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

Marketing

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, October 19, 2020: Anders Boulanger

There are hundreds of thousands of event, tradeshow, and conference-related jobs that have gone by the wayside, at least temporarily, while the pandemic sidelines all of those shows. But of all of those jobs, it would seem that if any type of job could find a way forward, it would be the creative types. The writers, speakers, performers. After all, even though they’d love to have an in-person audience, it’s not that hard to translate what they do to a screen. Whether it’s a Zoom show, a webinar, or a pre-recorded bit, performers and entertainers, such as the Infotainers supplied by Anders Boulanger’s Engagify company are doing their best to stay busy. I spoke with Anders for this week’s interview:

Find Engagify and the Infotainers here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth collection, released October 9, 2020, which would have been Lennon’s 80th birthday.


Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

Tradeshows and Events Will Return, But When?

In March and April of this year, when tradeshow organizers realized the gravity of the pandemic and how it would be affecting upcoming shows, many of them “postponed” the shows. I say “postponed” in quotes because many believed that whatever issues the COVID-19 pandemic caused; things would be back to normal in a few months.

For example, I happened to be on an airplane waiting to take off from Portland on the morning of March 2, when the email came in: Natural Products Expo West was off, postponed TFN. In the next few weeks, an effort was made to reschedule the show for early summer. Then the pandemic got worse. The show was canceled for good.

The organizers tried to focus on Natural Products Expo East in September. Nope, that fell by the wayside as well. As did CES, NAB, and many other shows. Some shows went virtual, others hoped for the best for a live show sometime next year.

Now Natural Products Expo West has moved the 2021 show from early March to late May of next year. Anyone willing to lay money on the show actually taking place?

In random conversations and email exchanges, and in seeing some survey results, the tradeshow and event industry has a wide range of opinions on when things might get back to “normal,” yes, in quotes, because we don’t know what normal will look like again, or when. Some companies are working remotely, hoping to get back to the office by the beginning of 2021. Others are putting it off until the third or fourth quarter of 2021.

In early September, Exhibitor Magazine revealed some data based on surveys of tradeshow world suppliers and exhibitors. For example, 2/3 of those surveyed said it was unlikely, probably wouldn’t, or definitely wouldn’t return to shows rescheduled for 2020.

Company travel restrictions will still be in place at most companies into 2021. Lots of data there, and I’ll give you one more interesting tidbit: the later in the year the question was asked, the further companies pushed their plans back. In early September, most companies were looking at the second or third quarter of 2021 before they thought they’d be back on the tradeshow floor. View the full presentation here; it’s worth a look.

I mentioned on my podcast this week that the live music and entertainment industry is also severely impacted. Musicians, tech workers, roadies, support staff and more have been mostly idled. Think of entertainers on cruise ships, or in Cirque du Soleil (which has filed for bankruptcy), along with concert tours, jazz festivals, country fairs, art fairs, and more.

I believe we all know how bad it is and have a feeling it’ll continue for much longer than we ever thought it would, when the pandemic first came around.

Over the past few months, I have been thinking that once we get back to, let’s say 75 or 85% or “normal,” companies would start busting loose with big budgets and there would be lots of new projects and work for exhibit companies and related logistical support companies.

Now I’m not so sure. My gut feeling is that because this is going to keep going until deep into 2021, companies will be very hesitant to spend money and will be more than willing to just do modest changes on their current exhibit properties instead of investing in something new. I have nothing to base that on and hope I’m wrong.

And finally, when it comes to Virtual shows or tradeshow exhibits, my sense is that it has to really make sense for the company for them to invest in something like that: they need it only if they can use it a dozen or more times in the next year or so, and they strongly believe it will get them more good leads at a better cost-per-lead than traditional exhibiting. The jury is still out on that.


TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, October 12, 2020: Natasha Miller

What happens when your business needs a quick pivot to survive? Not all companies have been able to do that successfully. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning, I chat with Entire Productions’ CEO Natasha Miller about how they made the switch to virtual events in a big way.

