You’re there to sell a product or service, or to connect with distributors who will sell your products or services. Which means you want to know if the visitor even uses the product. Thanks to an interview we did with Richard Erschik, we know that the first question is often:
Do you currently use our product or a similar product?
After that, you’re trying to determine if the visitor is
interested in purchasing that product in the near future:
Are you considering making a purchase soon? When?
Next, you’d like to know if the person you’re speaking to
has decision-making power:
Who makes the decision? You? Or is there someone else that is involved?
And of course, you want to know if they have the capability
to spend the money you charge for your service:
Do you have the money you’d need to invest in this product or service?
Many shows really aren’t trying to make sales on the spot.
For example, the bigger expos are more about branding, launching new products
and making connections with current clients, partners or distributors. In this
case, what’s important is to get visitors to either sample your products (such
as food), know about the new products, or in the case of other products such as
electronic gear, cameras, software and more like we saw at NAB Show, to make
sure that visitors were able to learn as much as they needed.
The company is paying good money – usually a lot of money –
to exhibit at the show, which means that every visitor is critical. Ask good
questions. Stay off the phone. Don’t eat in the booth. And don’t ask about the weather!
From extremely large video to big training sessions from Adobe and others, to keynotes and journalist panels, it was all there. And I soaked it up for a couple of days last week. Here’s my take on the first couple of days of the 2019 NAB Show:
Having never attended the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, I did not have a full grasp of the scope and size of the show. And once I was walking the floor earlier this week, it still took a few hours to fully comprehend how freaking big it is. There are nearly 2 million square feet of exhibiting space in 13 halls separable by movable walls.
Over 90,000 attendees showed up along with over 1600 exhibitors to see the latest in video and audio tech in all its glory: broadcast and cable TV, sports, podcasting, radio, lighting, cloud services and much more. It was all there. And it was overwhelming.
The biggest takeaways? As an old radio guy who started his career by playing single 45s on a turntable, I can safely say: we’ve come a long way (mentioning those 45s to the 20 and 30-something folks staffing the booths also was a good way to bring forth those puzzled looks along with a hesitant chuckle – yeah, I know I’m old).
Video is huge, as are the gigantic video walls, which seemed
to adorn nearly one out of three booths. Quality is impressive. Cameras are
going up in quality as the price creeps down. Seeing and playing with 8K
cameras showed attendees what the working video world will be working with soon
if they aren’t already.
Audio production, and in particular, the production of audio
in conjunction with video, is a really big deal. Avid’s booth featured a large
screen displaying how they mixed the music that was a part of the Oscar-winning
Bohemian Rhapsody. Also there were the Oscar winners, who sat on a panel discussing
Visitors also could partake in training on a large scale:
Adobe, Avid, DaVinci Resolve and many others were doing full-on all-show-hours
in-depth training on their latest products.
From an exhibit standpoint, I also saw something I’d never
seen before: many video camera and monitor manufacturers built set and had them
populated with stand-in actors. The idea was to give visitors a chance to put
their hands on the various cameras and zoom and pan and see how everything worked
under conditions that replicated what they’d find on an actual set.
I also saw at least three stationary cars equipped with cameras to film actors as they drove. One exhibitor went even further: behind the car there was a large video image of a road as if the car was moving. On the right and left were more screens with similar images. And for the coup de grace, a large video panel suspended over the entire car which simulated the movement of the sky, reflections of streetlights and more. An actor need only sit in the car and everything else is captured in one take, with little post-shoot work needed.
Lots of international exhibitors, including Europe and China, Korea and Canada among the more prominent. It seems pretty common that exhibits from China and Korea will set up exhibits with walls that enclose much of the space. I don’t see that as much from US exhibitors, so my hunch is it’s a bit of a cultural thing. I also don’t think humor passes easily from culture to culture. One exhibitor from China had a McLaren automobile on display (wasn’t really sure of the purpose, but it certainly looked sharp). As I was talking to one of the reps, I joked that maybe they should raffle off the car at the end of the show. All I got in return was confused look. Hey, I thought it was funny!
Exhibits were impressive from the big companies, and many of
the smaller companies also had a good look. Although as in any show, you always
see the smaller companies in the 10x10s around the edges of the main floor
struggling to be seen or to even have something worth seeing. The most
impressive things seen in the smaller booths were the company’s product lit up
with LED, or something moving that catches the eye.
Esports had its own section, showing off gamers and gaming.
