Sometimes it makes sense to visualize everything you are planning to do in your next tradeshow appearance. I thought it might fun to put the mindmapping to video and see how it went:
Alice Heiman and Dianna Geairn of Tradeshow Makeover recently invited me to join them on their podcast to talk about, what a surprise, tradeshow marketing! Great fun, engaging conversation. Take a look and check out Tradeshow Makeover, too!
This is one episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee where you’ll definitely learn something! Howard Berg, known as the world’s fastest reader, teaches us a few things about reading and learning. Fun and worth your time – take a look/listen:
Check out BergLearning.com and save ten percent with the code TRADESHOW10.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: summer fairs, art fairs, music under the stars…
Yes, I love oldies. Spent a lot of time on the radio at an oldies station playing them and shouting over the top of the intro, which was basically required for Oldies radio. Which great oldies of the Sixties might we apply to tradeshow marketing here in the ‘teens of the new century? Let’s go year by year through the Sixties:
1960: Money (That’s What I Want) by Barrett Strong. Yes, it’s all about the money. How much you spend, how much you make from the leads you gather, and most of all about the Return On Investment.
1961: Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles. As tradeshow marketers, we spend a lot of time on the road. We become road warriors. Sing this little tune to stay in the road warrior groove.
1962: The Loco-Motion by Little Eva. Written by Carole King, this tune knows all about the movement. And tradeshows are all about the movement. How many shows a year? How many different cities? How many people do you talk to at each show? You’re always on the move, always in motion.
1963: Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. Grabbing a snack on the road? Why does it always seem to be a donut, or maybe a piece of banana bread, or perhaps a Frappucino? Whatever it is, it’s probably loaded with sugar.
1964: People by Barbra Streisand. Yes, as a song it’s a little downtempo, but tradeshows are all about the people. By the thousands! Ya gotta be able to get along with people when you’re in the tradeshow world!
1965: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. As hard as we try at tradeshow marketing and as successful as we are, most people I speak with feel that they could have done better if only they did something a little different. We’re never satisfied, are we?
1966: Summer in the City by the Lovin’ Spoonful. It seems there’s always at least one tradeshow on the schedule that takes place in a hot city in the middle of summer. This one is a perfect soundtrack for that show.
1967: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by the Hombres. A goofy sort of song, but important when it comes to interacting with visitors. Don’t hold back. Be open, be willing to give plenty of your time and energy. Let it all hang out.
1968: Tighten Up by Archie Bell and the Drells. On the showroom floor, there’s chaos and confusion. There’s pitching and sampling and demos. And it’s easy among all of the activity to just let things go. But pay attention and tighten up in your presentations, your conversations, your booth.
1969: I Can’t Get Next to You by the Temptations. In every show there’s that one client that you’d like to catch. But for some reason they remain elusive. Keep trying. The Temptations are doing their best to urge you on!
Now that the Sixties are over as far as the top ten oldies to help with your tradeshow marketing, are there any songs we missed? Or should we move on to the Seventies?
I recall the moment I learned how a bicycle works, and how I learned to ride a bicycle. I must have been 6 or 7 when I first tried. It was about the same time I first got on skis, but that’s a different story. I was reminded of that feeling when I saw a young bicycler with her mother this morning. The youngster was dressed in a unicorn mohawk bicycle helmet, colorful clothes and a unicorn back pack. I complimented her on the outfit – it really was stunning. Her mom said, “Say thank you!” which the young girl did.
Her bicycle had training wheels, which made me think of when I was about that age and learning. I didn’t have the luxury of training wheels (an aside: maybe kids really shouldn’t have training wheels, after all).
In any event, that feeling of accomplishment, of empowerment, is overwhelming. I remember that feeling after riding 50 feet on a bicycle without crashing or falling.
YOU DID IT! I told myself.
And while that feeling was powerful, it comes around again and again in life when you learn more skills. I felt the same thing at times when learning to ski. Or learning to play the drums. Or the guitar. Or give a speech. Or publish a book. And so on.
