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

Lists

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.

Taking Time to Review Your Tradeshow Marketing Systems

The tradeshow, event and conference industries are not dead. It’s just sleeping. It’ll awaken at some point again and roar to life.

In the meantime, time on your hands. Maybe, maybe not. I certainly have time on my hands. And I have to bring in a little income.

So, I’m driving for Uber Eats and delivering food three to four hours a day. Not bad money, actually, for the time involved. My older son, who’s in his late 20s, had been working as a cook in an upscale restaurant which had to close when the coronavirus restrictions here in Oregon went into place. When we went skiing together a month ago, he told me that he’d been driving for Uber Eats a few hours before he went to work, and then a few hours after he got off in the evening. Now that the restaurant closed, he’s doing it eight hours a day, six or seven days a week. Likes being in his car (it’s new), listening to music, and bringing food to people.

I thought, I can do this. And making a few extra bucks (it’s actually pretty good pay) was enticing. It took a short while to get signed up and approved, and now I’m delivering food from restaurants to people a few hours a day. Sometimes lunch, sometimes dinner.

It gives me a lot of time to think. And listen to rock, or podcasts. But definitely time to think.

And I got to thinking about systems. What kind of systems does it take for an Uber driver (or Door Dash or Grub Hub or any of those companies) to get an offer to drive, accept it, pick up the food and deliver it in a timely manner while it’s still hot?

The driver needs:

  • A car
  • Smartphone with app
  • Address to pickup
  • Address to deliver

The smartphone has all of those items, other than the car, built in. GPS. Mapping. Internet connectivity.

The customer needs:

  • An app to order food from
  • An address for the driver to deliver it to
  • A way to pay (credit or debit card) they can use through the app

The restaurant needs:

  • A system that receives incoming orders and gets them to the kitchen in a timely manner
  • Ability to prepare food quickly and have it ready for pickup within a few moments

As I drive from a restaurant to a drop off point, it’s common to get another offer to pick up another order before the current one is delivered.

During my drives, I keep thinking what an intricate system this is. What an elaborate dance it is to transmit an offer to a driver that’s in the area, about to drop off one order, to deliver another order. As an Uber Eats driver, it’s all optional. Don’t want that one? Don’t take it.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

Then I get to thinking about the systems built around tradeshows and events. About what the show organizer needs. What the exhibitor needs. What the visitor needs.

Think about the systems that must be in place for all of that to work to a positive effect on a regular basis. Design and fabrication of tradeshow exhibits. Shipping, setup/dismantle logistics. Travel and lodging. Product development and production.

As a participant, you only can see and control what’s immediately in front of you. But as a tradeshow marketing manager, you can exert a lot of control over how your company exhibits. How your product is presented, how your company is represented by the exhibit and the booth staff. Who sets up the booth, who handles shipping and so on.

Now that the tradeshow and event industry is on hiatus, maybe it’s a good time to examine your systems that hold everything in place from your perspective and see what can be improved.

After all, while I don’t mind driving a few hours a day delivering food, I’d rather get back to the tradeshow world full time soon.

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!


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?

Top Ten 2018 TradeshowGuy Blog Posts

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:

Most-viewed of 2018, posted in 2018

Influencers That Influence ME

What is an INFLUENCER? To me it’s someone that gets your attention in any number of ways. It could be a video I saw. Could be a book or article or blog post. Or podcast. Or someone I know in my actual, real life as opposed to online.

These are the people whose tweets I read, whose podcasts I listen to, whose blog posts I read, whose newsletters I make sure not to miss. They write and say things that make me sit up and pay attention.

These are listed in no particular order. Some I’ve been aware of for years, others not so long. Some that were influencers ten or fifteen years ago may have popped back into my consciousness to make the list. And in a sense, it’s incomplete because it will always be incomplete. Influencers come and go. The ideas, writings and videos that catch anyone’s attention also wax and wane like the moon. But to me, these are all worth checking out:

Seth Godin: Daily blogger, host of the Akimbo podcast, speaker, author.

Peter Shankman: Founder of HARO (Help Out a Reporter). Speaks and writes frequently. Author of a new book about ADHD, working on a documentary about ADHD. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Scott Monty: Ford Motor Company’s first Social Media Director. Fortune 500 Advisor. Speaker, Pragmatic Futurist.

Jeff Barjorek: Parabola Consulting. Sales trainer, writer, speaker.

Jeffrey Gitomer: Sales trainer, author, speaker, podcaster.

Steve Miller: Author of Uncopyable (terrific book), speaker, blogger. Marketing gunslinger.