We know that gaming has become a multi-billion dollar industry and if you
search for esports competition, you’ll find a lot. There were panels and
competitions taking place in the section, but frankly, since I’m not a gamer,
it didn’t hold my interest that long. However, my 18-year old son probably
could have spent all of the show in this area and it wouldn’t have been enough!
The tech that supports radio, tv, cable and Internet was
also displayed throughout the halls. Not being a tech guy, much of this was
over my head, but impressive nonetheless: network, audio, video controllers;
studio design and audio and video production boards, facility infrastructure,
transmitters, processors, automation software, captioning AI, streaming,
scheduling, logging, transcription…you name it, somebody was here promoting it.
I talked to well over a hundred people about the show, how
it worked for them, how it helped create leads, sell their products. Most told
me it was a great show for them. Several said this show in particular was the
one show that gave them most of their good leads for the year for them to
follow up on.
But not everyone agreed. One woman I spoke with said she’d been coming to the show for thirty years, and it’s not the show it used to be. One comment she made totally threw me. She said the “little Sony” booth wasn’t impressive at all. My jaw dropped because I’d been at the Sony booth (probably around 10,000 square feet) earlier in the show and determined it to be one of the top exhibits there, going so far as to walk through the booth for a minute or two shooting video to capture it all. But no, she said, “Sony used to take up a third of the hall!” She said that the networks (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS) don’t send the people they used to, and the few they do send spend all their time behind closed doors in meetings, and don’t get out and mingle on the show floor like they used to. So her market wasn’t there to the extent they used to be. I found her perspective fascinating: no matter how much evidence you see to support one view, there’s always another view that’s just as valid.
I caught a couple of events on the main stage: opening day, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith (and former Oregon senator) gave a keynote and ended by awarding MASH actor Alan Alda the NAB Distinguished Service Award. Alan sat for about 15 minutes after the award to chat about his career. I also caught the next morning’s panel, Tales from the White House Beat, featuring Smith chatting with ABC’s Cecilia Vega, NBC’s Hallie Jackson, CBS’s Steven Portnoy and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor as they shared stories and insight into covering the Trump administration.
I was invited as a blogger which made me a member of the media, so I felt a bit of kinship with these professional journalists. I’ve been in radio news teams, hosted talk shows and been behind the microphone for decades, and it was great to hear the stories they told.
Lastly, a shout out to these folks: Josh at Time Lapse Cameras, Kent at Sharp Electronics and Suzy at FeiyuTech for their time and information. They reached out and invited me to check out their latest. Time Lapse Cameras has, as you might imagine, some great little affordable time lapse cameras which can be used to record any number of things from construction to exhibit setup and dismantle. Sharp showed off their new 8K cameras which are out later this year, and FeiyuTech demonstrated a new action camera, the Ricco, along with a handful of three-axis gimbals and other assorted goods for the video camera market. All good stuff and thanks for having me!
This is a guest post by Kayleigh Alexander from Micro Startups.
So you’ve had a successful tradeshow, meeting lots of new potential customers and contacts and generated awareness and sales for your product or service.
But the work doesn’t stop there. The post-event period is crucial for capitalizing on your tradeshow success and promoting your next event.
Read on for five cool ideas for great post-event content that will grow your business and ramp up attendance for your next tradeshow.
Collate attendee quotes for some quick content
One great idea for some stellar post-event content is a
review piece by your attendees. During your tradeshow, you were probably laden
down with business cards, coffee plans, LinkedIn requests, and Twitter follows.
Consequently, you’ve got a huge bank of people to source
post-event reviews from. Reach out to your new contacts with a
personalized message and ask them how they found your event, what they took
away, what the most memorable point was, and so on.
Compile all these quotes into a single piece, crediting your attendee and linking out to their LinkedIn page or website. It’s quick content that serves as the perfect marketing piece for your next tradeshow.
Reach out to industry figures for their thoughts
As well as reaching out to your contacts and attendees, why
not reach out to notable industry figures for a post-event review too? These
influencers are respected in their field, and can provide insightful opinions
on your tradeshow.
When you contact these influencers, bear in mind that they
probably receive a lot of contact from their peers. Keep it professional and
If they’re happy to provide a quote, do the same as you did
with your attendees and ask for their insights, favorite exhibit, and any
actionable takeaways they can provide. Again, this makes for some valuable
post-event content that’s easy to collate.
The key here is immediacy. Don’t wait a week after the event to make this content — the sooner after the event, the better.
Offer your own post-event takeaways
Beyond reaching out to your attendees and industry
influencers for their thoughts, just as valuable are your own opinions. Break
down your tradeshow and describe how the day went, who attended, and what
attendees were able to take away.
