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

Fun

What Matters Most

Okay, that’s pretty broad. Too general. What do I mean, “what matters most.” In what? Business? Personal life? Reaching your goals, whatever they might be? Life in general?

I’ve been thinking about what matters most. Lots of people say lots of different things. I’m slowly making my way through James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and I like much of it. Good ideas. Change your habits. Yes, definitely, having control of your habits and creating good habits and getting rid of bad habits is great.

When I say what matters most, I’m really referring to the personal goals you may carry. Those personal goals may relate to business, such as creating a business, or growing a business, or snaring that big client. Or a personal goal may be more, well, personal: losing weight, hiking 100 miles, running a marathon, writing a book. Something that shows you, and perhaps the world, who you really are. But it’s more for yourself, not the world. It’s to show you what you have.

Steve Prefontaine, the famous Oregon runner who died in a car crash at the age of 24 in 1975, famously once said, “Most people run a race to see who’s the fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” Steve said a lot of things (just put Steve Prefontaine quotes in your search box), but that one resonates a lot. It tells me that everyone has something inside of them, and they may not even know it until they’re challenged.

Let’s say you’re really challenged to do something. Maybe it’s something you’ve never done before, or something you’re familiar with, but at a much higher lever. What does it take? What matters most?

In my opinion and experience, it boils down to three things:

Determination.

Focus.

Commitment.

Determination comes from knowing how much you want something. I’ve been telling myself for years that if I just put my mind to it, I could write a novel. Really. It can’t be that hard, right? I kept saying “someday…” Then I ran out of excuses, and finally gave myself permission to proceed. What’s the worst that could happen, right? But determination kicked in, and that was that. I wouldn’t let myself off the hook. It’s astonishing what you can do if you don’t let yourself off the hook, if you’re determined to see it through.

Focus. The flip side of determination is focus. Knowing that you will be laser-focused on the task at hand. To me, that meant, making a decision and keeping that decision. I would write every day. 500 words. 1000 words. An outline. A plot point. A potential scene. A character sketch. I would also find out how it’s really done. And that’s the great thing about this day and age: it’s all there online. You can find advice from people that have done it before. It wasn’t long before I got hooked up with several newsletters from writers who have published dozens, maybe hundreds of books, between them. They had been down that road. Learning what it took, what the process involved, was a big part of the step. It’s part of the focus that comes once you are determined. Focus lets you learn what you need. I’ve watched dozens of videos of successful writers sharing their secrets on Masterclass, I’ve read dozens of blog posts of strong story structure, how to create good characters, to know what motivates them, and so on. It’s all there. Just find it, soak it up and apply it as necessary.

Commitment is another side of the coin of Determination (maybe it’s a three-sided coin). Determination is one thing, but staying committed, knowing that no matter what, you’ll see it through, is a valuable piece of the puzzle. Commitment means you won’t quit. A commitment is an obligation to yourself (or others) that you won’t let yourself (or others) down. In a sense, discipline is

There are many other things that come into play when you try to find the essence of what matters most. Motivation, ambition, desire, the willingness to fail before you succeed. It’s all-important, but to my mind, the combination of the triad is most critical: determination, focus, and commitment.

The great thing is the three are applicable to both personal and business goals, large and small.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, July 27, 2020: Life In a Day

Life In A Day is a film project that invited people worldwide to submit footage of what they did on July 25, 2020. I kept seeing the hashtag trending online leading up to Saturday, so just for fun, I shot a bunch of video of what I did and assembled it into a short film. That #LifeInADay film is included in this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee.

Given that there is quite a bit of footage without narration, and a lot of background music, I’m not posting the audio version on Soundcloud. Join me next week when I should have a guest.



Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

Personal Tips for Working from Home

I’ve been fortunate enough to work from home for almost nine years. It’s not always easy. Retaining focus and momentum through the day is one of the hardest things. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

You can’t do it all on your own. Even though you work from home, presumably alone (although you may have family and kids and dogs and cats with you for the time being), there are still workers and colleagues you need. Not only to stay connected, but to communicate with regularly so you know what everyone is doing.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Having a schedule is critical. I block out various times of the day to get things done. Or make sure that on certain days, certain things get done. For instance, in normal times, I block out an hour of prospecting calls four times a week. Client calls are usually around the same time, although knowing that clients might not be as flexible, I often schedule calls early or later in the day. I write, record and produce a podcast late in the week, usually Friday although sometimes it happens on Saturday, and post it first thing on Monday. I try (and usually succeed) to write and post a new blog article on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Take a break. Snack, water, quick walk, get outside. Hey, you’re at home! You can take a few moments.

