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


Summertime Winding Down…TradeshowGuy Blog Update (where have I been??)

It’s September…right? Seems like the summer has gone on a long time this year, and now that September is here and fall is around the corner (at least in the northern hemisphere), I thought I’d put out a Tradeshowguy UPDATE…

First things first: it’s been an extremely busy summer – but most of that business has been away from work. I got engaged to a lovely lady in June, moved into a new house with my fiance and her son in August (not quite done with that), and now am spending time getting my old house in shape for rental. Yes, good grief, I’m going to become a landlord. I also did a little

Tradeshowguy Tim and buddy Rich preparing to tee off at hole 16 at Pacific Grove Golf Course in August…

traveling and…as a result, managed to put the Tradeshowguyblog on the back burner for must of the summer. Aside from a few random posts, you didn’t see or hear from me much at all!

Not only that, but my company, Communication One Exhibits, is just starting work on a large tradeshow booth for a great client (more on that later). We’ve been in the design phase since May and are about to move into fabrication.

I’m also closing in on completing my first book – which has nothing to do with the tradeshow industry! It’s a fun history book that has been a joy to write. It should move into the design phase soon and I hope to have it out before the end of the year (again – more on that later!). While it currently doesn’t take up much of my time, it did occupy me a lot during late spring and early summer. So yep, that was another area where I dedicated time, energy and resources.

So, given all of the non-online activity in my life, what’s the outlook for After all, since I started the blog in 2009, my goal has been to post 2-3 times a week, which has happened consistently since then with few interruptions. Frankly, I think the frequency of posts will diminish, but my hope is that the relevance of the posts will remain high or increase. I’d rather have one or two great posts a month than eight or ten so-so posts. When I’ve taught blogging at seminars and webinars, I’ve always held that consistency is important – more important than frequency. So no matter if you’re posting daily, weekly, or monthly: just make sure your audience understands your commitment – and live up to that commitment. And if it changes, let them know.

My other company, Communication Steroids, with my partner Roger Pike, is also reassessing our future. We’re looking to focus on providing online training for public speaking, social media engagement and other related topics – but again, that won’t happen until the personal stuff in our lives gets a little more normal (whatever that is!). The interesting thing about being a self-employed entrepreneur in the tradeshow industry is that, while there are always a lot of small projects that come and go, it’s the big ones that take up your time and energy. However, at my level, having a couple of big projects each year is quite sufficient. Any more than that and I’ve had to become more than just a single self-employed entrepreneur with a partner – I’d have to HIRE people instead of working with sub-contractors. For now, that’s more than I want or need.

If you’ve made it this far – thank you! I really appreciate your readership. If you’re a regular reader of the Tradeshowguy blog you should know that I’m still passionate about social media, even though it’s a fast-changing landscape and what worked last year may not work this year. That’s what makes it exciting – and I will definitely have a lot more to share about social media in the months and years to come. So stay tuned…!

#WDS World Domination Summit Redux

As a first time attendee at the World Domination Summit over the weekend in Portland, I had nothing to compare it to. Oh, sure, I’d read the blog post on Chris Guillibeau’s blog last year that attracted my attention and ultimately led me to grab a ticket in a very short window. On opening night during the street festival/carnival in northwest Portland, several people I spoke to tried to explain why they loved the first year and came back the second year.

The most memorable description of the event came from Cynthia Morris, whom I met on Friday evening at the street fair and opening party (and who later gave a workshop on creating a book-writing map) said that we’re all on a fool’s journey in this life, and this conference is here for all of us who recognize that and want support for that journey.

Of course it’s much more than that. The World Domination Summit is the brainchild of blogger, author and intrepid traveler Chris Guillibeau, who’s made a name for himself (and what caught my attention) by attempting to visit every country in the world (he’s still about 20 countries from completing the task). He’s created products and written books around the idea of being remarkable and non-conforming in an increasingly average world. The WDS is a gathering of people from more than a dozen countries: bloggers, authors, software writers, photographers, cubicle workers and more. The thing that I think drew them together (and ultimately led me to commit to return in 2013) was that all of them had a palpable generosity of spirit.

