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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“Tradeshow Success” Book Released

This week is the launch of my new book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’m doing a lot of the normal launch things an author would do: sending copies to industry media and bloggers, along with industry colleagues. Creating a list of clients and potential clients that I’d like to get the book into. And much more!

Beyond that, I’ve created a series of 14 videos, with each one relating to one of the chapters in the book. Those videos are appearing, about one a day, at my YouTube Tradeshow Marketing channel. Check ’em out!

So what can you do? If you want to purchase the paperback, here’s the Amazon.com page. You can also buy the Kindle version for about half the list price of the paperback.

You can also read the book for free here at TradeshowSuccessBook.com. You’ll be asked to opt-in to a mailing list (which, if you gotta, you can always unsubscribe from).

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What do you get in the book? As mentioned in the subtitle, I’ve detailed 14 steps that are critical to tradeshow success. Not every successful tradeshow marketer uses all of these steps with utmost efficiency, but most of them make very good use of many of the steps.
So what are the steps?

Let’s take a look at the 14 Steps:

  • Step One: Going with or without a Map? Are you doing enough planning and organizing around your tradeshows?
  • Step Two: Dollars, Pounds, Euros: How Much Do You Really Need to Make This Work? A breakdown of the budgeting process for tradeshows and what it takes to budget for a new exhibit.
  • Step Three: Getting Ready for the Big Dance: Pre-show planning and marketing.
  • Step Four: Did You Come to the Right Dance? Just make sure that your target market is at the show you’re going to dump all of that money into.
  • Step Five: Home is Where the Booth Is: Booth design essentials, including function, traffic flow, graphics and more.
  • Step Six: Is Your Frontline Team Up to Snuff? Booth staff training!
  • Step Seven: What Do I Do With All of These People in the Booth? Now that you’ve drawn a crowd, what do you do with them?
  • Step Eight: Tweeting, Posting and Instagramming Like a King or Queen: Putting social media to work for you in a creative way.
  • Step Nine: Who’s Keeping Track of Those Damn Tweets? Someone needs to create videos, blog posts, tweets, etc. Here’s a great look at some online content ideas.
  • Step Ten: Got a Stack of Leads: Now What? Lead generation and follow up.
  • Step Eleven: Becoming the Zen Master of Stats and Records: Record-keeping is the secret sauce to tracking your success.
  • Step Twelve: Stirring the Public Relations and Media Pot: Working with industry media.
  • Step Thirteen: Do QR Codes Still Kill Kittens? And Other Tech Questions: A quick examination of technology in tradeshows.
  • Step Fourteen: Out Of Your Nest: Time to Fly! Your call to action!

Want to grab your own copy? Use the links above to own your own. Or if you want the digital version (PDF download), try this:

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

SoYoung Custom Booth Makes Debut at Expo East

One of our newest clients, SoYoung from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, unveiled their new custom 10×10 booth to the public earlier this month at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, MD to great reviews.

“The show has been hopping and the booth is fantastic!” was the text I got from company owner Catherine Choi on day two of the show. She had a photographer come by to document the booth and products. Check out the gallery. And thanks to SoYoung – glad to have you as a new client!

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Booth Babes: Again, Why?

Looking for booth babes? Hmmm...let's try another booth!
Looking for booth babes? Hmmm…let’s try another booth!

I’ve seen several writers and new sources chime in recently on the controversy of hiring models, aka ‘booth babes’ at tradeshows to attract attention.

Here the CBC looks at the continuing controversy.

Fortune Magazine covers a story where the RSA Conference, a top tech conference in San Francisco, has banned those scantily clad girls.

The Geek Feminism Wiki describes what exactly is a ‘booth babe.’

The Infotainer, Anders Boulanger goes into it in a couple of places on his blog, and nails it.

I don’t have much add, except for a few questions for the marketing geniuses who think that hiring an attractive scantily-clad model is going to bring in more leads and close more business.

First, do the models represent the essence of what your company is all about? Do they really show off what your company is all about? Unless you’re a company that rents dancing girls, probably not. Instead, the girls tell attendees that you really don’t have a specific product or service that is more important than, well, scantily clad girls. How do you explain that to clients?

Do the scantily-clad women attract potential buyers? Doubtful. More likely they’re an eye-candy distraction that will probably repel (read: embarrass) true buyers and draw in only those who are there for a quick gander, who will then also be embarrassed and quickly retreat because they’re intimidated.