Find Entire Productions here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Season Six of the Emmy-winning Schitt’s Creek finds its way to Netflix. Finally!


Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

16 Things You Can Do in a Virtual Tradeshow Exhibit

The use of virtual tradeshow exhibits may not be exploding, although my sense is that it is increasing. Some big tradeshows have gone completely virtual for the next year or so, maybe longer, depending on the depth and breadth of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Which leaves exhibitors in a bit of a quandary: what to do about virtual exhibits. Should you invest in one? Should you just wait out the pandemic and hope you can get back to live tradeshows in the next six to twelve months?

And if you are seriously considering a virtual exhibit, it’s important to consider all of the various things you can do in the exhibit. I’ve seen a few virtual exhibits lately, and there is a wide variety in the approach. Some exhibitors have chosen the simple, let’s-keep-the-cost-down approach. Others have tried to throw everything in but the kitchen sink.

As an aside, one exhibit maker I spoke with recently said that a recent client of theirs did a virtual exhibit and found that at the virtual tradeshow, they experienced a 700% increase in leads for a fraction of the cost of appearing at a live show. My eyes opened at that stat, and while it’s impressive, it’s likely not going to be a common experience for every virtual exhibitor. But it does demonstrate that there is a lot of potential in virtual tradeshows if you plan ane execute well.

Having said that, there are a number of ways to get engagement at virtual tradeshows. The first is crucial: make sure that potential visitors know about your virtual tradeshow exhibit so that they are prepared, put it on their calendar, and have expectations.

The second is to build the expectations and prepare for them by putting specific things in your virtual tradeshow booth that visitors want. Things they’ll respond to, interact with, and share with others.

From that starting point, the question remains: what should be in your virtual exhibit? There are many answers, and your company’s specific needs should help frame the answer. Here are a lot of the things, perhaps not all, that could go into your exhibit. Keep in mind that each piece will add to your overall cost, much like a 3D real world exhibit, and that each piece of content, such as videos or white papers or PDF reports, all will take time and money to create. Before finalizing your plan, create a budget based on all of the pieces you think are necessary to make your virtual tradeshow booth a success.

Here are a number of things you can and should consider:

  1. Product Demos
  2. A place to collect visitor’s contact information
  3. Download Center (PDFs, coupons, sales sheets, special reports, etc.)
  4. Archived video
  5. Live stream video
  6. Live chat
  7. Booth tour
  8. Schedule a meeting
  9. Learn about your company
  10. Learn about new products
  11. Give people the ability to share things on social media
  12. Steer people to your social media outlets
  13. Leave an audio or video message

No doubt if you put your mind to it, you can come up with more. What am I missing?


14 Dumb Things Tradeshow Exhibitors Do: Video

Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.


What to do Now That the Tradeshow World is on Hold

I’ve certainly blogged about this topic before. But things change, inside your company and outside in the events and tradeshow world. So I think it behooves any tradeshow manager to keep their eyes up and take note of changes in the exhibiting landscape. Here are few things rattling around in my brain:

Be aware of how other shows are unfolding in other countries. How are they dealing with protecting their exhibitors and visitors? It’s easy enough to find information on LinkedIn, especially if you follow fellow industry exhibitors. I see this type of information shared frequently and learned that a very large show was held in Europe lately. This means in some parts of the world, things are getting back to normal.

Know what’s happening with the shows you normally exhibit at. Are they planning to be all virtual next time around? Or do they have firm plans to be back in action at the convention center or hall where they usually have the show? Or maybe the third option: they just don’t know. The local convention center here in Salem is closed until further notice, but they have several groups on long-term contracts that want to come back once it’s okay. Some have smaller gatherings of less than a hundred (which might be okay under today’s guidelines); others expect hundreds, maybe more than a thousand. At this point, it’s hard to know when gatherings that large will be allowed.

Different states have different statuses. California, Nevada, Chicago, DC, NYC. They’re all different and all have different plans for getting back to larger shows. It may not make sense to spend a lot of time digging into each state’s specific plans, but just to be aware that what brings back large shows in Nevada may not be the same that brings them back in NYC or Chicago.

