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

Event Marketing

Increasing Tradeshow Success Through Awareness

You might think that when I mention “tradeshow awareness” that I’m thinking of how you make visitors aware of your tradeshow booth, so you can draw people in. Sure, that’s important, but that’s not what I’m getting at here.

Let’s look at the other side: the awareness you as a tradeshow exhibitor has. What do I mean?

There are a number of things that, if you’re aware of, can help increase your success.

An Example

Let’s give an example that’s not related to tradeshows. For example, let’s say you want to lose 10 or 15 pounds. Not an unreasonable goal, right? But how does awareness come into play and how does it affect your efforts to lose that weight?

The most obvious way is to be aware of how much we’re eating and how much we’re exercising. And thankfully in today’s digital world, there are a lot of apps that can help you be more aware. One app I’ve used, Lose It!, lets you track calorie consumption, water consumption, and your daily exercise habits. After using it for over a year, not only did I lose the 15-20 pounds I was aiming for, but I realized that the very fact of being aware of my calorie intake and my exercise habits was a big contributor to the success of reaching my goal.

When you eat a cookie, let’s say, if you want to track the calories, you have to know how many calories it contains. Which means you have to look it up. If it’s a package of store-bought cookies, as opposed to home-cooked, the calories per cookie are listed on the package. If a cookie is 150 calories, log it when you eat it.

Same with breakfast, lunch, dinner and any other snacks you have. Once you’ve inputted your data (age, weight, sex, goals, etc.) the app calculates a daily calorie regimen. Stay under the daily allowance, and you’re likely to see your weight slowly drop. Go over the allowance consistently, and you won’t! Easy enough, right?

attention
Did this get your attention?

Then when you exercise, such as take a bike ride or go for a walk, enter that data, and the app calculates the amount of calories you’ve burned. Which means you can either increase your calorie intake or not. You get a visual reminder of everything. It works great.

But the key is awareness. If you weren’t aware of how many calories that cookie contains, you might not care. But now that you’re aware, you realize that each and every bite you take adds to your calorie count. Given that an adult needs approximately 2000 calories a day to maintain an even weight, it’s easy to go over that amount if you don’t count calories. If you’re not AWARE.

How does awareness play into your tradeshow success? Same principle. If you’re not aware of certain things, you won’t be impacted. If you are aware, the simple fact of being aware can likely make a positive impact.

What to Be Aware Of

What things are important to be aware of on the tradeshow floor?

Traffic: I would wager that most people don’t count the number of visitors in the booth at any given tradeshow. They may have a sense that the visitor count in their booth goes up or down year over year, but without an actual count, it’s just a feeling, and not actual data. Imagine if you could know exactly, or within a reasonable number, how many people visit your booth per day, or per hour, or per show.

Engagement: this might be a metric that is a little harder to measure, but if you are aware of what a good engagement with a visitor is, and you work to create better engagement through staff training, demonstrations or sampling, you’ll have a good idea of what outcomes those engagements lead to. Remember, you can’t control the outcomes, but you can control the behaviors that lead to outcomes. If your lack of engagement with visitors keeps your lead generation and engagement low, figure out what it takes to increase visitor engagement.

Leads: lead count is important. But so is the quality of leads. If you collect 300 leads at a show, but haven’t graded them as to hot, warm or cool, your follow-up will not be as good. But if out of those 300 leads, you know that 75 are HOT and need to be called within two days of returning from the show, and that 155 are warm and should be followed up within three weeks, and that the final 70 are COOL and need only be put on a tickler file or an email-later list, then the follow-up is going to be more consistent and likely more fruitful.

Booth staff: if you have a booth staff that is trained on how to interact with visitors, and how to be more aware of who’s in the booth, your results can only improve. Booth staff training is one of the key factors to success. Do you have a booth staff that is aware of what they need to do, how they need to do it and, how to engage with visitors?