Do your ‘booth babes’ help convert prospects to buyers? Again, in most cases: NO. Spencer Chen has done the math in detail here, which is a brilliant takedown of the idea that booth babes will help bring you more customers, but suffice it to say that someone hired strictly for their ability to draw in a specific type of male attendee probably won’t do you any good in getting a potential buyer to convert to a client.

Finally, in today’s world where ‘booth babes’ are already a controversy, why in the world would you court controversy when you’re trying to increase leads and close more accounts?

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Are You Ready For A New Exhibit?

How do you know when it’s time for your company to invest in a new exhibit? While the answer will vary from company to company, there are a number of common factors that can help answer that question.

Is your current exhibit old? In the exhibit world, a tradeshow booth is old somewhere between 5-7 years. Now, that doesn’t mean you should automatically replace your booth as soon as it hits that age, or if it’s older. But an older exhibit is a sign that it might be time to consider upgrading. Of course, some companies use the same exhibit for decades. Yup, seen it happen.

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What do your main competitors’ booths look like? If your company has stayed put while most of your main competitors have invested in new booth properties, it can make you look a little old and out of touch. In some industries, that’s the touch of death. In others, not so much.

Has your company’s exhibit needs changed significantly? One client I worked with found that their target market had matured to the point they were no longer needing to display so many products, but instead needed to assist those distributors with other things. That meant downsizing the booth to accommodate those needs. If you have new products or services that are not getting the notice they deserve, that may mean an upgrade is needed.

Has your company grown significantly? Some companies need a booth to match their market presence, which means a larger booth. It also means keeping up with the Joneses.

Is your current exhibit stretching your shipping budget because it’s very heavy to ship? Shipping and drayage for wooden crates and booths can eat up a significant portion of your tradeshow marketing budget. Unless heavier materials such as wood and metal define your company’s looks, it’s worth considering a lighter approach. Fabric graphics, aluminum frames and structures and the like can significantly cut your shipping costs for years to come. With fabric graphics that are easily changed for different exhibiting needs, a new lightweight booth may be just what the doctor ordered.

Beyond these items, you may have another reason to put a new company tradeshow booth into place in the near future. I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment!

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Why Get a Charging Station for Your Booth?

Mel and Kevin of Classic Exhibits take some time to answer questions about the very popular charging stations. There are a lot of reasons to consider adding a charging station – and maybe you’ve thought of a few. But what about customization, set-up, packing and shipping and more? Check out this interview and then take a look at our online catalog selection of charging stations here.

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Essentials of Tradeshow Booth Design: Slide Deck

If you got a chance to see the webinar I did recently with Handshake, thanks! I hope you got something useful out of it. I’ve had a handful of requests for the slide deck so people can review it closer. Here’s the deck:

If you’d like to see the replay, click here.

Expo West 2015: Blisters, Wacky Booth Awards and Show Reflections

After 62,219 steps, a couple of achy legs and a few foot blisters in four days of Expo West, it came to me: “Tradeshows ain’t for wimps!” Certainly not if you’re walking the floor, nor if you’re an exhibitor who’s shepherding a booth (and staff) from the home office location to the show floor, through day(s) of set-up, three days of visitors, then dismantling and shipping it back. Thanks to Fitbit’s tracking device that’s 28.96 miles, give or take…

Tradeshows ain’t for wimps. I know it, and every year I say the same thing: I should have gone into training for this about six weeks ago.

Depending on whom you listen to and believe and what rumors are flying, this year’s Expo West, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, drew around 80,000 visitors, a one-third boost from last year. Or, as one exhibitor confided, a New Hope rep told her that the total attendance (attendees and exhibitors) was north of 110,000 and growth was so substantial that they were looking to demand some more space and concessions from the convention center, or within a few years it could be ‘Sayonara, Anaheim, hello Las Vegas!’

Like I said, rumors.

Flash Drives: @Tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit

The @tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit
The @tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit

My calling card this year wasn’t a card; it was a flashdrive that contained a lotta stuff to help exhibitors.  I took six dozen and they all found a home, except for the one that stayed in the bottom of my backpack. I loved that they were quite well-received by those I offered them to: “You’re showing me how to bring home more leads, get more PR and have a better-trained booth staff? I’ve been waiting for this!” Did you get one? Would you like one? It’s available now online: download your toolkit here.

