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

lead generation

How Personal is Your Tradeshow Exhibit?

What kind of question is that, anyway? How personal is your tradeshow exhibit? An exhibit should be the best representation of a brand, which is aimed at a broad market. Isn’t that correct? If that’s the case, it has to have the right graphics with the right messaging. Any images should be chosen to reflect the best your product and brand have to offer. And if all that is true – and I suppose it is – how can your exhibit be personal?

Selling is Personal

Except…selling today is personal. People want to know that you care about them. The challenge is that people don’t really care about your product or service. When it comes to your products, they care about themselves, and themselves only. How do your products or services affect them – personally? The messaging should relate to what they’re going through. As we slowly move back to the tradeshow world with exhibits and face-to-face meetings and larger gatherings, every person is going to have a slightly – or perhaps significantly – different perception of what they need or want. And they’ll have some level of anxiety or distress or challenge in moving forward.

So how do you help them…now? How does your product or service help them…now? What do they need…now?

Your challenge isn’t that you don’t know how to present your products or services. No, your challenge is that you need to understand what’s going on in the mind of your customers and prospects. And the only way to learn that is to ask. In a sense, your tradeshow exhibit should be an invitation to join them. An invitation to walk into their space. Make them feel safe and wanted. There are a million ways to do that. I’m do designer, but I do know how I feel when I walk into a space that welcomes me. With people around that want to see me, and not just to sell me something, but to understand where I’m coming from. And frankly, that’s kind of rare. Maybe it’s food. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee, or a warm smile. Maybe it’s an image that they can relate to that doesn’t look like it’s been chosen out of a stock photo library. Or if it has, it resonates with them.

What makes people buy?

When they finally get to a place where they feel understood. Where they feel you “get” them. Where they feel comfortable and wanted. It’s a bit like belonging to a tribe, but it’s more than that. And less.

It’s personal. What is it your customer wants?

Be creative in how you interact with people. Be creative in how you uncover what’s important to your clients. Learn from them. Then design your next tradeshow exhibit based on what you learned.

It’s not going to be easy. But it’ll be worth it.


The Five-Day Tradeshow Marketing Challenge

Yes, tradeshow marketing takes more than five days. Of course it does! It’s an ongoing process that keeps tradeshow managers up at night, especially when shows are impending. Some shows last about that long! So, what do I mean by the five day tradeshow marketing challenge?

Instead of trying to handle preparing for a show all at once, take five days. Perhaps in just a few moments a day you can line things up, get them prepared and be ready once tradeshows get back to normal.

Or whatever normal will look like.

Let’s assume the next big show is still several months away. Far enough away to not really worry if you start your Five-Day Tradeshow Marketing Challenge this week or next. But close enough so that you shouldn’t put it off too much longer!

Day One:

Plan.

Actually, every day is planning of some sort, but today, plan the basics:

What shows you’re going to.

What shows you’d love to go to at some point, but maybe not this year or next year.

What kind of presence you’d like at the show: size of booth; number of people. Perhaps what you’d like to spend on sponsorships or advertising at the show itself to help build awareness and move people to your booth.

This is also a good day to review past year tradeshow costs to assemble realistic budgets for the next series of shows. Pull out copies of documents that show actual costs vs. estimates. Build spreadsheets to give you a good sense of what you’ll have to invest to exhibit this time around.

Day Two:

Exhibit Changes / Additions

If you need a new exhibit, and it’s time to have that chat with management, that’s a longer process. But if you have a good exhibit and all you need is to make upgrades, today is a good day to start sketching out those changes. At this point, you don’t have all the information you’ll eventually need such as product launches, what products you’ll be promoting and so on. But it’s a good time to make a list of the number of graphic changes you’ll make, if any; the dimensions of the graphics and any other particulars you’ll want before design and production. Make notes about who you need to talk to to know what those product launches and so on will be. And give a heads up, if appropriate, to the designer who will be making the new graphics.

Day Three:

Promotions

Promotions can take almost any shape, from creating online videos to crafting a social media campaign, to coming up with a clever way to dress up your booth. Here on Day Three, you’ll just want to make lists with broad strokes of the top promotion ideas and concepts that will eventually flower.

