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

Marketing

Do Green Tradeshow Promotional Giveaways Exist?

Guest post by Heidi Thorne

Since I’m known on Twitter for having information on green marketing, my friend “Tradeshow Guy” Tim Patterson asked the question, “Are there items in the promotional giveaway world that are truly ‘green?’ And if not, that’s a story in itself!” It sure would be.

It really comes down to how do YOU define a “green” promotional product? Currently, defining what is green is all over the place. One can call a reusable bag or water bottle green because it would be reused several times and not immediately make its way to a landfill. For the most strict green marketers, a reusable item is a cop out. They might not be happy until the item has been made of plastic derived from organic non-food supply corn grown in the United States in a factory powered by sun or wind that is employee owned and gives 10 percent of its profits to charity.

Because it is so difficult to determine if a giveaway is green, some time back I developed the Green Promo Score Sheet which is available for free download at GreenPromoScoreSheet.com. It helps you assess the “green-ness” of your giveaway based on over a dozen factors such as if it is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, organic, fair trade, etc.

If you do decide to go down the green giveaway path, make sure that you select a giveaway that matches your objectives or purpose. For example, if your company is promoting that you are using alternative energy, don’t give away something that uses standard batteries! You might want to consider a flashlight that uses dynamo power (usually a crank which you turn to provide power) or solar.

When purchasing green promotional products, ask your supplier if he tell you what makes the item green or ecofriendly if specific claims are not made in the offer. Here is an example that I saw at an area business’ expo. They were giving out “natural” canvas tote bags to hold literature. Kudos for using a reusable product. But that may not have been the optimal choice for this event that was touting green products. Here’s why…

A lot of people think that if it’s cotton, it’s natural and therefore organic. Not so! Standard cotton production is not very environmentally friendly. It uses large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and water. Organic cotton production uses non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, manual or natural weeding, and water saving techniques.

Watch for vague words in product descriptions such as natural, ecofriendly, or green. These need to be defined.

The number of green tradeshow giveaway items available is increasing all the time. While labeling standards are still in a state of flux, it pays to find out why a product is green before you spend your green.

About the Author

Heidi Thorne is a promotional products and social media marketing consultant, specializing in ecofriendly, USA and union made products. A variety of more ecofriendly promotional products is available at her PromoWithPurposeShop.com shopsite. For more information on how to green up your marketing, visit her blog at PromoWithPurposeToday.com.

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How to Effectively Use a Roll Up Banner Stand

Guest post by Brantley Graham

164 - Another Trade Show

A roll up banner stand is an excellent way for a company to make the most of their presence at a tradeshow or exhibition. By controlling every aspect of your customer’s experience at your booth, it is possible to manipulate how they perceive you. However, in order to be able to do this, there are a lot of things that you are going to have to keep in mind. In order to properly take advantage of the benefits of banner stands and banners, you will need to have a very close attention to detail. All aspects of the banner set up should be considered, including lighting and assembly of the unit.

The first thing you should keep in mind when purchasing a roll up banner stand is that not all stands are created equal. There are stands that are ideal for businesses that travel frequently. These stands are fast and easy to set up, require very little in the way of assembly, and pack down into small, lightweight cases that are easy to transport. For those who need a larger set up, there are larger stands that are heavier and bulky, but are compatible with larger sized banners. This can be useful if you are planning on doing a long term branding campaign at one location. When you are selecting your stands, you should carefully consider how much money you wish to invest and how often you wish to travel. These factors will make a big difference in which stands will best fit your needs.

In addition to picking the best roll up banner stand for your needs, you will also need to take care to pick the best banners. Having banners that match your stands is very important. However, having banners that successfully pass the message you want and demand interest in your business is vital if you want your investment to be profitable. When you go to purchase your stands, you will have the option to order banners at the same time. Many businesses choose to take advantage of this option. If you do not have a design completed, you may also be able to request assistance in making a design for your banners. When you pick your design, you want to make certain that you are able to control how your clients perceive your company. If you are branding, you want to make certain that your logo and company name are both clearly visible. In many cases, a simple design is much more effective than a cluttered and busy design. Take your time picking your banner design as this is one of the most important aspects of your purchase.