Pamela Slim: Author, business consultant, speaker, coach.

Bill Stainton: Emmy-winning producer, speaker, author. Also appeared on my podcast. Really fun newsletter. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Roy Williams: Former radio salesman who teaches sales, marketing and advertising. His Monday Morning Memo is not to be missed.

Shep Hyken: Hall of Famer in the National Speaker Association. Forward-thinking and best-selling author, blogger, writer and expert on customer service. Here’s his appearance on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Mel White: VP of Business Development at Classic Exhibits. Mel and I have known each other for close to a decade and a half. His insight and knowledge of the tradeshow world, and in particular the latest in tradeshow exhibit materials and trends has always been helpful. Not to mention his crucial help in making both of my books a reality. Here’s his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview.

Terry Brock: Relationship marketing speaker. Another Hall of Famer in the National Speaker Association. Holds forth all the time on the use of technology in communication and presentation. See his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Denise Wakeman: Blogger, author, writer, digital media marketing expert.

Casey Neistat: NYC-based videographer and story-teller. Ten million YouTube channel followers tells you something. Here’s one of his most-viewed and fun videos:

Gary Vaynerchuk: Social media expert at the highest level. Has parleyed his success with his family’s win business into a multi-million-dollar company, and he’s become an angel investor.

David Newman: Founder of Do It! Marketing. Marketing for Speakers, Authors, Consultants and Experts

Brene Brown: Best-selling author, research professor at University of Houston. Studies, speaks on courage, vulnerability, shape and empathy.

Candy Adams:. Long-time consultant in the tradeshow and event industry, known as The Booth Mom. See her TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview here.

Unfinished – more to add later!


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

8 Ways to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed in Your Tradeshow Marketing

Given that we know how many different balls you have to keep in the air, is it even possible to stop feeling overwhelmed when it comes to managing your tradeshow program?

That depends on how you personally deal with things that can come at you like a full-on firehose – we all deal with things a little differently – but let’s explore a few ways that might assist with your state of feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Plan your day. I don’t do that as often as I should, but when I create a list of todos prior to the start of the day – even the night before – I move through that list with ease and confidence. By taking some quiet time before the day really kicks into high crazy gear, you’ll have a much better handle on the tasks at hand.
  2. Prioritize. Yes, we get pulled every which way by calls, emails, bosses, meetings, customers and clients and more. This can definitely add stress to your day. Priorities should be made weeks or months ahead of time so that you know your overall, important goals, and use them as a template to figure out your daily priorities.
  3. Use technology to your advantage. Today’s technology gives us more flexibility than any of our forebears, but only if you use it correctly. Embrace the use of technology and use it where it makes sense (working from home or remotely, anyone?), and avoid getting sucked into another 30 minutes of social media bait-and-response.

  4. stop feeling overwhelmed

    Work it out in chunks. Often tradeshow projects come at us in big chunks. Lots of shows, little time between some of them, major and minor changes that need to be addressed. And so on. Carve out the easiest chunk, do that, carve out another chunk, tackle that, and keep going with that idea of parceling out the various bits and pieces instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture and looming deadlines.

  5. Know the real deadlines. Tradeshows are closer than they appear in the calendar. The best way to not get overwhelmed by approaching deadlines is to complete a lot of tasks before you ever really need to. For example, one client I work with wants to upgrade their booth in a pretty major way for next year’s show. We could wait another six months to get started, and still have plenty of time. But we ended up scheduling the first planning meeting a mere two months after the show – ten months ahead of the upgrade’s debut – and will likely have it done months ahead of time. No sweat and everyone’s happy.
  6. Delegate. How much do you really need to do yourself vs. how much to you pass on to someone else? Certain tasks can easily be passed on to someone else. Just make sure you’re not adding to their state of being overwhelmed!
  7. Write it down. Some people work better with to-do lists in front of them. If that means you, writing things down will give you a visual reminder of what you’ve accomplished and what you have left to do today.
  8. Clear and concise communication. Whether you’re meeting in person, speaking on the phone, or communicating via email, be as clear and concise as you’re able. Before clicking “send,” read and re-read the email. Take out unnecessary words, edit like a high school English teacher, and then click. Before speaking, know what you’re going to say. Most of us spend time NOT listening but preparing to respond. If you paid more attention to what someone is really saying – and what they really mean – your response will be more thoughtful. And probably less knee-jerk.

What can you do to keep from being overwhelmed in your day to day tradeshow adventures?

