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

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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.

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Exhibiting at Another Tradeshow

asking good questions

As an exhibitor, or someone who manages an exhibit program for a company, you have oodles of details to keep track of each and every show. This often means you don’t have time to stop and ponder the very act of exhibiting at a tradeshow. But sometimes taking time to do just such a thing is a good thing. These questions are not aimed at the logistics of your exhibit, but are pointer more towards the internal conversation you may have with yourself and how you and your staff approach the act of marketing while standing in a tradeshow booth with the intent of finding potential clients or customers.

 

  1. Do you have any blind spots?
  2. What are your hidden strengths?
  3. Are you really focused on the things that are important?
  4. When it comes to networking, do you push your comfort zone or do you play it safe?
  5. How well do you take care of yourself during the few days of the show?
  6. Does everybody on your booth staff know all of your products or services well enough to talk about them fluently?
  7. Do you sometimes talk too much to visitors just to fill time instead of letting them talk?
  8. Do you have three good questions to start a conversation centered on the needs your product or service fulfills?
  9. What information do you need to determine if a visitor is a prospect or not?
  10. Once you qualify a visitor, what precise information do you need from them to move forward?
  11. Are you comfortable you’re doing all you can to maximize the company’s time on the tradeshow floor without doing too much and getting burned out?
  12. Do you have a tested plan to gather all leads and get them back to the sales team in a timely manner?

I could go on and on, but the point is to have you examine your involvement in tradeshow marketing from a different perspective and see if you could find some areas to improve. What questions should you be asking yourself or your team?

My Favorite and Most Useful Tools

Every now and then it’s good to take a look at the tools we use every day in our work – hence a list of my favorite useful tools. Whether it’s a piece of software, an app, a physical tool of some sort or just a mental approach. Here’s what I find most useful these days – the things I use the most:

favorite tools and apps

Computer Software

Microsoft Office 365 for Mac. This has everything, and at a modest price. I use MS Word for writing, Outlook for email, Excel for spreadsheets. PowerPoint is a part of the package, but I prefer Mac’s Keynote, which I find more elegant. There’s nothing wrong with PowerPoint, and at times I’ve had to export Keynote presentations to PowerPoint to play them on PCs. I was never fond of the Mac native Mail program, and was glad to see the recent upgrades to Outlook, which used to be Entourage. I’ve managed to carry my email database through several computers from PC to Macbook over the years, and the current version of Outlook for Mac is nearly flawless.

Keynote. It’s a Mac-only program and is useful for presentations of all kinds, whether for a recorded video or a live presentation.

Screenflow. My go-to for video has screen recording, video camera recording and the ability to choose a specific microphone. You can also record screens from your plugged-in device such as an iPhone or iPad, although I’ve never found an occasion where that was necessary or even useful. But hey, maybe someday! Along with Giphy, Screenflow can create easy gifs as well!

Hootsuite. An online multi-use tool for send out social media items. Send things to more than one platform, upload multiple posts for timed release.

Photoshop. Still the standby for creating quick graphics and photo editing with text overlays. I’m no graphic expert, but I know this program well enough after using it for a couple of decades to get done what I need to quickly. My old CS4 version hasn’t been updated for years, and it works well.

UltraEdit. Billed as the world’s best text editor. Developers and programmers use it for writing code. But I’m no coder and still use it all the time. For when you want text files with no formatting whatsoever. It also works when you have some heavily formatted text from a website that you want to keep without the formatting. Just copy from the website and paste into UltraEdit and all the formatting is gone.

Scrivener. The best book-writing software I’ve experienced. Great at organizing notes, drafts, thoughts and more.

Dropbox. Lots of alternatives, but this has been my go-to for archiving client files, sharing files with and from clients and archiving personal photos.

Filezilla. FTP software that works really well. Free is a very good price, too.

Microsoft OneNote. Part of Microsoft Office 365, available as a standalone download. With the MS Office 365, you get a terrabyte of storage which is very useful for storing notes and files. Very useful in some instances, but I come and go from this one. Lots of interesting things in this tool. You can take a photo of a whiteboard for instance, and the app will convert the writing to text. Put it on an iPhone or iPad and you can write notes. I don’t use this as much as I probably should!

