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

Event Marketing

Pebble Beach concours d’elegance: Event Marketing Recap

I spent about a week in Monterey with an old friend recently to attend a couple of events: The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway and the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance. In a sense, both events are about as far away from tradeshows that you can get. But as event marketing goes, they’re at the top of their games.

Consider this: according to the website, “the competition attracts 15,000 affluent aficionados who pay a minimum of $325 for general admission.” And this: “Entrants often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire a car, hundreds of thousands to restore it, and tens of thousands more to transport it to Pebble Beach to compete for our top award. Come day of show, the cars pulling onto the eighteenth fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links often have a total estimated value of half a billion dollars.”

So, yeah, the one-percenters, basically. And of course, there are a lot of other vintage car enthusiasts who like the show and the spectacle who are not in that top echelon (that would include me, just to be clear!).

Just driving around the area over the week gives you an opportunity to see hundreds of exotic and high-end cars that are just out cruising: Porches, McLarens, Teslas, Ferraris, Maseratis, Rolls-Royces, and a few that are simply unrecognizable or unique one-of-a-kinds.

This is a prime market ripe for pitching high-end products. There are numerous car auctions, one of which set a record over the weekend for selling a car at auction for a record $48.4 million. In case you’re wondering, it was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

Car manufacturers spend a ton to show off their newest models. Infiniti, for instance, sets up a large temporary building just above the festivities on the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach. During the runup to the event, they offer visitors a chance to drive new models for a couple of miles. Other car makers over the year have included Jeep, Cadillac, Chrysler, Tesla and many others. In fact, the first I ever heard of a Tesla was in 2008 when they introduced their roadster at the event. In 2016, Tesla was offering a chance to drive their new Model X (which I did).

Ferrari brought several dozen vintage autos and displayed them on the fairway of hole number one.

There were nine Tucker automobiles at the show, along with a handful of Chinese cars and a collection from the Raj of India.

Concept cars encircle the main putting green in front of the pro shop, where we’ve seen everything over the years from an electric VW bus, to McLarens, Rolls-Royces, Porches, Lincolns, Maseratis, Hennesseys, Genesis’ and many more – too many to count. Just a bunch of glorious eye candy for car fans.

Every year there is a raffle during the event, where up to four brand new model cars are given away. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno has done the honors for years, telling the same jokes year after year.

Some 1200 media members cover the event, with about a quarter of them from outside the United States.

But at the bottom line, the event is a fundraiser for several dozen charities in the area. Over the years the they event has generated millions of dollars that goes to help area children. This year the event raised $1.8 million which will be distributed by the Pebble Beach Company Foundation to 85 local charities.

Check out the gallery below. I’m sure I’ll be back next year. It’s already on my calendar.

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Delegate for Tradeshow Project Success

It’s a good question to ask: how much do you delegate for tradeshow success? Most clients I deal with have someone in charge of the overall tradeshow project. Maybe they’re a Marketing Manager or Tradeshow Manager, or some other title such as Business Development Director. Most of them work with a small team.

delegation for tradeshow project success

Which means there is a certain amount of delegation and collaboration going on. Multi-tasking may be something that people try, but research tends to show that too much multi-tasking leads to less success. How do you walk that fine line between doing too much yourself as someone in charge of the project and just telling everyone else what to do, in essence leaving little for you except overseeing the project? Maybe if you’re a control freak you find it extremely difficult to give control over an aspect of the project to someone else – but you gotta learn how to do it! One of the challenges of doing it all yourself is that while you may have control over everything, there’s a chance that the standard of work will slip.

The good thing, I suppose, is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. Teams are different sizes, members have different skill sets and experience.

When it comes down to it, there are a handful of items to consider when managing a team for a tradeshow project.

Know Your Team

Many marketing teams we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have an assortment of methods of getting the job done. For example, some teams outsource graphic design. Others outsource shipping and logistics. Some keep all of those things in-house. Most will hire an exhibit house for the final exhibit design and fabrication if it’s a new project, but the remainder of the tasks will often lie elsewhere. If it’s another show with your current exhibit, but a certain amount of updating needs to take place, it may not be as time-consuming and involved, but it still has to be done right.

