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

Marketing

A Single Big Tradeshow is Still a Year-Round Event

I’m guilty of sometimes thinking that once a tradeshow is over for the year, it’s over. For a long time. Until next year! But that’s not really the case, no matter how much I’d like to be done!

As a tradeshow manager, or someone who attends or exhibits at tradeshows on a regular basis, it’s easy to compartmentalize each show:

“Got another show in two months, but it’s a small regional one. I can wait another couple of weeks to make sure I get it all together in time.”

“Well, that big expo is done! Don’t have to worry about that for another year! Or maybe ten months if I’m lucky.”

But now that the show is over, it’s a good time to start planning – or at least thinking about – the next time you’ll exhibit at the show. Look at your preparation time from how much of a splash you want to make, how much “new” stuff you’ll implement in your exhibit, and of course, budget. Budget drives everything. Almost.

If the biggest show of the year just ended, and you’re back in the office, you have another 11.5 months before you pack up and head to the airport again (and that doesn’t take into account another half-dozen smaller shows that may keep you on the road).

What now?

Relax for a Few Moments

Give yourself time to breath. There’s still follow-up and record-keeping to be done from the last show. File and share data such as photos, visitor comments, leads, etc. with the proper people. Go over the metrics you collected, identify important information that will help you make decisions for next year’s show. Whatever you chose to document, make sure it’s archived and available for your team to review, digest and understand. As they say, if you didn’t write it down or document it, it didn’t happen.

What’s New Next Year?

But before too much time passes, look at the show from a new angle: if you’re going to do something new, exciting and impactful (and why wouldn’t you?), you need time to brainstorm, plan, research, talk with partners such as exhibit houses, tech and AV vendors and more.

Most of your time will go into planning and design. Once the plan is set, the implementation starts. Depending on your plan, that could mean working with a designer or exhibit house to create a new exhibit from scratch, or it could mean adding some unique element to your current booth (like we did with our client Bob’s Red Mill when they wanted a 42” touchscreen with several videos that visitors can pull up with a touch of a finger).


Bob’s Red Mill’s exhibit alcove featuring 42″ touch screen with directional speakers

During the planning phase, you might be addressing the launch of new products, new branding, redefining your objectives and goals, and identifying how you’ll communicate your messaging, capture new leads and so on. It’s a long process, and you should give it the time it deserves.

Many companies approach a new exhibit project as just that: a new exhibit and nothing more. Which means they don’t give all of the other items enough time and space. The exhibit is not a standalone item; it’s integral to everything else that your company is doing for the show. New products require proper display space, adequate space for graphics, and perhaps space to sample or demo them.

Social Media

If you have a social media marketing director, make sure you bring her into the mix during the process. They can pass along photos and videos from the recent show and use them to build interest in next year’s show. During the lead-up to next year’s show, focus on building interest in the event, building interest in your appearance at the event, and finally on building interest in the products or services you’ll debut or feature. Yes, this deserves a much longer discussion, but don’t let this element slip away. Make sure, as a tradeshow manager, that you’re involved in the discussions on how this will unfold.

Booth Staff Training

This subject could be the topic of a complete book (maybe I’ll make this my next book!), but suffice it to say at this point that, all other things being equal, a well-trained dynamite booth staff will perform head and shoulders above a staff that isn’t properly trained. Your staff should be outgoing without being pushy, engaging without being trite. Know what questions work and what don’t. Always have a smile. Don’t take rejection personally. If you haven’t trained your booth for a while, consider how good of an investment it can be.

Get Everyone On Board

Before undertaking a new large project, make sure you are communicating properly with all of the various entities: management, marketing team, sales team, production team, outside vendors and partners. They should all be aware of the project from the beginning and what their potential part in the dance might be. Communicate often and do it well. It’s hard to over-state the importance of your ability to communicate!

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Tradeshow Tricks: How to Make Eye-Catching Signs and Brochures

This is a guest post by Tania Longeau of InkJet Superstores.

Setting up a booth at a trade show is a great way to build awareness of your brand and gain new leads. On the busy floor of a trade show, however, you only have 6 to 10 seconds to catch the attention of a passerby and draw them into your booth. You are lined up alongside several other businesses and, depending on the size of the show, you could have several thousand people walking past over the course of just a few days. If you want them to stop by your booth, you need eye-catching signage to draw them in.