Hence, the World Domination Summit. Version 2.0 doubled the attendee list, and tickets still sold out five months in advance.

While I could go on at length about the various speakers and breakout sessions and the countless attendees I met, I was curious to look at WDS from an event execution standpoint.

Non-commercial: WDS had no branding whatsoever except its own. No corporate sponsors, no branded spaces, no onstage interruptions to thank some company for ‘helping to make this possible!’ This gave the attendees a feeling of togetherness that kept the outside world at bay for the weekend. More on this later.

Staging: the main stage at Newmark Theater in downtown Portland was sparse but effective. The design team created a unique, identifiable and effective onstage statement.

Interactivity: WDS created an online smartphone connectivity platform at that encouraged attendees to find, indentify and connect with each other. They created an online task list called ‘The Unconventional Race’ which awarded prizes to the top three finishers. While I gave up after several hours after realizing that my phone wasn’t quite capable of easily completing the tasks, I followed the regular race updates and was interested to see how others reacted. Some folks really jumped on it and others said it didn’t appeal much to them. The portal also gave individual attendees an updated schedule that – once you logged in with your user account – was unique to you. If you needed to know where to go next, the easiest way was to pull up the portal and find the info at your fingertips.

Variety of speakers: Since the speaker line-up was the biggest part of the event, Chris and his team brought a remarkable array of known and unknown presenters. Some were authors, bloggers and successful business people. Others were world travelers sharing tales. Others yet shared amazing stories of extreme life changes and the creation of powerful and effective non-profits. Each speaker, whether an experienced presenter or not, brought passion, uniqueness and touching and inspiring stories.

Crowd-sourced workshops: Months before the event, the 1000 attendees received an invitation to offer their expertise in smaller workshop breakout sessions. Once those submissions were gathered and filtered, the attendees then voted online for the ones they wanted to attend. As a result, several weeks ahead of the event, some 80 breakout sessions were offered on a first-come first serve basis. Once you made a selection, that workshop would then show up later on your personal schedule on the portal.

Loads of networking opportunities: Time was set aside each day for attendees to just talk. And talk we did! I forget how many people I met or how many asked me for a card. The first two most common questions seemed to be ‘Were you here last year?’ and ‘Where are you from?’ From that starting point we’d learn about each other’s reasons for showing up, the projects they are involved in and the dreams they’re chasing.

Powerful close: at the end of the second full day of speakers, Chris got back up onstage to thank everyone for coming, to spread his appreciation around to all of the (unpaid) speakers who volunteered their time to show up and share their experiences. Then he reminded us that he did say there would be a surprise at the end. At which point he discussed the economics of the event. Chris reminded us that last year’s event lost about $30K. But this year, with twice as many attendees, and thanks to an anonymous donor who wanted to support the World Domination Summit, they had quite a bit of money left over. And, as he put it, it turned out to be about – on average – $100 for each attendee. So instead of keeping the money, they decided to give it back to the attendees. As we left, each one of us was handed an envelope with a $100 bill and a small card instructing us to ‘start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different- it’s up to you.’

Bottom line: the World Domination Summit is unlike any event I’ve ever attended. Its uncommon lack of convention created a huge demand: 5000 people were on the waiting list for tickets in January with only a few hundred available. Its pleasantly surprising lack of corporate sponsorship creates a welcoming community that says ‘hey – we’re here for you, not to make money. Please join our family of like-minded individuals. We want you to learn and enjoy!’ It’s near flawless execution made it extremely easy for attendees to willingly partake, meet people, soak up the atmosphere and information and engage.

I am so there in 2013.


Photo Credits Armosa Studio, used by Creative Commons permission


Art of Negotiating: Knowing When to Shut Up

The best rental car deal I ever got happened when I shut my mouth.