Communicate Clearly and Often

The lack of communication is one of the biggest downfalls of collaboration and delegation. When a task is delegated, make sure that both parties are in full understanding of, and in agreement of, the specific tasks assigned and the deadline under which they must be completed. Even though you may have an in-person conversation or a phone call, I always recommend that a short email be created that details the tasks – if nothing else, in bullet points. There should also be an expectation that if problems, issues or challenges come up, that those will be brought to your attention as soon as possible. Like one of my old bosses once told me: “Bring me good news as soon as possible. Bring me the bad news even quicker.”

Know What to Delegate

Some items on the project to-do list will need approval from management for them to be completed. Other items will be less demanding. Since you’re in charge, it would make sense to keep the highest-skilled tasks to yourself, and the ones that till need buy-in and approval from management. Many tasks that go to other team members will also need instructions, especially if they’re new to your team. It may seem obvious to you how something is done, but if you’re assigning a task to someone, make sure they understand how it’s done – and how to know it’s done correctly.

Feedback is a Two-Way street

Once the project is complete, give feedback. If your team has done well, publicly thank them for the work and hand out genuine praise. But if some of them have come up short, let them know that as well. I’ve heard it said that you should “praise in public, criticize in private.” It’s a good approach. And make sure that all of your team members are free to offer their thoughts on how you’re delegating: did you give instructions that were clear? Did you make sure the right people got the right tasks, etc.?

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Small Event Collaboration to Generate Sales Leads

During a two-hour workshop with trainer, author and content marketer Kathleen Gage this week, I took more notes and learned more about small event collaboration for lead generation than I think I’ve taken in for years.

While it’s true I collaborate with other people, I certainly don’t do it at the level that I could. That was clear in this workshop. Frankly, the ideas Kathleen presented gave me a lot to chew over.

small event collaboration

Think of a small event as one where you and some partners team up to bring a very focused target market together. This would generally a small group of anywhere from a few dozen to maybe a couple of hundred depending on your goals and scope of the event. The attraction to having people come to the event would be to have a few experts in the field share their knowledge. Show the value you offer, and if appropriate, make an offer during the event. It may or may not be appropriate.

Without giving away Kathleen’s secret sauce, the model for creating a winning event is to have a specific objective, determine what type of event will work, come up with a budget and assess your resources, find potential collaborative partners, and promote through media releases, email, phone calls, direct mail and more.

To me one of the key takeaways was to make sure that everyone at the event fills out an evaluation, where you ask the attendees if they are interested in a free consultation. During that follow up consultation, the conversation wouldn’t be focused on sales, but on determining if the potential client has a pain or a problem that you can fix. Only then would the actual sales conversation take place.

A few of the notes I jotted down during the event:

  • Create value before creating the offer.
  • Ask the right questions and get a better answer.
  • Disqualify people first – are they really qualified to do business with you?
  • What is your story? (Kathleen shared her story about her love of rescued animals – hence the pug photo!)
  • There is a difference between a “customer” and a “client.”
  • Until we create value, no matter what we sell, we are a commodity.
  • Get really clear on the type of client we really want.

As you search for your ideal client, look at your current clients: what are your common denominators? Kids? Pets? Sports?

Collaboration with partners using small (or maybe not so small) events can be a great avenue to growing your business, if done smartly and if the risk is minimized and spread around. Make it so that all partners have a lot to gain. It may not be like putting on a regular tradeshow, but a small private event can have a big impact, and I’m looking forward to exploring this whole concept with Kathleen further. Because, you know, in her evaluation she asked if I wanted a free, no-strings-attached consultation. I said yes.

Check out the podcast interview I did with Kathleen Gage here, and browse her website Power Up For Profits.

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TradeshowGuy Exhibits: Planning Notes for Cannabis Collaborative Conference

cannabis collaborative conference

Since we made the decision to exhibit at a regional cannabis show in January, the Portland Cannabis Collaborative Conference at the Portland Expo Center, we’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas on how to approach it. Thought it might be fun to share some notes about what is crossing our minds regarding the show.

First, the Cannabis Collaborative Conference is a relatively small gathering. Around 125 – 130 exhibitors will set up shop for a few days, January 22 – 24, 2019. There will be two days of conferences, breakfasts, lunches and networking. And of course, exhibiting! In discussions with Mary Lou Burton, the organizer, it was apparent that a number of companies that are not directly involved in the cannabis industry exhibit at the show. There are companies involved in banking, insurance, legal, energy reduction, marketing and more. Given that the show is pretty popular, and the industry is growing, we felt it was a good fit to invest in exhibiting at the show as a potential supporting marketing partner of companies in the cannabis industry that do tradeshows.