Once you have purchased your roll up banner stand, you will need to make certain that you properly care for it. Whenever you finish with a stand at an event, check it over for damage. If either the banner or the stand gets wet, dry it out completely before putting it into storage. Damp equipment can cause health problems, discolorations on the banner and odours. Taking proper care of your equipment can help guarantee that it will last you for years to come.

Visit TSNN.co.uk to place a quick quote for Roll Up Banner Stand for conference, meeting and other events from display boards suppliers. TSNN.co.uk is the largest UK conference and event website and by submitting a quick quote, your requirements will be sent to multiple suppliers so that you can find various items including exhibition stands and display boards.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Brantley_Graham

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photo credit: eyeliam

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Send Tingles Down Your Customer’s Spine

How can you engage your customer so thoroughly that you’re sending shivers down their spine?

It doesn’t happen all that often, and admittedly, to get a real spine-tingling moment is rare. But it can be done.

It happened to me yesterday – and it wasn’t something I expected.

In reading some Facebook updates, a FB friend was telling the story of seeing Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pops Festival in 1967. You know the story (or maybe you don’t): it’s where Jimi – a virtual unknown at the time – had been given a slot AFTER The Who – who were arguably the biggest draw at the show. But somehow the promoters saw fit to put Hendrix on after the Who.

“…He took a total piece of crap in “Wild Thing” and made it heavy. Serious. In the middle he diddled out the melody to “Strangers In The Night” in a minor key, which got a laugh out of the crowd, then let the music swirl into another feedback meltdown. Now he was down on his knees controlling the feedback with the Whammy bar. I can’t see from where I am, but Jimi douses the Strat in lighter fluid and drops a match on it.. Whoosh. The feedback takes on the wailing tone of a Stratocaster burning to death. The Who finale was Angry…but this guy is sacrificing his guitar for us….”

As an old rock ‘n’ roller, this description literally sent chills down my back by projecting me back to ’67 and imagining what it must have been like.

Can you do that to your audience?

A good demo onstage might (no, you don’t have to sacrifice a Stratocaster!). A terrific story certainly could.

People react to stories. If your story is compelling and hits your audience in the gut, the reaction may be visceral. There’s no better way to get someone’s attention than with a powerful story.

The downside is that for most people it’s difficult to tell a story. And it’s even more difficult to tell a story in a compelling, arresting way.

Start collecting stories about your products and your customers. Ask them how your product or service impacts them. Why did they buy? Why do they keep coming back?

The more stories you collect, the better chance you have of finding that one nugget that succinctly tells the story of your product.

Once you’ve got that, find a powerful way to tell that story to your prospects. Engage them. Enlighten them.

Give ’em chills and they’re yours.

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Perception is Reality

Interior Macro-isity

Perception is Reality, right?

What do people see when you send out a tweet, newsletter, blog post; put up a tradeshow booth…what is the perception of what people see?

Are you seeing through the eyes of your visitors, or through your eyes?

It’s not an easy question to answer as we all have our own vantage points. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t completely get outside of ourselves and see things objectively. Especially if we had a hand in creating the sales tool.

But it’s a good question to ask – and to try and find an answer. Or two, or three: what do other people see when they look at your ‘stuff?’ Do they see what you want them to see or do they see something else?

If your goal is to get a tradeshow booth visitor to see that you’re a fun company with an engaging product, is that coming across? If your goal is to get a visitor to see your company as conservative in your approach to the marketplace with your offerings, is that what they’re really seeing?

When you start peeling back the onion of your marketing message, it may take the eyes and ears of a third party – an ad agency, a colleague – to help you see things more clearly. And it may take the services of a professional to craft that message in a way that resonates with your visitor.

Creating the marketing message with the help of an experienced pro may be the best money you’ve ever spent. She might see things that you’re blind to. She can help with a subtle nuance in your message that makes a big impact.