I was at the rental counter at the airport in LA waiting for the clerk to get my car keys – I’d reserved an economy car – when he finally got through poking around on his keyboard and announced, “I’m sorry. We’re out of economy cars. Would you like to upgrade?”

I waited a beat or two and considered. It would cost only an extra few dollars a day. But I said “No” mainly to see what he would offer me.

After a minute or two of continued keyboard hacking, he finally said, “I can offer you a Mitsubishi Eclipse for the price of the economy car. But I must warn you – it’s a convertible. Is that okay?”

Yeah, um, sure.

I didn’t consider the size of my (large) suitcase or the size of the (small) trunk. When I got out to the car, I discovered the suitcase didn’t actually fit into the trunk. But I was able to push the passenger’s seat forward and fit my suitcase into the back seat area, which was very small, but larger than the trunk. At that point I didn’t even think about putting the top down to toss my suitcase in, but…whatever.

So for the 4 days in March I was in LA it was around 80 degrees and I drove around with the top down most of the time.

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles
The Getty Museum in Los Angeles

I ended up driving around much more than I normally would have. I headed up the freeway to the Getty Museum. I ended up at the beach one day.

The Eclipse probably would have cost me twice as much had I reserved it, but I ended up with it because I shut up. By not taking the first deal, by keeping my mouth shut, I got a better deal.

This often works in the busy, chaotic environment of a tradeshow where hundreds of exhibitors are clamoring for your attention, and ultimately your business. And often it’s an excellent way to get people’s business. If you’re an exhibitor, don’t you feel pressured to throw more into the deal to close the sale? If you’re a buyer, do you jump at the first offer, even if it’s good, or do you bite your tongue so you can wait to see what else is on the table?

What extra value can you offer your visitors to help move them to sign on the dotted line? It needn’t be something that costs you a lot – as long as it has a high perceived value it may be enough to move the deal forward.

The Eclipse that I got for the economy price probably didn’t cost the rental car company much extra at all – but it was a high perceived value – which will take me back to that rental car company again.

The 75-Year Old Ski Bums

What can we learn from 75-year old ski bums? Well, personally, that’s exactly what I’ll be in a couple of decades, so I thought this video was really fun from that angle.

Next? These folks are HAVING FUN! Naturally, since they’re skiing. But given that I’ve been a ski bum since I was about 7 years old (knee-high to a grasshopper), I’ve always tried to incorporate skiing into my daily job. Or vice versa.

What else? They do their best at their skill level. And still take chances, even at 75+. I like that. We should all know our limits and know when to push them.

That’s enough lesson-learning from this. Watch this and have fun! And…it’s only 4 minutes!

Amazing Internet Usage Stats From 2010

Every year or so I try and get a handle on how big the internet is. The numbers are staggering. So big that it’s hard to fathom some of them. But it’s enlightening, nonetheless, to see all of the facts and figures.

One of the first places I started was at InternetWorldStats. According to their numbers, Facebook had 518 million users as of August 2010, the most recent number on this website.

Checking Google I came across an interactive chart that shows “Internet users as percentage of population” and gives you a list of countries so you’re able to compare them. In this chart, over 75% of the US are on the internet.

I’m also curious to see how much internet traffic is made up email. In 2010, there were 107 TRILLION emails sent. The Royal Pingdom also has a list of other current stats, including the fact that almost 9 of 10 emails were spam. Yikes!

Checking Facebook’s own stats is an interesting learning experience. Among other things, we find that the average user creates 90 pieces of content each month – that’s an average of three a day!

The size of the world wide web is demonstrated in real-time with, which tracks the number of web pages indexed by various search engines.

And finally, this Mashable article looks at the number of videos that were uploaded and viewed on YouTube in 2010.

Amazing stuff. The video numbers continue to grow. Whether or not you’re finding a way to work video into your marketing mix at tradeshows or otherwise, you can’t help but admit that your audience is consuming online video in a big way.

Losing Your Smartphone – What Next?