Microsoft OneDrive. Similar to DropBox, Box and other cloud storage and sharing apps.

CleanMyMac. Between this and MacKeeper, my laptop stays humming pretty well. After all, it’s almost seven years old. I’ve upgraded it with a 1TB solid state drive and maxed out the RAM to 16 gig, but it still needs software to keep it clean.

Google Calendar. I’d be lost without reminders and notifications from Google Calendar. Syncs with the app on my phone.

Adobe Audition. Ever since my professional radio days ended, I still record and edit audio frequently. Part of it is due to my continued volunteering with my weekly reggae show (Monday nights at 6 pm Pacific – stream it live!) on the local community radio station, KMUZ, and part of that is my weekly vlog/podcast, the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee.

Zoom. I use this for video meetings, mainly to record the conversations for my vlog/podcast. Easy to use and will record the meeting with the click of a button.

Aweber. I’ve used AWeber for all of my newsletters, autoresponders, etc. for years. The program is easy to use and it keeps getting better. Lots of alternatives, but I’ve seen no real valid reason for switching.

LeadPages. Lead capture software. You know the ones – the annoying popups that ask you to opt in to a newsletter in exchange for some sort of goodie. Yes, popups can be annoying, but they work and people have gotten used to them. Integrates seamlessly with AWeber and other email programs. Highly recommended for its creativity and flexibility.

Carbonite. One of at least two backups I have. Carbonite works in the background to archive the essential files (not all kinds of files, though – it doesn’t typically back up video or audio files unless you ask it to). There is also a Carbonite app, but I’ve had issues with it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Although there have been times with Carbonite has save my ass on the floor of a tradeshow when I needed to pull up a critical file. More than once.

Time Machine. The other Mac back up. I used it once a week to manually backup all of my latest files.

Soundcloud. This is the host of the audiofiles for the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast. Easy to use, easy to grab the code to embed the file into a blog post, and useful listening stats as well.

Quickbooks. Money tracking, check-writing, invoicing, etc., at its best.

iPhone apps

Beyond the usual text, email, messaging, maps and such, I find the following apps very useful (links are to the iTunes store):

Google Calendar. Mentioned earlier.

Microsoft OneNote. Mentioned earlier.

DropBox. Also mentioned earlier.

GasBuddy. Only when traveling do I really want to find the cheapest gas, but when I do, this is a great little tool.

Road Trip. Tracking of automobile gasoline and repair costs.

Waze logo

Waze. Another GPS enables navigation aid, complete with crowd-sourced warnings and alerts on traffic jams, stalled cars, accidents, police sitings and more.

Scanner Pro. A very useful document scanner that, when combined with uploading to Dropbox, lets me instantly scan documents and upload so that I can easily grab them on my laptop.

Point of Sale, formerly Square. The time or two a year that a client wants to pay by credit card, I use this app and the money shows up in my bank account a day or two later.

And a handful of fun, non-work apps:

Zillow. Not really a work tool, but fun to use when you’re traveling to see the market value of the homes nearby.

MapMyRide. Tracks my route, distance, etc. when riding my bicycle.

Fender Tune. Keeps my guitar in tune.

Soundhound. Lets me know the name of a song when I can’t pin it down. Although it’s not infallible – it can’t name every song!

Lose it! Tracks calories, exercise and more.

Ski Tracks. Tracks my routes and distance on the slope.

Hardware

Apple Macbook Pro. 13” early 2011. Upgraded to 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD hard drive. Rarely have I had a glitch with this.

Blue Yeti microphone

Blue Yeti USB Microphone. I switched to a USB microphone a couple of years ago when I couldn’t chase down an annoying hum in my analog board. Works great and is very reasonably priced. You see it in all of my podcast videos.

iPhone 6s, 128 GB of storage. Solid piece of gear through and through. Music, email, camera, you name it. It’s all there.

