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

Custom tradeshow booth

Expo West 2014 Tradeshow Guy Booth Performance Awards

Just returned from Expo West in Anaheim where I had a number of tradeshow booth clients, including Bob’s Red Mill, gDiapers, Aisle7 and Hyland’s. One of my goals at this particular show was to do informal assessments of a couple of dozen booths, including booths that I picked at random, and those of companies that responded to my 2-minute video I posted about ten days before the show.

Since I have a handful of client booths at the show, I am disqualifying them from winning any awards (although I think they all were top-noth projects)!

Before getting to the awards, a few comments: first, these are for fun only. Nobody actually wins anything substantial except a mention in this blog. Second, while I spotted a number of booths that would qualify for awards such as ‘Most Cluttered,’ ‘Most Confusing’ and ‘Shouldn’t Even Be Here Because Mom Didn’t Approve it’ the point is not to speak ill of booths that should be improved. Hey, I can’t help everybody, right?

So, without furthre adieu, let’s begin:

Cleanest Look & Most Pristine Representation of a Brand: R .W. Garcia. Not a custom booth, but an aluminum frame-and-fabric construction, nonetheless this captured my attention with its attention to detail. The graphical heirarchy was clean: company name at the top with secondary bullet points describing the company’s products. The back wall graphic was dominated by images of chip bags, so there was no doubt about the company’s products.

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Most Iconic Use of an Icon: Guayaki Brand Yerba Mate. Okay, I only caught one photo of this, but the use of a life-size cutout of the Pope drinking tea stopped me in my tracks and made me want to have Yerba Mate with His Holiness.

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Best Story on a Booth: Amy’s Kitchen debuted their new booth in 2013, and this 30×30 island clearly captures the company’s natural image, including a back wall section with photos and captions detailing the company’s history.

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Best Interactive Booth: While there were several booths that invited attendees to write notes on a board, YesTo asked people to write what they would say YES to.

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Best Use of Shipping Crates: Several booths use shipping crates as part of their booth to save on time and shipping expense. Ridgecrest Herbals showed how its done with branded shipping crates that doubled as counters, benches and product display.

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Best Dancing Mascot: SweetLeaf, with their Sweet Drops Sweetener doing his/her shaking to a live guitarist.

Best Use of an Olympic Stud: Drink Chia! How can you top an impromptu aisle race featuring Olympic athlete Justin Gatlin? (check out his race here)

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Most Elaborate Use of Booth: Clif Bar. The 40×40 island that Clif Bar used to represent their brand included not one, but two enclosed client meeting rooms, two sample stations, messaging that showed their love of fun and helping Mother Earth and the creative use of repurposing old wood for something new. And more. Hanging plants in wooden boxes. Bicycle gears. Old window frames. The steep usage of the word ‘organic.’ With all of this disparate yet congruent elements, this booth came close to a Terry Gilliam dream (go ahead, look him up. I’ll wait.).

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And finally, Best MashUp of a Beatles Album Cover: Love Birch. With their wacky replacement of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s heads with leaves, Love Birch took the iconic Abbey Road album cover and turned it on its head, and in the process stopped people in their tracks.

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This is the 13th consecutive year that I’ve attended Expo West, and it still seems fresh and fun, bigger and bolder and more overwhelming every year.

A few final observations: while there was a lot of use of social media this year, it didn’t seem to be anything out of the norm for most companies. Several companies invited attendees to ‘like’ them on Facebook, or tweet out a photo for a prize, but not as many as you might think would.

I was also on the lookout for QR Codes, and was a bit surprised to find only one on display. I had tasked myself with testing each and every QR Code I ran across to see if it worked. This one didn’t. The invitation next to the code was to ‘like’ us on Facebook, yet when I scanned the code, I was taken to a home page of a website – not optimized for a smartphone – and there was no indication of how to get to Facebook from there.