Social Media

As always, I keep abreast of happenings on the show floor via Twitter, and, increasingly, via Instagram. It’s easy to post photos to either, but from the Instagram platform, you can also post directly to Facebook and Twitter, so that makes it an easy choice to start there. Loads of exhibitors and attendees are hanging out on both platforms, and it’s easy to follow them by tracking the hashtags #expowest and #expowest2015. Hey, I got some freebies this way, and also entered a few contests that I previously would not have run across. (Hey NutraSumma, call me when I win that mountain bike, okay?)

Booth Awards

This year’s show was, as usual, quite the extravaganza. And the booths (and attendees) ranged from ghastly to elegant to stunning. Let’s hand out a few awards, shall we?

Coolest Interactive

While there were certainly a lot of companies looking to find ways to get visitors to interact with their booth, the So Delicious booth found a nice way to get people involved by ‘sharing the love’ with chalk on a large chalkboard at the back of their booth.

 

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Most Unsubtle Header

Boomchickapop decided to go all in. I can hear the discussion now: “Hey, let’s take the name of the product, make it as big as possible and add a lot of PINK! Whaddaya say, gang?” Well, it works. It gets you to stop, take a look and see what they’re all about.

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Most Iconic Cut-Outs

A year or two ago, the new Pope was featured in a cut-out. I didn’t see him this year, but I did see Will Ferrell, The Queen of England and Dr. Thayer. I probably missed some others.

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Big Ass Colorful Graphic

Natrol’s booth sat up front at the entrance to the hall, and to grab people’s attention, they installed a graphic that must have measured about 8’ x 30’. Big. Colorful. And not the only one. The booth had big ass graphics on all sides, so you couldn’t miss ‘em.

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Biggest Coconuts

A large pair of coconuts on the back wall of Zico’s booth caught my eye and drew me in for a taste of chilled juice blend.

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Biggest Boobs

A tough battle between Bamboobies (the girls with the pink hair) and the giant walking boobs of milkmakers, who were promoting their product with the hashtag #hoorayforboobies, and I think the boobs from milkmakers won out.

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Best Stairway to Heaven (or at least the second floor)

Nature’s Path showed up with a clever booth that showed a layered look from the floor to the 16 foot level, including a stairway up the middle to a private meeting area.

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Busiest Graphic Backwall

Not always a good award to win because people don’t often stop to read the whole damn thing; nonetheless, this one from Powercrunch was arresting.

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Best Iconic Brand Knockoff

While Beyond Meat will never be mistaken for McDonald’s, they did work hard to pull the look and feel of Mickey D’s into their booth to show how their meatless product compares. Nicely done!

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Most Elegant Look

Simplicity and function are their own reward. This was accomplished by the designers of the new booth for Portland’s Pacifica.

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I look forward to Expo West every year; this was my 13th consecutive year at the Anaheim gathering. It’s had astonishing growth in that time (and it was big back then!), and it appears to be anticipating even more growth in the next half-decade. The Natural Products Industry has done well of late with healthy and intriguing products, dramatic competition and an increasing market for those products.

Our company, Communication One Exhibits, has about a dozen current and former clients at Expo West this year, and we’d love to add more. Want a booth for your next show? Click here. We love making you look good, whether it’s at Expo West or any other show.

What’s in Your Exhibiting Toolkit?

When it comes to your Exhibiting Toolkit, I don’t mean the screwdrivers, masking and duct tape and scissors (although those and other items will come in handy), but what about the various bits and pieces that will help draw visitors to your booth and capture more leads?

Let’s create a short but incomplete list of some of the necessary tools you should consider having in your toolkit.

  • A Damn Good Plan
  • A Well-Trained Booth Staff
  • A Booth That Represents Your Company Brand at a Glance
  • Lead Capture Mechanism
  • Follow-up Plan

Let’s break these down a little more:

A Damn Good Plan should include what you’re going to do 6 months before the show, 3 months ahead, 2 months, a month, etc. It includes your pre-show marketing schedule, the booth details (making sure to review the booth ahead of the show with plenty of time to do any minor repairs), electrical grid if needed, shipping dates, booth staff schedules.

A Well-Trained Booth Staff is a crew that is pleasant, friendly, knowledgeable, friendly (did I say friendly?), willing to work long hours, flexible and trained. Trained in what? Booth etiquette, how to interact with visitors for maximum efficiency, lead capture knowledge and more. Your staff is your front line in a chaotic environment. If there are any weak links in this chain it will eventually show.

