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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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: May 1, 2017: John Halvorson Interview [video and podcast]

Yes, I tried to play back the recorded interview on Facebook but for whatever reason it wasn’t working. Still more research and practicing to make it work. But in the meantime, all the content is here!

Got a chance to chat with John Halvorson of Transgroup Global Logistics this week for the vlog/podcast. John was a great interview, unloading lots of great information on the ups and downs and back and forths of tradeshow shipping. Give a listen or take a look on either the audio podcast version below or the video version.

 

Preparing for your 2017 Tradeshow Schedule

Yes, it’s upon us – 2017 – have you planned your new year tradeshow schedule? Chances are you’re at least planning a few months into the new year, but have you detailed out the entire year?

Tradeshow planning, as any tradeshow coordinator will tell you, is the key to success. And since there’s a lot to planning, it makes sense to spend a lot of your time making plans, checking plans and then double-checking.

Start with your tradeshow schedule. What shows are you going to? Make a master list of the dates of the shows.

Size of exhibit. Note the size of booth space your company has committed to rent at the various shows.

Break it down. Now start breaking out the various products and services that you’re promoting at each show. Chances are those items will change depending on the audience that’s expected at each show.

From there, you can start breaking out the graphics messaging, sampling needs if any, demos desired at each show and so forth. Break out the details as far as you can at this point; you’ll need to break them down further at some point anyway.

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Now you can start determining how many people will be required at each show based on booth size and expected visitors. From this you can figure out what staff members will likely be tasked with working the show.

Beyond this, you can compile website URLs and contact information for all of the shows. Pull up previous year’s paperwork to compare to pricing and floor plan and booth location to what is happening this year.

From this you can compare costs and leads generated, perhaps going so far as to compile the number of new clients or sales generated from 2016 show appearances.

Once you’ve put down most of the broad strokes and details of your shows and booth rental spaces and so on, you can start the task of determining what, if anything, might be changed or added to your current booth properties. Is your exhibit in good shape, or does it need an upgrade of some sort? Or is this the year you’ve decided to invest in a brand new exhibit? That’s another task entirely, but it would be part of your yearly tradeshow schedule planning.

While this is really just a 30,000 foot view of the process, once you put this all together, the real fun begins of breaking out each element of each show and making them work successfully.


Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

3 Extraordinarily Useful Tradeshow Infographics

Tradeshow Infographics, like any infographic, serve a very useful purpose. They give you a way to visually digest information that might otherwise be a little more difficult to grasp or understand. But an infographic, if done well, gives a reader a quick look as well as a chance to dig deeper into a topic.

With that said, we ran across three tradeshow infographics that illuminate areas of tradeshow marketing that anyone in the industry can easily use. Let’s stack them up.

The first comes courtesy the Northwest Creative Imaging Blog, with best practices for tradeshow booth design. Maybe more directed at the folks who actually design and assemble the booth, but certainly any tradeshow manager in charge of a new booth can appreciate the ideas contained here.

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Up next is a look at 6 Things to Do Before Your Next Tradeshow, thanks to Discover Infographics:

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And finally, from marketing expert and blogmaster Brandon Gaille, we look at Tradeshow Booth Etiquette:

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Tradeshow Record Keeping [Webinar Replay]

Tradeshow record keeping. Yikes! Who wants to keep track of everything.

Record keeping is one of those things that most of us wish we didn’t have to do, – we know it’s tedious – but know we really should do. So how much should we keep, what should we keep, where is the best place to keep it, and WHY?

Tim Patterson discusses tradeshow record keeping in this brief but informative webinar:

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.

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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!

 

Tradeshow Exhibiting Questions (and Answers!)

Sometimes I get tradeshow exhibiting questions. Well, frankly, I get a lot of questions. Some of them are even about tradeshow marketing! It’s worth seeing what people are asking, as well as what they’re thinking but not asking (I think!).

Q. Are tradeshows really worth attending?
A. The answer is: it depends! It depends on a variety of factors. Where to start? Let’s say that on average, companies spend about a third of their yearly marketing budgets on tradeshows, so there is definitely a lot of money ending up promoting products and services via tradeshow marketing. To get the most bang for your buck, do your due diligence by making sure you’re at the right show(s), with a good-looking and effective booth and well-trained and prepared staff.

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Beyond that there are so many variables you could write a book about it. Well, actually, I did.