Sony MDR-V6 dynamic stereo headphones. I’ve used these headphones for more than twenty years, since my radio days. Still use them when recording and volunteering at the local community radio station. It’s my second pair.

SkullCandy ear buds. While I tend to go through a pair of these about every year, they deliver much better sound and comfort than the earphones that come with the iPhone.

Keen messenger bag. The model shown in the link isn’t the one I have, but very similar. Great for carrying laptop, books, lunch, whatever.

Am I missing anything? What are you using? Leave a comment!

What Does a Tradeshow Manager Do?

It’s a good question: what does a tradeshow manager do? And frankly, you can come at this question from a few angles.

For instance, is the tradeshow manager (or coordinator, or project manager) employed by the company internally, to make sure the tradeshow appearance is as flawless and successful as possible? Does the tradeshow coordinator work for an exhibit house, tasked with making sure the new (or stored) exhibit is shipped to arrive on time, and get set up, dismantled and shipped back? Or does the company find a third party to coordinate the logistics from show to show on an as-needed basis?

TRADESHOW MANAGER

There are several things to determine, such as: what is the scope of work? What tasks are expected of the tradeshow coordinator? Is there a marketing department that makes decisions on which shows to attend? Who determines the budget and where does that money come from? And so on.

Wearing several hats is not uncommon for someone with the larger and somewhat vague title of tradeshow coordinator. Mainly, she is responsible for:

  • Determining what shows to go to (usually in coordination with a larger team that vets the various options)
  • Scheduling or securing the booth space and coordinating logistics such as electricity, internet, cleaning, badge scanner and more
  • Work with vendors such as exhibit houses or printers for any updates to the exhibit
  • Scheduling exhibit shipping, I&D (installation and dismantle), return shipping, storage
  • Booth staffer hiring, training, scheduling and coordination of any special clothing such as branded t-shirts; develop and/or coordinate any pre-conference training for staffers
  • Coordinate with sales and marketing for any special product demos, etc.
  • Hire in-booth presenters if needed
  • Track expenses as required
  • Coordinate lead generation activities, system and delivery of leads to sales post-show
  • Pre-show marketing: mailers, emails, any specific phone invitations
  • Post-show follow-up communication
  • Record keeping: maintain show schedules, project checklists, exhibit management, photos from each show, logistic and travel expenses show to show and year over year

Each individual position may include more or less from this list, but these are the main tasks on a tradeshow manager’s job description list.

And, just for fun, I looked at tradeshow manager job listings across the USA recently. There are a ton of openings. Just sayin.’

 

Tradeshow Tweets

When’s the last time you searched for #tradeshow tweets on Twitter? Let’s have a little fun and see what people are tweeting about:

The power of socializing at a tradeshow:

A quick look at #ASD in Vegas:

A good question to ask:

Finishing the show up in Chicago!

Another successful show:

Well, this is big!

Sure, I’ll publish a photo of a Tesla anytime:

Fun video:

Attracting a crowd is important!

A rare moment of being able to sit down!

And finally, let’s grab an international travel checklist:

9 Secrets to Tradeshow Success

Secrets to tradeshow success? There’s no secret! It’s all out in the open. Actually, it’s all lurking online somewhere. Just for fun, I plugged the search term “tradeshow success secrets” into the Google to see what I came up with.

Everyone seemed to want to chime in: Huffington Post, Inc., Brandwatch, Forbes, Tradeshow Advisor, USA Today and others.

  1. Success is measured by how much effort you want to put into it. I suppose that’s true of pretty much anything you do. But good effort is important.
  2. Trade leads and information with other exhibitors (that aren’t your competitors). I admit, I’ve only heard this one a time or two, and I suspect it’s rarely done. I wonder if you could actually get anyone to do that with you.
  3. IMG_3420

    Let people play with things. Yes, adults like to get hands-on experience as much as kids do. Create an experience where visitors can interact with something and they’ll stick to your booth longer than others.

