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

Client Relations

Is a Post-Pandemic Tradeshow Boom on the Horizon?

With the pandemic slowly winding down (fingers crossed), what does the future hold? I’m no prognosticator and I’m definitely not an economist, although I pay attention to a lot of what’s going on in the economy. Last summer, in a conversation with a colleague, we wondered aloud what it would mean for the tradeshow and exhibit industry when “normal” returned. At that time, we were only looking ahead a few months, but here it is at least two seasons later, and we’re still waiting for the new normal to return.

The country and much of the world are still slogging through high unemployment, many stores closing, restaurants on life support and little to no job growth. In monthly calls with tradeshow exhibit producers, sellers, and project managers, it’s clear that most vendors in the tradeshow world are still operating at a fraction of their full capabilities. And most still think that they won’t reach their full capabilities until sometime in 2022. Yes, Q3 and Q4 in 2021 should show some improvement, but it’ll be a slow go for months to come.

But, once things return, people are comfortable traveling and setting up exhibits and attending shows, what does that mean?

A recent article in the New York Times tagged a few economic markers they’re following, including a prediction by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia that US output will increase 4.5% this year, which if it happened, would be the best since 1999.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Optimism is growing because of a number of things: coronavirus cases are dropping, vaccine rates are increasing, and oh, yeah, there are a few trillion dollars sloshing around in the economy and if the current administration wrangles their bill through Congress, another couple of trillion dollars will follow. Consumers are also sitting on trillions of dollars thanks to lockdown spending dips and more stimulus payments.

But what does that mean for the business world or, more specifically, the tradeshow world? It’s hard to get a handle on exact outcomes, no surprise, but experts point to the fact that in many industries – tradeshow world likely included – a number of companies simply haven’t survived, or they’ve been gobbled up by stronger competitors. Which means that there may not be as much competition.

The world of shows, events and conferences is also changing. Floor plans may change, especially if social distancing remains in effect in at least parts of the country, meaning different shapes and size availabilities for booth placement. Does that mean revised exhibits? New exhibits? Downsizing or upsizing? Who can say? Any change will likely mean exhibitors be willing to spend money for either revisions or brand-new properties. Fingers crossed for all of us in the supply side of the industry.

One final note: Marly Arnold of Image Specialist does a biweekly live 30-minute show that appears on her YouTube channel, and a recent conversation with Jim Wurm of Exhibit Designers and Producers Association talked about this very topic. On the YouTube page here, she lists a number of links that are worth looking at. Let me share just a couple:

From TSNN, ten predictions for meetings and events in 2021. Some of the predictions include: virtual isn’t going away once shows return to live venues; Las Vegas is coming back strong (no surprise); it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Northstar Meetings Group looks at which convention centers are open.

TSNN with another look at how bad the US hospitality and travel industries were pummeled since COVID-19 took hold.

Beyond the links from Marlys’ YouTube page, TSNN also posted this piece on how momentum is building in the tradeshow world.

From this vantage point, it seems like a boom is coming. The question is how big, how long and how much of it will reach us here in the tradeshow, event, and conference world.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 22, 2021: Classic Conversations

Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Classic Exhibits, one of the top handful of exhibit manufacturers in the country, for over a decade. When the pandemic set it, it didn’t take long for them to do their best to adjust to the new reality. One of the things that Classic Exhibits implemented last year was a monthly conversation with distributors. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sat down with two of the moderators of the Classic Conversations, Tom Beard and Harold Mintz, to learn more about how those came about:

Find Classic Exhibits here. Find Exhibit Design Search, provided by Classic Exhibits, here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Seagate external drives. Here’s the 5 TB external drive I just got.

Webinars from Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association

One of the lesser seen but more important parts of your exhibiting experience is the help provided by labor that sets up your exhibit, work with audio and video setup, transportation, carpet/flooring and furniture. And you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that there’s an industry association that works on behalf of the more than 200 member companies that represent more than 12,500 fulltime tradeshow professionals and more than 50,000 part-time workers.

As with all companies in the events, tradeshows and conference industry, the EACA members have been dramatically affected by the pandemic, which cancelled or postponed hundreds if not thousands of tradeshows. The EACA, to work their way through the pandemic, has continued to hold regular virtual meetings and webinars for members, which are available on their website.

Executive Director Jim Wurm was on a recent industry call that I attended, and he mentioned that several webinars on their website might be worth a look. I took a look and found several that might be of interest to those in the tradeshow world.

Webinars about cash flow, internet advertising, the PPP program and lobbying efforts on behalf of the industry, scaling your business, employee engagement, and more. You can search for “webinar” on any page and you get something like this.

If you’re an exhibitor, several of these archived webinars may be of interest to you – check them out!

6 Ways to Stay Connected

Zoom fatigue hit you hard enough yet? Tired of waiting for people to join you in your Zoom room and then wondering about all of the books on people’s shelves or what’s new in their background since the last time you talked to them on Zoom?