Have a start and stop time and do your best to stick to it. I realize that work-at-home schedules are fraught with influences that mean you have to be flexible. But if you have guidelines on when to start and stop, you’ll have a better time keeping on track.

Focus is also critical. If you can’t focus and find yourself getting on Twitter or Facebook, spend a moment there, then get up and leave the room. Get away from the computer. Talk with your spouse if they’re there, or a kid, or just take a break. Think about the most important thing you should do when you get back in front of the computer. Maybe even the most important two or three things, write them down, and when you sit down to work after a few moments, do those things. Put the blinders on, for at least a few moments. Some people work well with timers, shutting everything out for 20 or 30 minutes. Others don’t. Find what works best for you to keep focus, which is when you’ll likely do your best work.

Work when you’re most effective. I tend to like working best in the morning. After one or two in the afternoon, focus wanes and effectiveness drops significantly. With my wife not working now because her employer is closed due to the Coronavirus, I’m getting up a six, doing my morning Yoga routine while the coffee brews, and then work on my novel for an hour. Then I crank through the email and any immediate business items. Then it’s a shower and we walk the dog. Lately the walks have been an hour or more, getting in three or four miles. Finally, it’s back in the office for more business-related work for a couple of hours. Some people are not morning people and work better at night. Whatever works best for you is what you should try to make happen.

With the family home, communication is important. Your spouse may need to work as well, you may have kids that need hands-on attention. Or not. No matter your situation, make sure all parties are clear on your needs, and make sure you’re clear on their needs. It’s not fun to keep butting heads on schedules when a simple discussion and prioritizing of each person’s needs and desires can usually straighten things out.

With the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic, you may be working from home. But it won’t last forever. You’ll get back to the office at some point. Hopefully sooner than later. But in the meantime, get some work done. And have a little fun at the same time.

Best Tradeshow Articles I Found on Twitter

Cruising Twitter is always an entertaining proposition. Sometimes because you find some really interesting stuff. Other times because you end up wanting to pull your hair out. But it’s never boring!

In search of some #tradeshow ideas, I entered that search term in the box on Twitter. Lots of companies use Twitter to push out advertisements and come-ons, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you mix it up with good useful information. But I looked and came up with a handful of good articles. Let’s take a look.

Color Reflections offers “8 Event Booth Design Tips for the Wow Factor,” including ideas on how to stand out, how to stay true to your brand, make sure your booth staff are all on the same page and more.

Skyline Southeast offers an article called “The Benefits of Custom Tradeshow Booth Construction” which is a good walk-through when you’re considering a new custom exhibit.

Our good friends over at Tradeshow Makeover has “5 Expert Tips on How to Stop Leaving Money on the Tradeshow Floor.” It’s got a wrap-up of tips from five individuals, including investing in your tradeshow staff training, goal-setting, and adding value to your interactions.

The UK’s leading business magazine, Business Matters, offers an article on the “4 Best Ways to Optimise Space in Your Tradeshow Exhibits.” The link was tweeted by Jahabow, a custom retail display company from Owensville, Missouri.

Fortunate PR guy (his words) Jim Bianchi tweeted out a link to a post called “Top Lessons Learned for Automotive and Mobility Suppliers from CES2020.” Much of the lessons had to do with how beneficial CES is to exhibitors (which it certainly should be), but it illustrates how many traditional auto suppliers are finding their way into one of the world’s biggest shows. Another tip had to do with navigating around Las Vegas during show time, given that the public transit systems can be overwhelmed by an additional 175,000 people. Yeah, no kidding!

Zentila, a meeting resource planning tool from Aventri, shared a link to an article titled “7 Signs You Need a Lead Retrieval System for Your Onsite Team.” Tips include saving time, organization of your leads, sustainability and more.