When you carry a smartphone, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you’re carrying a lot of information that thieves would love to get their hands on: phone records, contacts, email passwords, social networking profiles with username and passwords, access to online banking and passwords…and much more.

Just knowing that makes you a little more aware when you’re bopping around your house or town or your job.

But what about when you’re in a faraway city at a convention or tradeshow? You’re one of millions of folks out there on the road every year with a smartphone and those thieves and hackers are looking for you to make a mistake. You set the phone down momentarily at a restaurant or check-in counter at a hotel and the next thing you know it’s gone. When travelling, you’re much more susceptible to theft for the simple reason that your attention is often elsewhere: you’re in a strange place; you’re trying to do things you normally wouldn’t do (find a rental car or shuttle or check into a hotel; read a map, catch a train, etc). Once in Chicago a couple of years ago I actually left my phone on the taxi. The driver had given me his car and it took a few moments to track him down and have him bring it back…so I was lucky!

But if you lose your smartphone, what now?

Before that happens, educate yourself to the dangers of either losing your phone or getting it hacked. Read articles such as ‘Smartphones: The New Hacker Frontier”

Everyone should have security apps for a their smartphone. Here’s a collection of those apps for smartphones, netbooks, laptops or PDA’s.

PC World had a very useful article on keeping your smartphone safe recently.

If your phone is stolen, one option would be to remotely wipe the data off of your phone.  Most phones also allow you to require a password when the phone is started up.

There are apps that help you track a stolen iPhone, too.  In fact, iLocalis is considered a great app for doing just that.  EHow also offers an article on ways you can track a stolen smartphone.

Bottom line: Don’t lose your smartphone! It’s not just a phone. It’s a lot of your business and personal life wrapped up in a small, easy-to-misplace package. And the more prepared you are to deal with accidentally losing it, the better off you’ll be if it actually happens.

Coolest Tools I Use

I love productivity tools, and love sharing them with friends and colleagues. I got to thinking the other day that I’ve never actually compiled a list of those tools and posted it. So here ’tis: some are old friends, some are brand new tools. All of them help me do what I need to do with my online and offline world.

So…in no particular order or preference (all links open a new browser window)…


  • Do free webinars for unlimited audiences, follow-up with attendees and registrants. Download data from the webinars.
  • Ditto for teleconferences.
  • FedEx print online: Only had to use this a few times as I can usually print elsewhere, but on those occasions this service has knocked me out with how easy it is to use. Upload files, tell ’em what you want and when you want it, and go pick it up.
  • I realize that my Photoshop skills are lacking – but this membership site has proven to have the goods with tons of tutorials, downloads, web and WordPress templates and more.
  • Bluehost website hosting: All my sites are hosted by Unlimited bandwidth, unlimited domains, thousands of e-mail addresses, one-click WordPress install and updates, and more bells and whistles that you can every use. All very easy. Great customer service when needed. And dirt cheap.
  • Aweber and Ratepoint e-mail marketing: I’ve used Constant Contact, which is a solid service. But they didn’t have a few items that AWeber did. I was pitched RatePoint one day and checked it out. I use it for my newsletter; I use AWeber for everything else (, and others).
  • Got a live or online event and want to track attendance, sell tickets, mine data? It’s all here. I’ve used it a couple of times and was very pleased. Looking forward to using it again.
  • Feedburner: If you have a blog, be sure to burn your feed with Feedburner. Tons of additional stats and tools with this free Google tool.
  • YouSendIt: Need to send a large file to someone that doesn’t have an FTP site? does it for free for most files.
  • WordPress: The best (in my humble opinion) blogging platform around. Tons of customization options.
  • Google Chrome: Chrome has taken over Firefox as my favorite web browser. It’s faster; the search-in-address-bar feature is easy, and there are more and more themes, plug-ins and extensions available all the time.
  • Google plug-in page rank status:  check the Alexa ranking of any website you’re on with a single click.
  • Carbonite back-up plus iPhone app to access any document at home or work from anywhere. My favorite new cool tool!
  • Google Calendar (and syncing to home and work PC’s); with Google Calendar iPhone app. No matter where I update a calendar from, it populates across all calendars. I also use ACT! which syncs with my Outlook calendar at work, so I see everything on all calendars no matter where I input it.
  • HARO: Peter Shankman’s is tops in connecting sources with news (and blog) outlets. Free.
  • GoToMyPc: remote access to your computer from anywhere you have a ‘net connection. Just remember to leave your computer ON!