With QR Codes seemingly fading from popularity at least at this year’s show, perhaps that’s a good thing since it seems that so many QR Codes fail at least one part of the test: tell people what they get when they scan, make sure its optimized for a smartphone, and then test it all to make sure it works.

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How GoPro Dominates Using Social Media and Tradeshow Marketing

I first encountered GoPro at the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show in Salt Lake City. Nick Woodman was making a spectacle of himself. About once an hour, he would get on top of a platform and start yelling at the top of his lungs. He would exhort visitors to check out the brand-new product – a small HD camera that captured crazy video with a wideangle lens. It was small enough to strap to a helmet, chest, end of a ski pole, wherever.

Trying to get your hands on a GoPro camera at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013
Trying to get your hands on a GoPro camera at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013

During these hourly exhortation’s Nick would regale his audience with examples of how great his product, the GoPro camera – and how it captures extreme sports videos – is. It also engaged eager visitors with the chance of winning one.

The story of GoPro is one that happened very quickly. It didn’t take long for the combination of trade shows, social media, and virtually giving away the store every single day to create a rabid following.

If you follow GoPro on Facebook, you’ll notice that they give away everything they make to one person every single day. I’ve signed up hundreds of times and never won. But it doesn’t keep me from signing up again and again and again. That’s how much I’d like to get my hands on their latest and great HD sports-action toy.

Early in 2013, Nick Woodman, the CEO and main figurehead of GoPro was featured on the cover of Inc. magazine. The story was about how he had grown the company to a multi-million dollar enterprise and created a new camera niche virtually out of nothing. The company had done it with a great product that is groundbreaking, and the combination of tradeshow marketing, social media and pure moxie.

Since I saw them at the 2009 outdoor retailer when a market in salt Lake city, I’ve been a big fan of GoPro. They offered $100 off of a camera if you purchased at that time and a coupon for discount on a future purchase when their new HD camera came out. I bought one of their early cameras and have had fun with it ever since.

In January 2013 I attended Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and it didn’t take me long to find the GoPro trade show booth. It wasn’t large compared to many other booths at the show, about 30 x 30, but it was plastered with a dozen or so large screen video monitors. As you enter the booth you were given a chance to sign up and possibly win a new HD camera. They also indicated that with the sign up, you would be emailed a coupon for a $100 discount on their new HD camera. So in effect, they’re giving you a chance to win something and they’re capturing your information so they can stay in contact with you.

I talked to one of the girls working the booth and discovered that Nick was not there, but it didn’t matter by this point because the company was too big for Nick to go to every tradeshow. GoPro has quickly proven itself to be a serious player in the camera industry, and has been called ‘the fastest growing company in the world.’

Several times a day a GoPro booth staffer stands up to give away T-shirts, swag and of course that coveted GoPro HD model camera. Hundreds of people yelled, screamed, waved arms and otherwise made fools of themselves hoping their name would get called.

Go Pro’s custom tradeshow booth matched their brand’s look, feel and style. It looked a bit brash and with the multiple video screens your eyes were drawn to action, action, action as the sports action videos played in an endless loop.

Suffice it to say that with the combination of savvy social media, aggressive trade show marketing and a groundbreaking product, GoPro dominates their niche. They certainly have new competitors – with any new product that carves out a big share of the market, someone will come in and try to catch to the leader. And someone may yet catch up with GoPro. But GoPro’s excellent marketing – including tradeshow marketing – is proving to be all they need right now to be the leader of the pack.

Check out the Inc article.

Then check out the selection of videos.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

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Expo West 2013 Re-Cap

(Warning: self-promotional blog post. Not recommended more than once or twice a year…)

It was my 11th year at Expo West as a representative of a company that provides exhibit booths for exhibitors.

First: 11 years? Kidding, right?

Bob's Red Mill - Expo West 2013

No. The first booth client I had way back in 2003 was Kettle Foods of Salem, Oregon, which lead to doing a booth for Nancy’s Yogurt / Springfield Dairy, Natracare, Hyland’s Homeopathic, gDiapers and many others.