Competition: awareness of competition may seem secondary to your company’s immediate success at any given tradeshow. But look at it this way: you have a lot of competitors at a show. The more aware of who they are, how they present themselves, what products they have (what’s new and what’s not) and the way those products are branded, the more well-informed you’ll be about the state of your competition. In a sense it can be a bit of a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) from the floor of a tradeshow. If you’re good at gabbing, you can pick up all sorts of insights about competitors: personnel changes, strength of company, management moves, new products and so on. After all, every exhibitor is showing off their best and latest, and if you’re not aware of your competition, don’t you think its time you paid more attention?

Finally, awareness of how your actual exhibit looks compared to your competition. Gotta say it: everyone compares their exhibits to their neighbors and competitors. How does yours stack up? Is it normal, staid, complacent, expected? Or is it sparkling, engaging, new and different than others?

Awareness is critical to success in so many areas of our lives. Being aware of how things are working on a tradeshow floor is one of those things. Awareness will naturally help you make better decisions and as a result, show more success for your efforts.

 

Don’t Miss This Critical Step Before a Prospect Leaves Your Tradeshow Booth

As an exhibitor, you’ve got most of the moving parts handled: logistics, schedules, booth staff up to speed on how to handle prospects, ask opening questions and so on.

prospect

But what’s the last thing you should do once you have converted a prospect into a lead? It’s a step that a lot of people in sales, especially newer ones, tend to overlook. And it’s easy to let this critical piece slip by quickly.

At the beginning of the visit, you clarify if the visitor is interested in your product or service by asking good questions. During the conversation with them, you’re asking more clarifying and confirmation questions.

But what about the very last step?

Confirming everything before they leave. Make sure that their business card or scanned badge info is accurate down to the email address and phone number. If you can’t get back to them easily, they’re lost. Confirm the next step: when you’ll call (or write, or visit), what that next step entails (more product information, order sheet, longer product demo, etc.), what you might need to send them prior to the call or visit (sell sheets, white paper, etc.).

In every sales meeting – and let’s be clear that a tradeshow visit that gets this far and turns a prospect into lead is definitely a sales meeting – the last step before parting is to confirm what the next step is.

The challenge that comes up if you don’t clarify the next step is that you may forget. Or your lead may be unclear what to expect from you and when. Better to take an extra minute so that there is no mutual mystification. Make sure you both know what’s coming next and when.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 19, 2018: Mike Thimmesch

There are a lot of people in the tradeshow industry who are well-travelled and highly experienced, and I love chatting with them about tradeshow marketing. In this episode I sat with Michael Thimmesch, long time Skyline marketer, now a consultant with his own company. We covered a lot of bases of tradeshow marketing, including his approach of the FIVE LEVELS of tradeshow marketing. Where are you? Take a look:

Find Mike’s LinkedIn profile here.

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING: The 50th anniversary release of “The Beatles” (White Album).

The Well-Rounded Tradeshow Marketer

As in any discipline, we can all end up very focused on just a few aspects of the overall skills needed to be a well-rounded and talented worked. For instance, in baseball, a pinch-hitter is great at hitting a pitch but may not be that great at fielding or running.

In the digital world, someone may be very good at engaging on Twitter or Instagram, but just doesn’t get LinkedIn or spend any time on Facebook.

A photographer may be an expert at photographing weddings but would have a difficult time to find a great landscape photo or have the patience to take a good night photo.

You’ve probably heard that it’s better to be focused on just one skill and become really, really good at that skill instead of being a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades.

I don’t agree. The more skills you have the better off you’ll be, even if those skills are only average or slightly above.

Take a writer. Some writers can be a great author but suck at promotion, social media engagement, public speaking and at other skills that would help them be more successful. There are lot of “average” authors that are very successful because they have learned how to engage on social media, speak in public, put together a solid promotion.

When it comes to the well-rounded tradeshow marketer, what skills should you have? Not necessarily be the greatest at, or extremely skilled, but all of the various skills to make you rise above the pack? Let’s take a look:

well-rounded tradeshow marketer

Organization: there are a lot of bouncing balls in the tradeshow world. Your ability to keep track of the many parts of tradeshow marketing is probably one of the most important skills.