Feeling that powerful emotion that’s tied into grasping and then learning a new skill is valuable. It reaffirms your sense of belonging. This works for me. I can do this.
It tells you that you’re on the right track. And it can apply to learning interpersonal communication skills, business skills, physical skills.
It reminds you that being human is a good thing. A great thing.
And ultimately, it tells you let’s learn something more. Now.
Wear colorful branded clothing. Whether it’s a staff of two or three, or twenty, having colorful branded clothing will immediately let visitors know who’s working the booth and who’s a guest. Bright colors attract, so put your logo on the front and an enticing message on the back. And to change things up from day to day, create a different colored set with a different message for each day of the show, and make sure your crew coordinates. Bright colors, especially if they’re tied into your brand work well: yellow, red, orange, blue, fluorescent.
Setup a giant prop and invite people to take a photo. Could be anything: a mascot, a giant purse, a full-size model of one of your products (if it’s small, for instance); something that stops people in their tracks. I’ve seen mascot, angels, musicians, giant hanging props, exhibits made from bicycle frames and more. They all had one thing in common: they begged to have their picture taken.
Once that photo has been taken, invite the visitor to spread the word on social media and include the show hashtag to make sure the post gets seen. Offer prizes to people that photo and share online.
Give something away and offer an incentive to wear it. One way is to print up a few hundred t-shirts or hats with your logo along with a fun message and tell people that if they put it on right there, they can also take home another gift. And tell them if you catch them wearing it at an after-hours show (be specific as to which one), you’ll be giving away $50 bills to random shirt wearers. This type of promotion gets others involved and spreads the word about your booth and products throughout the show.
Have a unique exhibit that begs to be seen. Sounds straightforward, but to break out of the cookie-cutter mold, it takes a designer that’s willing to create something unique and wild and a company that’s willing to spend to make it a reality.
Give visitors something to DO. Interactivity goes a long way. At the NAB Show, there were several exhibitors that gave visitors a chance to learn new software by joining them for a free class. Not only are you drawing interested people in, you’re keeping them involved for up to an hour and showing them exactly how the product works.
Contests. Give people a chance to win something by guessing the number of beans in a jar, answering a quiz, spinning a wheel or something else increases the chance you’ll get visitors to stop at your booth. Make sure to engage them in a brief conversation to uncover their needs regarding your product.
Famous mugs. Lots of companies hire famous (or at least semi-well known) people to be a part of the show. Authors, speakers, sports stars, actors, and so on can all draw a crowd. Authors in particular, if they’re in your industry, can be a good draw if they have a new book out. I’ve seen dozens of people in line to pick up a free copy of a new book and get it signed by the author (and snap a selfie!), and I’ve waited in line to get a prop soft baseball signed by Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
Comment wall. I see these more and more. Ask a bold question or make a bold statement and invite people to chime in with their thoughts on a wall. Invite people to snap a photo of what they wrote and share it on social media (make sure the wall is branded and has the show hashtag on it).
Bring media production to your booth. Know someone that is a podcaster in the industry? Invite them to record a few episodes of their show in your booth, and make sure to provide some good guests for them, whether it’s people from your company, or others. The simple act of recording a show in your booth will make a lot of people stop. That’s a good time for your staff to engage those visitors politely to find out if they’re prospects.
If someone in your company has written a book, offer free copies of the book along with free printed photos with visitors and the author. This has worked great for years for Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill, one of our long-time clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits. Every time they exhibit at the bigger expos, Bob spends time signing books and posing for photos while a photographer takes photos and has them printed up in a few moments for the visitor.
There are literally countless ways to draw crowds to your booth. It all boils down to creativity and execution. What can you do to improve the traffic at your next show?
To most people I work with in the tradeshow industry, teamwork is the key to success. But many tradeshow marketing managers are saddled with the idea that if it’s going to get done, there’s only one person that can do it. The tradeshow manager.
Therefore, it becomes hard to delegate. Hard to give up control. They may not be a control freak, but they’re close enough to where it prevents the work of a good team from being as good as it could be.