Day Four:

Travel Logistics

How many people are going, where are they staying, who’s booking travel, who’s making the schedule for the booth and so on. Getting a firm grasp on this a few months ahead of time will reduce headaches as you get closer.

Day Five:

Shipping and Exhibit Installation/Dismantle Logistics

If you have worked with the same I&D crews and shipping companies for years, this is usually nothing more than giving them advance notice that you’re on board again this year. If you need to find someone new for these areas, now’s the time to determine who you’re going to work with, and how to find the right people for the tasks.

Now that you’ve spent an hour or two a day for five days, you should have a much better grasp on what’s coming and be more prepared for when you’re thrown a curveball. Which you probably will be!

Top 5 Most-Viewed Podcast Interviews of the Past Year

I thought it might be fun to see what people have gravitated to on this blog when it comes to the weekly vlog/podcast I do under the title TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. The podcast is more or less a diary of my business and more broadly, the event and tradeshow industry, and beyond that, the business world. Or at least what interests me on any given day.

I don’t always have interviews on the show, but they’re always fun. I love speaking with industry colleagues and getting to know them, even though most of them are only “Zoom” friends, and we aren’t sitting down across a table for coffee!

Still, they’re enlightening and fun. Here are the top five most-viewed based on analytics looking back twelve months.

Number Five (we’re counting down to Number One!): Dominic Rubino of BizStratPlan.com talked about an easy formula for difficult business conversations.

Number Four: Phil Gorski of Ava-Nee Productions and his company’s VR approach to tradeshow exhibits (and other fun things).

Number Three: Danny Orleans is a tradeshow entertainer and Chief Magic Officer at Corporate Magic LTD.

Number Two: Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, offered numerous tips on creating publicity at tradeshows. Worth another look. Bring your notepad.

Number One: a long-ranging discussion from March with Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits, Marcus Vahle of Share Experience Company and Andy Saks of Spark Presentations.

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 11, 2020: Dale Obrochta

What day is it? Are you counting how many days since you’ve been on shelter-at-home protocols? Or are you in a state that has abandoned all attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19 and things are getting back to normal? Which begs the question: what is normal?

This week on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I caught up with Dale Obrochta of PutATwistOnIt.com, who’s been a previous guest on this show. We talked about the challenges his profession is facing in the new normal.

Find Dale here at PutATwistOnIt.com.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING:

Book and Novel writing software: Scrivener.

Five Tried-and-True Ways to Increase Tradeshow Lead Generation

Now, we can certainly agree that a lot of activities can pump up your lead generation numbers. But when it comes to things that are (almost) foolproof, here are the top five that come to mind for me.

  • Professional presenter
  • Interactivity + follow up
  • Hands-on demo
  • Pre-show marketing / appointments
  • Trained booth staff

Let’s agree that on the tradeshow floor, you don’t have total control. You can’t control how many people find your booth, you can’t control the organization that’s promoting the show, you can’t control your attendees and so on. Which means that no matter what you do, you may still fall short.

But.

Having a professional presenter, one that really knows their stuff and how to present your company to your attendees, over and over, several times a day throughout the show, is often seen as one of the surefire solid ways to get more leads. Just make sure your booth staff is ready for the influx of people and know how to handle them before they get away when the presenter is done.

Interactivity + follow up. Interactivity can mean a lot of things, but for the sake of argument, let’s narrow it down to something that relates specifically to your product or service.

Hands-on Demo. Perhaps slightly different than interactivity, this is an actual demonstration where your booth visitor actually, physically, learns a little more about your product. Say, a software demonstration, or a class in the booth space that teaches while they have their hands on the product.

Pre-show marketing / appointments. Setting appointments prior to the show, getting the one-on-one meetings on to a prospect’s calendar, is often the best way to ensure you have an audience of one that is focused on your message.

Trained booth staff. How important is a trained booth staffer? Probably the most important thing you have going for you other than your actual products and services. Worth their weight in gold. Make sure your staffers know how to answer questions, capture contact info, do a demo, put on a smile, and act appropriately in the booth (no phone in their hands, no eating, and so on).

There are dozens of other things you can do, but these are the top five in my book.