  • Software995 to create and edit and combine PDFs. They have a free version, but if you spring for the few bucks you don’t get sent to their website after each PDF you print.
  • Camtasia screen capture program: Version 7 kills. So many different ways to use it. I produce video, screen captures and more with this intuitive, easy-to-use tool.
  • Filezilla: free FTP software, easy to use.
  • Adobe Audition: multi-tracking audio recording software with more effects than I’ll ever use.
  • Photoshop / Picasa: Both are great for manipulating photos; Picasa has an online storage and sharing tool; PhotoShop is the king of photo manipulation.
  • ALZip for creating compressed files for emailing or uploading.
  • AudioShell and MP3Tag for editing MP3 ID tags. I’ve used AudioShell for years with Windows XP. With my new Windows 7 box, it doesn’t work, so I found MP3Tag which does the trick. Not as neat and unfussy as AudioShell, but workable. I only hope that the folks at SoftPointer make it work with Windows 7 64Bit soon!
  • Skype: I’ve used it off and on for years, and with my new Windows Life Cam (below) it’s becoming more of a regular thing.
  • iTunes: when iTunes first came out I was a big Winamp fan. Years later I can hardly recall Winamp.
  • UltraEdit: A super-powered notebook text editing tool. On steroids. I’ve used this for a few years and can testify it’s a great program. Not for everyone; you have to get used to how it works, but for creating simple text-only copy for copying and pasting to other documents it’s a great tool to avoid the underlying coding issues you often get with MS Word.


  • Flip Video camera: bought this a couple of years ago and love it. Easy to care, easy to use with a single stop-start button; it creates digital files that are easy to edit and post on YouTube or your blog.
  • ScottEVest coat – high tech clothing. Ran across this thanks to Peter Shankman. The best travel clothing. More pockets than I can use. Even lost my wallet in my coat once. Knew it was there, couldn’t get it out for five minutes until I found the right zipper.
  • Microsoft Lifecam (hi-def): My friend Tony Marino turned me on to this cool webcam which I’ve had less than a month and love it. Great quality, easy to use, powerful microphone built-in. About $55 if you look around.

What cool tools do you love? Please share!

Do the Yelp Dance!

You’re at a tradeshow, it’s time to close up the booth and head out for dinner and drinks. Maybe catch a Tweetup. Or maybe it’s still several weeks to the tradeshow and you want to schedule a Tweetup. How do you find a good place to meet, or to have dinner and drinks?

Try Yelp. They’re quickly building a reputation as an information provider that offers reviews of businesses – from people that have patronized the business. From Yelp’s website: “Yelp allows consumers to share the experiences they’ve had with local businesses and lets business owners share information about their business with their customers. Simply put, it’s word of mouth–amplified.”

Word of mouth – amplified.

This works from two directions: if you have a business that’s near a convention center, you’d better be listed on Yelp. If not, it takes a few moments to set up an account.

If you’re a small business, you’d better be looking at building a customer community program this year. Starting building an email (and SMS) list so you can offer specials and promotions to those customers. If you’re at a tradeshow or convention, Yelp is a great resource: on a recent vacation I used Yelp to track down a number of restaurants that I never would have otherwise found. All were worthwhile – some more than others – but each Yelp review gave insight into other customers’ experiences and thoughts.

Of course, Yelp can be a double-edged sword if you’re a small business. Treat a customer badly and you might create a firestorm of negativity – deserved or not. With new location-based and customer-review services popping up, it’s going to be a harder line for businesses to walk.