On the other hand, no one knows your company, product or service quite like you – especially if you created it and live it on a daily basis. Even if you’re ‘just’ a tradeshow marketing manager, you still work and live and breath the company’s culture everyday, which gives you insight and a bird’s-eye seat into how you can reach your customers. In a perfect world, the collaboration between you and a professional (writer, designer) will result in a message that touches your potential customers in ways that move them to action.

The most successful tradeshow booths are the result of collaboration between several people, giving each person a stake in the message, but not surrendering to the whim of an individual. But committee meetings can only go so far: any successful message has to have a passionate advocate who has an understanding of the product/service and the impact that a customer feels when they commit to your company by pulling out their wallet.

So. Get a second opinion. And a third. Feed their comments and opinions into the hopper, chew them over and let them inform your creation, but not control it.

And remember it’s all fluid: markets, products, people. What works today may not next year. Or vice versa.

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photo credit: LadyDragonflyCC – Home from Vacation

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Can Mobile Marketing Improve Your Tradeshow ROI?

iPhone in Canada

Now that a lot of your audience are carrying around smartphones, are you even able to reach them anymore with email, blogging and your social media outlets?

Probably – at least you should be able much of the time.

But an ideal scenario is literally in your hands: reaching your audience with text messaging.

Here’s why text message (or mobile) marketing is worth considering:

First: approximately 97% of all text messages are opened and read! Yeah: wow, 97%!

Next: your competitors are probably NOT doing it. Yet. But chances are they will look at it soon.

Also: Texting can spur instant action because of the immediacy of the medium.

One comment I often hear when the subject of mobile marketing comes up: “…but who wants to get spam text messages?”

That’s the beauty. It’s not spam. Your audience has opted-in to your messages through your website or advertisement, and they can easily opt-out if they change their mind.

Let’s say you have a booth at a tradeshow, and you’re going to surprise your audience with a special deal, a celebrity guest, or some other reason to get people to head for the booth. By timing your text message, your audience can open the text (remember, it’s immediately sent), see the invitation, and come by the booth.

If you can narrow your market to a select group of show attendees, chances are good that you’ll get many of them to respond.

“Your only restriction with mobile marketing is the numbers of characters, so my best advice is consolidate and pack a punch with your message,” advises Van Allen, a leading business marketer and business author who uses text and SMS (short message service) technology to grow several business.

So the next question on your lips is (at least it was on my lips): how do you do this?

The difficult, and manual, way would be to send each message out individually.

Nope, you can see right away that’s not gonna work. Not with all you have to do to keep the booth running, right?

Sign up for a service such as Boomtext, Message Buzz or Moto Message, log in to your account, set up your message and when you’d like it go out and you’re set.

Some services I’ve seen have the ability to segment your audience. For instance if you put out an advertisement on “organic yogurt” you might have readers opt-in to get message specifically about organic yogurt. Other readers might want messages only about fruit-flavored yogurt. It gives you a chance to send extremely targeted messages based on the desires of your market.

Once you start thinking, the ideas on how to tie mobile marketing into your tradeshow marketing start tumbling over themselves.

Phone coupons, time-sensitive offers, opinion polls, welcome messages, games, video links…what can you think of?

If you have sent out or received text messaging, what’s your experience been?

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photo credit: jeffwilcox

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Tradeshow Time: Class is in Session

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What did you learn from your last tradeshow appearance? Did you learn that you, well, perhaps shouldn’t have even been there?

Sometimes that’s the best lesson you can learn: that the money you spent on the show was wasted and you won’t do that show again.

Or will you? Maybe the lessons you learned included the fact that this particular show was wasted, but that you learned enough about the show to make adjustments and refocus for the next go-round.

Let’s face it: even the most expensive marketing mistake comes with a lesson. Sometimes it’s hard to find, and other times it’s staring you in the face.

It could be that you learned that the show’s audience is not for you.

I recently teamed up with the Salem Business Network and Communication Steroids for the Salem Chamber of Commerce’s ShowBiz 2010, a business-focused day-long tradeshow. We prepped and planned, created and executed. And when it was over, we evaluated the results.