Once you’ve gotten their attention, you need well-designed marketing materials like brochures, flyers, catalogs, and cards that they will take and look at again after the event. It sounds difficult, but learning how to make eye-catching signs, brochures, and other branding and marketing materials isn’t as hard as you might think. Keep reading to discover a few of our favorite trade show tricks.

Plan Ahead

Businessman Alan Lakein once said that “failing to plan is planning to fail,” and he was absolutely right. If you fail to do extensive planning prior to attending a trade show, you are very unlikely to have a particularly successful event. Goals and desired outcomes need to be established months before the date of the event to ensure that you have time to create everything you need.

Set SMART goals and come up with a solid plan of attack for meeting them. Think about what advertising and marketing materials you will need. Figure out whether you will make those materials in-house or have them printed elsewhere. If you plan on making them yourself, make sure you are stocked up on printer ink, paper, and other essential supplies. Trust us. Few things are worse than running out of ink at 11 p.m. the night before a trade show because you failed to plan and waited until the last minute!

Say it with an Image

When you only have a few brief seconds to grab someone’s attention, a sign or banner with lots of words just won’t do. A picture says a thousand words and, when you use images that are eye-catching, your signs will say a lot about your business, products, or services without needing to say a word. Keep the wording on your booth graphics short and to the point. Your signage should mostly consist of attention-grabbing images. Text should be kept to a minimum. On a busy trade show floor, very few people are going to stop and read an entire paragraph or a long list on a sign. Keep your message short and sweet.

Don’t Go Crazy with Fonts

You may love the look of the fancy font you use on your website or logo, but it may not be the best choice for creating trade show signage and displays. When you are designing signs, banners, and anything else that will be viewed from afar, choose fonts that are simple and easy to read. Remember that, on the trade show floor, your booth is competing for event attendees’ attention. If your advertisements aren’t easy to read, those attendees are just going to look elsewhere.

Be careful when choosing fonts for printed brochures, too. If most of your marketing materials currently exist online, adjustments may need to be made to ensure that they print well. Fonts and colors that look great on a computer screen or a smartphone might not look so good on paper, so be sure to do some experimentation to make sure everything is flawless.

Know When to Hire a Professional

There is a lot that you can do with the inkjet printer or laser printer in your office. Many of today’s higher-end models are capable of creating prints that rival professional quality, and you may be able to get away with printing many of your own signs, flyers, brochures, and pamphlets. It’s also important, though, to know when to hire a professional. Unless you have a high-quality inkjet printer that’s capable of printing large-format banners and other big displays, you should definitely work with a professional printing company. You only get one shot at making a good first impression, so the signage and displays you put up at your booth are extremely important.

Unless you have professional graphic design skill, working with an expert designer is a smart idea, too. A design may look awesome to you, but it may not actually be all that great. There is a lot more that goes into a successful design than just making it look pretty. A good designer can help you create brochures and signs that are eye-catching, tell your brand’s story, and evoke emotion. It takes a lot more than a copy of Photoshop to do all that!

In Conclusion

When you are attending a trade show, setting your booth apart from all of the other ones around you is extremely important. There will be hundreds or thousands of people passing by your booth over the course of a few short days, and you will only have a few seconds to grab each person’s attention. With eye-catching signs, banners, and displays, you can let event attendees know what your business is all about and encourage them to stop by. With eye-catching brochures and pamphlets, you can encourage them to pick up your marketing materials and check them out after the event. Keep the above listed tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to meeting your goals for the event!


Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. Images are provided by the author via Shutterstock.

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How to Use Instagram to Spread the Word About Your Next Tradeshow

This is a guest post by Kayleigh Alexander from Micro Startups.

Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms out there today. With more than one billion monthly active users and a diverse array of features, it offers plenty of scope for getting your tradeshow noticed.

Read onto discover how you can use this visual social platform to spread the word and drive up attendance to your next tradeshow.

Reach out to industry figures to reach a wider audience

Industry influencers are the perfect way to spread the word about your tradeshow. Notable figures within your business niche that command significant influence online are great for getting attention (and attendees!) to your event.

You likely already know scores of renowned individuals in your industry. Indeed, you might even have connections with them from previous tradeshows. Reach out to them with a friendly email and ask if they’d be happy to share an Instagram post promoting your event. Be sure to include your contact details so they can find your website and social profiles easily too.

