Not a bad way to kick off June! I sat down with Mel White of Classic Exhibits, along with a few dozen viewers, for a presentation on tradeshow tips for newbies and wannabes. He invited me as part of their ongoing “Fast and Furious” webinar series, and I was grateful to be asked and glad to join. We nicknamed the presentation ‘From Tradeshow Stupid to Tradeshow Smart in 50 Minutes,’ but whatever you want to call it, I jammed a lot of stuff into the presentation. Take a look – hope you get something out of it, and thanks to Classic Exhibits for inviting me!
Despite what many people think, offline advertising is not dead. Traditional marketing methods still have their place in the digital age! At the Tradeshow Guy Blog, we know that long-forgotten advertising strategies can be just as effective as their online counterparts, particularly for local businesses with a community presence. Used in combination with digital marketing strategies like email and social media, you can create a powerful marketing plan with the help of old-school advertising methods.
Phone calls are great both for promoting your business and learning about your target audience. It’s important to understand what your customer wants before you spend good money on advertising and calling up members of your target audience is a great way to extract this information. Call up your customers—or cold call potential leads—and ask them what they think of your product or service. Their answers will help you determine the best approach for your marketing, including what content will resonate best and on which marketing channels you should focus your efforts.
Tradeshows and Events
Events are fantastic opportunities to promote your local business. For example, Retail Insider explains that you can use trade shows to raise brand awareness, educate your customers, and expand your sales channels. Trade shows are also great for keeping an eye on your competitors! There’s a good chance that your top competitors will attend the same trade shows as you, so take advantage of the opportunity to see what they’re doing and learn from them.
If you want to get the most out of each trade show, you must plan ahead. Reach out to industry experts and vendors who will be attending and schedule quick meetings with them during the show. Make it easy for potential customers to provide their contact information so you can get in touch after the show. You could even print a poster with a QR code linking interested guests to your website!
Flyers and Brochures
Printed flyers and brochures are another cost-effective traditional advertising strategy. Because brochures hold a lot of information, they’re great for educating people about your product or service and spreading awareness about your business. Brochures can also give your business a sense of credibility and authority. You don’t need to limit yourself to mailing lists—remember to hand out your brochures at events and trade shows as well!
Take advantage of digital tools to make your brochure design appear sharp and professional. For example, Canva is a popular tool for designing graphics for websites, social media, and print materials. And if you really want to give your brochure a professional edge, don’t hesitate to hire a graphic designer!
Billboards and Banners
According to HubSpot, billboard advertising can be a powerful way to build brand awareness. When you rent space on a billboard, you get to broadcast your business to as many people as possible. The best billboards tell a story, which can be tough with a single image and one or two lines of text. Consider hiring a professional copywriter to ensure your content is captivating and engaging!
Similar to billboards, banners are great for advertising your business at local events. Consider sponsoring an event, like a sports game, festival, or fair, and printing banners to promote your company. This is a great chance to showcase your logo and build awareness around your brand. Don’t overlook traditional advertising methods! When done right, offline advertising methods can be great for getting the word out about your business and directing interested consumers to your website. Look for ways to bridge your online and offline marketing strategies, boost your conversions, and grow your business!
Emma Grace Brown lives her life by her rules, and it works! When she’s not snuggling puppies, Emma promotes female empowerment through her website. Her mission is to help those who live with self-doubt to realize they don’t have to mold themselves to conventionality.
Unlimited choices. Seems like having the pick of anything we want would make things easier, right? For example, I have a subscription to Apple Music. Yeah, it could be Pandora or Spotify or any of the music streaming services. But with a streaming subscription, you have instant access to millions – literally millions – of choices when it comes to what songs or artists or albums to listen to.
Yet often I find myself stumped, not knowing what I should listen to. So I go back to my own library, which has only 50,000 or so tracks. Much easier to find something.
But too many choices? Yeah, doesn’t always work. Yeah, when I hear about the new album from Coldplay or Jackson Browne, I can easily jump over and listen.
The less choice you have, the more you must use those constraints to your benefit. I think the same thing applies to the scope of your tradeshow exhibit project.
Sure, you may love to have a large island, 20 x 30 or even larger. Just think of the things you can do with such a large space! But if you have only half or less of that space, it forces you to consider every square foot. And as a result, you can still come up with some very creative tradeshow exhibits.
Want eco-friendly? Use cardboard tubing, bamboo wood, or actual live plant enhancements as part of your design.
Need a table but want it to still be an eye-catcher? Try a custom branded, LED-highlighted odd-shaped table.
Need to save on cost and still have a nice-looking booth? I’ve seen several booths that use the shipping cases as building blocks for counters and back walls.
Looking for a way to draw attention to your small booth presentations? Hire a dynamic and charismatic presenter that’s experienced in drawing small but enthusiastic crowds.
Creativity isn’t limited to large canvases. You can get creative in countless ways. Just pull out your thinking cap and collaborate with others.
A noticeable and stressful challenge is still with us when it comes to shipping. A recent email from our main exhibit manufacturer Classic Exhibits to its distributors outlines freight size limitations. Many tradeshow exhibit crates are 98 – 103” long, but now many freight forwarders will not accept any shipments that are not skidded or crated, and will no longer accept any shipments that are over 96” L or 96” H.
A note just came in this afternoon from Freeman, which says that effective August 1st, Freeman will require anyone on their property or show site to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Freeman employees are also required to either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours to be able to work.