Communication: whether it’s having a conversation or communicating with people via email, being able to understand, and be understood, is critical.

Social Media: you don’t have to have the most followers or engage with everyone that “likes” one of your posts, but you do need to know the basics of creating, writing, posting and engaging with those followers.

Scheduling: tradeshow dates on the calendar don’t move. Which means you’ll have to coordinate things such as logistics (shipping, travel, installation/dismantle), booth staff scheduling, updates to your exhibit (modifications, graphic printing, etc.) and more.

Photographer: maybe not the most important skill, but since you carry a camera around in your pocket, you’ll need to learn to take good photographs of the exhibit, and visitors in your booth. Learn how to frame people, get the lighting right, try not to let unwanted guests photobomb your photo, and more.

Labor: you may hire show labor to set up and dismantle your exhibit, or you may have to set it up with fellow staff members. Either way, knowing how everything goes together is a useful skill.

Networking: back to the communication and interpersonal skills. But networking on it’s own is critical to building a network of people you can call on when needed.

Finally, how to MacGyver things: you may not have to actually make your own parachute using a canvas and tie-downs, but being naturally resourceful is a gift. Don’t let it go to waste.

Any other critical skills come to mind?

10 Types of Instagram Posts to Use When Exhibiting at a Tradeshow

Trying to find some new and different posts the next time you’re on the road at a tradeshow? Try a few of these and see what you get:

  1. Clients and Customers in Your Booth: Click a quick photo or if they’re up for it, videotape a brief testimonial.
  2. Your Staff: You should make sure that you show off how much fun your staffers are having, even in the midst of a busy day. Nothing communicates your company’s brand more than your people having a good time.
  3. Demos of Products: A series of stills, or a brief video works here.

  4. Type of Instagram Posts

    Your Exhibit: Have a great exhibit? Show it off!

  5. The Hall You’re In – Include Your Booth Number: Share your location at the beginning of each day (at least) so that people can find you.
  6. Educational: Inform your audience how your product or service can help them. A picture with a useful description goes a long way.
  7. Questions or a Short Quiz: People will respond to questions if they’re interesting and engaging.
  8. Promotional: Give something away. Try offering a prize for show-goers to get them to come to your booth. And offer a prize for people watching from afar that can’t make it.
  9. Dinner out with Client (or not): Okay, food photos are usually boring unless it’s really a stunning photo. But if you’re out with a client or friend, post a photo and include the hashtag.
  10. Local Tourist Stops: Making a few side trips during your busy show? Snap photos and share.

Follow me on Instagram here!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 12, 2018: Larry Kulchawik

In this week’s vlog/podcast, I got a chance to learn quite a bit about something with which I’m not very familiar with: international tradeshow exhibiting. I’m guessing that a lot of us don’t get a chance for much exhibiting in Dubai, France, Spain, England, China or Japan or any of a number of countries. That’s why this week’s interview with exhibit designer and international tradeshow exhibiting expert Larry Kulchawik is such a treat. Loads of great information – and you should pick up his book if you do any international exhibiting. Check it out:

Find Larry Kulchawik here on LinkedIn. Here’s a link to his book on Amazon.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic. And if you want to see the entire Queen set at Live Aid 1985, which was the centerpiece of the movie, take a look.

What if Your Tradeshow Booth is Overwhelmed with Visitors?

I suppose having your tradeshow booth overwhelmed with visitors is a good problem to have, but if you have a small booth staff that can’t handle the number of visitors, it can be frustrating.

If you get lucky enough to face this problem, what should you do? Certainly, you want to capture contact info from as many people as you can.

tradeshow booth overwhelmed by visitors
Ken Newman of Magnet Productions knows how to draw a crowd!