Selling in the Time of No Tradeshows or Events

The social distancing guidelines put forth due to the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut off a majority of the economy, like turning off a spigot. It would be easier to line-item the businesses that are open than those that are closed: grocery stores, drive-through coffee shops and some business offices. Ten million in the US have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks.

Ten Million.

The impact of this on the nation, on the world, is unfathomable.

I know many people who are sitting at home most of the day, binging TV shows or reading books or even playing board games or sharing music online. Others are making use of the time to learn a new skill, to tackle that novel, to write music, to create.

Others don’t know what to do.

If you’re still working, whether from home or in the office, and you have to sell to keep things going in the company, what do you do? What approach do you take?

I subscribe to several sales newsletters and thought I’d share a few thoughts. Some came from the newsletters, others from just my own experience. But here we are in a time where it’s difficult to even find someone to talk to.

First, when you call, it makes sense to ask your contact what approach their company is making. Are they putting everything on hold for the time being, awaiting the end of the social distancing and figuring they’ll kick back into action when the pandemic is over? Or are they moving forward with business as usual, as much as they can?

If it’s the former, tell them, that, ‘yeah, it’s a crazy time, I get it,’ and ask if you can send a quick email with your contact information so that when we do get back to normal they can reach back out to you. If it’s the latter, move into your typical sales questions to uncover any needs they may currently have for what you’re offering.

Seems appropriate somehow… (click to play the album!)

Another part of the equation is what you’re selling. If you’re in the restaurant supply business, chances are that your potential buyers are not even open, unless they’re doing take-out or drive-thru only. If you’re selling Personal Protective Equipment for health workers, you probably can’t keep up with the demand. It all depends on the specific products or services you’re selling.

Most people probably fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Which means you’re going to have to find a strategy that keeps at least some business coming in.

With millions stuck at home, that means people are going online to shop, they’re connecting via video meetings (Zoom is being mentioned dozens of times a day in the mainstream press!), telephone and email.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What shape is the company website it? Does it need upgrading? Can you add new products, new services and new ways for people to connect?
  • Are your social media platforms being updated frequently? With so much time on their hands, everybody is on social media.
  • Can you offer a digital version of your services? Lots of people are taking this time to create online learning classes or other ways of sharing their information.
  • Can you connect with others regularly? Sure! Some people are starting up regular Zoom meetings just to have a face-to-face connection with others outside of their home.

Bottom line: be there for clients and prospects. Don’t stop doing outreach, however that looks for you. Don’t be pushy but if you continue to think you can offer something of value, something that your clients and prospects can really use, keep doing it.

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.


What Data are You Measuring When Exhibiting at Tradeshows?

Face it, we’re all swimming in data. Every time we walk out the door, drive to the store, buy a cup of coffee, order something online or even just sit at home watching TV, that information is getting logged. If you have a doorbell camera, there’s a good chance that you also chose to connect with local law enforcement agencies, who now can use the images to theoretically catch the bad guys. Stories abound, good and bad, about how all of that data can be used.

So yes, the data at times can be overwhelming. But what about your tradeshow booth? Are there any ways to track data during a show that can be helpful?

Let’s say you set up a time lapse camera in your booth. Put it somewhere that allows you to track the number of visitors, that can show you how long people stayed, or what they interacted with in the booth. That would be one way. Certainly, it would take some time to go through the video after the show, but my guess is that you would get some good intel as a result.

Other data you could consider tracking isn’t so high tech: leads generated, sales made (and dollars brought in as a result of those sales), new customers. You might also look at web traffic you got during or right after the show. And be sure to look at social media impact: number of likes, retweets, engagements and so forth.

Back to tech, here’s a great article from the Event Manager Blog on ways to track visitors using smart mats, wi-fi monitors and heat maps, badge scanners, wearables, beacons and more. Loads of stuff to digest, and some of it may actually be useful in certain situations.

Gathering data to examine from a single show is certainly valuable. But it’s just one piece of the data-gathering path. When you gather the same type of data at show after show, year after year, you can see trends develop.

All of this information can help you make more informed decisions on how to approach and shape your marketing messaging by uncovering what makes things tick.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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