Besides Yelp, your business should be visible and listed on Google Maps and Facebook. Consider looking at newer and not-so-well-known platforms such as FireEagle,  Loopt,  Gowalla,  or Rummble or any of another hundred or more LBS-services.

With more and more people going mobile, the niche-oriented businesses such as Foursquare and Yelp will become bigger and bigger players. Not only can you use them to connect with people, find a great restaurant or coffee shop or tire store, as a business you’ll find a competitive advantage by being first to be found by that small but growing number of people using the services.

Just Ask for What You Want!

Life lessons are sometimes slow to present themselves. It wasn’t until I hit my 40s that the idea of ‘ask for what you want’ really came true for me. Now I do it all the time. Well, when I think of it and when it makes sense.

But it is amazing what you can get if you ask. Now I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to tie this to tradeshow marketing, but I bet it can be applied somewhere. Perhaps to a vendor, a client, a potential customer…somebody. If you want something, just ask!

For instance, I’m a Comcast cable subscriber. I’ve heard that many people through the years have not been happy with the service. Truthfully, it’s always been great for me. The few issues I’ve had have been handled promptly and courteously.

I got started with Comcast when I signed up one of those service bundles. You know the kind: they package internet, cable and phone service and give you a sweet deal so you’ll buy all of them. And of course it’s a limited offer; the price will go up after a year.

So I bought it knowing that the price would go up after a year (this was several years ago, by the way). At the end of the year I got the latest bill in the mail – which showed the increased pricing – and I decided to give them a call, since the price was going to go up about $30 a month.

“Hi, I’m a customer of about a year and I notice that the price for my bundled service expires. I’m actually shopping around and am interested in what you can do for me.”

“Hang on a minute, let me check.”

I wait for a moment before the service rep comes back. “I see that you’ve been paying your bills on time every month and that you’re currently paying X for the bundle. I can give you the current bundle price. It’s not the same as it was when you signed on, but it will still save you $20 a month. How does that sound?”

“Great! Thanks!”

Another example:

One of the credit cards I’ve had for several years hit me with an annual fee earlier this year. I hear that’s happened to a lot of people since the new rules went into effect. So I got on the horn to the service rep and asked if they’d mind waiving the fee. I told them if they didn’t I’d probably cancel the card. The balance at that point was $0 and it wasn’t a card I used a lot. Made sense to ask them if they’d drop the fee.

They checked my history (“you’re a long-time customer and we appreciate your business!”), and after a moment said they’d be glad to give me a one-time waiver on the fee. That saved me $39. If they try to hit me again next year with the feel, I’ll ask again to have them waive it. May not get it, but if I don’t ask it’s certain that I won’t.

One more example – this time I got a great deal by keeping my mouth shut. Sort of.

I was at the rental car kiosk in Anaheim a couple of years ago. I had reserved a compact car. They happened to be out of compact cars and told me they could upgrade me for a small fee. I politely said no because I’d been through this before and wanted to see what they were willing to do for me. In a sense I was silently asking to see what they could come up with instead of quickly agreeing to his first offer.

After a few minutes of poking around his computer, the agent said he could upgrade me for no extra charge to a Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible – one of the few cars they had available. Would that be okay?

Uh. Yeah. That’d work.

So I drove with the top down in a hot little sports car for four days in LA. My suitcase didn’t fit in the trunk but I was able to wedge it in the back seat area so I didn’t care – it was all good.

Point is: keep on asking. As a salesperson, keep on asking your customers for the business. If you’re setting up a tradeshow booth, ask the show services folks how they might upgrade your booth. Ask for a better space a few days before the show – perhaps someone has dropped out.

Ask to be upgraded to a suite at your hotel for no extra charge. Ask for a complimentary meal.

Ask. Ask. Ask!

You may not get it even if you ask.

You will definitely NOT get it if you DON’T ASK!


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