A post-event review from your own perspective keeps your
tradeshow in the mind of your attendees. Invite comments from those who
attended your event and encourage them to respond with their own thanks and
And as well as providing some useful post-event content, this also helps those who weren’t able to attend your tradeshow see what they missed.
Check out search trend data to create targeted content
After your tradeshow, the chances are that your attendees
have a lot of questions. While many of them were asked during the event, plenty
of attendees will turn to Google afterwards for more information.
This gives you the perfect opportunity to create content
that addresses these questions, directing people to your blog after your
tradeshow to drive up engagement. Use search data trends to spot what your
attendees and customers are searching for online after your tradeshow.
For example, you might spot spikes in certain search terms related to a new product you demonstrated. Create content that goes into greater detail about this, and share it across your marketing channels. This addresses your attendees’ questions and keeps them engaged with your business.
Cascade tradeshow video across your marketing channels
Hopefully, you will have recorded plenty of video during
your tradeshow. Interviews with attendees, product demos, meet and greets,
talks and Q&As — these all make for strong post-event content that you can
If you used Instagram to promote your event on the day, it’s still possible to download it and reuse it across your website and email channels. Use the Repost For Instagram app to download the original clip from your social feed and cascade across the rest of your post-event marketing.
Invite interaction with a pop quiz
One piece of post-event content that is guaranteed to
delight your audience is a quiz. Quizzes are fun, engaging, and great for
creating discussion after an event.
Use a free quiz maker to create a quick test of your
attendees’ knowledge. Write questions that reveal more about your business,
product, or service. For example: “how many states did we expand into in 2018?”
or “what was the number one reason why customers used this product last year?”
— it’s up to you.
This doesn’t need to be particularly demanding — the
emphasis here is on fun rather than competition. You could even turn this into
a lead generation exercise, offering people the chance to win if they provide their
email address when they complete the quiz.
The period immediately after your tradeshow is ripe for boosting your business and marketing your next event. Use the ideas above to create a great post-tradeshow content strategy that will keep you going for time to come.
MicroStartups helps aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, however big or small. We love sharing the microbusiness message around the world.
I shouldn’t be surprised, but every year when the full exhibit floors are open, I am still a bit astonished at how many people are walking the floors. With over 80,000 attendees, Natural Products Expo West is a huge show. Not as big as the Consumer Electronics Show, but still mighty big.
So I spent the day walking, walking, walking and then walking some more. 19,221 steps according to my Fitbit! One major goal of the day was to make sure all of our clients were taken care of, so that meant making a stop at Target for requested supplies from a couple of them. Later in the day another client asked if I could track down a stapler, so after a few back-and-forth texts, another client was willing to lend their. I love when everybody helps out!
The second major goal was to drop by and say hello to exhibitors that I’ve met previously. As you may know, I’ve published two books on tradeshow marketing (here and here), and they are great calling introductory cards to start a brief conversation. Having been attending the show for almost two decades, lots of them recall me from previous years, so it’s good to reconnect, if only briefly. My main question to them is “how is the show going this year for you?” and 95% are very positive. One person said they weren’t coming back next year – they are just not getting the audience they want. The complaint is that the attendees in their booth were either other exhibitors or brokers and not retailers, which is what they want. I understand that not everyone has a great experience. I checked my list from last year and found that about a third of them are not here this year. From my perspective (anecdotal, not backed up by any data), there is a lot of turnover. But companies are still chomping at the bit to get into the show.
Since I’m Oregon-based, I lean towards finding Oregon or Northwest exhibitors. Many of them see me year after year, so even though we may never do business, it’s always good to make a brief reconnection. No selling, no pitching, not even a hint. Conversations usually revolve around (again) how the show is for them, and how their business is doing. So many businesses that I speak with are growing quickly, expanding product lines, and occasionally expanding their exhibit space. So I know that the industry as a whole is doing very well.
Over the years it’s been interesting to see some of the things that pop out and get your attention. A couple of years ago I couldn’t turn more than 90 degrees without seeing another bone broth product! This year, I see a lot of CBD-related products. I also see a lot of oat milk and keto-related products as well.
I’ve probably made this observation before, but it’s hard to walk the show floor without eating a fair amount of food. Most exhibitors offer samples, and many are literally pushing them on you. A bite here and a bit there, and after a couple of hours, you’ve had the equivalent of a meal. And it’s all (well, almost all) really good!
Let’s close out today’s diary with a few photos of some of the exhibits at the show. Backlit fabric graphics are still popular, as are eye-catching one-of-a-kind items in booths. Exhibit designers never cease to impress me with ways to capture eyeballs, communication messages in a 3D format and attention to detail.