Now that the decision has been made, what to do?

As any tradeshow planner knows, it all revolves around budget. From booth space, to travel, from the exhibit itself to giveaways and more, budgets must be decided upon and hopefully adhered to.

At first blush, our budget for the show will be modest. Here are some thoughts on what we might do for our 10×10 space – #420. Yes, we’re in #420.

Exhibit: Lots of things to consider. After all, we have access to a lot of styles of exhibits, from pop-up graphic back walls that set up in seconds, to aluminum extrusion framed light boxes, to typical  10×10 exhibits (rental and purchase) to banner stands and more. The first thing that comes to mind is to do a big back drop (maybe even a light box with fabric graphic) with a large striking image, company name, maybe a few bullet points. I’ll work with a professional designer for this – I ain’t a designer.

Giveaways: of course, I have a couple of books that I’ll either giveaway or sell on the cheap. The organizers have said I can sell the books at my booth (some shows direct sales are not allowed, so I checked). We might also come up with some branded swag. If we can find an item that really makes sense for the show that is a good giveaway, we may do that.

cannabis collaborative conference

PreShow Marketing: the organizers gave me a list of some 2500 people that attended the last show. While it might be helpful to reach out to them via email, our interest is more in the exhibitors – they’re our target market. We might do a couple of email blasts to the group to let them know we’re there and what we do. Email is cheap. Direct mail is probably not a great option, mainly due to the cost. But, even if the attendees aren’t exhibitors, many of them are retail shop owners and are potential customers for other items we can supply. Since I’m active on social media – and especially with the booth number 420 – you can expect that we’ll have a lot of fun both before and during the show promoting both the show and our booth space.

During the show: one thought is to make the rounds at the other exhibits at the very outset of the show opening and invite them to come to booth 420 to pick up a free copy of my book while they last. Once they’re there, we’d be ready to capture their information for follow up. And I think it’s always a good idea to have some sort of thing to do – some interactive element – which bears more thought.

At this writing the show is still 182 days away – half a year. And most of these thoughts and notes on what we’ll do is just that – incomplete ideas. Still, I always tell clients that when a show is a half a year away, THAT is the time to be slowly creating the ideas, talking with team members and getting the juices flowing so that as time goes by they will coalesce and become more concrete until they become a plan that can be executed.

Stay tuned! And if you’re planning to be in Portland in mid-January of next year, put this show on your calendar and come see us!

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What About Those Tradeshow Results?

As an exhibitor, we’re all looking for great results. But what if you get back to the office a few days after the show, and frankly don’t have a lot to show for it? The lead collection came up short, there weren’t that many “warm” or “hot” leads, and the boss is wondering why all of that money was committed to the show.

First, recognize that you can’t control results. The only things you control are your activities, your behavior, and your technique.

Let’s start with attitude. Books have been written about attitude. Suffice it to say that if you go into a complex tradeshow marketing program, a good attitude will help immensely.

Activities are all-important. From pre-show marketing, to having a good interaction with your visitors, to lead generation and post-show follow up, knowing what to do and when to do it is critical to your success.

Finally, what technique do you apply to your behaviors? Does your booth staff know how to properly interact with visitors? Do they know how to as

tradeshow results

k questions, when to shut up and when to disengage?

All of your behaviors are subject to being done properly or not. And there is no end to determining what is proper and what works and discarding what does not work. Books have been written about techniques, attitude and behavior, so there’s much more to discover than what you’ll see in this brief post.

But back to results: if you are not getting the tradeshow results that you are hoping for, the three areas to examine are those that are most important to your success: attitude, behavior and technique.