Q: How do I know what kind of booth to get or what size?
A. While this is generally dictated by budget constraints, other factors come in to play, such as the size of the show (exhibitors and attendance figures are important to have), what competitors will be at the show and how important a particular show is to your overall tradeshow schedule. Sometimes a small 10×10 booth does a great job representing your company with only a few staffers. Other shows may dictate that you consider stepping up your presence. Lots of exhibitors that show up year after year at shows that are beneficial and help them build their businesses will continually invest in larger booths to make a bigger impression at the show. And when it comes to tradeshows, more than any other kind of marketing, perception is critical!

Q: Graphics are a big challenge for us. What’s the best way to approach this subject?
A. Graphics are critical to the success of your booth, so it makes sense to get the most effective design and use the highest quality. Design is critical in that your design should be striking, compelling and simple. Putting too much into a design means that people will not stop to digest it. Large images, bold text, compelling questions or bold statements are all ways to get effective graphics on to your booth. And be sure to work with someone who’s used to creating the large-format, high-resolution graphics that are necessary for effective tradeshow graphics. And work with a production facility that does high-quality production.

Q. Even with a big booth in a good location and a great product, we’re still coming up short of the amount of leads we feel we should be generating. What else should I consider?
A. A few areas to look at: booth staff competency. Are they properly trained on how to handle visitors in a tradeshow? Also, do you have any interactivity in your booth? That might be something that a visitor can put their hands on, which takes them a few moments during which you can then uncover information to qualify or disqualify them. Finally, you might consider hiring a professional presenter. A good one is worth their weight in gold in the amount of leads they can generate.

Q. I’ve never exhibited before. We know it’s important to make our presence known at some very targeted shows. What’s the best way to start?
A. Talk with a professional who can walk you through your various options. These depend on budget, of course, but you’ll want to compare renting vs. buying; custom vs. modular or system booth and go over which shows are really a good fit for you. From there you can talk about how best to show off your product or service, how many people to take to the show and what kind of lead generation tools you might want to consider using.

Q. Tradeshows are expensive. What are some good ways to cut costs?
A. Yes, they can be expensive! But you can find ways to keep costs down. You can look at cutting exhibit costs by not using hanging signs (expensive to hang), using a modular booth vs. custom, using reusable packaging material, not having extra boxes shipped to the floor (drives up drayage cost) and much more. For a very thorough list, I’d recommend you take about 45 minutes and watch Mel White’s recent webinar with Handshake on 25 Ways to Cut Costs at Your Next Tradeshow. It’s well worth your time.

Got more questions? Let me know!

7 Things to Do Immediately After You Get Back from the Tradeshow

Once the tradeshow is over, it’s easy to let a few things slide because, after all, you’ve been working your fanny off for 12 or 14 hours a day for several days straight! But if your tradeshow followup can manage to do just a few things prior to taking that five minute well-deserved rest, here’s where to start:

  1. Make sure the leads are delivered to the sales crew. Depending on the size of your operation this may be hundreds of leads and 10 or more sales people, but it might be a lot less. Make sure the leads have good contact info, and correct follow up info (who gets what and when), and make sure they’re graded in terms of importance and urgency.
  2. Check the booth crate(s). It’s easy to let this step slide, because the crate may not get back for days, or even weeks. But take a half a day or whatever time you need, make sure the crates were packed properly, make sure all items are there and in good shape. Make a list of what’s missing and what needs repair before the next show.
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    Compile and file all of your reports: travel expenses, products sold, samples given away, booth personnel, comments from the staff, costs of the show, and so on.

  4. Gather photos and videos. These could be useful for social media, your company blog, and checking to make sure that the booth is in good repair, or to document damage.
  5. Gather any social media, media or PR stats. How many tweets and Facebook posts went up during the show? How many retweets or interaction? How many videos were posted on YouTube and how many views did they gather?
  6. Give a report to the boss. Not only will this show them the overall results, it’ll help justify your position (if it needs to be justified). Added benefits include having that information spread throughout the marketing team and management, show trends from show to show, and give you a go-to place for questions about the booth, shows or anything related.
  7. NOW take that break!

Renting Furniture: Good Idea?

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With a multitude of moving parts in tradeshow exhibits, where does furniture play a part in your booth? Do you purchase chairs and tables and ship them with your booth? Or do you simply rent furniture each time you exhibit?

There’s no single right ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. Life isn’t that way, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately)! Nope, in fact it might be that your exhibiting needs change drastically from show to show, and you have to rent sometimes and other times it makes sense to ship furniture.

So how often to exhibitors actually rent furniture? Surprisingly, it’s over half, according to several I&D companies that were queried at an April event. In fact, it was close to 75% to 90%! So if you’re currently NOT renting furniture, you’re likely one of the few that are either shipping it in your booth crates, or having your clients and staffers stand the entire show. Whew!