There are a lot of basics to marketing, and we all often think we’re doing everything we should. Then we hear someone like Ronnie Noize spelling out some simple steps and we think “hmmm…might have missed something!”
Ronnie Noize of DIY Marketing Center in Vancouver, Washington, joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, and shares not only her top five marketing tips, but her top five “prosperity” tips as well. Good stuff!
When it comes to tradeshow exhibiting, is it wrong thing to think, “Well, there’s always next time!”?
Maybe your most recent tradeshow didn’t go as well as it could have. You didn’t meet all the people you had hoped to and didn’t bring home as many leads as you were thinking you should have. Your staff’s interactions with visitors weren’t as good as they could have been.
In other words, you’re thinking that it may have been a waste of time.
If you think that, spend some time to identify WHY it might have been a waste of time.
Was it the wrong show? Maybe your expectations of the show itself were unrealistic. The show organizers might not have been as clear as you’d have liked on the state of the show. They could have assumed more people would show up, but the audience just wasn’t there.
Was it the wrong audience? Each show has a specific audience. If the audience isn’t a good fit for your products or services, it could be that you didn’t assess the show well enough.
Was your booth staff lacking in training? A well-trained booth staff can lift you above mediocre or average expectations. After all, they’re the front line in your interactions with the attendees. If the staff hasn’t been properly trained on that interaction, your results will reflect that.
Were your products or services either “blah” or not properly represented in your market? Your competition may have similar products and services, but if you staff was not fully engaged and the presentation of your products was indistinct, or fuzzy, or unclear, you won’t catch attendees’ eyes. Was your exhibit not up to the task? An old or poorly designed exhibit might save you money to ship and set up, and put off another capital investment, but if it doesn’t look good, or have the functional elements that you need to properly execute your tradeshow, it’ll cost you money in the long run, not save you money.
On the other hand, if you’re saying “Well, there’s always
another tradeshow” and you’re at least modestly pleased with the results, take
a hard look at what worked and what didn’t. Maybe your booth staff was good but
could be better. That’s a pretty easy fix.
Or maybe your exhibit is decent, and only needs a few minor
upgrades to make it really good. Another easy fix.
Other things to look at: pre-show marketing, post-show follow-up, cutting costs for shipping or logistics, and so on. Individually, they may not have a big impact, but executing each element better than last time can have a cumulative impact that’s hard to ignore.
At the end of the show, when everybody has had a chance to
review from their perspective what worked and what didn’t, and why, do a debrief.
But don’t wait too long – do it the first or second day you’re back in the
office. That will give a little time for reflection from all participants, but
not so much time that they’ll forget important feedback.
Based on what comes out of that debrief, make decisions that will better prepare you for the next show. Because there’s always another tradeshow.
As an exhibitor, try to schedule some time to talk to other exhibitors. Depending on how many other people you have on the booth staff, that may be easy or difficult. But give it a try. And I mean more than just the pleasantries with your neighbors that you’ll exchange when setting up and exhibiting. It’s easy enough to just show up, do your thing, and leave. But you’ll learn a lot when gathering information about other exhibitors’ experiences.
What to talk about and what information to look for?
At a recent show, I was curious to speak to exhibitors to get their sense of the show itself, and how they have fared. As a result, I spoke with quite a few exhibitors and got a broad look at the show. One exhibitor said she had exhibited at the show two years previously, and had written over $200,000 of business as a direct result of the show.
“Yes, indeed. Last year, we wrote about $50,000 worth of business from the show. A big drop, but considering our minimal investment, still a great return.”
Another exhibitor told me that he thought that the show had shrunk each year for the last couple of years, and there was even a chance it might have been cancelled.
“Why do you think it’s shrunk?” I asked (I was not sure it had shrunk or expanded; I was just playing along to see where he was going with this).
“There are a lot of shows in the industry,” he said, as if that explained things.
I also asked exhibitors if they went to any of the various breakout sessions. Most said no, but one or two said yes. Those seemed to be aimed mainly at attendees.
I asked several exhibitors if this was the only show they went to. Many said they do other shows, but not necessarily in this industry. Their company’s products and services can be pitched to other industries as well.
And finally, I asked if they were planning to come back to the same show next year as an exhibitor. A mixed bag: some said yes, others were noncommittal. But no one gave me a definitive NO.