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Photo by Tradeshowguy Tim Patterson

A Booth That Represents Your Company Brand at a Glance: this often means a custom booth, but it certainly doesn’t have to. There are a lot of tradeshow booths that can be customized to fit your brand sensibilities. They also have to function well, meaning there has to be proper storage, product display and meeting areas to accommodate your company exhibiting goals.

Lead Capture Mechanism: Whether you’re writin’ those leads down on paper, or capturing them in electronic form, all of the leads should have maximum information required to confirm the next step, and nothing more. Name and address, phone number and email are often the top of the list, but ask if all of those items are absolutely necessary. What’s as important is agreeing on the next step, whether it’s a follow up call, meeting or simply sending more information. Agree on what the next step is, and when it will take place.

Follow Up Plan: How are the leads getting to the sales team back in the office for follow up? Are they being transmitted electronically back to the team each night? Are they being transported in your briefcase? Whatever the method, make sure not to leave them for someone else. Too many leads wind up in Neverland. Sticking them in an envelope and then tucking that envelope into the booth crates often mean that the next time you see them is 11 months later when you open up the crates to prepare for next year’s show! Beyond that, your sales team should be prepared to receive and follow up on the leads in a timely manner.

No doubt you can add to this list, but these are the basics. Leave any item here aside at your own risk!

Case Study: Classic Exhibits and Social Media at EXHIBITOR 2012

Late in 2011, Mel White, the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits Inc., contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in guiding their social media efforts at EXHIBITOR 2012 in early March.

“Sounds intriguing!”

So we set out a plan. Our main goal was to create as much buzz as possible (on a limited budget) leading up to the event. The plan was to shoot 2-3 entertaining teaser videos before the show. The videos would slowly reveal the concept and design of Classic’s new 20 x 30 display, a booth that would showcase their most popular 10’ inline exhibits.

Starting three weeks before the show, we started posting short teaser videos. The videos slowly revealed the “Be Better” concept using a lighthearted investigative reporter approach.  Getting the inside scoop from Classic was the main theme.  They appeared on the Tradeshowmarketing YouTube channel, here on Tradeshowguy Blog, and on Classic Exhibits’ blog, Trade Show Tales. In addition, we posted these on Classic’s LinkedIn group and Facebook page. Almost immediately, traffic to Classic’s blog tripled.

At the show, we posted more videos, shot a lot of photos, and met a host of people who saw the video. All of this was tweeted about and shared on Facebook as well.

So what did all of this social media activity get us? Let’s take a look and count the numbers where we’re able.

The four Classic Exhibits-related videos gathered a total of 760 views on YouTube (the five non-Classic Exhibits-related videos, by contrast, got a total of 177 views).

During the show, I counted about 20 people who made a comment after recognizing me (and my classic old Stetson Bogie-style hat) from the videos. According to Mel White, of the over 230 leads at the show, about 40 percent mentioned either the videos or the blog posts. In fact, Mel stated, “We’ve been exhibiting at EXHIBITOR for nearly 20 years. This year we doubled the number of end-user leads compared to past years. Some of that was the exhibit design, but the videos attracted customer to our space who would not have visited us otherwise.  More than anything, the videos boosted our ‘cred’ with our distributors. We were viewed as the social media innovator at the show.”

A few of the results:

  • Various links and comments I made on Twitter about EXHIBITOR (both Classic Exhibit-related and non-related tweets) got mentioned and/or re-tweeted to over 36,000 people.
  • TradeshowguyBlog posts related to Classic Exhibits/Exhibitor have received 265 total views.
  • YouTube search ranking for ‘EXHIBITOR 2012’ showed ALL videos on the front page of the search results, taking the Top 3 spots and 5 of the Top 10.
  • Google search results for ‘Exhibitor 2012’ were less impressive, although a podcast recap of the adventures in Las Vegas at EXHIBITOR and in Anaheim at Expo West showed up in the Top 5.
  • On Bing, a search for ‘EXHIBITOR 2012 video’ showed a Classic Exhibits blog entry as the top result.

Bottom line: From my perspective, it was a fun and worthwhile project, both for branding Classic Exhibits and as @tradeshowguy at the show. With all of the views and positive feedback, it added up to a win/win for both!

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