First, we couldn’t point to more than a handful of actual leads for Communication Steroids. And we had about 20 sign-ups for the Salem Business Network. As it turns out, signing people up via our laptop in a busy, chaotic show was more time-consuming than anticipated. So even had everything gone according to plan, the sign-ups would have been fewer than desired.

But luring people to sign up for something FREE isn’t always easy. You’d think so, but it’s counter-intuitive. When people hear that something is FREE, they often thing there’s a hidden catch or that the service is not worth much anyway. After all, they must reason, if it’s free what value can it have?

We also didn’t quite understand the audience that showed up to the show: instead of business folks, it was mostly (probably 90%) people ‘trick-or-treating’ to grab free samples and handouts at a lot of the booths. To their credit, the Salem Chamber of Commerce has tried to dampen that portion of the crowd by charging $5 entrance fee – but it still didn’t seem to have much effect. So there were few people at the show that we could actually describe as serious prospects.

Given all that, it’s hard to know how things will unfold over the next year. We did have a handful of folks we met who liked the offerings, and if any of them develop into a good client in the next 12 months we can say the minimal investment in booth space rental and graphics was worth it. But we can’t say it yet.

Every opportunity to get out into the marketplace is a chance to learn; to understand your market better, to research the wants and needs of your market, to understand the show better, to see how your people work in a chaotic sales situation.

Given that tradeshow marketing is not cheap, your best approach is to learn as many lessons as you can on as many different fronts as you can.

Doors are open: Class is in session!

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photo credit: Christina Spicuzza

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Questions to Ask Before You Start Tradeshow Marketing

A recent LinkedIn discussion focused on ‘What questions do you ask yourself when deciding on an exhibit for a tradeshow event?’

There were a lot of answers and discussion on the topic, and after I chimed in with my two pennies’ worth, it got me to thinking: what does it take to even commit to a tradeshow marketing effort?

If you’re a new company looking for marketing opportunities and markets to tap, or a company that’s never done a tradeshow, it’s an interesting question to ponder.

In other words, what is the lead-up to the question asked in the LinkedIn discussion?

To my mind, the decision to even get into tradeshow marketing should begin with a handful of questions:

  • Can we reach a valuable market via tradeshows?
  • What will it cost us in terms of money and resources?
  • Is it a short-term or long-term effort?
  • How will it affect our image in the industry? In our market?
  • If we get involved, who’s going to do it?

After this, you’ll evolve to questions that may be particular to your company, but those are good questions to kick off your internal discussion.

Tradeshow marketing can be an incredible boon – or bust – depending on how well you do it.

You’re laying a lot on the line. Take time to examine it from all angles before jumping in the pond.

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Focus Group at a Tradeshow?

coloring

I spent a couple of hours this week as part of a focus group for Portland adult alternative radio station KINK.FM. There were about 18 of us, and I found it to be a very interesting experience. Having worked in radio for more than 25 years (I left the industry in 2002), it was interesting to experience being on the ‘other side’ for once.

I’ve seen focus groups, read about them, helped form them…but never been on the other side of the coin.

We were asked a lot of questions about our favorite stations, fave music, likes and dislikes about the station. All the stuff you might expect. For 90 minutes the facilitator guided us through a number of topics, while KINK’s Program Director scribbled notes quietly.

To the radio station, each of us represented thousands of their listeners or potential listeners, so they listened closely to what we had to say.

Do you do any market research in your industry? If you’re a professional speaker, do you take time to find out what your audience wants? Do you ask them what they DON’T like? Do you ask them what’s missing?

KINK.FM did all that and more. They fed us and gave us free CD’s and bumper stickers, too!

Now…here’s your task: can you use a tradeshow as a focus group of sorts? If so, how?

Would you have a short questionnaire that you can use to engage booth visitors? Can you set up a short demo of a new product and get their reaction? Can you show them mockups of a half-dozen proposed ads that your ad agency has conjured up? Should you bother to waste their time with annoying questions like ‘what do you think of this…?’?

Of course you can. You’re paying good money for your booth space. You have an audience of people that are interested in your industry – and probably your products – or they wouldn’t have paid to attend the show.

