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


Time to Check Your #Postseason Stats

The tradeshow is over. The booth has been packed away and you’re heading back to the office. No more late night carousing with clients. No more worrying about that graphic makeover that didn’t really fit. No more hustling to post photos on Facebook of those endless booth visitors.

1,000,000 hits!

Well, until the next show. At which point you’ll want to know how many people checked out your Facebook page; how many people retweeted your tweets and what kind of response you got from the various social media promotions you did during the show.

To check your #postseason stats (okay, a little play on the TV Major League Baseball promos going on to get people to chime in on Twitter), you want to know what statistics and metrics to track.

And that depends on what you did during the event. If you posted photos and updates on your company’s Facebook page, it’s an easy matter to go through the Facebook wall a few days after the show and check post impressions and feedback percent. You can track them by making a quick spreadsheet with the title of the post, what type it is (photo, video, text, etc), when it was posted, number of impressions and % of feedback. If this is the first show you’re tracking these stats, it gives you a baseline. Then at your next show do the same thing. After a few shows you’ll have enough information to track trends and see what types of posts get the most reaction. Is it photos? Videos? What kinds of comments do you get? You can even track who commented, and whatever pertinent information you glean from their Facebook page (where they live or work, how many friends they have, etc.).

Yes, you can go a little nuts spending a lot of time compiling and tracking the information. But by doing so, you’re moving ahead of the competition that is not bothering to learn about their community. The more informed you are about your community the better prepared you are to respond to them, interact with them and plan for the next show when you know a lot of them will want to see you and learn about new products.

You can essentially do the same with Twitter and YouTube. While you don’t have the same amount of metrics available on Twitter, you can still track re-tweets and responses and log that information in your post-show stat book. On YouTube you can compile video views and log any feedback and responses you get from the videos you post.

Is all of this extra work worth it? I think so. It gives you inside information and insight into who’s responding, what type of posts are getting responses and what kinds are ignored.

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 photo credit: Brett Jordan

Choosing a Social Media Consultant for Your Event and Tradeshow Marketing

When it comes to promoting your events or tradeshow appearances through social media, you probably know best about what parts of your company or product line you want to promote.

But are you the best company for the actual job of winding up your social media and getting out the message?

Perhaps. Or perhaps not. But in considering outsourcing your social media, there are two pieces to look at:

First, what do you want to do and what is your company capable of doing?

Second, what capabilities does the social media consultant need to bring to the table once you answer the first question?

So in assessing the first question – what do you want to do and what is your company capable of doing? – you should have a pretty good handle on your internal capabilities. If not, ask around. You might be surprised to find several of your people are already extremely adept at social media – for their personal use. That doesn’t necessarily translate to doing the right thing for your company, but it’s a start. Every company probably has hidden ‘digital natives’ that can step into at least a part-time role as social media manager. At minimum they should be able to set up accounts, get followers, send out tweets, post videos, etc. They may not have the ability to design a marketing plan, but they may have the ability to execute the plan if it were outlined to them. Also, take a look at this very thorough checklist for self-assessment in your social media capabilities from Marc Meyer.

Second question: what capabilities does the social media consultant need to bring to the table? At bare minimum they should be able to strategize short-term and long-term marketing plans. They should know their way around all the popular social media outposts.

Check their client list. Not having a long client list shouldn’t necessarily disqualify them, but it’s a good first step. Next, check their involvement in social media. They should be actively involved in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube at the minimum, and possibly active now on Google+.

Have they taught classes or given webinars? Ask their definition of social media. Is their blog active and current? Do they blog at least once a week? Do they have comments? (Comments aren’t the barometer they used to be, but still something to look at). Do they understand that social media is about PEOPLE and not TOOLS?

If they promise instant success, flee! Social media success builds slowly and over time as you build a community to interact with.

Finally – do they seem genuine? Are they authentic? Do they appear as enthusiastic about social media, or do they sound like a used car salesman?

This is not about the perfect checklist for finding the right or the best social media consultant for your business. No matter who you choose to work with, there’s always going to be someone else who’s cheaper and better.

It’s about finding the most compatible consultant with your company and with you. And it probably won’t happen overnight.

Photo Creative Commons by Orangeacid.