Besides having to basically eat your way through the day with the glut of food samples, I spent time meeting exhibitors and making connections.

And making sure that my new projects were working.

The two new booths my company, Communication One Exhibits had this year were from Bob’s Red Mill and gDiapers. The Bob’s Red Mill was a custom 30’ x 30’ booth, designed by Greg Garrett Designs of Vancouver and fabricated by Classic Exhibits. It was a stunner and was definitely well-received by the company – including Bob Moore, who called it ‘impressive’ – and show visitors. The exhibit had three structures – a main company info-display area, a product display area and – in a new move for Bob’s Red Mill – a food sampling station. The main structure was capped with a 4’ cupola high atop a structure that echoed their mill store in Milwaukie, Oregon. Either end of the main structure had 52” video screens that continuously showed informative videos.

Bob has a great way of making an entrance. Bring along a Dixieland band! Check out the video from Day One:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8aFhxjan0w

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The other booth was at the other end of the scale. gDiapers, of Portland, Oregon, is a company that offers reusable diaper covers with disposable inserts. Years ago, when I was VP of Sales and Marketing for Interpretive Exhibits, we designed and constructed a 20’ in-line booth for gDiapers that had plenty of display space, slat wall and a fabric banner across the top. As their clientele needs evolved, so did the company’s desire for a simpler display that was easier to set up. So with the help of Portland’s Boothster, we designed and built a 10’ inline booth that had a small display area and a large 10’ fabric back wall, along with cardboard chairs and cardboard tube-constructed counter with wrap-around graphic. The booth looked great and gDiapers loved it!

Yes, I blog about social media and tradeshow and event marketing, but my company Communication One Exhibits has a ton of great capabilities to design and fabricate tradeshow booths to suit any need.

Let me now step off of my soapbox…thank you verry much for your time!

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Why Your Tradeshow Marketing Strategy Deserves Loving Care

The tradeshow exhibit is at least 6 – 8 months away – have you considered your tradeshow marketing strategy? You’d better get started – that’s not that much time!

“Huh? Over half a year and I have to rush things?” you say…

No, I didn’t say RUSH things…I mean you have better get your stuff together because those six months are going to go by pretty quickly. And the last 2 months will go by like an Indy Racer if you haven’t spent the first four months working on it.

Face it: when people visit your tradeshow booth, they expect to see the BEST that your company has to offer. If you’re a manufacturer, your prep time may mean several meetings and coordination with your manufacturing division to make sure you’re showing off the BEST of your BEST.

Why would you want to go to a tradeshow and put anything but the BEST of the BEST you have to offer on display? This is the one time a year that those visitors get a chance to see your goods and services. They’re comparing YOUR BEST with the BEST of several other companies – perhaps dozens of other companies.

So plan to put on your best.

This means your best graphics. Your best exhibit. Your best product. Your best people. Your best lead-capturing system.

When you put your best out there, you’re competing on the same level as the rest of the exhibitors – your competitors. Face it, most of them (but not all) are putting on THEIR best face at the exhibit. So you’d better be putting on YOUR best, too.

The challenge, though, is that we’re all just humans. We all have crazy schedules and incessant demands. And given those demands, when push comes to shove putting on your BEST is often extremely difficult to do. That’s why it takes more effort than you really think it will.

So that gets you back to idea of starting NOW and not waiting another few months on your tradeshow marketing strategy. If you start now and determine WHAT you’ll need to do to put on your best, HOW you’re going to do it, and WHO is going to help you to make sure it’s going to get done, the odds increase that you’ll actually make it happen by the time the show rolls around.

And that gets back to the idea of loving care: if you approach the planning of your next tradeshow with loving care, you’ll cover all the bases you need to cover to ensure that you are putting on your best.

Start now. Give your tradeshow marketing strategy some good old-fashioned love.


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

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Introducing Interpretive Exhibits Design Search

As a long-time distributor of the Classic Exhibits line-up of tradeshow products, it’s great to see that there is now a ‘deep-well’ way to search out one of their exhibits for your specific exhibiting needs.