Hey, I get it. We are all kind of tired of the ways that the pandemic has impacted us. But buckle up, because it’s not going to change much in the near future. As a recent meme said, “Omg, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when YOU get the vaccine shot?? You’re gonna go back home, wait a month, get your second shot, go back home, wait 14 days for antibodies, then keep wearing a mask and social distancing until community transmission reduction. That’s what.”

So there’s that. But as humans, we still crave connection and contact. Here are a handful of ways to stay connected in spite of the fact that we won’t be going to tradeshows any time soon.

Pick up the phone. Yeah, not much different than a Zoom call, but it’s a little less formal (as if Zoom is formal in any sense); it’s a little more casual and your concentration is on the voice of the person you’re talking to much more than it is on the background in the call.

Video call: Zoom, Google, Skype, Facetime, etc. But take it off the business side of your life. My family and I have a Zoom call every couple of weeks on a Sunday afternoon. I have three brothers in the northwest. My mom, who is turning 93 in a few months, is up Santiam Canyon. Last year we got her a MacBook Air and she’s learned the basics: email, creating and printing documents, listening to music, surfing the web. And Zoom calls. She loves them, and so do my three brothers (two younger, one older). The conversations are goofy, free-flowing and valuable.

Send a postcard. Since last summer when I started cleaning out my closet and found a small box of postcards that have been around for decades, I’ve been randomly sending postcards to friends, near and far. Postcards are cool. They’re different. And if you have a photo you took of someone, it’s pretty cool to send that to them as well (check out my SendOutCards account for more info on that).

Send a letter. When’s the last time you sent a letter – not an email – to someone in your circle? Like a prospect or a client? Letters are different than an email. They’re oddly more personal and professional at the same time, because, hey, who takes time to print a letter and stuff it in an envelope, anyway? I did this a few weeks back. It was cool. And I found out that several people had moved, so there’s that.

Send a gift. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe a $10 coffee card, or some brownies (again, SendOutCards is great for sending gifts). When it comes to gift-giving, even on a small budget, the options are endless. While your inclination might be to send branded swag, I don’t think that part really matters. It’s such a rare thing to send someone a small “just thinking of you” gift that you’ll probably do better with something that doesn’t have your company logo on it. Sending a coffee card is a good way to schedule a virtual coffee with employees, clients or prospects.

Virtual Classes. On a wider scale, you might consider teaching what you know. If it’s not something you’re used to doing, you might start with a short five-minute tutorial on something simple.


14 Dumb Things Tradeshow Exhibitors Do: Video

Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.


Awareness Can Lead to Tradeshow Success: Video

The simple act of being aware of what’s going on can transform an average exhibiting experience into a successful one. Here’s a quick video on what you things you might want to be more aware of next time you’re exhibiting.


http://tradeshowbuy.com

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, September 14, 2020: Jason Graham-Nye

One of the first clients I managed to snare in my early days in the tradeshow world came when I cold-called a Portland-based company called gDiapers. It took awhile, maybe a few months, but we ended up designing and fabricating two tradeshow exhibits for them. At one point five or six years ago, they decided to stop exhibiting at tradeshows and focus on other marketing efforts.

I wanted to catch up with gDiapers CEO Jason Graham-Nye to see what he and the company have been up to lately. I know Jason moved his family back home to Australia five years ago from Portland, which meant changes for the company as well.

Little did I know what kind of adventures he and his team got up do, especially once the coronavirus hit. I hope you enjoy the conversation – I sure did:

Check out gDiapers.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The return of the NFL.


Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

Pandemic SWOT Analysis

You’re familiar with a SWOT Analysis, I presume?

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Year ago, I wrote a brief article on doing a tradeshow marketing SWOT Analysis, which would be a bit different from a more general SWOT Analysis.

But now that we’re in a pandemic created by the COVID-19, how would you approach doing a SWOT Analysis and is it worth doing?

Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

I would argue that while a formal SWOT is probably unnecessary, it’s not a bad idea to at least examine some of the changes the pandemic has wrought, to see what obvious and perhaps significant changes your company is facing.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

How are you positioned in the marketplace? Do you have new products about to launch? How are you perceived by your customers and clientele? Are you doing things to keep relationships going? Are sales strong or flat? Just knowing these and other related things will help you understand your position in the marketplace compared to your competition and compared to how you might have been with no pandemic.

Opportunities:

With no tradeshow marketing coming for at least another quarter or two, can you put the budget towards something else? Is a virtual event worth the investment? Can you do another kind of outreach for a fraction of the cost of exhibiting at a big tradeshow? Take a look at your options and see if there are missed opportunities that you may have overlooked.

Threats:

Are there marketplace threats you sense but perhaps haven’t put your finger on? Are your supplier lines still open and working well, or are there kinks that may signal something worse down the line? Do you have any competitors that are taking this time to move aggressively into an area that you thought you dominated? Threats are often overlooked because, unless you actively think about them and look for them, they can sneak up on you without you knowing until it’s too late.

All in all, doing a brief SWOT check-in may help you understand how the company is doing and give you insight and context in how you’ll handle the rest of the year and move into 2021.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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