Why Your Tradeshow Marketing Strategy Deserves Loving Care

The tradeshow exhibit is at least 6 – 8 months away – have you considered your tradeshow marketing strategy? You’d better get started – that’s not that much time!

“Huh? Over half a year and I have to rush things?” you say…

No, I didn’t say RUSH things…I mean you have better get your stuff together because those six months are going to go by pretty quickly. And the last 2 months will go by like an Indy Racer if you haven’t spent the first four months working on it.

Face it: when people visit your tradeshow booth, they expect to see the BEST that your company has to offer. If you’re a manufacturer, your prep time may mean several meetings and coordination with your manufacturing division to make sure you’re showing off the BEST of your BEST.

Why would you want to go to a tradeshow and put anything but the BEST of the BEST you have to offer on display? This is the one time a year that those visitors get a chance to see your goods and services. They’re comparing YOUR BEST with the BEST of several other companies – perhaps dozens of other companies.

So plan to put on your best.

This means your best graphics. Your best exhibit. Your best product. Your best people. Your best lead-capturing system.

When you put your best out there, you’re competing on the same level as the rest of the exhibitors – your competitors. Face it, most of them (but not all) are putting on THEIR best face at the exhibit. So you’d better be putting on YOUR best, too.

The challenge, though, is that we’re all just humans. We all have crazy schedules and incessant demands. And given those demands, when push comes to shove putting on your BEST is often extremely difficult to do. That’s why it takes more effort than you really think it will.

So that gets you back to idea of starting NOW and not waiting another few months on your tradeshow marketing strategy. If you start now and determine WHAT you’ll need to do to put on your best, HOW you’re going to do it, and WHO is going to help you to make sure it’s going to get done, the odds increase that you’ll actually make it happen by the time the show rolls around.

And that gets back to the idea of loving care: if you approach the planning of your next tradeshow with loving care, you’ll cover all the bases you need to cover to ensure that you are putting on your best.

Start now. Give your tradeshow marketing strategy some good old-fashioned love.

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

Using Social Media to Support Your Overall Tradeshow Marketing Goals

Are you using social media to drive traffic to your tradeshow booth? That’s great – it be an effective tool for creating buzz at the show. Even though social media activity is effective at communicating with your community, using social media is often not integrated very strongly with a company’s overall marketing goals. Let’s see if we can help change that for you.

Let’s say you’re working with an ad agency. They’re tasked with getting fifteen media mentions out of your tradeshow appearance. Meanwhile, your marketing department is tasked with getting X number of brand impressions. And your sales staff is tasked with generating X number of leads and closing a certain percentage of those leads. All of these entities are working to support the company’s overall marketing goals of creating more sales.

So how can you use social media to directly support all of those entities on conjunction with your tradeshow marketing, instead of just being a stand-alone operation that interacts with your community and not much else?

Start with the end in mind by breaking down your marketing goals: for example, based on past experience the sales department will need X number of leads to create X number of sales. For instance you may know that for every 100 leads generated at a tradeshow, the sales department can close 62% within three months.

Add to that your goals in press and blog mentions, and overall branding impressions and you have your end goals in mind. How can social media support those goals?

Start by choosing your key social media marketing metrics that relate to your tradeshow appearances. It’s easier to take each individual show and look at them separately, although at the end of a year it’s useful to compare and tally all of those numbers to see how the overall efforts at all shows combined performed.

  • Traffic: are you using social media to drive your customers to your tradeshow booth? Keeping track of traffic at a tradeshow is difficult without outside help, but by adding this component to your metric measurement, you get a better handle on how effective your tweets and Facebook postings can be. Beyond that, you can promote giveaways or contests via social media which specifically brings people to your booth for that contest or event.
  • Leads: when you track tradeshow leads, have a check box or area where you can indicate whether the visitor found you via social media. Did they reach you via a tweet? Was it a Facebook posting? A YouTube video? A company blog post? All of these social media outlets should support your efforts and by tracking the results you can determine which is most useful.
  • Buzz or Mentions: often an ad agency that’s working to bring you media mentions will have their own set of industry press contacts, and they can effectively exploit those relationships. Those efforts can be supported through social media: Twitter in particular is becoming known as a place where press relationships are started and developed. Not only that, once you meet a blogger or reporter on Twitter, the connection is direct with no gatekeeper.
  • Customer Support: your community of customers, clients, hangers-on and competitors (yes, they’re there too!) are all talking about you. Whether you want them to or not, they’ll say what they want when they want. By being proactive in listening to and responding to that conversation when appropriate, you are helping to improve the company’s overall performance. It may not show up as a direct impact on the bottom line, but the impact is there: fewer customer support tickets; less need for customer service support personnel; quicker response to nip problems in the bud before they become giant negatives that have to be dealt with. Your customer support team can be invaluable in your social media monitoring because they often are the front line in dealing with customer problems and know what’s happening before anyone else in the company.