Of course, this is two-way street. Offer your influencer contact something in return, such as a free piece of content or even just a coffee. You could even offer to promote their event, product, or service on your own social channels too.

Use hashtags to get your tradeshow noticed

Hashtags are the foundation of a solid Instagram strategy. People use hashtags to find the people and content they love, and the same applies for your industry too.

Find hashtags related to your niche by using a hashtag research tool. Simply enter the keywords relating to your business (for example, if you’re a grocery wholesalers, you might choose “grocery wholesalers” or “grocery distributors”), and search.

This will throw up a whole list of hashtags that you can use in your tradeshow promotional campaign on Instagram. Use a blend of both generic hashtags (e.g. #retail or #tradeshows) with more specific hashtags (#wholesalerstradeshow or #callcenterevents) to get your content seen by a wide audience.

Combine Instagram with email for strong lead generation

While Instagram is a marketing powerhouse, it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) exist in a bubble. Social media and email actually work in tandem with each other, with the former sourcing your leads and the latter locking them into your marketing funnel so you can promote your tradeshow to them time and again.

Use your Instagram as the launch pad for capturing attendee information. Grab your followers’ attention with eye-catching posts promoting your event, and include a trackable link in your bio that your followers can use to sign-up to your newsletter.

To boost the chances of people signing up, offer a freebie such as a downloadable ebook in return for their email address. These are easy and virtually free to create, and gives your followers a real incentive to sign up.

Embrace video to engage potential attendees

Video is a popular content form that’s great for engaging customers. By simply using your smartphone camera, you can quickly and easily create videos to share on your Instagram and promote your tradeshow.

Video is highly versatile. As this article on Instagram marketing from Moosend explains, video offers a staggering variety of formats, and there are plenty ideas you can use to spread the word about your event.

A simple piece to camera in which you let your followers know about your tradeshow is simple and easy to do. But beyond this, you can also share clips of your previous events, as well as sneak peeks of product demos you’ll be displaying.

And when the day of your tradeshow rolls around, you can use Instagram’s IGTV feature to live-stream your event as it happens. Your followers receive a notification when you start a live video, so it lets people who couldn’t attend experience your event too.

Sharing clips on your Instagram feed and Story makes for great adverts for your tradeshow.

Armed with the knowledge above, you’re now ready to launch your Instagram marketing campaign for your tradeshow. Follow these tips, and you’ll see your event attendance soar. Get started today and start promoting your tradeshow.


MicroStartups helps aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, however big or small. We love sharing the microbusiness message around the world.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 25, 2019: Ronnie Noize

There are a lot of basics to marketing, and we all often think we’re doing everything we should. Then we hear someone like Ronnie Noize spelling out some simple steps and we think “hmmm…might have missed something!”

Ronnie Noize of DIY Marketing Center in Vancouver, Washington, joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, and shares not only her top five marketing tips, but her top five “prosperity” tips as well. Good stuff!

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the documentary on Polish sculptor and artist Stanislav Szulkalski, called “Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szulkalski.”

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Why Rent Tradeshow Furniture?

Renting furnishings at a tradeshow may or may not be a good fit for you. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Rental Furniture is new, and in top-notch condition
  • Lots of choices – you’re not stuck with the same furniture show after show
  • Cost is less than purchasing it new
  • You don’t have to pay to ship it – cost is all-inclusive
  • It’s delivered right to your booth space – when the show is over, just leave it there
  • You don’t have to store the furniture
  • Furniture you own will degrade, become damaged or dinged over time, and go out of fashion
  • By owning furniture, you have to pay to ship and pay to store

Cons:

  • Renting furniture might seem expensive to you; owning cuts costs in the long run
  • If you rent furniture 2, 3, or 4 times, you will likely have paid the full cost and don’t have anything to show for it except old bills
  • You own it, you only pay for it once and can use it as many times as you like
  • Less hassle – you own it, you have one less subcontractor and bill to deal with

Depending on what appeals to you, or to your financial or storage situation, renting furniture may be the right thing. Or not!


Take a look at some of the possibilities of rental furniture here.

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Tradeshow Competitor or Collaborator?

You may think the difference between a competitor and a collaborator is easy. Pretty cut and dried. But is it?

In tradeshows you can meet all sorts of other companies. As an exhibitor, you can probably identify the direct competitors pretty easily. They’re selling either the exact same thing you are with a different name, or something that’s so similar that most people couldn’t tell them apart.