A Facebook page I follow had a recent post where the HIMSS Show has been canceled, but at this point, it seems to be a rumor. The show’s main page doesn’t mention any cancellation, but there are details on how they’re now requiring masks (see the above story on Nevada’s return to mask mandates), even for fully vaccinated people.
Another one: we’re working with a client for a show in late October, and with the recent news of the past week, I point-blank asked if they were still planning to attend and move forward with a new booth project. Suffice it to say that they’re still in discussion about it and haven’t made a final decision yet (which has to be made within the next couple of weeks). Contrast that to just a couple of weeks ago where they were full speed ahead.
Yes, as Mink DeVille once sang, it’s a mixed up, shook up world (okay, they were singing about a mixed up, shook up girl, but hey, it’s about the same thing, right?)
All I can say is hang in there, in spite of the two-step-forward-one-step-back world we’re living in. We’ll make it through. I got faith in the world and in the industry.
If you’re a fan of Robert Heinlein’s classic science fiction book “Stranger in a Strange Land,” you know the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who was born on Mars, raised by Martians, and comes to Earth in early adulthood. He ends up in a political power struggle and as the title suggests, he’s a little lost in the whole thing.
I sense that many people are feeling a similar way when it comes to returning to the tradeshow floor. Exhibit designers, builders and exhibitors are looking to the future when things will return to normal and they can get back to the action of exhibiting and all that entails.
This morning I see a post in a tradeshow group on Facebook that a client has canceled an appearance in an upcoming show in early August. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the resurgence of the delta variant of the virus and the continued resistance by a significant portion of the population to getting vaccinated.
Another commented that they also had a cancellation at the same show, and a second cancellation by another client at another show in October. Also due to uncertainty of the virus numbers.
But for some exhibitors who are looking at shows in late October, the assumption is that everything will be fine and they’re proceeding with plans for new exhibits. So they’re forging ahead on designs and are getting ready to put significant money down on new exhibits.
I get the sense that with all the players involved – organizers, exhibitors, attendees, designers, fabricators, labor and support services – no one is sure of which way to jump, and unfortunately we’ll all have to jump several times before we learn where we’re going to land.
In the TV show “Billions,” one of the questions that come up now and then is: “Are you certain?” And the response is meant to be “I am not uncertain.”
But I don’t think anyone has much certainty right now about the tradeshow world and when it might return to normal. Or even settle into a “new normal,” which will be different but at least predictable.
As the tradeshow world returns to something resembling normal, it does so in fits and starts and a few bumps along the way. In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Jim Wurm, Executive Director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association talks about those challenges:
Not only do exhibitors care about the environment, but they also want to have exhibits fabricated in an eco-friendly way – AND let their clientele know about their commitment to the environment.
That’s why here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we’ve partnered with Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits for years. Many of our clients have requested eco-friendly exhibits, and we thought we should share this friendly and informative video to show you exactly what an ex-friendly exhibit is all about:
Inflation is kicking in, have you noticed? Have you recently tried to price a piece of plywood, for example? And no doubt you’re feeling it at the pump, too.
It’s affecting the cost of tradeshow exhibits and tradeshow marketing, too. In a recent Classic Conversation – where Classic Exhibits distributors gather monthly to share info and chat – much of the conversation was about rising prices. And it’s apparently affecting a lot of the marketplace. Prices are moving up, and time frames are also changing.
For example, when the pandemic hit, companies had to shed employees. Many were furloughed indefinitely, many were simply let go. Now that things are moving in the other direction, albeit slowly in many instances, companies are having to staff up again. And many are finding it challenging to get dependable people back into the workforce.
Also, supply lines are either clogged or pinched, or negatively affected, meaning that it takes longer to get the materials that you need. There’s a high demand where there was recently very little demand, which means that the ramping up of production is happening, and it doesn’t happen overnight. And shipping is taking longer than it used to. Much longer, depending on where things are coming from. If materials are coming from Asia, for instance, the broad stroke take is that shipping containers cost more and are harder to find, making shipping not only more expensive, but things are taking longer.
In the states, shipping times are expanding by a few days in some instances. Again, these are general observations, but people who handle shipping logistics agree that it’s taking longer to get things from Point A to Point B.
Other things to watch for
It’s been noted that in some locales, show services are being impacted. In a quick addendum to our regular monthly chat, someone observed that GES was allowing only their rental exhibits to be set up, and not allowing any EACs (Exhibitor Approved Contractors) onto the floor. Again, this seemed to be only in a few places, but it raises flags about how you should approach planning for your next show.
What to do:
Talk to your exhibit house: find out prices ahead of time; find out how long the quote will be good for (expect that 30 days is a likely limit).
Talk to your labor and show services contractors well ahead of the show so you are prepared for any changes that you may have to deal with for the upcoming show.
Download and read the show manuals from top to bottom and if you notice changes or have questions, take the time to reach out and get clarity on anything you’re uncertain about.
Finally, don’t wait until the last minute for any booth changes. Plan on adding an extra week or two or three to your design and production schedule. Show dates won’t move, and if you want any significant changes to your tradeshow booth, make sure your planning includes the extra time needed.
Tradeshows are a great place to bring in more sales. But to bring in sales and grow your company, tradeshows are also a perfect place for setting secondary and tertiary goals. Here are some you might want to consider: