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

lead generation

Getting to the Truth

What’s the truth about your tradeshow appearance? Did you get as many visitors as you think you did? Was your product launch as successful as you felt it was? Was your staff as helpful and experienced as you anticipated?

truth

Getting to the truth of what’s going on is important. A recent Seth Godin blog post made me think of the same topic in relation to your tradeshow appearances. As Godin put it, your results are based on the honesty and accuracy of the information you have at hand.

If you think you got 1500 visitors to your booth a day, but it was really only 1000, your final analysis of ROI and lead generation will be skewed. If you graded 300 leads as “hot” when in fact only half of them were really “hot,” your sales crew will be disappointed when they begin their follow up.

Truth and the subsequent results are based on trust, as Godin observes. If truth gets lost somewhere, trust is lost. An opinion is just that. A fact, however, is a fact. If it’s measurable and verifiable, you can call it a fact. If it’s an observation based on gut feeling or instinct or experience, it’s just an opinion. Learn to separate the two.

After all, if you felt the tradeshow appearance was the best ever, yet the sales that result from the appearance felt far short of being the ‘best,’ perhaps your appearance wasn’t the best ever.

Count everything you can, and make sure the counting is accurate. That way you’ll know if your tradeshow marketing is working, or if it needs a lot more work.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 6, 2017 [video replay]

On this week’s coffee, I spend some time going over the question of asking better questions. If we learn to ask better questions, we’ll get better information. So what does it take to ask better questions? Take a look:

Notes from this week’s vlog:

Fast Company article by Stephanie Vlozza

Lifehack Article

TED talk on asking better questions

ONE GOOD THING: The Portland International Airport


Get the free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Don’t Sell at the Tradeshow

Huh? Don’t sell at the tradeshow? Isn’t that why you’re there – to take names and kick ass? Sure, you won’t get an argument from me.

sell at the tradeshow

However, let’s take a look at the tradeshow situation. The event is designed to bring hundreds or thousands of people by your booth. If your intent is to sell – and just sell products at the event – then you’re going to spend more time with each person. It takes time to write up an order, and depending on your product or service, it probably takes time to determine exactly what that service or product is. How long is the service going to last? What version of your product is best for your client? When do they want it? What is their goal in using your product or service and can it really help them?

Sure, if you’re just selling single pack food items or something that can be sold in just a few seconds, they go ahead – sell, sell, sell!

Most products take longer. Even if you’re ultimately selling a single food product, you may be trying to get into more stores, or hook up with distributors. Which means you’re not actually selling at the show.

You’re just qualifying.

And once you qualify, you both then agree on the next step.

And that’s when the real selling begins.


Grab our free report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: February 6, 2017 [video replay]

On this morning’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – the Bob Marley Birthday Show – we discuss lead generation as it pertains to TradeshowGuy Exhibits (and maybe your company!), and communication as it relates to managing projects. Of course, we end up discussing more.

And for some inexplicable reason, I managed to forget the ONE GOOD THING that I was hoping to include. And that is the digital version of the New York Times, of which I’m a subscriber. But more pointedly, I’d like to mention the daily mini-crossword puzzle, which takes a minute or two and is a good little kick-starter first thing in the morning.

Sign up for continued access to our live webcast atTradeshowGuyWebinars.comhttp://TradeshowGuyWebinars.com – and check the archives, too.

Five Mistakes You’re Making at the Tradeshow

More than two-thirds of exhibitors do not have a solid plan in place and end up making mistakes at the tradeshow as they exhibit.

5 mistakes you're making at the tradeshow

In fact, not having an organized, comprehensive plan is one of the most common mistakes that exhibitors make.

And it’s safe to say that nearly all exhibitors don’t have a solid grasp of the metrics of their success or failure that comes from that tradeshow appearance. Why? Because companies tend to put all of their energy, time and money into putting on a good show, and very little into counting the results after the end of the show. Measuring your results – leads, sales closed – is one of the most critical measurements you can make.

Let’s look at some of the common mistakes you might make as you exhibit at the tradeshow.

  • First, you don’t have a comprehensive plan. This means going from A-Z and planning to cover all your bases, from pre-show marketing and show execution to having an exhibit that accurately represents your brand and communicates your message to counting leads and sales after the show is done. Know what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, how you’re planning to get back your return on the investment and where your tradeshow appearance fits in your overall marketing strategy.
  • Secondly, you may have the wrong people in the booth. Tradeshow floors are a chaotic busy mess where hundreds or thousands of people come and go all day long. Without proper preparation, which usually means staff training and picking the right people, you’ll end up with sales people or other staffers that can’t interact with precision, veracity and alacrity with those visitors. They’re not asking proper questions, they’re letting big fish get away and they’re spending too much time on little fish or people that won’t ever buy.
  • Third: you’re repeating yourself. Do you ever see the same company at the same show with the same exhibit year after year, showing off the same products? On close examination it seems nothing really changes from year to year. A company that’s on top of their game will upgrade the booth regularly or replace it when necessary; they’ll have new products to show off and new ways of interacting with visitors.
  • Fourth: you’re cheapening your brand by having inappropriate brand ambassadors in your booth. Pretty models in skimpy outfits may attract a crowd, but they do nothing to improve or define your company’s brand unless, of course, your brand is built on pretty models in skimpy outfits. Otherwise, in today’s climate, exhibiting in the US using those types of representatives will likely get you negative feedback.
  • Fifth: the biggest tradeshow marketing sin of all – you’re not following up on all of those leads in a timely manner. The fact that tradeshow leads are cheaper by the dozen and more targeted than any other kind of lead, coupled with the fact that your competitors have many of the same leads in their bucket, means that you must strike while the iron is hot. Letting a lead sit more than a few weeks means it grows colder and colder until you might as well toss it out with the other dead fish.

We all make mistakes – it’s part of life – but the more you can minimize mistakes with oodles of tradeshow marketing dollars on the table, the better off you’ll be.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

What’s your Tradeshow Marketing Narrative?

We all have stories – narratives that we can use to let people know who we are and what we stand for.

In the recent US presidential election, it was truly a battle of narratives. One side was viewed as a stable, dependable candidate albeit having been painted as crooked for decades by the other side. The other candidate was viewed as an outsider looking to ‘drain the swamp,’ but was painted by the other side as vulgar, unpredictable and unstable.

We all know how the election turned out. But what’s interesting is that no matter how much fact-checking came into play by countless individuals and entities, that the narrative of each side was what mattered most. We tend to believe what we want to, and if the story that’s depicted resonates with us, we’ll be moved by it.

It’s the same with tradeshow marketing. I have a number of clients in the natural products industry, and each company endeavors to tell a specific story using images, colors, graphics and messaging as part of an exhibit. Each company backs that up with products that continue that story and personnel that believe in the narrative. If there is a weak link in the chain, the dissonance will be felt, even if it isn’t clearly seen or understood.

That’s why, when crafting your tradeshow marketing narrative, all elements are important. Think of it: you’re under the microscope in a location where dozens if not hundreds of direct competitors are being examined as well. Every little thing contributes to the overall perception of your product and company: your employees, the clothes they wear, how they present themselves; the graphics, messaging, images, colors, booth construction materials, the flooring – are all communicating a distinct message. And if your story or narrative is not fully understood by the people designing the booth and creating the graphics, there is a good chance that the message will be garbled.

From the whole grains company to the bread company to the natural deodorant company to the men’s hygiene products company, they are all working to tell their story so that it’s easily understood, that it’s intuitively inferred by visitors.

Smarter people that me have the knowledge to craft those stories based on their knowledge of images, colors, messaging and so on and how people absorb those messages. The top companies in any industry are the ones that do the best job of depicting a narrative that fully and simply tells the story that they intend to tell.

Preparing for your 2017 Tradeshow Schedule

Yes, it’s upon us – 2017 – have you planned your new year tradeshow schedule? Chances are you’re at least planning a few months into the new year, but have you detailed out the entire year?

Tradeshow planning, as any tradeshow coordinator will tell you, is the key to success. And since there’s a lot to planning, it makes sense to spend a lot of your time making plans, checking plans and then double-checking.

Start with your tradeshow schedule. What shows are you going to? Make a master list of the dates of the shows.

Size of exhibit. Note the size of booth space your company has committed to rent at the various shows.

Break it down. Now start breaking out the various products and services that you’re promoting at each show. Chances are those items will change depending on the audience that’s expected at each show.

From there, you can start breaking out the graphics messaging, sampling needs if any, demos desired at each show and so forth. Break out the details as far as you can at this point; you’ll need to break them down further at some point anyway.

tradeshow schedule

Now you can start determining how many people will be required at each show based on booth size and expected visitors. From this you can figure out what staff members will likely be tasked with working the show.

Beyond this, you can compile website URLs and contact information for all of the shows. Pull up previous year’s paperwork to compare to pricing and floor plan and booth location to what is happening this year.

From this you can compare costs and leads generated, perhaps going so far as to compile the number of new clients or sales generated from 2016 show appearances.

Once you’ve put down most of the broad strokes and details of your shows and booth rental spaces and so on, you can start the task of determining what, if anything, might be changed or added to your current booth properties. Is your exhibit in good shape, or does it need an upgrade of some sort? Or is this the year you’ve decided to invest in a brand new exhibit? That’s another task entirely, but it would be part of your yearly tradeshow schedule planning.

While this is really just a 30,000 foot view of the process, once you put this all together, the real fun begins of breaking out each element of each show and making them work successfully.


Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

6 Unforgettable Tradeshow Tips

Here are six random but unforgettable tradeshow tips to take you to a successful tradeshow experience.