The cost of renting furniture can add up, we know. In fact, if you’re new to furniture rental, you might be shocked to see that it will often cost more to rent a nice chair or table than it is to buy. And if it doesn’t cost more, it will likely cost close to the purchase amount. But if you calculate the cost of shipping, drayage, return shipping and storage of the furniture, the cost continues to increase. And even if you own the furniture, you’ll have to replace it at some point due to damage and wear and tear. So how much does it really cost? Unfortunately, tradeshow exhibits – including furniture – take a beating and often have to replaced or repaired frequently. So your cost of owning keeps going up.

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With furniture rental, you are paying not only for the cost of the furniture, which rental companies go to great lengths to make sure are in excellent shape (otherwise they’ll lose customers), your cost typically includes shipping and drayage. So that $300 for a chair is a one-time cost that means it’ll show up at your booth and will vanish once the show is over – all coordinated by show services or your tradeshow coordination company.

TradeshowGuy Exhibits Exhibit Design Search recently added a new strategic partner: Cort Furniture. Here is where you’ll find virtually any furniture item that you’d ever need in a tradeshow booth, from plants to stanchions, from small refrigerators to tablet stands, from bar tables and stools to luxury office chairs and ottomans and much more. And the prices are very competitive, so if you’re looking to rent a furniture item for your next show, just review the selection here and see what works for you.

Care and Feeding of Tradeshow Exhibits

You bought a new tradeshow exhibit. You took it to the show, set it up to great fanfare and response, then packed it up and took it back to the office. Now what? Will you wait until the next show, pull it out and think it’ll look exactly the same as the first time?

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Hardly. Unfortunately, tradeshow exhibits are not like the common household items, such as a recliner, TV set or backyard patio table and umbrella. With those items, you can see any rip that needs repaired or gouge that should be covered or food spill that needs cleaning. Nope, a tradeshow exhibit is handled roughly for most of the time it sees daylight. It’s pulled from crates, assembled, used, abused, battered and more prior to being crammed back in the crate by employees who are in a hurry and are thinking ahead to what they can do later in the day. Sometimes a forklift and a tradeshow panel will have a close encounter. Other times an aluminum strut gets a big gouge from who-knows-where.

So how is the best way to handle it?

Cleaning

The first step is to realize that simply, the purchase of a tradeshow exhibit means that you are also responsible for its care and feeding. Much like a pet or child, you have much more responsibility than just making the purchase.

Tradeshow exhibits need care and feeding. To wit, start with each time the tradeshow exhibit is set up. Document the set up with photographs and notes if necessary. Point out areas that are damaged and need repair, or need cleaning. Most exhibits will need some sort of cleaning after each show, especially if you’re in the food industry and have been handing out samples. Take soap and water, scrub counters and shelves and let dry.

Damage Assessment

Once the tradeshow exhibit crates come back, schedule time to open the crates and go through each piece. Again, document the state of the items, and document the way the crates were packed, comparing to the way they were originally packed at the exhibit house, or prior to shipping from your warehouse. In any event, the more you are aware of what shape your exhibit is in, the better off you are.

Does the exhibit need repairs? If so, determine what type of repairs it needs and who will do it. Clients we’ve worked with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have approached this issue in a couple of ways: some will ship the crates straight to the exhibit house to have it closely examined every three or four shows. Others will make sure they spend time a month or so prior to an upcoming show to pull the exhibit pieces out of the booth and set it up. If it needs repair, and they’re capable of making those repairs, they’ll do it. Sometimes they’ll need to order a specific part or two from their exhibit house that originally fabricated the booth, but often it means doing it themselves.

Storage

How is your exhibit stored? It should ideally be stored in a warehouse that has a consistent temperature, is dry and pest-free. This avoids damage from the changing temperatures, mildew and insects.

Professional I&D and Shipping

Another way to keep your exhibit in top form is to have it handled by professionals who know what they’re doing. This means having it set up and disassembled by professionals, and having it shipped by companies that are used to handling tradeshow freight.

Graphics and more

Other parts of care and feeding of your tradeshow exhibit include making sure all graphics are up to date and fit properly, making sure all the pieces of the booth are returned and in good shape, and making sure the crates are still sturdy and stable enough to endure another shipment.

By taking complete ownership of your tradeshow exhibit, you’ll not only get more life out of your exhibit in terms of years that you are able to use it for tradeshow promotions, you’ll save money by avoiding large repairs due to neglect.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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