  4. Have a booth host that knows what’s up. A trained staffer is worth their weight in gold. The really connections are person-to-person.
  5. Speak at a show. If you can’t speak at a show, sit on a panel. It’s better than nothing. If you can’t do either of those, create your own event that you speak at and invite everyone in your database.
  6. Steam live video from your booth. With the advent of Facebook Live, it’s easy to pull out your phone and go LIVE! Interview guests, do product demos and more.
  7. Stop people in their steps with creative flooring. Put your logo or some other attractive graphic at foot level. It’s still enough of a new thing that it’ll stand out and get people to stop.
  8. Know what to say to people. It’s great to have a trained staff member, or to have booth staffers who are knowledgeable on the products you offer. But spend time honing a brief 30 second pitch that focuses on the pain people have around things that your products can solve. For instance, if you sell roofing with a lifetime guarantee, ask visitors if they experience leaks, or if they are due for a new roof but are afraid of hiring some fly-by-night firm that won’t back up the roof installation. Let them identify their pain, then tell them that your product can resolve that pain.
  9. Follow up. When you do get leads, don’t sit on them. Pick up the phone and get back to them. Nuff said.

Tradeshow Lead Generation Ideas

Want some great tradeshow lead generation ideas? Well, sure, don’t we all? A quick online search found quite a few ways to skin the cat, as it were.

First, let’s start with Skyline’s Mike Thimmesch, who posted an article called 100 Tradeshow Lead Generation Ideas. It’s a great post, one where he splits the batch of ideas into several sections, including the shows you go to, the type of booth you have, pre-show promotions, at-show giveaways and activities, and better booth staffing. Great list, Mike! (BTW, if you Google the title of the article, you’ll see that a lot of folks have referenced his article over the years since it was published!)

sales-funnel

Our old pals over at Handshake have a post called 22 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Trade Shows. In it, Mandy Movahhed breaks it down into sections, including pre-show, at the show, outside conference / onsite promo. Lots of fun ones here, including having a street musician at the show singing your praises as attendees enter the show each day.

Julius Solaris is the editor at the Event Manager Blog, and he put together an article with a lot of great ideas on how to drive traffic to your booth using (mostly) social media. Some good do’s and don’t’s here, along with terrific in-booth ideas such as mini-live streaming, charity giving, and engaging attendees with offline tweets. Check out 20 Tactics to Drive More Attendees to Exhibition Booths.

Capitol One’s SparkPlay blog (yeah?) chimes in with a handful of ideas in Get Prospects Flocking to Your Booth with a Defined Tradeshow Strategy, which includes one of my favorite ideas: in-booth demonstrations. If they’re done well, they can stop people in their tracks.

Finally, I want to share an e-book/slide deck from Bartizan called “The Ultimate Guide to Tradeshow Lead Generation.” In 30+ pages, Bartizan paints a full picture of how you can position your tradeshow booth, staff and products or services to most effectively compete for leads at your next tradeshow.


Want a free digital copy of my “Tradeshow Success” book? Click here.

35+ Items to Have in Your Tradeshow Tool Kit

What’s in your tradeshow tool kit?

As tradeshow veterans, you probably have your go-to list of ‘don’t forget’ items. So I thought it would be fun to check around and compile a thorough list of things you might at least consider taking in your kit. Whether they are in a travel bag, or (in some cases) in the exhibit crates, the list can get long. The key is to have an item when you need it. And being on the tradeshow floor trying to get a light to hang, or unscrew a tight screw or fix a banner stand, each situation requires a different fix.

toolkit

So let’s jump in and see what people would put on their list.

  1. Pens – ball point, Sharpies, large markers
  2. Tape – scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape, masking tape
  3. Stapler and staple gun
  4. Business cards – more than you think you’ll need
  5. Business card holders
  6. Note pads or post-it notes
  7. Refreshments such as water or soda
  8. Small containers for giveaways
  9. Clipboards
  10. Table cloths or table throws printed with your logo
  11. Backup phone battery or charger
  12. Extra phone cables
  13. Small tool kit with screwdrivers and box cutter
  14. Rubber bands and paper clips
  15. Extension cords and plug-in strips
  16. Small first aid kit
  17. Hand sanitizer and lotion
  18. Breath mints
  19. Snacks
  20. String or heavy duty twine
  21. Cord keepers or plastic zip ties
  22. Zip lock bags
  23. Cleaning supplies
  24. Hand vacuum or portable carpet sweeper
  25. Safety pins
  26. Flash drives, including digital copies of any giveaways
  27. Comfortable shoes!
  28. Promo items
  29. Signage
  30. Name tags
  31. Photos of the assembled booth
  32. Email signup sheet or software on iPad
  33. Samples or giveaways
  34. Staff contact information and detailed travel plans
  35. Copies of all show paperwork (booth #, contract, set-up instructions, etc.)