  1. Standing out. Your tradeshow exhibit should stand out from others in any way it can. Of course, with hundreds or even thousands of booths trying to attract eyeballs, that may be difficult. But if you realize that every other booth is trying to do the same, you can stand out by being different. That may mean a dynamic color, a hanging sign, bright colors, bold statements and compelling questions in your marketing message.
  2. Freebies. There are right and wrong ways to approach giving away trinkets and tchotchkes. Don’t give something away just for the sake of giving something away. Having a pen with your logo on it may mean something to you, but to a visitor, it’s like every other pen they got that day. If the giveaway is usable and memorable, it may get noticed longer. For instance, a premium giveaway for a special visitor that you’re really trying to sell may mean a metal coffee cup with your logo or something similar. Work with your promotional products company to find the appropriate freebie.
  3. Business cards. When was the last time you went to a networking event or tradeshow and realized you didn’t have enou

    gh business cards? It happens. In fact, it happened to me last week! Plan ahead and don’t forget to take more than you think you’ll need.

  4. 30-second pitch. Most standard sales pitches will be packed with features and benefits, but that is a good way to become very forgettable. Instead, come up with an engaging question, or an introductory question that gets a visitor to stop. Then you can go into a pitch that focuses on how you work with clients: “we help frustrated marketers that can’t find a good graphic designer, or they’re embarrassed by poor printing, or they don’t have an overall program to get their brand image out online – I don’t suppose any of these concerns or challenges affect you?”
  5. Traffic Flow. If your booth is blocked off from the aisle by tables and chairs, people won’t come inside your booth. If they don’t come inside your booth, you can’t have a comfortable conversation with them about what their challenges are and how your product or service may help them. No matter what size your booth, the traffic flow should be a prime consideration of your booth design.
  6. Have fun! Tradeshows are a short-term, high energy commitment. The more fun it looks like you and your staff are having, the more people you’ll attract. And tradeshow are all about attracting people and knowing what to do with them!

Take these 6 unforgettable tradeshow tips and use them to make your next tradeshow appearance a successful one!

How to Measure Tradeshow ROI and ROO

There are many ways to measure tradeshow ROI (Return on Investment) and ROO (Return on Objectives). Let’s count a few of the important ones.

  1. Web traffic. You might not think web traffic relates to tradeshow success, but trust me, it does. Knowing how your traffic ebbs and flows before and after tradeshows is one indicator that is worth noting in your overall information gathering.
  2. Social Media Reach. Compare before and after numbers of social media likes and followers. Your level of engagement, or reach, during a show, can show a spike in engagement on your most-used social media platforms.
  3. Booth Visitors. Count the attendees in your booth. Yeah, it’s a pain to do, but if you can manage to at least get a rough count of visitors to your booth each show, you can compare from year to year and show to show.
  4. Show Buzz. Do you have visitors that showed up at your booth because there was some show talk that drew them there? If you have an indication of that, try to find out if they were interested in your booth or products or both.
  5. Networking. How many industry colleagues did you and your team connect with during the show? How were those conversations? Could you consider many of them fruitful, leading to future steps?
  6. New product launch or demo. Count the number of people that attendee presentations or demos, or the number of product samples that were given away. Count the number of leads at those demos, which leads to…
  7. Lead Generation – new leads in particular. Lead generation is THE key metric you need to track from show to show and year to year. That and…
  8. Sales. How many dollars were generated as a direct result of leads generated at the show.

To determine your ROI, take the total revenue generated, subtract the investment in the show and you have your raw number. To get the percentage, divide your original investment into the net income.

To figure out your Return on Objective, identify your objectives prior to the show. You may have non-financial event goals such as customer meetings, samples given away, press coverage, branding, name recognition improvement, collecting emails, enhancing client relations and so on. Then make notes by observing and documenting as much related information as you can. ROO looks at items that do not directly translate to immediate sales or sales opportunities.

You can evaluate such things as:

  • What was the best part of the show?
  • What was the least valuable?
  • Did the booth size work, or was it too small or too large for your purposes?
  • Did your signage convey the right messages?
  • Was your pre-show promotion effective?
  • Were there enough visitors throughout the show to keep your staff busy? Were they overwhelmed?

No matter your overall approach to tradeshow marketing, the more information you are able to gather relating to your ROI and your ROO will make you a better marketer.

Tradeshows Bring Buyers

It may be obvious, but tradeshows bring buyers to your booth. Often, as exhibitors, we’re so focused on presenting a cohesive message, making sure our staffers are on top of things, keeping the booth clean, greeting visitors and answering questions that when someone is ready to buy we miss a beat!

Tradeshows bring buyers

In some tradeshows you’re looking for distributors, in some you’re looking for customers, in some you’re looking to solidify and strengthen relationships with existing customers, distributors and clients. But at the bottom line, you’re at a tradeshow to connect with more buyers. More people who will say YES and open their wallet to your products and services.

By keeping this YES top of mind during the show, your staffers will be more prepared when the question does arise. Certainly not everyone in your booth is a buyer, but buying decisions and referrals are made at tradeshows. THAT’S WHY THE ATTENDEES ARE THERE: TRADESHOWS BRING BUYERS. They’re there to check out new products, new services, new releases, new iterations of current products and so on. If they’re at the show, there’s a real chance they may either eventually BUY from you or know someone who will.

Exhibit Surveys Inc’s Trade Show Trends Report from a couple of years ago shows that 49% of tradeshow attendees come to a show with the intent to purchase. Yes, that’s why they’re there – to BUY, and hopefully from you.

Are you doing all you can to facilitate the buying activity?


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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