Depending on the circumstances, you can approach it in a few ways. A little preparation for this will go a long way. For instance, have a couple of clipboards handy with pre-printed forms asking for just a few pertinent pieces of information such as name, phone, email and company. And if room, what do they want to talk with you about. If you’re overwhelmed with visitors, your staff can quickly hand out the clipboards and ask those that can’t stick around to leave their information behind – and be sure to ask for a business card as well. In fact, you can even say to those that hand you a business card to give a shortened version of their info on the form and make a note that they left a card. This gives you name, contact info, company and phone number without them having to write it down.

Don’t have clipboard with forms or even blank paper? You might think ahead and toss a small notebook in to the booth crate. You can at least ask the questions and write that info down.

No notebook? Ask for a card, tell the guest that you’re sorry that you’re swamped right now but that you want to get back to them soon: “Can we schedule a meeting later today or tomorrow? Or would it work better to call you when you get back to your office?”

The goal with this situation is to get contact info for as many people as possible – if they leave without you doing that, they’re likely gone for good. Grabbing a card and making a note on the card is sufficient. Even if you don’t get a chance to jot a brief note on the back, you can make a return call a few days later.

At busy shows, it’s kind of rare to have a few moments when you’re simply overwhelmed, where you just don’t have the booth staff to handle the influx of visitors. But if you can do your best to capture contact information before they leave, you have made a connection, even if it’s tentative. But it’s better than not capturing anything from them!


Photo courtesy Ken Newman of Magnet Productions.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 5, 2018: Robert Strong

Magician and professional tradeshow presenter Robert Strong discusses how to draw a crowd, how he works with clients, and what makes a good opening line – and a lot more – in this enlightening interview.

 

Find Robert Strong here.

Robert was kind enough to share some great material including the following posts:

Want Over 1000 Quality Scans a Day at Your Tradeshow Booth?

If You Don’t Clearly Define Your Goals at Your Next Tradeshow, You Will Lose to Your Competition

Robert as Guest on the Savvy Event Planner Podcast

Your Tradeshow Booth Would Be Twice as Successful if Your Booth Staff Simply Removes Typical Bad Behaviors

Robert also shared a list of Best Booth Behaviors:

1.     Remove bad behaviors: No eating, drinking, cell phones, sitting, booth huddles, etc.
2.     Add good behaviors: Stand, face the aisles, smile, make eye contact, initiate conversation, etc.
3.     If you are not getting rejected a hundred times an hour, you are not initiating enough conversations.
4.     Have a strong opener: What do you do at your company? What is the most interesting thing you have seen at this show? What is your (companies) biggest pain point?
5.     Make the current attendee you are talking with the most popular person at the show.
6.     Be able to do the overview (elevator pitch) in 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 90 seconds.
7.     Understand and communicate concisely the giveaways and raffles.
8.     Be able to scan badges and do it quickly.
9.     Qualify leads quickly, make introductions, and end conversations quickly.
10.Have three case studies (success stories) rehearsed and ready to go.
11.When doing a demo, scale. When you see someone else starting a demo, help them scale.
12.You are on stage. High five each other, fist bump each other, enthusiastically cheer for your fellow booth staff, and let the attendees see that you really like each other and are having fun.
13.Treat the attendees exactly how you would want to be treated if you were in someone else’s booth.
14.Make a follow-up plan and take notes.

And finally, this week’s ONE GOOD THING: the Bag Man Podcast about Vice President Spiro Agnew.


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

Why Tradeshows Work – and Why They Don’t

When you think about it, there are several reasons why tradeshows work to reach new markets. And many reasons as to why they wouldn’t work for you.

Let’s start with why tradeshows work.

Tradeshows are organized for one very good reason: to bring buyers and sellers together under one roof for a short amount of time. It’s an extremely effective way to help both parties make connections. By setting up an exhibit at the right show – one that has hundreds or thousands of people or companies that are in the market for your product or service – you can save a ton of money when compared with trying to have face-to-face meetings with those same people at their company locations. Imagine meeting 100 people at a show over the course of three days. Then imagine the cost of traveling to 100 locations spread throughout the country (or state or world) and having the same meetings. Granted, a meeting in someone’s office is typically more relaxed than a meeting on the tradeshow floor. But other than the time and relaxation factors, it’s pretty much the same meeting! You’re determining if the prospect uses your product, is capable of making a purchase (they have the $$), and if they have the ability to make that decision for the company. It’s the same on the tradeshow floor.