Time Management Skills

I think we all approach time management skills a little differently. For instance, I don’t think much about it beyond blocking time out for prospecting calls on a near-daily basis. I set goals on a weekly basis, and have deadlines for those goals, such as at least two blog posts per week, and getting the weekly podcast/vlog produced in a timely manner.

Mixed into that are tasks that come and go depending on current projects. If I have a handful of clients all preparing for the same show, I have a tracking sheet showing the status of each project and remaining tasks, and a timeline for those tasks.

There are a number of things I’ve learned over the years that seem to work for me. What works for you? There are hundreds of thousands of pages online that can show you various approaches to time management, but for me it boils down to the following items.

Goal setting: what do you want to accomplish and when do you want to get it done?

Prioritizing: get the top two or three most important things done early in the day and the rest of the day opens up to a lot more. Prioritizing also means removing things from your task list that shouldn’t be there; things that can either be left undone or delegated.

Self-motivation: this gets to the heart of why you’re doing anything. Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you eat what you eat? What motivates you? We all have different reasons for getting out of bed, for working, for taking time off. If you happen to be self-employed, your motivation is going to be different than that of the person going to work who may depend on a different kind of motivation to keep on task.

Focus: Twitter? Facebook? Chatting with a friend online? Making a phone call in the middle of trying to write an article? Responding immediately to an email that pops up? All of these and more can distract you from the focus you have on any given task. I’ve read that if you have a couple of hours of work that needs to be done with great focus, plan on working through it in chunks of time. Set a timer for twenty minutes. When it dings, take a short break to stretch, go outside, grab some water – whatever works best for you – and then get back at the task. And keep that up until that specific piece of work is done.

time management skills

Decision-making: in a busy work environment, we are all often pulled in several directions. Should you help someone else? What meetings should you attend? Which task is first today? Decision making is part of prioritizing, but it can quickly move into an area of having to decide what fires to put out.

Planning: plainly put, planning is the ability to see all that needs to be done during the foreseeable future and creating a plan that fits. The foreseeable future can mean looking five or ten years ahead, or it can mean looking a few days ahead.

Delegating: I mentioned this a little earlier, but if you have the ability to delegate or outsource some tasks that you really don’t need to do, this can free up your time.

Keeping good records: sounds simple, and it is. If you know how to find things quickly, you waste little time looking around. They say a cluttered desk is the sign of a genius. If everything is within arm’s reach, that might work best for you. But others find that keeping an uncluttered desk or workspace works best. What works best for you?

Patience. Or maybe the ability to see the bigger picture. Yes, I’ve certainly been caught up in trying to get a large amount of work done under deadline (don’t we all at times?), but if you have patience enough to see how that piece of crazy work fits into the overall picture – the 30,000 foot view, as it were – you will realize that not only is the craziness temporary, but next time something similar arrives, you’ll have the perspective and the patience to get through it with a lower amount of stress.

7 Traits of Tradeshow Super Connectors

You’ve probably run into a tradeshow super connector and didn’t even realize it at the time. Not until later, when you got to thinking about that person you talked to. The one that knows everyone, and everyone knows him or her.

Billionaire Mark Cuban is known as a super connector. Peter Shankman is often thought of as a super connector. In his first book, Can We Do That, he describes how people would call him to recommend or connect them to someone specific. Peter knew everybody. It’s how he ended up starting HARO, Help A Reporter Out, and eventually sold the company.

What would make a tradeshow super connector? I think I have met a few along the way, although – not being one – I’m not sure I can easily spot them.

Here are what I see as seven traits of a super connector:

  1. tradeshow super connector

    Outgoing; willing to talk to anyone, willing to introduce people.

  2. They see connections where us normal humans don’t: Jill, meet Sam. He’s a money management book editor. She’s an author working on a new money management book. You can make some money and change people’s lives together. No need to cc me – just check each other out.
  3. They’re willing to create gatherings at events that bring even more people together.
  4. They follow up. Following up is quick and easy; even if they think someone is trying to sell them something. I can tell you from experience, lots of people never bother to follow up with something they aren’t personally familiar with. But a super connector doesn’t mind. She sees connections everywhere and is willing to connect.
  5. They reach back to people they’ve become disconnected from in their past.
  6. Super connectors are giving. They give their time, they give value, they create content that other people find useful.
  7. Super connectors are helpful. Often, even during a first meeting where they have little to gain from knowing you, they’ll say “How can I help?”
  8. And finally, in my view, super connectors usually don’t have a big ego. Sure, they’re confident in themselves, but there is a bit of humbleness – they’re always willing to learn something and don’t have the arrogance to think they know everything.

Keep a look out for the super connectors at your next tradeshow.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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