So take advantage of the situation. Set up your own series of mini focus groups during the show, and mine them for useful information.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll unearth a gem!

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photo credit: crazyoctopus

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The Cold Call I Got Today

I so have to Call round

Cold calling isn’t rocket science. If you’re in sales, you gotta do them at some point in your career. Heck, I do cold calling on occasion. You never know what you’re going to get. But before I pick up the phone, I want to make sure I have a good prospect. So I ask questions of myself:

Do I know if this company exhibits at shows? If so, what shows? Who’s the person that directs that effort? Is he/she the decision maker? What have they done in the past? How many shows a year do they currently attend?

Y’know, that kind of thing. A little ‘market research’ so you might have a clue as to where a conversation might go, or to perhaps keep up if it takes a swift turn.

This morning I received a cold call from a sales woman who hadn’t done much of anything before dialing my number:

She: Hi, I’m with (insert company name). Do you do any business with the federal government?
Me: Yes…But I’m not sure exactly what it is you want from me. We already do a fair amount of business with the federal government.
She: You do? I’m not sure exactly what it is you do.
Me: Well, I suppose if you’d bothered to check out our website or do a little research on our company so you’d know what you’re talking about when you tried to sell something it would help. Which is what I do before I cold call someone.
She: So you’re not interested?
Me: It doesn’t sound like you know what we do. Did you even try and find out what it is we do before you called us?
She: (giving up waaaay too easily): Well, I hope you have a nice day. Thank you for your t— (hangs up)

Hey, don’t give up so quickly! I might be interested in at least hearing your pitch – but by not getting a specific answer, and abandoning the effort, it was a wasted call all around.

At a tradeshow it’s a different beast altogether. It’s almost as if you’re allowed to ‘cold call’ without doing an research. People walk up to your booth, you start zinging them some pre-planned questions. Based on their answers, you quickly determine if they’re a prospect or not. But you still will be in a better position if your questions are well-thought-out to elicit responses that pertain directly to your product or service.

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photo credit: 1Happysnapper (photography)

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What Questions Do Your Customers Ask at Your Tradeshow Booth?

Do your customers ask questions at your tradeshow booth?

Are they curious about things like flavor, color, delivery time, production values, technical details or design elements?

Do they want to know MORE?

Who Am I Sam

Of course they do! That’s what customers do. They’re curious. They give feedback. And often it comes in the form of a question.

At your next tradeshow make a point of writing down questions that your booth visitors ask about your product, service or company. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons.

First, you get more insight into what’s important to them. Yes, you may already know a lot of those questions. But pay attention and see if any of those questions are new. Are they bringing up things that you haven’t heard yet? Is there an indication that your customers are shifting desires around your products? Do they want something new? Can you find out now and provide it before your competitors?

Next, you can compile those questions and put them on your website or blog. By creating an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page or post on your site, you’re reaching out to those visitors who are interested in learning more. While a specific visitor may not have that particular question, by browsing your page or blog post they get a chance to learn more about your products – and especially to find out what’s important to other customers. They may find out a new way to use your product or service that they hadn’t thought of before – which makes your product more valuable to them.

You can also use questions as market research. If your customer are asking questions about something that your company DOESN’T provide, it gives you some insight into what the marketplace is interested in. Maybe it’s time to look at developing solutions to those problems they’re bringing you. Which gives your company a wider reach in the market.

So many businesses look at questions as a nuisance – something to be avoided.

Not you – you welcome them, right? You welcome them because it gives you more opportunities to learn about your market, and gives you a leg up on the competition (who are trying to avoid those questions).

Make a point to keep track of as many of those questions that come up at tradeshows. Take them back and share them with your sales and marketing team, management, designers, product gurus…whoever can benefit from having front-line questions that are burning in the mind of those clients and potential customers. And you know those questions are burning because they took time to stop at your booth and ask them!

Treat questions as valuable bits and pieces of information. Tradeshows are a great place to field questions – make sure you’re doing it on a regular basis.

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photo credit: ϟnapshot 19

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