Why tradeshows work

Given all of that, tradeshows are the perfect structure for spreading the word about your product among a very large crowd that – again, if it’s the right show – are your target market. Naturally, you’re competing against companies that may be trying to sell virtually the same product or service to the same target market. That’s where the fun starts: how do you differentiate from them, how do you approach the prospect, how do you understand their needs, how do you make them look (and feel) good?

On the flip side, given the high cost and a multitude of variables that go into planning and executing a tradeshow appearance, a lot of exhibitors have come to the conclusion that tradeshow marketing doesn’t work. For them.

You could point to a number of reasons why it doesn’t work for them. They’re at the wrong show. With the wrong exhibit. In the wrong space. With a booth staff that isn’t properly trained. Going against competitors that are way ahead of them in experience, savvy, planning, and attitude. In fact, attitude, I would argue, is one of the keys to winning vs. losing at a tradeshow. But let’s take it a step further: let’s not even use the words “winning vs. losing” because that frames it as a competition. Yes, it is, in a sense. But if you consider all tradeshows as more than that – as a learning experience – take that experience and apply it to the next round. What worked? What didn’t? Why did something work, and why did something else not work? If that’s hard to figure out, it might mean you’re too close to it. Ask someone on the outside to take a look and give an objective perspective. Buy a book or two and learn how it’s done from people that have been there before.

Don’t give up. Keep plugging away. Keep trying. It can – and will – work for you, eventually.


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

Determining Which Tradeshow Metrics to Track Based on Show Objectives

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the main goal of all tradeshow marketing is to grow your business, right? Yes, you’re right. But that’s a general and somewhat vague-sounding goal, so it’s worth breaking it down a bit more.

The main goals for exhibiting typically fall under these categories:

Branding

Lead Generation

Sales

Most everything you can do, whether it’s pre-show marketing, in-booth activities, or post-show follow-up, helps support these three main goals.

To support your Branding efforts, consider the following goals:

tradeshow metrics

Easily recognizable exhibit that captures your brand. How do you measure this? One way would be to survey visitors as they pass through the booth to gauge their feelings on the exhibit.

A trained booth staff that knows and understands your show goals and how to properly interact with your booth visitors. This isn’t something that is easily measurable, but investing in your booth staff by hiring a professional trainer is an expense that can be measured – and I’m confident you’ll see an improvement in critical metrics as a results.

Samples given away – if a lot of people want your stuff, that’s a good indicator. Easy enough to measure.

Social media engagement. Did you get good response from the photos and videos you posted from the show floor (as well as before and after the show)? Compare post count and engagement from show to show.

When it comes to Lead Generation, the following metrics and activities can contribute to the overall success:

Making sure that your lead has concrete contact information and specific follow up details. Count leads and track trends from show to show.

Tracking the overall visitor count. Yes, this is hard to do, but with technology it’s becoming easier. By knowing the percentage of visitors that convert to leads, you have valuable information that can be used at subsequent shows.

Sales Success comes from the follow up and the tracking of the total amount of sales achieved as a direct result of a show. Here’s where it gets a little dicey. Some tradeshow leads will pay off immediately, others in the medium-term and some in the long-term. If you can attribute a sale in March of 2019, for example to a show you did in July of 2016, add the profit earned from that sale to the Return on Investment from your July 2016 show. You probably won’t automatically know this information, especially if your company is a fairly large business and goes to several shows in a year. But by tagging the prospect as someone that first came into your sales funnel at that specific July 2016 show, no matter how many follow up steps it took, if they become a new client and you can attribute the income from them to a specific show, make sure to do so.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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