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

Marketing

Tradeshows Aren’t Magic

When was the last time you saw a card trick? I mean, a good card trick where you were left scratching your head about how the heck the magician did that? You immediately want to know how it was done, right? But no, you never see that. Not really. A good magician works his magic and all you see is the result: the reveal.

If someone showed you how it was done, the magic of it sort of vanishes – poof! – right?
One of the emails I get is from a site called Penguin Magic. It seems like nearly every day they send out a video of a trick of some sort, and they’re offering to sell you the trick so that you can practice it and show it off to your friends and family.

I don’t have a big desire to be a magician and learn card tricks well enough to show them off (maybe I’m too busy writing novels and songs and other stuff in my limited spare time), but the concept of lifting the curtain to see how a trick is done is intriguing. But not enough to spend the time to practice card tricks.

When it comes to tradeshow marketing, there’s no magic involved, except to the visitor, and perhaps to only a few of them. First-time tradeshow visitors (and every tradeshow has its share of first-timers) might not fully understand what’s going on. They don’t know exactly how the exhibits get set up, although they can surmise that if they want. They don’t see all of the planning and organization and rushing and graphic layout and production and teeth-gnashing when deadlines get pushed and rush fees are instituted.

All they see is your booth, in all its glory (or not). They only see your staff. They don’t see what training, if any, that staff did prior to the show to know how to greet visitors, how to ask the right questions, how to discern between the prospects and the tire-kickers.

All they see is the result. They see the reveal.

The Perfect Tradeshow Experience

Yes, we’ve heard it a hundred time: perfect is the enemy of good. But what would a perfect tradeshow experience really look like – if you could make it happen?

From your perspective – the exhibit tradeshow manager or staff member – it might look like something like this:

  • Fair prices for booth space rental, material handling, shipping and other show services such as installation/dismantle, cleaning, etc.
  • Getting a nearby hotel, within walking distance, at a good price.
  • Twice as many leads as you had planned for and/or more sales than you anticipated.
  • Tradeshow exhibit getting plenty of compliments from visitors, maybe even recognition from the show itself with some sort of award. Graphics looked terrific, booth was always clean and presentable.

All of that would be great, right? Maybe not perfect, but as close as you can get.

But let’s flip the script and ask the question: what would be a perfect tradeshow experience for your visitors? Yeah, the people that come to the show – and to your booth – to learn about new products and services and hopefully find the right one that suits them to a T.

  • Immediate recognition by a booth staffer when you walk into the booth: a smile and a good opening question that engages them on a topic that is relatable to their specific situation regarding your product or service.
  • The visitor would feel like a welcome guest in your booth. After all, you’ve hired the best people and trained them well, so they know how to properly welcome visitors.
  • Good follow-up questions from the staffer. Perhaps even a product sample if appropriate.
  • Collection of contact information: no more and no less than what is needed for a timely follow-up.
  • Their visit to your booth was useful to them but didn’t end up being cut off or taking too long. After all, they have other booths they want to visit.
  • The follow-up was exactly as promised: on the day and time it was planned, and it happened like it was intended, whether an in-person visit, a phone call, an email, or a follow-up piece of mail with a sample or brochure or another promised piece.
  • Based on their visit, the prospect decided that your company was indeed exactly what they were looking for and feel that the business relationship is just starting and, assuming all continues to go well, will continue for years.

Now that you know what a perfect tradeshow experience might feel like from the attendees walking into your booth, what will it take to pull that off, again and again?

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 9, 2021: Drew Alcazar

In a timely chat, Russo and Steele CEO Drew Alcazar shares what it’s like to buy or sell a classic car at an auction. For years, I’ve attended car auctions in Monterey during Historic auto week. But I’ve been there only as a spectator, not as a buyer or seller. This year’s event is only a few days away – the week leading up to August 15th – and includes historic auto races, the Pebble Beach concourse d’elegance, and several car auctions.

For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning, I was curious to see what made the car auction part of the event tick:

Find Russo and Steele here.

Learn more about Monterey’s Historic Auto week here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Andy Weir‘s “Project Hail Mary.”

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 2, 2021: Dr. Stevie Dawn

Challenging times means people in positions of leadership are being asked to step up and provide solid guidance for those that look up to them. In this week’s episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I got to connect with Dr. Stevie Dawn, a speaker, executive coach and lover of sharks (just listen to find out why).

 
 
 

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The new Jackson Brown album, Downhill From Everywhere (click to stream on Spotify).

The “If I Get Hit By a Bus” List for Tradeshow Marketing Managers

I tend to make a lot of lists. Not as many as I used to (maybe I think I have enough lists by now!), but I still write things down. You’d think this makes me organized, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Several years ago, not long after I got married, I sat down and wrote out a comprehensive emergency “If I Get Hit By a Bus” list. It’s self-explanatory: it’s where my wife can find all of those things she needs if the worst were to happen: passwords for phones, computers, websites and more; will, important papers, all of that stuff.

I realized over the weekend that I should probably update the list soon because things change. Some old info drops off, new stuff is added. But then I thought: should tradeshow managers do the same thing? After all, there are a lot of moving parts in tradeshow marketing.

Hey, life is unpredictable. Things happen that you haven’t planned for. Most of us really don’t spend much time thinking about the worst thing that could happen. And subsequently, that means we really aren’t prepared for it, at least not as much as we could be.

What should be on your list? It may vary from person to person, and company to company, but here are a number of things that come to mind:

  • List of shows: Include booth sizes, dates, locations.
  • Vendors: who handles your exhibit; who designs graphic updates, who prints them? Who fixes your exhibit when it needs repairs?
  • Service providers at the show: while many companies use show services at the venue, many also bring in outside exhibitor-approved contractors to set up and dismantle the booth. Or print something on demand in a quick turnaround.
  • Personnel: Who went to what shows, what their duties were. Who’s still with you, who might have left. Contact information.
  • Where files are kept: tradeshows generate paperwork, either digitally or actual paper. If they’re kept on a server, note the location. Same with your work computer. Same with your file drawers.
  • How much things cost: similar to keeping track of paperwork, but building a spreadsheet to track costs from show to show and year to year can also be of great use.
  • Exhibit details: size of booth at particular shows. Size of graphics (you’ll be updating them frequently); number of crates, storage location, what shipper you generally use, along with contact information on those various entities. Names and phone numbers are always a good thing.
  • Social Media access credentials: whether you handle these personally or not, if you’re involved or if there is to be social media engagement from the show floor, add those login details to your list.

Once you have your list, give a copy to your immediate boss, or to someone on your team you trust that will use it if necessary. You should be good to go for another year or so before updating it.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, July 5, 2021: Andy Saks

One way to learn how tradeshows are progressing in this soon-to-come post-pandemic era is to walk the floor of a major show in Las Vegas and observe. If you can’t yet, the second-best thing is to talk to someone who did just that. And that’s what we’re doing on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. I spoke with Andy Saks of Spark Presentations, who walked the floor at last month’s World of Concrete to find out how a big tradeshow in Las Vegas dealt with the relaxed safety protocols:

Find Spark Presentations here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The last season of BOSCH on Prime Video.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, June 21, 2021: Quinn Zsido

Even though the pandemic is supposedly waning, events, conferences and tradeshows are still dealing with how to handle crowds in a pandemic era. Here comes Crowdpass, with a unique look at the situation and how they’re looking to handle it digitally. I caught up with Marketing Director Quinn Zsido to go over their approach:

Find CrowdPass here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: MacProVideo.com.

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