If your company goes to several shows a year, large, medium and small, would it make sense to have a ready-made virtual exhibit that can easily be adapted to fit the requirements of each show? Virtual exhibits are getting more popular, especially when exhibitors and show organizers have the understanding that even when (if) things return to “normal,” virtual exhibits can and probably will be a part of the marketing mix. Learn more about virtual exhibit in this Kevin Carty podcast interview, this Exhibitor Magazine webinar replay which includes a walk-through of the Canon virtual exhibit, and this blog post on what questions might come up around moving forward with a virtual exhibit.

Another thing to keep abreast of is how exhibitors and attendees are feeling about getting back to live events. This piece from TSNN indicates a majority of people are ready to get back on the exhibiting floor.

Yes, things are moving forward. Sometimes we feel it’s at a snail’s pace, but even incremental movement is critical. I suspect at some point, you’ll look up and find that you’re booking travel plans and signing exhibiting contracts and planning exhibit updates.


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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, September 21, 2020: Kevin Carty – Virtual Exhibits

I’ve had Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits on a handful of times this year for various discussions related to dealing with the COVID Pandemic, how they’re dealing with it and more. But this week I wanted to catch up with Kevin to learn more about virtual exhibits: how they’re working their way into designing and implementing exhibits for clients, and how exhibitors can think about and approach a possible virtual exhibit for their own use:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Rain. Sorely needed here on the west coast with all the forest fires still burning. We got a good dose of rain late last week and while it didn’t put the fires out, it gave firefighters a good helping hand.


Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, September 14, 2020: Jason Graham-Nye

One of the first clients I managed to snare in my early days in the tradeshow world came when I cold-called a Portland-based company called gDiapers. It took awhile, maybe a few months, but we ended up designing and fabricating two tradeshow exhibits for them. At one point five or six years ago, they decided to stop exhibiting at tradeshows and focus on other marketing efforts.

I wanted to catch up with gDiapers CEO Jason Graham-Nye to see what he and the company have been up to lately. I know Jason moved his family back home to Australia five years ago from Portland, which meant changes for the company as well.

Little did I know what kind of adventures he and his team got up do, especially once the coronavirus hit. I hope you enjoy the conversation – I sure did:

Check out gDiapers.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The return of the NFL.


Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

Pandemic SWOT Analysis

You’re familiar with a SWOT Analysis, I presume?

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Year ago, I wrote a brief article on doing a tradeshow marketing SWOT Analysis, which would be a bit different from a more general SWOT Analysis.

But now that we’re in a pandemic created by the COVID-19, how would you approach doing a SWOT Analysis and is it worth doing?

Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

I would argue that while a formal SWOT is probably unnecessary, it’s not a bad idea to at least examine some of the changes the pandemic has wrought, to see what obvious and perhaps significant changes your company is facing.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

How are you positioned in the marketplace? Do you have new products about to launch? How are you perceived by your customers and clientele? Are you doing things to keep relationships going? Are sales strong or flat? Just knowing these and other related things will help you understand your position in the marketplace compared to your competition and compared to how you might have been with no pandemic.

Opportunities:

With no tradeshow marketing coming for at least another quarter or two, can you put the budget towards something else? Is a virtual event worth the investment? Can you do another kind of outreach for a fraction of the cost of exhibiting at a big tradeshow? Take a look at your options and see if there are missed opportunities that you may have overlooked.

Threats:

Are there marketplace threats you sense but perhaps haven’t put your finger on? Are your supplier lines still open and working well, or are there kinks that may signal something worse down the line? Do you have any competitors that are taking this time to move aggressively into an area that you thought you dominated? Threats are often overlooked because, unless you actively think about them and look for them, they can sneak up on you without you knowing until it’s too late.

All in all, doing a brief SWOT check-in may help you understand how the company is doing and give you insight and context in how you’ll handle the rest of the year and move into 2021.

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