 

Got it? Good!

 

10 Reasons Not to Exhibit at Tradeshows

Any good tradeshow marketing strategist is going to come up with a few dozen reasons as to why you should exhibit at tradeshows. But what about some of the reasons NOT to exhibit at tradeshows? Are those reasons worth exploring?

IMG_9346_2

First, let’s assume that if you are exhibiting at tradeshows or at least considering them, you are able to identify the shows that are of the most benefit to your company and products or services you’re pushing.

Some reasons NOT to exhibit:

  1. You’re trying to get attendees to stop at your booth with some gimmicky things like fishbowls and spinning wheels or putting greens. These may get people to stop, but the gimmick doesn’t know how to separate the prospects from the walkers-by. Only you can do that.
  2. You don’t have a measurable objective. In other words, you’re just setting up a booth, handing out samples or giving demos, but are not taking care to count anything. If you want to know if your tradeshow appearance is worthwhile, you have to track metrics such as visitors, leads, sales, demos given – and do it year over year and show by show.
  3. You’re thinking only of the logistics of a show and not the strategy of how the show plays into your overall marketing approach.
  4. Your staff is unprepared for the chaos of a tradeshow floor and the long hours and hard work it takes to pull it off.
  5. It’s too expensive. True, exhibiting at a tradeshow is likely to make an impact on your marketing dollars. But it’s a proven way to keep the cost of your lead acquisition much lower than the typical sales call. Yes, there are some businesses that do it differently and have written off tradeshows, but if it works for you, there’s no reason to quit as long as you’re able to get a good return on that investment.
  6. Your booth does not accurately represent your brand and the graphic messaging is cluttered and/or unclear.
  7. You don’t have a lead management system in place that all participants understand and know how to use.
  8. You only plan to exhibit at one show this year. It may be a great show that perfectly fits your audience. But if you only do one show, you’re missing a lot of potential customers at other shows. Stats show that nearly 4 out of 10 attendees are first-timers and 46% of attendees are only going to that one show.
  9. You’re not interested in or willing to network. People like to meet face-to-face, and tradeshows are a great place to spend time with people in the industry that can give you insight into other areas of your industry.
  10. You don’t realize that many exhibitors do NOT bring their “A” game. Face it, we’re all human. Many of your competitors are not going to do their due diligence and train their staff, do pre-show marketing, have a great product or know how to generate leads well. If you can do those things even marginally better than average, you’re going to succeed more than your neighbors. If you do all of those things very well, you’ll probably run laps around them.

Perhaps if you can overcome these reasons not to exhibit, you’ll find a lot of great reasons TO be setting up a booth and pitching your products and services. But it comes down to you.

11 Reasons to Exhibit at Tradeshows

  1. Your company can reach markets that they would not normally reach. A tradeshow gets you in front of people that will never find you otherwise.
  2. Decision makers attend shows. This means that if they see what they like, they can, y’know, decide!
  3. Networking with colleagues. Meet future partners, employees or employers.
  4. P1140105

    Checking out the competition’s latest and greatest to see how it compares to your offerings.

  5. Great place to launch a new product or service.
  6. Build or re-position your brand.
  7. Reach out to the media with public relations and give access to your management team.
  8. Do a survey – market research.
  9. Generate leads, make sales and move the sales cycle along a little more quickly than normal.
  10. Meet with key clients.
  11. Increase your ROI by getting directly in front of thousands of potential customers in a very short time frame.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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