Exhibit Design Search (link here and also on the navigation bar above) takes you to the database of hundreds (if not thousands) of varieties of exhibits. These range from small accessories such as round graphic stands (definitely cool!) to large island exhibits – and everything in between.

To use Design Search, just click on the link and head to the site. Here’s where you’ll find the opening page which is designed to let you intuitively and quickly find what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s a great browsing tool.

Along the way you can view the Top 12 exhibits, catch a Photo Gallery, see what exhibits can be quickly shipped if you’re in a hurry, check out the Specials and even browse the dozens of Tradeshow Tip articles.

Beneath each exhibit rendering you’ll see a link labeled “Add to My Gallery” – when you click that you start to create your own line-up of favorites or exhibits you want to save and review closer later. It’s a great way to share with other team members to get their feedback.

The drop-down menus allow you to filter your search using price points, booth size and lead times – as well as give you the opportunity to do a text search.

Now all of that by itself would be pretty damn cool. Almost awesome.

But here’s what takes the Design Search tool to the next level: the burgeoning P_5_D photo gallery. P_5_D stands for ‘Past 5 Days’ and it is an on-going stream of photos of exhibits that go out the door.

Not only does this let you see what other clients are interested in (and have put $$ down on), it allows you to see how each one of them has possibly made adjustments and alterations to a standard exhibit. A great way to help generate ideas, eh? Plus: each photo is of something REAL that was actually created – not just a computer rendering of what something is SUPPOSED to look like. Getting a chance to see the real stuff shows you how it would look in your booth.

And if you check the drop-down navigation under the ‘View By Week’ tab you’ll see that the photo albums go all the way back to late 2006 – almost four years of product that has gone out the door to happy customers.

All in all, Exhibit Design Search is a fun way to waste a bunch of time AND look like you’re working at the same time. So if your boss comes in you can tell her that you’re researching the company’s new exhibit possibilities.

And hey, chances are pretty darn good you’ll find something that will exactly fit what you had in mind!

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Green Tradeshow Booth Materials

So you’re ready to move into getting a new custom-built booth. But one of your main concerns is the type of material that will be used to fabricate the booth.

Of course, your exhibit company should be up-to-date on all of the latest materials available. So be sure to raise the question of sustainable materials with your booth fabricator. Some of the materials that might be considered include bamboo, FSC certified wood, recycled metal, low VOC, organic or recycled latex paint, or tension fabric (low weight which cuts down on shipping costs and the carbon footprint of the shipping).

Many booths may be made with re-claimed materials, which can often be sourced locally. If those materials can be sourced locally, they need less transit time and cost. Plus for each dollar spent locally, three dollars stay in the community so spending locally reduces carbon usage and helps sustain the local economy.

It’s true that many sustainable choices are not cost-neutral, and in fact may bust your budget. When one client of ours constructed a new booth a few years back they explored a variety of materials options,. Even though they wanted to use those sustainable materials, it turned out to have enough impact on their budget that the decision was made to use more typical materials for fabrication. Beyond that it didn’t give them a look they were comfortable with. The financial and aesthetic considerations outweighed the desire to use sustainable materials.

There’s no wrong answer and each project requires its own examination – but one worth pursuing, as there are new material choices coming to market all the time.

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27 Un-Boring Things to do At Your Next Tradeshow

Bored at the tradeshow? Here’s a list of things to do that will lively up your experience!

I remember in my early days in radio a record promoter once told me that she loved my enthusiasm and willingness to drive 50 miles to see an unknown band that she was promoting. “So many of the other music directors I talk to are getting jaded…”

Whether you’re an exhibit or an attendee and you’ve been doing it for a long time, you might ask yourself: Am I Getting JADED?

Next time you’re at a tradeshow, take this list with you. Maybe by doing a few of these things it’ll help break you out of a rut (okay…some of these will take a little more preparation and execution before the show…but use ’em as inspirational thought-starters if nothing else).