Photo by Anuja Vidhate from Pexels

And finally, a list from Architectural Digest on Tradeshows You Should Consider Attending in 2020, assuming you’re in the architectural world. Most of the shows are stateside, but there are mentions of the London Design Festival, Heimtextil in Frankfurt and others. Lots of details on each show for the serious planner. This was shared by Skyline out of South Carolina.

Yes, Twitter has its detractors and it can be a little overwhelming if crazy politics are going on at that moment (okay, that’s always going on), but it’s also a good source for good information if you just know where to look.


Odds and Ends I Take to Tradeshows

Everyone is different, yet everyone is the same. We all attend or exhibit at tradeshows with things we need, and if we end up there without those things, we feel like part of us is missing. Here’s a short list of things that I always take on the road to tradeshows. I mean, beyond the clothing and other stuff that ends up in a suitcase. Here are a few things I’ll have with me when I head to the show floor at Natural Products Expo West in early March:

Charging cord and plug-in adapter for my phone

iPhone 6S: holds thousands of photos and songs, not so mention show apps and a million other things.

Boosa charger: this is the best I’ve had. It holds enough juice to re-charge my iPhone 6S at least four times before it needs to be plugged in again. Great to have on the show floor.

Laptop: while I suppose I don’t really need this I’d feel lost without it. It’s a 2011 MacBook Pro that’s been upgraded a couple of times and runs like a clock. Great to offload photos, do some writing and blogging, surf the web in the Airbnb. More comfortable with this than an iPhone for handling email or writing or sharing social media.

Spare key locks for client counters: most of these counters use the same lock, and it seems that the keys can easily go missing, so I keep a few in my backpack.

Backpack: where would you be without it, right? Like a purse, only bigger and it fits easily on the back.

Reading material: often it’s a piece of fiction, but sometimes something else.

iPad Mini 2: It doesn’t get a lot of use, but on the plane I find that it’s great to pull up something from my Kindle app and read.

Allen wrench set: always handy on the show floor.

Fitbit: belt version, not a wrist wearable. Plus extra battery because of course when you’re on the road, that’s when the battery dies, right?

Business cards: more than I think I could possibly need.

Rubber bands: always need a few of these to keep the business cards from spewing all over my backpack pockets.

Cash and a couple of credit cards. I don’t carry much cash, but a little comes in handy. Most everywhere takes cards, credit or debit.

Eyeglass cleaner spray with a mini-cleaning rag

Mini-flashlight: you never know when this will come in handy.

Snacks: always!


Wake Up and Smell the New Year!

It’s a little hackneyed, I know, but how often do you say to yourself, “Where does the time go?”

I said it again just a day or two ago when I noticed the calendar, did the math, and said, Holy Smoke, where does the time go?

2020 beckons. Are you ready?

I don’t usually do a formal year-end assessment of my business, TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In the past I have shared on these pages and in the weekly podcast, the state of the business. And I don’t plan to do a formal assessment this year.

But, having said that, I can safely say that 2019 was the best year yet for TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In terms of new business, new clients, and total dollars. Which means we must be doing something right.

The challenge of running your own business, and specifically a business in the tradeshow world, is that cycles often determine the amount of business and the number of clients we work with at any given time.

Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!

For example, the first four months of the year were incredible. New projects, new clients galore. The next four months were good, not great. Certainly not like the first four months. And the last four months have seen us hunting and wishing for more business. But like the cycles that we end up living with, I can already see a few months into the future and see things picking up. Perhaps not as grand as it was 12 months ago, but still good.

This year also was the third year of my weekly TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee video blog, which is also posted on SoundCloud as an audio podcast.

Another 100 or so articles, along with the podcast, were posted on this blog, bringing the total posts to over 1000. In November the blog also celebrated its eleventh birthday. If you’d have told me I’d still be blogging eleven years later, I would have probably choked. But wow, here we are.

And personally, I kept up a consistent exercise routine of daily yoga, daily walks (with the dog who insists!), lots of bicycle riding and lots of skiing.

How about you? How was your year? Was it what you expected? What do you have planned for 2020?

Whatever you are looking for next year, buckle up – it should be a wild ride!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, December 16th, 2019: FUN

What is fun? Why are some things fun to you but not to others, or vice versa? Why do some people appear to have more fun that you, even though they’re doing the same thing?