Coke vs. Pepsi. Nike vs. Adidas. Ford vs. Chevy. Classic competitors all.

There are a number of ways to work with competitors, as there are many ways in which you can identify potential partners for tradeshow promotions.

Collaborate with a Competitor

As competitors, one easy way to team up is to both promote a non-profit that is important to your industry. For example, if two outdoor clothing makers partnered up to help raise awareness for a non-profit that was working for, say, public access to forest lands, that would be a good way to position both companies as aligned and working toward similar goals.

Similarly, competing companies could team up at a tradeshow to fight for attendees’ rights. Bigger voices can have a bigger impact, especially if those voices came from well-known companies.

Create a Partner

When it comes to collaboration, it’s a bit easier to dream up ways to work with other companies that will be exhibiting at the same show. You can come up with joint promotions (you sell coffee, they sell pastries; you sell cars, they sell high-end floor mats) that are a good natural fit.

Before the show, get together with the other exhibitor and brainstorm ways you can move traffic around, or benefit from each other’s booth visitors. For example, you may have a newsletter sign-up sheet: on the paper, give people the option to sign up for your collaborator’s newsletter, too. Spell out the benefits of doing so.

However you approach collaboration with a competitor or a partner that’s not a direct competitors, realize that it will take more time and energy to make it happen, and likely a sign-off from managers to move forward. But the right collaboration can help raise brand awareness for both companies.

Pool Your Resources

If both companies are small but want to make a bigger impression, consider pooling your resources to grab a bigger booth space. Instead of 20 10x20s, share a booth and make it a 20×20. Of course, in this instance you’d want to really be ready to show visitors that you’re working together in a very significant way. But by doing this, the booth can show off more of each company’s strengths, and since it’s probably going to be a one-time appearance, it would make sense to save even more and just rent a booth instead of having a new custom booth created.

Come up with contests, or ways to involve more than one exhibitor that moves attendees from one booth location to another. Invite visitors to pick up a Bingo-like sheet with a handful of companies on it. If they go to all booths mentioned and have the sheet stamped, they can have the completed sheet submitted for a chance to win a prize package from all the companies involved.

Beyond the Show Floor

Off the show floor, you could throw a dinner or party and invite both (or more) company’s customers. By doing so, the underlying and unstated message is “We’re proud to be associated with this company and stand by their services and products.” It shows visitors something new about one company that that they may not have known before and raises the level of trust and integrity for all.

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More Statistics About Tradeshows and Visitors

Some people digest statistics like they’re eating chocolate cake. Others would rather eat a bug. But you have to admit, knowing the numbers can help you in your preparation and execution of your tradeshow marketing program. So let’s look at a few statistics and see which way they’ll lead you.

First, Spingo.com offers a collection of 20 Powerful Stats, including these:

  • 88% of companies participating in tradeshows to raise awareness of their brand .
  • The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is, on average, $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospect’s office is $259.
  • 92% of tradeshow attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services.

Display Wizard from the UK has a list of 20 Tradeshow Stats that will Blow Your Mind! Some of these are:

  • Just 22% of tradeshow exhibitors start planning their tradeshow marketing 1-2 months ahead of the show. 22% start planning 2-4 months prior to the show, and 18% are getting ready 4-6 months ahead.
  • It takes an average of 4.5 sales calls to close a sale without an exhibition lead, but just 3.5 calls to close a lead from an exhibition.
  • 81% of exhibitors use email to follow up on their tradeshow leads.

If you really love numbers, you’ll love digging into the data on one of the country’s largest shows, the Consumer Electronics Show. While 2019 numbers are coming soon, the 2018 numbers are impressive enough:

  • Total attendance: 182,198. That includes exhibit personnel, media and industry attendees, domestic and international.
  • Social media mentions of the show reaches 1 million.
  • Views of the CES Snapchat Live Story reached 49 million.
  • CES received a total of 107,120 media mentions and more than 71 billion potential media impressions in January 2018 alone.

Watch that page for the 2019 numbers this spring.

Finally, the Event Manager Blog offers 100 Event Statistics (2019 Edition), which includes these:

  • B2B events revenue worldwide amounted to $30.3 billion in 2016, up from $29.3 billion a year earlier.
  • The average ROI for events is in the 25-34% range. But almost one in five companies don’t know their ROI.
  • 93% use social media in their B2B marketing strategy, and 58% of marketers use social media before, during and after their events.