  1. Before leaving your office spend some time on Twitter compiling a list of people at the show that are Tweeters. Make a list of who they are and what booth they’re at. Stop by the booth and tell them you found ‘em on Twitter.
  2. Draw attention to yourself and your company. If appropriate, wear a goofy hat, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, Homer Simpson slippers. Anything unusual is a conversation starter.
  3. Pick up literature from as many booths as possible. Read it that night in your hotel. Make notes about questions you’d like to ask. Go back to the booth and ask.
  4. Take a Flip video camera and ask visitors to explain why they stopped by your booth. Or take it around the floor on your break and get a few comments from other exhibitors about the show and what their experience is at the show.
  5. Take a camera. Take lots of photos. If you see a cool booth, ask permission for a photo first. If you connect with someone via Facebook or Twitter, be sure to take their photo and post it online.
  6. Bring chocolates and instead of putting them in a bowl at your booth, hand them out as you go from booth to booth to other exhibitors. Tape your business card onto the chocolates.
  7. Buy a half-dozen thumb drives and put your company information – brochures, current press releases, catalogs, website, etc. – on it and have it ready to hand out to a few well-qualified media contacts or potential clients.
  8. Sit down with a professional radio person (!), have them interview you about your company. Create an audio CD with a nice label and title such as “All You Ever Wanted to Know About XYZ Company” or “The Inner Secrets of the XYZ Company Widget” and make a couple of dozen copies. Put a label on them that says “limited edition” and make sure that you qualify anyone you give them to.
  9. If you typically don’t go to seminars, pick at least two and go to them. If you typically attend seminars, find one with an unusual title that you might not attend and go to it.
  10. Make a note immediately on any business card you collect from a person (not a card you just picked up from a table). Write down a pertinent part of the conversation, a future follow-up or an item that will make you remember them. By the time you get back to your hotel, you’ll have forgotten what they even look like.
  11. Are you typically a bit shy? Break that habit. Talk to people in buffet lines, restaurants, elevators. Come up with a few questions you can ask to break the ice. Have fun: these people don’t know you’re shy!
  12. If you typically spend the day working the booth and greeting visitors, arrange your schedule so you get at least an hour or two to walk the show floor and schmooze with other exhibitors, especially those that might be potential partners and those that you would consider competitors.
  13. Talk to a show organizer and ask her how this show compares to previous years…or find some other topic of conversation.
  14. Bring three times as many business cards as you think you might need.
  15. Go to the city’s visitor center and see what kinds of fun things you can do in your off-hours.
  16. See how many booths you can walk by before a booth staffer invites you in.
  17. Look up old friends in the event city using Facebook or Twitter and connect with them.
  18. Smile at everyone. Even if they aren’t smiling at you.
  19. Have a contest with fellow staffers to see if you can get visitors to say the magic word of the day. Those of us old enough might even remember this came from Groucho Marx’s ‘You Bet Your Life.’
  20. Take notes about how much food costs. Hot dog and coke – $14!? Compare notes with fellow staffers. Boo and hiss the high prices.
  21. Ask other exhibitors what they paid for drayage and shipping. Compare notes.
  22. See if you can set up your booth before your neighbor.
  23. Go a whole day without eating restaurant food by taking food snacks such as energy bars, fruit, trail mix, etc.
  24. Bring a small white board. Write a Haiku poem about your company or product on it. Invite your visitors to add their Haiku.
  25. Practice Extreme Customer Service. As if you were a Disney employee.
  26. If the speaker at your seminar or breakout session is boring, create a game where you write down every word he says that begins with the letter M. Or T. Or draw a cartoon of the speaker. Post it on Twitter.
  27. Ask other visitors what they do for fun. Take notes and incorporate their ideas into yours.

What ideas do you have to break those long days into more fun? Share!

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Tradeshow Budgeting Guidelines – An Update

The latest issue of Exhibitor Magazine hit my mailbox last week, highlighted by their annual look at industry cost averages.

