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

Branding

Goal-Setting at Tradeshows

It doesn’t take that much to exhibit at a tradeshow. Just rent a booth space, bring an exhibit, a handful of staffers and do your thing.

Uh, what’s your thing, though? That’s the big question. Are you there to increase brand awareness? Show that you have a bigger or cooler exhibit than your main competitor? Take a client out for dinner and drinks?

As George Harrison once sang, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

It’s better to have a plan. To know what you want. More leads? Sales? Giving away a specific number of samples? Getting more social media followers? Certainly, you want to pick goals that are important to growing your business. But one step beyond that is to not only pick good goals, but to make them concrete goals, such as:

  • We want 150 good leads, 50 of which are new.
  • We want 300 new Instagram followers.
  • We want to hand out 1000 product samples.
  • We want to do 100 in-person demos of our product or service.
  • We want to meet with CEO’s of three major prospects.

Once you delineate those goals, create a plan to get there. Create the roadmap. If you want to meet with specific people, set appointments. If you want to line up new social media followers, make it easy. If you want new leads, have a method for uncovering the right prospects.

Tradeshow marketing can be expensive, but since you are at a place where thousands of prospects are all gathered in the same place, it’s also the ideal setting to generate leads at the lowest cost-per-lead you’ll ever manage.

Create a plan. Follow the plan.


What Signals Are You Sending?

Everything you do, everything you say, how you say it, what you wear, what you drive…they all send signals to other people. A Rolex sends a different signal than a Swatch watch. A Tesla sends a different signal than a Ford 150 pickup. A pair of shorts sends a different signal than a tuxedo.

We all choose the signals we send out, whether consciously or unconsciously. What kind of car we buy, clothes we wear, people we hang out with, how we speak, what we read?

When someone visits your place of business, what signals do you send? How clean is the floor, what kind of bathrooms do you have (and how clean are they)?

Every interaction a prospect or client has with you or your company is an opportunity for them to form an impression.

It’s the same thing at tradeshows. Do you ever think about the signals you send with your tradeshow presence? No doubt a lot of thought goes into how you’ll present your image and brand down to the right colors, the type of packaging, the types of products you design, create and market.

Everything in your booth sends a signal

But I wonder if that consideration goes all the way to the people in your booth. Do you decide if Jesse is a better choice than Aaron to represent the company in the booth? Do you choose branded clothing, such as t-shirts, for all of your booth staffers to wear from day to day? Do you train them on how talk to visitors, how to ask questions, how to stand, how to understand and control their body language?

What about the state of your booth and exhibit? Is the carpet clean? Is the garbage can overflowing? Does your exhibit have cracks and signs of wear and tear or is it in tip-top shape with new graphics and clean countertops?

Everything you do, wear, and speak sends a signal.

What signals are you sending to your visitors?

End of Year Price Drops

The tradeshow and event industry has been gasping for air for months and months. Exhibitors are putting off investing in new exhibits while wondering if they’re even going to appear at any shows in 2021.

In steps Classic Exhibits, our main exhibit manufacturer, with a little help: a price drop on safety dividers and rental! Not to mention, a trio of eco-friendly sustainable exhibits: a 10×10, a 10×20 and a 2020 island. Let’s take a look. Click to enlarge. Find the links below to download the PDFs.


Find Improvement at the Edges

Sure, we’d all like to make big changes. Swoop in, push all the old stuff aside, and institute something NEW and DASHING and DAZZLING and TERRIFIC, something that impresses the hell out of customers, the media, and especially your boss. Because if your boss is impressed, he’ll remember you and you might be in line for a promotion, which means a raise and so on and so forth.

Sounds great! Except that making big changes, making that one BIG CHANGE that gets all of that attention, isn’t easy. You have to start from scratch, tear everything down and do something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. And if you change everything, you’d better have a damn good reason. First off, it’ll cost more. Probably a lot more. It has to be a big bold idea. How many of those have you had lately? And you have to get buy-in from the right people, and especially the people who control the purse strings.

There’s a better way, and it doesn’t cost as much. It doesn’t require big bold ideas. It doesn’t change everyone’s job that’s involved in the initiative.

Make improvements at the edges. Opportunity lies in the margins. Find a way to bring ten percent more visitors to your booth. Generate another five or ten percent leads by adding a small interactive element to your booth. Move your booth space closer to the main entrance of a big show once you’ve accumulated enough points and time in the show to warrant it. Take a survey of half of your visitors to uncover what they really think of your new products or services, adding just a little new information to your product development.

There are a lot of little things you can do on the margins to make a notable improvement that doesn’t cost a lot, take much time, or strain the system (and your brain). Yet little changes can still have a strong positive impact on the bottom line.


Shows Are Coming Back Slowly. But Will Exhibitors Return?

This past week I’ve reached out to a couple of dozen former clients and prospects that have all exhibited for years at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. The show is usually in early March. You may recall that it was canceled on March 2nd this year, just a couple of days before it was supposed to open, just as the pandemic caused hundreds of exhibitors to pull out.

I happened to be sitting on a plane on the tarmac in Portland heading for the show that day when I saw the email from show organizers saying they were pulling the plug.

So what about next year? The show had originally been scheduled for early March again, but a few weeks ago it was pushed back to late May – a two and a half month delay, after a year in which it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Will it happen? Obviously, organizers hope so. But who the heck really knows?

To get a sense of what exhibitors were thinking, I reached out to a couple dozen of them. The answers were varied, as you might imagine.

One said they’d signed up, but with the caveat that they could pull out and get their deposit back within a certain time frame. Another handful said they’re still in the wait-and-see mode, as final decisions are needed until sometime in January. I did hear from a pair of long-time exhibitors who said they would definitely NOT be there. In fact, one said they had decided to participate in NO shows through 2021.

Fits and starts. That’s what the tradeshow industry seems to be right now, working in fits and starts. And I suspect that will hold for all of 2021.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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