To limit this year-end list to just five biz bloggers doesn’t do justice to the dozens – hundreds, really – of other business bloggers. But these five have always enlightened me, entertained me and yes, informed me with cutting edge material. Good stuff.
Seth Godin – long considered the granddaddy of permission marketing, Seth Godin’s blog is deceptively simple. Short and thoughtful posts are the rule, with few exceptions.
David Meerman Scott – David went from a corporate type to speaking and writing about social media and PR. He’s given his books away as free PDF downloads, which has garnered him attention, speaking gigs and a pretty good career.
Chris Brogan – “Learn how human business works.” I don’t get to Chris’s blog as often as I’d like, but when I do, something tasty is always waiting there for me.
Brian Solis – “defining the convergence of media and influence.” Brian has been blogging since before it was called blogging. Known as a thought-leader in the business and social media world.
Jeff Bullas – leading commentary on social media and how it affects your company.
What is there to love about tradeshow marketing? After all, it’s expensive, it’s hard work and you have to travel and set up stuff. And then stand for hours a day talking to hundreds or thousands of people. And then tear it down, pack it up and head home.
So what’s to love? Let’s count the ways…
Opportunity: a tradeshow is a great opportunity to meet people who, in most cases, have PAID to be there and WANT to see what you’re showing off.
Learning: when you’re attending a tradeshow you’re going to be exposed to hundreds of new products and service offerings in your industry.
Competition: while the booth across the aisle may be competing with you, it’s easy to feel a kinship with him. After all, they’re in the same boat as you: trying to keep their business going and thriving. By sharing stories and getting to know each other, you can connect better to the community that you all share.
Travel: If you don’t like to travel, scratch this from your list. But if you do, getting on the road for several days is always great – if for nothing more than a change of pace.
Challenge: the simple challenge of putting your best foot forward at a tradeshow amidst all of the other exhibits is unlike other marketing challenges.
Challenge 2.0: If you approach the next tradeshow as a personal challenge, see how well you can do in your sales, your presentation skills, listening, answering questions. There’s a lot to learn about your interpersonal skills engagement on the tradeshow floor.
Opportunity 2.0: At a tradeshow you have access – if only for a few moments – to CEO’s company presidents, marketing managers, etc., any of whom can open great doors for you if make a good connection. So…how can you make a connection?
Market Research: Your booth visitors are a great source of information – if only you ask. Do a survey, hand out questionnaires, have people demo new beta products so you can get in a little product testing while pitching your newest stuff.
After Hours: Whether you’re in Vegas, New Orleans, Anaheim or Buffalo, there’s always a new place you can check out after the show. Take a client, get to know a colleague a little better. After hours at a tradeshow is a great opportunity for deepening relationships. And, uh, y’know…for having some damn FUN!
What can you add to the list? What do you love about tradeshow marketing?
Bored at the tradeshow? Here’s a list of things to do that will lively up your experience!
I remember in my early days in radio a record promoter once told me that she loved my enthusiasm and willingness to drive 50 miles to see an unknown band that she was promoting. “So many of the other music directors I talk to are getting jaded…”
Whether you’re an exhibit or an attendee and you’ve been doing it for a long time, you might ask yourself: Am I Getting JADED?
Next time you’re at a tradeshow, take this list with you. Maybe by doing a few of these things it’ll help break you out of a rut (okay…some of these will take a little more preparation and execution before the show…but use ’em as inspirational thought-starters if nothing else).
Before leaving your office spend some time on Twitter compiling a list of people at the show that are Tweeters. Make a list of who they are and what booth they’re at. Stop by the booth and tell them you found ‘em on Twitter.
Draw attention to yourself and your company. If appropriate, wear a goofy hat, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, Homer Simpson slippers. Anything unusual is a conversation starter.
Pick up literature from as many booths as possible. Read it that night in your hotel. Make notes about questions you’d like to ask. Go back to the booth and ask.