Now I’m not going to throw all of their numbers out for you. If you want ’em all, check out their website or buy the magazine. They usually release the current online version a few weeks after the paper version has been out.

But I do want to take a gander at a few of the numbers in general terms.

A few of the main figures that we always work with our clients and prospects here at Interpretive Exhibits are: industry average cost for custom booths, inline booths, and design and fabrication.

Several years back I compiled a short list from various sources, and the averages were something like this (figures from 2000 – 2002):

Average cost for new, custom construction:
Island: $130 per square foot
In-Line: $1,230 per linear foot

Average cost for exhibit design (hourly): $80 – $85
Average cost for graphic design (hourly): $70 – $75

According to the figures just released in the November 2009 issue of Exhibitor Magazine, rates are up approximately 25% since the beginning of the decade, or less than 3% per year. According to data from InflationData.com, the yearly average from 2000 – 2008 is 2.89%.

The figures through September of 2009 shows mostly negative inflation, and those figures were not included – but obviously they would pull the 10-year average down.

Conclusion: Nothing really surprising here – actually I would view the figures as somewhat encouraging as some of the basic costs of designing and fabricating a custom booth are in line with inflation.

Without giving out the actual figures compiled by Exhibit Magazine – after all, they did the work and until they post them online I don’t think it’s fair to jump the shark with their specific numbers – it appears that the key figures we track in the exhibit industry have risen in line with other prices.

PS. When Exhibitor releases those numbers online, I’ll look to post a link do you can review all of the figures.

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Interpretive Exhibits Now Represents Nimlok Exhibits

Yeah, yeah, it’s a tough market. And ya gotta have what the people want, right? Of course!

Warning: the following is part plug and part explanation as to why Interpretive Exhibits has now teamed up with Nimlok. Most of my blog posts aren’t plugs (this one is!), but I thought it a useful blog post:

Nimlok

Recently the good folks at Nimlok headquarters in Chicago approached us and inquired if we would be interested in representing them in the Northwest and more specifically, in Oregon.

Given our long-time affiliation with Classic Exhibits in Portland, we were hesitant, but decided to check it out anyway.

Nimlok brought quite a bit to the table. And while their product line does cross over some with Classic Exhibits, there is enough difference between the two (and they are aggressively marketing the brand online to help their dealers), so it made sense to take a closer look.

Classic Exhibits for years has excelled in high-quality, low-to-moderate-cost portable exhibits. In the past few years they’ve expanded to custom-hybrid exhibits.

Nimlok made their bones years ago on quick-and-easy pop-ups and portables as well, but also in recent years have expanded greatly, becoming a leading vendor of high-quality aluminum exhibits and fabric graphics. They’ve invested heavily in state-of-the-art fabric production, which was really the element that tipped the scales. Being able to keep graphic production in-house means having complete quality control. They have new aluminum framing systems and exhibit approaches that are out on the leading edge. When at the Nimlok New Distributor Boot Camp in July they showed us a new truss that’s capable of spanning 30 feet without any support other than at each end. Drop a seamless fabric graphic up to three meters tall below that and you have a dynamite tradeshow back wall.

So even though there are similarities, there are enough differences that to us it makes a good fit.

Meanwhile, back at the Interpretive Exhibits ranch….our in-house talents are geared to ‘one-of-a-kind’ custom design and fabrication that is well suited to museums, visitor centers and unique tradeshow exhibits. Our clients, such as Bob’s Red Mill, Kettle Foods, Nancy’s Yogurt, Natracare, gDiapers, Bi-O-Kleen, Allegheny Teledyne Wah Chang and many others have all been knocked out by the design and fabrication skills brought to bear on their tradeshow exhibits. Not being a designer, I am often amazed too at what our team comes up with.

Classic Exhibits is out go-to-source for the low-cost smaller modular and pop-up exhibits, and we’ll continue to use them.