You see this on sports teams. My sport, from when I was a kid, was basketball. When you are in control of the ball, a tendency for young players is to hold on to it until they good a good shot. Not all people, of course. There are always members on the team who don’t want the responsibility, so they pass the ball at the first opportunity. Often, the pass is the wrong move. It’s to the wrong person. It’s for the wrong reason. They might have even had an open shot but didn’t take it because they didn’t have confidence that they’d make it.
Great teamwork doesn’t happen overnight. But the longer you work with a team, the more you understand each team member’s strengths and weaknesses.
One person may be great at record-keeping. Another may be great at outreach to clients and customers. Another may have an easy time reaching members of the media to persuade them to feature the company in their publication. Yet another may have an intuitive sense of how to design graphics so that they attract the right people.
Every team is different. And teams are fluid. Even a team that’s been together for years can find things changing over time. And when new members arrive or when members leave, things get even more fluid.
But a good manager of the team recognizes how to best delegate tasks to different people for maximum results. A good manager of a team knows their own limitations and realizes that, no, they can’t really do it all.
They need a good team to do it all. And teams can always improve.
No guest on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. Instead, I muse a bit about unintended consequences, starting with Brexit. No, I don’t really get political – just trying to use that situation as an example of unintended consequences.
Be sure to watch for this week’s Tradeshow Tip.
And this week’s ONE GOOD THING is the new book from Seth Godin called This Is Marketing.
When I started looking through the analytics to determine the top ten 2018 TradeshowGuy blog posts, I faced somewhat of a dilemma. Many of the “most-viewed” posts of the year are not from 2018. Do I include those or not? Perhaps the best approach is to create two lists: one that includes the most-viewed, and the other narrows the list down to the most-viewed 2018-published blog posts.
Take a look – starting at Number One:
- SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. This was posted in February of 2015, but still manages to get more traffic than any other post. And interestingly, more than half of those visits come from out of the US.
- 10 Skills Every Tradeshow Event Staffer Should Have. Another one from early2015, it’s a guest post from Margaret Coleback of Vantage Advertising.
- How to Build a Tradeshow-Specific Landing Page. Not too many people create tradeshow-specific landing page, but when they do it can look great and work well. This from December of 2017.
- Gravitee “No Tools” Tradeshow Exhibit Demo. Posted only in October, this floated to the top five!
- 10 Types of Instagram Posts to Use When Exhibiting at a Tradeshow. FromNovember of this year, a look at getting that photo off of your camera onto your Instagram account.
- The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Tradeshow Exhibit RFPs. In case you’re ready to assemble an exhibit RFP, this walks you through the steps. Posted in September 2017.
- Exhibit vs. Booth vs. Stand. Where did these terms come from? From July of this year.
- Breaking the Ice: How to Engage Tradeshow Visitors. Hundreds of people will stream by your booth, many will stop to explore. How do you engage them? December 2015.
- What if Your Tradeshow Booth is Overwhelmed by Visitors? What to do when you have a load of people in your space. November 2018.
- TradeshowGuyMonday Morning Coffee: Publicity Hound Joan Stewart. From October of 2018. Lots of great tips in this interview!
Most-viewed of 2018, posted in 2018
- Gravitee “No Tools” Tradeshow Exhibit Demo
- 10 Types of Instagram Posts to Use When Exhibiting at a Tradeshow
- Exhibit vs. Booth vs. Stand
- What if Your Tradeshow Booth is Overwhelmed by Visitors?
- TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Publicity Hound Joan Stewart
- TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Robert Strong
- 7 Tips for Boosting Your Tradeshow Booth Traffic. Another guest post, this from Lee Becknell.
- 6 Tradeshow Marketing Trends to Keep an Eye Out For. Guest post from Sam Holzman.
- TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Larry Kulchawik. International tradeshow expert.
- TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Mike Thimmesch. Tradeshow marketing consultant.
What do you get out of volunteerism? What is important to you, important enough that you would donate your time, energy and skill to an endeavor? This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee muses on volunteerism.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: West With the Night, a memoir by Beryl Markham.