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

Event Marketing

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!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, January 18, 2021: Michael F. Schein

What is hype, really, and is it a worthwhile thing to use to get attention in this busy world of today? Author and marketer Michael F. Schein of Micro Fame Media joins me to discuss this topic and many others in the world of marketing on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:

Find Michael here:

Micro Fame Media

The Hype Handbook

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Quartet Dry Erase Desktop Computer Pad

Will Time Away from Tradeshows Change Our Marketing Approach?

Now that most companies haven’t exhibited at a major show in the US for nine months or so, where does that leave their marketing efforts? I’ve heard some companies badly miss shows because that’s where a large portion of their lead generation came from and without that they’re struggling to generate as many solid leads. Some companies have shifted to other marketing outlets and been at least moderately successful, and I suppose some companies have even determined that they don’t really need tradeshows.

It’s my impression that there’s always been a bit of perception from many management and sales staff that tradeshows are a grind, a big waste of money and time. That they only attend because their competition is there but if they could they’d bail on exhibiting or even attending shows.

Meanwhile, tradeshow managers are buried in details of exhibiting and logistics and new product launches and are-there-enough-samples and so on.

By the time bigger shows return, it’s likely that at least a year will have passed for many exhibitors since their last appearance at a national or international show, and the question is undoubtedly being asked: are tradeshows still even that important?

That question can only be answered by each company individually based on their own goals, budget and personnel.

Photo by Harrison Haines from Pexels

One result might be that companies will exhibit at fewer shows. If that’s the case, the focus on the shows should be to make sure that exhibiting is worth their time. Maybe you’ll have the same budget but with fewer shows, you can concentrate on those select handful of shows and make sure you carefully and completely execute all of the tradeshow marketing steps from A to Z to ensure great results.

Another consequence of the coming post-COVID world may mean smaller budgets, which means downsizing your exhibit, or renting an exhibit save a few dollars. Or taking fewer people to shows.

One other change that I believe will be a result of no tradeshows for a year or so: the psychological effect on both exhibitors and attendees. How will we feel, for instance, about shaking hands with people we meet, or hugging old friends that we haven’t seen for a year or two or three? How will food companies hand out samples so that everyone who is picking up a tasty sample is comfortable with it? Will we really feel okay flying across the country to attend a show, stuck in an airplane for hours with strangers? Some will be okay; others may have high levels of anxiety. It’s likely that aisles will be wider, giving more separation between booths and giving attendees more space to keep people at a distant.

Things will change, things are already changing.

I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, December 21, 2020: Bill Stainton

Bill Stainton was a guest on this show three years ago, and I wanted to catch up with him to see how he is doing in the midst of the crazy times. We ended up talking about an article from Entrepreneur he had flagged in his latest newsletter that looked at five trends in innovation and how leaders can use them in 2021. It was a lively discussion:

Find Bill Stainton here.

ONE GOOD THING: Ducks win Pac-12 football championship.

Teamwork is Not Necessarily Democratic

When you set up a team to complete a task or do a job, or work together indefinitely, one major assumption is that everyone’s work is equal. Everyone pulls their weight. The workload should be distributed equitably. Isn’t that what you would naturally think?

It depends.

I got to thinking about this after listening to an interview with Brian Eno, the producer, writer, musician and longtime collaborator of David Bowie and others. He’s well known in the ambient music world for decades of work, and has produced albums by Talking Heads, U2, Devo, Ultravox and has contributed to recordings by Genesis, David Bowie, Massive Attack and on and on.

In other words, the 72-year-old has been around awhile.

So when he discussed how he worked with U2, producing The Unforgettable Fire, Wide Awake in America, Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and others, something he said caught my ears.

Teamwork is not democratic, and it shouldn’t necessarily be. (I’m paraphrasing). Sometimes you need more of one person and less of another person’s contribution. The dynamics of teams, especially long-term teams like bands, fluctuate and the work requirements of each person will come and go depending on the situation.

I think that’s a valid observation. Depending on the task or challenge in front of a team, whether it’s four people in a band, or three or six or fifteen people working to execute a tradeshow exhibiting appearance at an upcoming show, each person will have a different role, and their overall contribution may differ in terms of time and energy they put into it.

In Eno’s case, he gave an example that because he’s an outsider, and not a member of the band, he can give feedback on items that might otherwise be a touchy subject if given by one of the band members.

That would seem to be the case in a marketing team as well. You have a lead person, who is by definition not only a part of the team, but apart from the team as a leader, and has a different role to play in addressing issues as they come up; different than one of the team members may have.

I think the key here is that everyone feels they’ve contributed to the best of their ability, are aware of other’s contributions and were a valued part of the overall goal of the team, whether it’s a short term project or an ongoing team.


Exhibitor Magazine Tracks COVID-19 Impact

Exhibitor Magazine has been doing a superb job of keeping their fingers on the pulse of the tradeshow industry. Since the pandemic essentially closed down the industry in March, they’ve done numerous surveys of exhibitors and exhibit industry suppliers. They recently had another webinar where Editor Travis Stanton went over the results of their latest survey, taken of over 1000 respondents. This is the fourth such survey they’ve done, and it took place in mid-November. If you’re an exhibitor or in the exhibit industry and haven’t reviewed the results, it’s worth a look. Both the webinar and the resultant White Paper have been posted on their website. Check for links below.

A few top-line results from their executive summary shows the deep and wide impact the pandemic has had on the industry as a whole:

When asked how long it would take to get back business full bore if the restrictions were lifted today, a majority of the survey respondents said it would take about three months.

An image from the full White Paper (c) Exhibitor Media Group.

Many exhibitors are waiting longer to commit to appearing at shows; roughly a third are waiting until the final four months before a show to make a commitment.

Over two-thirds of exhibitors say that their exhibiting budgets have been cut; more than half of those are at least 50-percent budget reductions.

Virtual event participation is up: Over two-thirds over those surveyed say they have participated in virtual events.

Finally, the Exhibitor editorial staff is making a prediction that live tradeshows and events will slowly come back to life during the first half of next year, but that it will be at least until the first or second quarter of 2022 before we’ll see anything we can call “normal.”

Here’s a link to the replay. And here’s a link to the white paper with the full results.

Check out their full on-demand video library here.

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.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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