Lots of things to explore on the nature of FUN on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. Also, today is ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons’ 70th birthday, so he gets a little shoutout!

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Exhibitor Magazine.

6 Earworms for Your Next Tradeshow

What is an earworm? Basically, it’s song or melody that gets stuck in your head and you have a hard time unsticking it. It goes around and around and won’t go away.

It happens to me all the time. I must have fifty songs bounce around my head on any given day. Some stick for a few moments, others for up to an hour.

Why not come up with a short list of good songs to get stuck in your head that make sense for your next tradeshow appearance?

Let’s start with Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”

It’s catchy and gets to the point of any attendee’s message to an exhibitor: yeah, I’ve seen your stuff before, but what have you done for me lately? Plus it’s a classic mid-80s dance video, so there’s that.

Prince – Kiss

Another video from 1986. Popular year, perhaps? Maybe not an actual kiss, but certainly a metaphorical one. You want that connection that leads to becoming either a client or a supplier. And to do that, there’s a certain amount of closeness that must be done.

So why not a metaphorical kiss?

Rolling Stones – Get off My Cloud

Exhibiting at a tradeshow means sharing the stage with hundreds or even thousands of other exhibitors. But in YOUR booth, you’re the master. No other brands allowed. So yeah, get off my cloud, two’s a crowd!

Beatles – Come Together

Now that we’re in the Sixties for a few moments, how about we ask The Beatles for a song? Come Together is certainly a great earworm, and oh-so-appropriate for a large gathering.

Billie Eilish – Bad Guy

Let’s jump up to the present for Billie Eilish and her mega-hit Bad Guy. Not only is it catchy as hell, but at every tradeshow there always seems to be a bad guy. Sometimes it’s the neighbor exhibitor that’s playing loud music in their booth or crowding out your visitors. Or some floor manager that is making it difficult to get your crates delivered to your booth in a timely maner. The good thing is, there are not that many bad guys at tradeshows. Most people are there to have a good time and be a good guy or gal.

Queen: We Will Rock You

Exactly what you’re looking to do at your next tradeshow: rock your visitors.

Got a song stuck in your head?

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: 10 from 2019 Worth Another Listen

When you put out a new podcast/vlog every week, frankly, it’s hard to keep up. Makes sense. That’s a lot of content to devour, and it’s easy to let things slip by.

But 2019 has given me a lot of great guests, and chances are you may have missed some of the really good ones (and there are many!). So here’s a random list of 10 guests I hosted on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee this year that you might have missed. And even if you didn’t miss them, they could be worth another listen:

January 8: BJ Enright of Tradeshow Logic discusses the groundbreaking NAB Show Cares program that looks to address hefty drayage and material handling fees at the National Association of Broadcasters show.

March 25: Dave Scott, long time Portland on-air radio fixture, gets into the podcast game with his Embrace the Change podcast.

May 13: Phil Gorski discusses 3D Virtual Tour Technology and how it can affect tradeshow marketers.

April 8: Tom Beard of Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays talks sustainability in the exhibit world. This vlog/podcast made more timely by the recent announcement that Classic Exhibits and Eco-Systems are merging.

June 17: Danny Orleans. Magic on the tradeshow floor is always an attractor. Danny, Chief Magic Operator at Corporate Magic Ltd talks about how he works magic into a presentation.

June 3: David Newman of Do It Marketing talks, as you might expect, marketing. I have to admit that I like to read his emails, which come about once a day. Really short, but a good mix of very usable info and pitches.

July 22: Howard Berg. Fascinating, fast-paced learning. Howard was a gas.

July 15: Ken Newman of Magnet Productions. Ken travels the world doing his professional presentations for tradeshow clients. He is also a big presence in the Blanket the Homeless effort in the SF Bay area, and talks about both in this fun interview.

September 16: Jay Gilbert, a long time music industry executive has had his own company for years now. And while this is not much related to the tradeshow world, it’s a fascinating look at what it takes in the world of music promotion.

September 23: Laura Allen, The Pitch Girl, helps distill the essence of your pitch down to a simply formula. Very useful in so many situations!

There are many more of course – just search for TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – or browse the archives at your leisure.

We’ll be back next week with another episode.


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