Dig into the numbers at your leisure – there’s a lot there to unpack and digest. And don’t forget the chocolate cake!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 11, 2019: Lindsay Anvik

When tradeshow, conference and event organizers hire speakers, they should make sure they get speakers that aren’t stuck in the same old speaking rut. That’s according to this week’s guest, Lindsay Anvik of SeeEndless.com. We also got to talking about public speaking itself, and the idea of using speakers from your company to raise your profile at a tradeshow:

Check out Lindsay Anvik’s company, SeeEndless.com.

You’ll also find this week’s tradeshow tip and this week’s ONE GOOD THING: Daily Yoga.

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When Exhibiting, Talk to Other Exhibitors

As an exhibitor, try to schedule some time to talk to other exhibitors. Depending on how many other people you have on the booth staff, that may be easy or difficult. But give it a try. And I mean more than just the pleasantries with your neighbors that you’ll exchange when setting up and exhibiting. It’s easy enough to just show up, do your thing, and leave. But you’ll learn a lot when gathering information about other exhibitors’ experiences.

What to talk about and what information to look for?

At a recent show, I was curious to speak to exhibitors to get their sense of the show itself, and how they have fared. As a result, I spoke with quite a few exhibitors and got a broad look at the show. One exhibitor said she had exhibited at the show two years previously, and had written over $200,000 of business as a direct result of the show.

“Quite a Return on Investment!” I said.

“Yes, indeed. Last year, we wrote about $50,000 worth of business from the show. A big drop, but considering our minimal investment, still a great return.”

Another exhibitor told me that he thought that the show had shrunk each year for the last couple of years, and there was even a chance it might have been cancelled.

“Why do you think it’s shrunk?” I asked (I was not sure it had shrunk or expanded; I was just playing along to see where he was going with this).

“There are a lot of shows in the industry,” he said, as if that explained things.

I also asked exhibitors if they went to any of the various breakout sessions. Most said no, but one or two said yes. Those seemed to be aimed mainly at attendees.

Talk to other exhibitors at the show you're exhibiting at!

I asked several exhibitors if this was the only show they went to. Many said they do other shows, but not necessarily in this industry. Their company’s products and services can be pitched to other industries as well.

And finally, I asked if they were planning to come back to the same show next year as an exhibitor. A mixed bag: some said yes, others were noncommittal. But no one gave me a definitive NO.

Other things you can ask: how is job hiring going in your industry or your company? How well is your company doing against your direct competitors? Are there any companies here you would consider partnering with on any project or task? Are you looking to hire any positions soon? How many other shows do you plan on exhibiting at in the next year? Is this the only exhibit property you own, or do you have other elements you can set up to exhibit in a smaller or larger space?

When you find time to talk to other exhibitors, you’ll take away a larger sense of the show overall and how your fellow exhibitors feel about their place in the show and in the industry.

And you may make some good connections along the way!

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Teamwork is the Key to Success

To most people I work with in the tradeshow industry, teamwork is the key to success. But many tradeshow marketing managers are saddled with the idea that if it’s going to get done, there’s only one person that can do it. The tradeshow manager.

Therefore, it becomes hard to delegate. Hard to give up control. They may not be a control freak, but they’re close enough to where it prevents the work of a good team from being as good as it could be.

You see this on sports teams. My sport, from when I was a kid, was basketball. When you are in control of the ball, a tendency for young players is to hold on to it until they good a good shot. Not all people, of course. There are always members on the team who don’t want the responsibility, so they pass the ball at the first opportunity. Often, the pass is the wrong move. It’s to the wrong person. It’s for the wrong reason. They might have even had an open shot but didn’t take it because they didn’t have confidence that they’d make it.

Great teamwork doesn’t happen overnight. But the longer you work with a team, the more you understand each team member’s strengths and weaknesses.

One person may be great at record-keeping. Another may be great at outreach to clients and customers. Another may have an easy time reaching members of the media to persuade them to feature the company in their publication. Yet another may have an intuitive sense of how to design graphics so that they attract the right people.

Every team is different. And teams are fluid. Even a team that’s been together for years can find things changing over time. And when new members arrive or when members leave, things get even more fluid.

But a good manager of the team recognizes how to best delegate tasks to different people for maximum results. A good manager of a team knows their own limitations and realizes that, no, they can’t really do it all.

They need a good team to do it all. And teams can always improve.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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