Take a Flip video camera and ask visitors to explain why they stopped by your booth. Or take it around the floor on your break and get a few comments from other exhibitors about the show and what their experience is at the show.
Take a camera. Take lots of photos. If you see a cool booth, ask permission for a photo first. If you connect with someone via Facebook or Twitter, be sure to take their photo and post it online.
Bring chocolates and instead of putting them in a bowl at your booth, hand them out as you go from booth to booth to other exhibitors. Tape your business card onto the chocolates.
Buy a half-dozen thumb drives and put your company information – brochures, current press releases, catalogs, website, etc. – on it and have it ready to hand out to a few well-qualified media contacts or potential clients.
Sit down with a professional radio person (!), have them interview you about your company. Create an audio CD with a nice label and title such as “All You Ever Wanted to Know About XYZ Company” or “The Inner Secrets of the XYZ Company Widget” and make a couple of dozen copies. Put a label on them that says “limited edition” and make sure that you qualify anyone you give them to.
If you typically don’t go to seminars, pick at least two and go to them. If you typically attend seminars, find one with an unusual title that you might not attend and go to it.
Make a note immediately on any business card you collect from a person (not a card you just picked up from a table). Write down a pertinent part of the conversation, a future follow-up or an item that will make you remember them. By the time you get back to your hotel, you’ll have forgotten what they even look like.
Are you typically a bit shy? Break that habit. Talk to people in buffet lines, restaurants, elevators. Come up with a few questions you can ask to break the ice. Have fun: these people don’t know you’re shy!
If you typically spend the day working the booth and greeting visitors, arrange your schedule so you get at least an hour or two to walk the show floor and schmooze with other exhibitors, especially those that might be potential partners and those that you would consider competitors.
Talk to a show organizer and ask her how this show compares to previous years…or find some other topic of conversation.
Bring three times as many business cards as you think you might need.
Go to the city’s visitor center and see what kinds of fun things you can do in your off-hours.
See how many booths you can walk by before a booth staffer invites you in.
Look up old friends in the event city using Facebook or Twitter and connect with them.
Smile at everyone. Even if they aren’t smiling at you.
Have a contest with fellow staffers to see if you can get visitors to say the magic word of the day. Those of us old enough might even remember this came from Groucho Marx’s ‘You Bet Your Life.’
Take notes about how much food costs. Hot dog and coke – $14!? Compare notes with fellow staffers. Boo and hiss the high prices.
Ask other exhibitors what they paid for drayage and shipping. Compare notes.
See if you can set up your booth before your neighbor.
Go a whole day without eating restaurant food by taking food snacks such as energy bars, fruit, trail mix, etc.
Bring a small white board. Write a Haiku poem about your company or product on it. Invite your visitors to add their Haiku.
Practice Extreme Customer Service. As if you were a Disney employee.
If the speaker at your seminar or breakout session is boring, create a game where you write down every word he says that begins with the letter M. Or T. Or draw a cartoon of the speaker. Post it on Twitter.
Ask other visitors what they do for fun. Take notes and incorporate their ideas into yours.
What ideas do you have to break those long days into more fun? Share!
In the old days it seemed a tradeshow was an excuse to party half the night and wake up in the hot tub.
But with an eagle on budgets being the norm today, how can you stretch your bucks? Let’s look at five ways:
Plan ahead. The sooner you know details of your show set-up and travel plans the better. You can usually save by submitting show paperwork early, and booking flights and hotels months, not weeks, ahead of the show.
Buy a nice carpet and take your own trash cans instead of renting
Know the rules. Some shows will enforce codes that can be very costly, or penalize you if you break them. Your trade show manager should have the show books nearly committed to memory.
Ship early. Last-minute drayage costs can shoot the moon.
Avoid high cleaning fees: take your own carpet sweeper.
These are just thought-starters. What ideas do you have for saving $$ in your tradeshow marketing? We’d love to hear your suggestions.