Thanks to Sandler Sales for the tip. Full disclosure: I spent a year in a Sandler Sales Training Program, and this is just a tip of the iceberg.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, July 2, 2018: Mary Lou Burton

If you want to know more about the convergence of the event/tradeshow industry and the legal cannabis industry in Oregon, Washington and California, look no further than today’s interview with Mary Lou Burton. Each year Mary Lou puts on the Cannabis Collaborative Conference in Portland, drawing thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors, all interested in supporting the cannabis industry in Oregon. Take a look/listen:

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7 Snail Mail PreShow Marketing Pieces to Send to Prospective Tradeshow Visitors

Got a tradeshow appearance coming up, but aren’t sure how to exactly get people to come to your booth? Maybe you’re tried emailing people, or spent a lot of time leading up to the show and during the show pitching things on social media but aren’t getting great results? It doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing it right – there are a lot of reasons why things either work or don’t work – but one thing that doesn’t seem to be used a lot these days is sending out snail mail promos to get prospective tradeshow visitors to your booth.

So let’s create a list of seven items that you should consider sending out, in order, prior to the show. Keep in mind, this will cost more than email. In fact, depending on the things you send out, you might kick up a pretty noticeable budget. But for argument’s sake, let’s say you’ve got the budget and want to really get people’s attention.

A NOTE: This will take quite a bit of planning and coordination. You’ll need to sit down with a graphic artist, your product development team to know what new products will be launching, perhaps an outfit that coordinates mail promotions – lots to think through, but I think it’s worth taking a hard look at how this may unfold and get a lot of people excited to come to your booth. I mean, snail mail! Pull it off right and you’ll have a lot of folks looking forward to coming to your booth.

  1. Postcard Teaser Number One: Send this a few months, say 14 weeks prior to the show. On the postcard, do a “Save the Date!” tease, with the dates, times and location and bare bones information about the tradeshow, including your booth number. Nothing more. Just a teaser.
  2. Postcard Teaser Number Two: Send this one about 12 weeks prior to the show. Change out the “Save the Date!” verbiage with a little more information. Be sure to include the details (show, dates/times, booth number, etc.), but add some more information. If you’re launching new products, tease that. Doesn’t mean you have to give away all the information, just let people know that you have X number of new products that they’ll be among the first to know about if they come by your booth at the show.

  3. Letter: Send this about ten weeks prior to the show. It’s more than a postcard, this could be a flyer or letter that does the basics (show dates/times, booth number, new product launch, etc.), but invites them to go online and answer a 2-question survey for a chance to win something. OR…you may invite them to go online to a specially created landing page where they can sign up for an appointment with one of your representatives. The purpose of this email is for your prospect to consider making some sort of commitment to come to your booth.

  4. Postcard Invitation to Pick Up a Gift: Send this eight weeks out from show time. This is one you can have a lot of fun with, but you’ll want to be careful as well. You might approach it this way: tell your recipient that you have a limited amount of branded tumblers or some other nice special gift – but the only way to get one is to either be one of the first 100 people by the booth on day one OR they can confirm an appointment and you’ll reserve the gift for them. Work with your promotional products expert to come up with something that fits your budget and also the number of guests you suspect might be able to make that commitment, depending on the size of the show.
  5. Postcard reminding them of EVERYTHING: Send this just six weeks from the show. Tease your appearance, the new products launching, their chance to get a great prize if they book an appointment or are one of the first 100 to the booth.
  6. Postcard or Flyer: Send this a month prior to the show. if you have a new exhibit that you’re going to show off, let people know that it’s going to be special. In fact, you might send out a teaser image (3D rendering or photo-in-progress) showing off a part of the exhibit.
  7. Postcard Reminder: With just a couple of weeks to go, send out your last piece of snail mail. This could be a reminder or the various things you’ve already sent. If you’re planning to be active on social media, include mentions of all of your social media platforms and include any special hashtags that you’ll use during the show. If you’re doing a social media promotion, include that here.

This is a mere outline with a handful of suggestions. Get your creative juices flowing and figure out what items you can promote to get people to visit your booth. Maybe someone from your company is speaking or participating in a panel. Maybe you want to try some form of the “glove” promo where you send out a single glove and tell the recipient that they can get the other one if they come by the booth. There are literally thousands of things you can come up with that can be used in conjunction with an active, well-thought-out and well-executed snail mail marketing program that’s specific to your upcoming tradeshow appearance.

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Figuring Out Your Tradeshow Marketing Goals

You might think it’s easy enough to determine your tradeshow marketing goals. Just sell sell sell – increase your business and you’ve done the job, right? But in fact, it’s not be as cut and dried as you might think.

tradeshow marketing goals

Every show is different, and your goals may vary significantly from show to show. And some goals are very specific while some are broader.

