery link, find the Send My Selections tab and follow the instructions to share that collection you’ve created.

7 Snail Mail PreShow Marketing Pieces to Send to Prospective Tradeshow Visitors

Got a tradeshow appearance coming up, but aren’t sure how to exactly get people to come to your booth? Maybe you’re tried emailing people, or spent a lot of time leading up to the show and during the show pitching things on social media but aren’t getting great results? It doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing it right – there are a lot of reasons why things either work or don’t work – but one thing that doesn’t seem to be used a lot these days is sending out snail mail promos to get prospective tradeshow visitors to your booth.

So let’s create a list of seven items that you should consider sending out, in order, prior to the show. Keep in mind, this will cost more than email. In fact, depending on the things you send out, you might kick up a pretty noticeable budget. But for argument’s sake, let’s say you’ve got the budget and want to really get people’s attention.

A NOTE: This will take quite a bit of planning and coordination. You’ll need to sit down with a graphic artist, your product development team to know what new products will be launching, perhaps an outfit that coordinates mail promotions – lots to think through, but I think it’s worth taking a hard look at how this may unfold and get a lot of people excited to come to your booth. I mean, snail mail! Pull it off right and you’ll have a lot of folks looking forward to coming to your booth.

  1. Postcard Teaser Number One: Send this a few months, say 14 weeks prior to the show. On the postcard, do a “Save the Date!” tease, with the dates, times and location and bare bones information about the tradeshow, including your booth number. Nothing more. Just a teaser.
  2. Postcard Teaser Number Two: Send this one about 12 weeks prior to the show. Change out the “Save the Date!” verbiage with a little more information. Be sure to include the details (show, dates/times, booth number, etc.), but add some more information. If you’re launching new products, tease that. Doesn’t mean you have to give away all the information, just let people know that you have X number of new products that they’ll be among the first to know about if they come by your booth at the show.

  3. Letter: Send this about ten weeks prior to the show. It’s more than a postcard, this could be a flyer or letter that does the basics (show dates/times, booth number, new product launch, etc.), but invites them to go online and answer a 2-question survey for a chance to win something. OR…you may invite them to go online to a specially created landing page where they can sign up for an appointment with one of your representatives. The purpose of this email is for your prospect to consider making some sort of commitment to come to your booth.

  4. Postcard Invitation to Pick Up a Gift: Send this eight weeks out from show time. This is one you can have a lot of fun with, but you’ll want to be careful as well. You might approach it this way: tell your recipient that you have a limited amount of branded tumblers or some other nice special gift – but the only way to get one is to either be one of the first 100 people by the booth on day one OR they can confirm an appointment and you’ll reserve the gift for them. Work with your promotional products expert to come up with something that fits your budget and also the number of guests you suspect might be able to make that commitment, depending on the size of the show.
  5. Postcard reminding them of EVERYTHING: Send this just six weeks from the show. Tease your appearance, the new products launching, their chance to get a great prize if they book an appointment or are one of the first 100 to the booth.
  6. Postcard or Flyer: Send this a month prior to the show. if you have a new exhibit that you’re going to show off, let people know that it’s going to be special. In fact, you might send out a teaser image (3D rendering or photo-in-progress) showing off a part of the exhibit.
  7. Postcard Reminder: With just a couple of weeks to go, send out your last piece of snail mail. This could be a reminder or the various things you’ve already sent. If you’re planning to be active on social media, include mentions of all of your social media platforms and include any special hashtags that you’ll use during the show. If you’re doing a social media promotion, include that here.

This is a mere outline with a handful of suggestions. Get your creative juices flowing and figure out what items you can promote to get people to visit your booth. Maybe someone from your company is speaking or participating in a panel. Maybe you want to try some form of the “glove” promo where you send out a single glove and tell the recipient that they can get the other one if they come by the booth. There are literally thousands of things you can come up with that can be used in conjunction with an active, well-thought-out and well-executed snail mail marketing program that’s specific to your upcoming tradeshow appearance.

How to Find Your First Tradeshow as an Exhibitor

how to find a tradeshow as an exhibitor

If you’re new to the world of tradeshow marketing, one of the most difficult challenges is this: how do you find a tradeshow that is a good fit? And by a good fit, does it have your target market, does it have buyers and decision makers, and will there be a lot of traffic there, even as a new exhibitor that is relegated to a lower-traffic area of the show floor?

The first thing to do is find out if your competitors are there. If your direct competitors have been going to a show for years, they must have a reason. It doesn’t hurt to call them up and pick their brains. Even competitors will tell you pros and cons of the shows they exhibit at. And if you’re a new company, they probably won’t think of you as a threatening competitor. Yet.

Ask partners, vendors and other industry-related companies about what shows they are aware of and how those shows are perceived in the industry.

Once you narrow down a few shows that have a lot of competitors, it’s always good advice to attend and walk the floor prior to committing as an exhibitor. Yes, most shows are annual, which means you’re putting off the decision for several more months, but by walking the floor, you can speak to exhibitors, chat with show organizers, pick the brains of attendees and get an overall feel for the veracity of the show. Once you decide to go, you have several months to determine how the next steps will unfold.

If you’re still trying to learn about all of the potential shows, take your mouse for a spin. There are many tradeshow databases online – just search for the term tradeshow database.

Here are a few of our favorites:


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

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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