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

Lists

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.

Top 10 Tradeshow Marketing Tips to Begin 2016

Hey, it’s a Top Ten List! Let’s look at ten things to do as you prepare for another year of tradeshow marketing:

  1. Assess what happened this year. What did you spend? What were your results? Are there any areas where you can cut back? Are there areas that you need to invest more?
  2. Create a will-attend show list. Perhaps you know this by heart. Maybe there are a few shows that have slipped down in your estimation, or some that that become more important.
  3. Create a list of other shows that are on the bubble.
  4. Know your show goals. Your overall goal is to grow the business, but each show likely presents an opportunity to do different things, such as build brand awareness, reach new markets, recruit partners, generate sales leads, solidify ties with current clients, maximize press and media outreach, unveil a new product or service or do research. Shows are often a combination of all of those (and more), but it is worthwhile to create a plan for each show that focuses on 2 or 3 specific areas.
  5. Come up with new ways to attract booth traffic. What you did last year may or may not work this year. Don’t sit on your laurels; try to come up with at least one new concept per show on how you can drive traffic to your booth.
  6. Ensure your lead generation system is working. Your show ROI depends almost exclusively on how you manage your sales leads. Work with your marketing and sales teams to make sure that each step is clear and workable.
  7. Assess your booth. This might mean taking it out of the cases or crates and setting it up. This should be done with any booth regardless of size, just to make sure it withstands the rigors of regular set-up and dismantle. So often a booth is quickly packed at the end of a show and sent back to the storage facility, and no one bothers to check the condition of the booth until right before the next show. Or during set-up, which is ever worse! If repairs are needed, get them done in a timely manner.
    IMG_9646

  8. Plan to book travel well in advance. Especially hotel rooms at popular and growing shows. If show hotels are booked, you can usually find a good deal on AirBnB.
  9. Plan the logistics of your upcoming shows. Order services, promotions, uniforms and other items a few months ahead of time or as needed.
  10. Plan your pre-show marketing outreach, from email to postcards, social media and other methods.

The more prepared you are, the better the opportunity to increase your leads, sales and brand awareness.


 

Want a digital copy of my new book? Click here.

9 Things to Measure on the Tradeshow Floor

Take some measurements!

A tradeshow is a perfect opportunity to track stuff: sales, leads, visitors, and so on. Here’s a quick list of things you might consider measuring at each show. It’ll give you a chance to not only compare different shows, but it’ll help you track trends at different appearances at the same show year after year.

  1. Sales. The key indicator of your success. The challenge with tracking sales from tradeshows is that you may get a sale in another 6 months, year or two years as a result of a single appearance. Be aware of where sales come from and track them to their source if you’re able.
  2. Leads. Not quite as critical as sales, but a key indicator of the success of your overall tradeshow program. Identify cool, warm and hot leads and follow up appropriately.
  3. New customers. Sales are great, but what percentage came from new customers?
  4. Visitors. While many exhibitors don’t normally track booth visitors, if you can get a handle on at least an accurate ballpark number of booth visitors from show to show, that information will come in handy.
  5. Samples. Do you give away samples, such as food or flash drives or swag? Keep track.
  6. Demonstrations and attendance. Do you have a professional presenter at your booth? Keep track of how many are given each day and make a headcount of attendees.
  7. Social media content. How many tweets, photos, videos and blog posts are you generating as a result of your appearance? Check things such as how many times your tweets were re-tweeted, or how many times your hashtag was mentioned, the numner of times you received an @ reply. If you saw a spike in Twitter followers or Facebook fans or Instagram followers during the show appearance, track that information.
  8. Other online engagement. Do you steer people to your website during tradeshows? Did social media engagement drive traffic to your site? If you create a specific landing page for visitors, track the traffic on that. If you give away digital assets such as downloadable PDFs, white papers or product sell sheets, track that.
  9. Finally, track the ROI. To calculate the ROI, divide the gross profit minus the cost of the show by the cost of the show. It will look like this:

ROI = (Gross Profit – Cost of the show) / Cost of the show.

For example, if it cost you $200,000 for the booth, travel, lodging, salaries, food, parties, transportation, etc., and you know that six months later the business generated as a direct result of the show was $359,000, you’d write the equation like this:

ROI = ($359,000 – $200,000) / $200,000

ROI = $159,000 / $200,000 = 79.5%

Measure as much as you can. You’ll be glad you did!

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Can’t-Miss Tradeshow Newsletters

Doesn’t every Tom, Joe and Susie have a newsletter these days? After all, they can be very useful in getting your message in front of eyeballs on a consistent basis.

Newsletter-logo

The fact is, my inbox is filled daily with dozens of newsletters of all sorts: news, marketing, comic strips, social media engagement, big biz, small biz, and so on.

I tend to open about one in ten if I’m in a generous mood. More like one in twenty or one in fifty. In other words, it’s hard to get my attention (or anybody’s) these days with just a newsletter. There’s got to be something in there that makes it worthwhile to click and open. And read.

But there are several newsletters that I read frequently. Some I open every single time right when I see it and stop what I’m doing. Others get put on the ‘later’ list and I usually make it back to them.

These are the tradeshow industry-related email newsletters that I read almost every time they arrive. I say almost because, hey, even I have to take a day off now and then! There are others out there – some are closed to the public and others don’t arrive frequently enough to warrant attention, and some I just don’t know about – but here are the tops in my book.

Exhibitor Magazine: a companion to their monthly print magazine, the newsletter is a useful and professional addition to your inbox.

TSNN: The Tradeshow News Network: between this and Exhibitor Magazine, you will have your pulse on the beat of the tradeshow industry news and happenings. Bonus: they have several editions available.

Classic Exhibits Tradeshow Tales: Mel and Kevin at Classic Exhibits in Portland, Oregon, offer great insight, humor and passion on a regular basis.

Andy Saks, Spark Presentations: Andy is a tradeshow presenter, Emcee, Staff Trainer and Auctioneer. In other words, he gets up in front of people. A lot. And his now-and-then newsletter is always a good read.

Anders Boulanger, the Infotainers: I enjoy this newsletter as much as any. Anders is a solid writer and communicator and always has thoughtful, meaty – and useful – pieces.

Marlys Arnold, Tradeshow Insights: Marly has been a show organizer and an exhibitor and comes at the topic from a unique perspective. A worthwhile read anytime.

Susan Friedmann, Tradeshow Tips: Susan is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) who has written many tradeshow related books and publishes a weekly tip sheet for exhibitors.

Skyline Tradeshow Tips: Friendly and useful, this newsletter doesn’t seem to show up a lot but when it does it’s good.

BONUS

Here are some non-related business/marketing/sales newsletters that I read all the time. I think you’ll love ’em:

Monday Morning Memo: Roy H. Williams of Austin, Texas, author of the Wizard of Ads and a former radio ad salesman, rings my Monday morning with a loud and clear bell every week. I look forward to this.

Sales Tips for the Aspiring Rock Star: Paul Castain, sales trainer and marketing enthusiast is always a fun read.

Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body, publishes a newsletter every Friday (and at other random times) of stuff that has caught his eye. Good stuff.

Dave Pell’s Next Draft, billed as ‘The Day’s Most Fascinating News,’ is all of that and more.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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