Some common goals might include:

  • Generate leads
  • Make sales
  • Adding distributors
  • Reaching new markets
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Build brand awareness
  • Meet current customers, partners or distributors
  • Find new hires

All of these are laudable, and all are doable. But doing them all at the same show is probably asking a lot, unless you have a thorough plan and the personnel to execute the plan. Even if you’re going to attempt to check them all off at a single show, it’s better to prioritize.

You may know your goals going into a show, but it’s still a great exercise to sit down with your team, especially if you have new members, and identify and clarify those goals. Tradeshow marketing is a significant part of a company’s marketing budget and those dollars should be spent wisely.

During your discussion, break down the various parts of the goals, figure out what steps are needed element, and assign those pieces to team members. It may mean coming up with some premium giveaways for current customers to show them you care, to determining how many samples are needed for giveaway; from knowing what your competitors are doing to having a good preshow marketing outreach to get the right people to your booth for the right reason.

Brand building and tradeshow execution means brand consistency throughout your various platforms. Plug any holes and iron out any deficiencies.

Once you have your specific set of prioritized goals, communicate that to your team so they understand the show’s specific objectives and how they tie in with the company’s overall marketing strategy. Goal setting isn’t hard – it just takes some time and thought.

Finally keep in mind, a goal should follow the S.M.A.R.T. plan to be effective. In other words, Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and meet a Timeline.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 9, 2018: Nick McCallion

How do you get people to attend shows? And once they attend, what’s the best strategy to keep them coming? That’s the topic and TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson and Trade Show Ready’s Nick McCallion tackle in this wide-ranging interview. Plus: Tradeshow Tip of the Week and ONE GOOD THING!

 

ONE GOOD THING: Seth Godin’s podcast AKIMBO.

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Inside Game of Tradeshow Marketing Success

Is there an inside game of tradeshow marketing success? Hey, it could be just a catch phrase designed to get you read.

But let’s explore for a moment.

If you’re a baseball fan, you might be familiar with the phrase “inside baseball.” It’s a term used mostly in the United States, that refers to detailed knowledge about a subject that outsiders are usually not privy to. Deep knowledge about any subject down to the minutiae often means that unless you have spent years doing whatever it is, you are not going to understand a lot of the talk. Hence, “inside baseball.”

Even though the term was around since the 19th century, by the mid-1950s the term was being used outside of baseball, particularly it was used in politics. To use the term in another field, such as business, technology or science is not unusual.

In using the term as applied to tradeshow marketing, let’s think about what that means.

  • Knowledge. You have the knowledge of what it takes to go from Point A to Point Z with all of the twists and turns.
  • Discipline. Not only do you have the knowledge, you have the discipline that it takes in the event industry to organize all of those moving parts in a coherent and effective way.
  • Skill. Skill comes with doing something over and over again, learning what works and what doesn’t, ironing out the rough spots and then learning some more so that you know what to expect, you know how to deal with issues as they come up because – hey! – they’re not that much of a surprise.
  • Networking. The event industry – like most industries – is a people industry. People make it run. People know how things work. People ask for and offer help. And face it – the events / tradeshow / exhibiting industry is built on getting far-flung people together under one roof face-to-face to do business. Networking skills are at their highest level and their most useful in this industry.

Inside baseball means you know why a pitcher is throwing a curve ball when the count is 3 and 2. You know that between pitches, players and coaches communicate strategy by pulling on an earlobe, brushing their thigh or arm, and of course keeping an eye on the opposing team’s silent communication to try and suss out the essence of the message.

Inside tradeshow marketing has to do with, for example, knowing how to position your brand in the marketplace, how to talk to booth visitors, when to book travel and hotel rooms, what restaurants are the best near any given conference venue, how to take advantage of those three or four days when the exhibit is set up in a competitive marketplace where thousands of potential clients are roaming the aisles. Having the right graphics and messaging can mean the difference between 250 and 350 leads. Having a booth staff that knows how to ask the right questions of visitors can mean the difference between and ROI of 10% and 100%. It all makes a difference.

And if you’ve done this for years, you know what works and what doesn’t. You know what companies are putting up a great exhibit and have a fantastically enthusiastic and well-trained staff and which competitors are just showing up because they think they should.

If you know all of that stuff, you know inside baseball. In the tradeshow world.


Photo used by permission. By own work – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.  Creative Commons License.

 

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