Other things you can ask: how is job hiring going in your industry or your company? How well is your company doing against your direct competitors? Are there any companies here you would consider partnering with on any project or task? Are you looking to hire any positions soon? How many other shows do you plan on exhibiting at in the next year? Is this the only exhibit property you own, or do you have other elements you can set up to exhibit in a smaller or larger space?
When you find time to talk to other exhibitors, you’ll take away a larger sense of the show overall and how your fellow exhibitors feel about their place in the show and in the industry.
And you may make some good connections along the way!
Just got back from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference 6.0 at the Portland Expo Center last week, and put together a podcast-slash-video blog about the event. Got a chance to interview half a dozen exhibitors about what they see as big challenges and best opportunities in the cannabis industry.
Also be sure to check the photo album I put up from the show, and my most recent advance look at the show here.
Thanks to the following folks for allowing me to put them on video and add them to the show!
Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we’re doing a little planning for 2019, but frankly, not much will change. Over the years I’ve recognized that some things work better than others, so I tend to focus on the things that work and not spend much time on things that haven’t proven to be successful in the past.
Having said that, in a way a lot of it is unpredictable. So much of marketing and business is a crap shoot, especially when you’re a small business. In a sense, you have to keep doing the things that got you this far.
When it comes to generating new business, the two most consistent things I can do are to attend tradeshows and meet people and keep in touch with them over time. They say that a potential client needs to see or hear from you at least seven times before they might become a client. In this business, in my experience it’s usually more, so I keep in touch as best as I can with phone calls, email and the occasional snail mail. Of course, having a book or two to send to potential clients is a good advantage to have, too. Maybe I’ll write another one this year, who knows!
We’ll continue to work with Classic Exhibits out of thePortland area for the bulk of our exhibit design and fabrication. They’ve gotten better over the years and their skills at designing and customizing exhibits is continually improving. Having them essentially in my back yard (we’re about 45 minutes away from their shop) makes things easier.And having them as an extremely supportive partner makes it easy to work with them.
We also work with a number of manufacturers for differentitems such as banner stands, lights and other things, and will continue to workwith them. Foremost among those companies is Orbus, which has been a dependable partner for years.
We also work with Eagle Management for client installation and dismantle, TransGroup Global Logistics for shipping, Cort Events for furniture rental. Over the years we’ve tried other companies, many of which are dependable, but in the past couple of years these companies have been steady partners and will likely continue to be.
If we’re staying the course, going steady as she goes as the saying goes, what does that mean and are any new things planned?
First, you’ll continue to see weekly postings of a video and audio version of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. As an old radio guy, sitting in front of a microphone (and laptop camera) is natural and easy and frankly fun. Guests are always great to have, and I strive to have them on the show more often than not, but if not, I typically find a topic to muse on for awhile. The objective, as I see it, is to share some personal and business observations, and great information as it comes. Guests and topics are generally event and tradeshow-oriented, but not exclusively. The idea is to attract non-event people if possible.
I’ll continue to post on the blog at least a couple of times
a week. Guest posts are always welcome as guests typically bring a different
perspective on a topic.
I’ll attend a handful of tradeshows, including NaturalProducts Expo West in March in Anaheim, where TradeshowGuy Exhibits has several clients. Other shows include the Northwest Food Service Show that bounces between Seattle and Portland year over year, and the Cannabis Collaborative Conference, where TradeshowGuy Exhibits will be exhibiting for the first time. There are a number of non-cannabis exhibitors there that support the industry and we hope to become a partner to companies in that space. Stay tuned to see how that goes – and find us in Space #420 at the Portland Expo on January 23rdand 24th, 2019.
As far as new things, I keep looking to work with strategic partners, such as branding agencies and graphic designers when it’s a good fit. You never know where projects come from, so I try to keep networking. And although I’m not a natural networker like some people, I do get better at it as time goes by. I currently belong to the Wilsonville, Oregon Tip Club, a B2B networking group that meets every month.
What about social media? So much time can be spent on social media – and so much can be wasted. I think there is a use for it – but as faras bring in business, it’s limited. My usage of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn has decreased ever-so-slightly over the years because – as much as I’d love to have a consistent presence on those outlets –it comes down to a choice of how to spend my time. And most of the time it’s more important to work with clients and seek new ones. No doubt you face that choice, too. I’ll continue to be there when it makes sense.
Running a small business is challenging. But it’s fun. There’s almost nothing else I’d rather be doing (maybe skiing and playing the drums, but so far no one’s offering to pay me much for those skills!). So I’ll keep doing it, keep serving our current clients as well as I can, and keep searching for new exhibitors that want to work with someone who’s focused and dedicated to their success.
Best wishes for a great 2019! And…steady as she goes!