Nimlok is an added dimension to our offerings at Interpretive Exhibits. Aluminum frames from small to gigantic; from traditional rectangle shapes to ‘I can’t believe they did that with an aluminum frame!’

Truth be told, exhibit-buying is off quite a bit in the industry. But with the economy appearing to turn around, we feel we’re in a great position at Interpretive Exhibits when those tradeshow marketing purses start to open up a bit more.

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Outdoor Retail Summer Market 2009 – Thoughts from a 1st-time visitor

I was in Salt Lake City last Monday the 20th through Friday the 24th attending the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009 show, thanks to Dean and the great guys at Lifelines. Now if I can only convince the powers that be that I need to be there in January to review the same show. Just because I’d…uh…like to see the area with snow on the mountains. That’s it! Got nothing to do with the fact I’ve been a skier since the age of seven…nope.

Unfortunately I was unable to blog during the show, so I made notes to gather my thoughts for a post-show post. Did manage a few tweets from the show from the busy bank of PCs at @tradeshowguy.

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Greeting Brandi

First thing at the show was to respond to several of the tweeters that were doing things to draw people to their booths, like Sole Shoes, who were offering a pair of ‘platinum sandals’ to the first dozen people to come to the booth to say ‘It’s Your Sole!’ Which I did, and they did. Also chatted with some great folks at @ENDFootwear from Portland…not sure who is the Tweeter there, though.

Other Twitterers I ran into over the course of the show include: April at @naturallybamboo; Stephanie at @merrelloutside, Brandi at @itsyoursole, Andy the @aquapac designer, Karen and others at @HidesRetainer, Ze’ev at @Zensah, Byron and Davidson of @ecologicdesigns and @greengurugear… Others I couldn’t find as they were never at the booth, or were just too damn busy to come talk to @tradeshowguy! Ah, well, it was great to connect with a handful. And of course at the Tweetup hosted by @PembaServes where I chatted with – among others – Sara Lingafelter (@theclimbergirl) and Fitz Cahall (@dirtbagdiaries) and more…enjoying terrific food and libations at Cedars of Lebanon in downtown Salt Lake City.

Promotions

keen_promo2

Impossible to keep up with all the promotions; you can’t be everywhere at all times. But there were some standout in-booth events/promotions that caught my eye (as well as many of the attendees):

Keen Shoes of Portland: taking photos of people and pinning them to a large bulletin board where they answered the question: where would you like to travel in your Hybrid Life (promoting their hybrid life shoes)? My answer? Jamaica. After collecting names and handing out buttons for three days, Keen gave away $1500 to someone to help them make that trip. No, I didn’t win! During the same time period they gave away the grand prize, Keen also sold a couple of styles of their sandals for $35 (about half price) with all proceeds going to a fund-raiser.

Go Pro Camera

GoPro sport camera did a rather loud promotion several times throughout the show, which I stumbled across twice. The founder of the company (don’t think he mentioned his name!) is a natural promoter, getting his crowds to shout out the product name several times. Of course, handing out a couple of dozen GoPro cameras over the course of a few days doesn’t hurt, either!

Aquapac had several great nature photos on display and ended up giving a handful away on Thursday afternoon before the big run-up to the grand prize of a Baja Mexico whale-watching trip.

Booth size and layout

Not having been to Outdoor Retail before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But after walking the floor for an hour, the most obvious thing is that large companies here like LARGE booths, enclosed walls on 3 or 4 sides, second stories and lots of display space. A 100′ x 60′ was not uncommon.

Green exhibit construction was also at the forefront, with graphics printed or mounted on cardboard; recovered wood used as booth walls (from barns or old houses); cardboard tubes, and even booths cobbled together from wire fencing, bike frames, small trees – you name it, this show has it. I came away with a strong impression that most of the companies involved are very aware of the impact on the environment of their booth-building choices.

Dogs and Kids

Yes, ORSM09 is a dog and kid-friendly show. Lots of dogs and lots of friends. Even ran across a post from @theclimbergirl as she highlighted the ‘Dog of the Day.’

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