Now that you’re tracking metrics, add those to your actual goal numbers previously set. Build a spreadsheet that takes into account the number of booth visitors you achieved through social media and where they came from. Add in your confirmed impressions via industry press and blogs (often a harder number to pin down: you should be able to determine a magazine’s circulation numbers, for instance, but knowing how many blog readers a specific blog has is probably harder – I’d suggest looking at Alexa rankings along with and although the caveat is that the data is very approximate).

Finally, add in actual leads and confirmed sales. When you track the numbers from show to show, and continue to implement social media to draw people to your booth, a clearer picture will emerge of which social media tools are the most effective and which are not. Having that information will help guide you to determine where to put your focus from show to show.

(graphic author: Gautheron – Creative Commons)


Do Pretty Ads Ring the Cash Registers?

Like millions I watched the Super Bowl over the weekend, not only to root for the Packers (!), but to gawk at the ads. Lots of clever ads put together which were damn entertaining. According to the Portland Business Journal, some of the most popular were produced by Portland’s Weiden + Kennedy, well known for creating great Nike ads over the years. They created the Chrysler and Coca-Cola ads which got a lot of critical and viewer praise.

My favorite (and it’s hard to choose, so if I were to write this article tomorrow, my fave choice might change) was the very popular VW ad with the mini-Darth Vader called “The Force.” It went viral before the Super Bowl and by Monday had garnered over 16 million views on YouTube:


While the Super Bowl is a terrific showcase for ad creativity, many critics (me included) wonder about the effectiveness of the ads. Advertisers spend around $3 million for a 30-second slot. Not to mention the time, energy and money that goes into creating the ad. Must be another three mil, at least, right?

That’s a ton of money, even if you’re Coca-Cola or Chrysler. As an advertiser you want it to pay off.

If the ad is number one on the popular charts but doesn’t sell more than a few bottles of coke or more than a few new cars, is the ad worth the investment? Hard to justify in my mind. But if the ad creates huge brand awareness and you’re able to point back to the ad as a key point in a rise in sales, you can probably justify it.

Hey, it’s the same with tradeshows – which is just another marketing tactic.

You spend a ton of money (it’s not cheap!), and hope the sales increase as a result.

So…some questions to ask as you prepare your creative for the tradeshow:

  • Is the booth pretty or effective? Or both?
  • Is your graphic message popular or does it ring the cash registers? Or both?
  • Is your in-booth demo clever and does it grab solid leads? Or is it just plain clever..?
  • Do your staffers have great questions for your visitors and do they use those questions to qualify a ton of great leads?
  • Do your leads make a nice pile of paper but fail when it comes to getting them to pulling out their checkbook to purchase your product or service?

It’s the same with websites, by the way. I’ve seen incredible looking websites which did virtually nothing for the business. And I’ve seen ugly websites that were extremely effective at turning a visitor into a customer.

Pretty and popular is nice. But sales effectiveness and lead conversion pay the bills.

Ways You Can Use QR Codes

Even though QR Codes have been in existence since the mid-90s, they’re only now become hip. Fashionable. Tres chic. (whatever that means)…

And if you put your mind to it, you can come up with all sorts of ways you can use QR Codes.

First, review the blog post where you can find out all about QR Codes and how they work and how to create them.

Then listen to the podcast interview with Marie-Claire Andrews of where she discusses ways to use QR Codes.

Then brainstorm a bit on how you might use a QR Code to assist your other marketing efforts. Here are some brain-starters…

  • Tradeshow rugs or flooring: easy to put a graphic on a custom piece of flooring. Putting it on a rug will inspire people to pull out their smartphones and capture the QR Code to see where it leads.
  • “The Mechanic” movie poster
  • Business cards: have too much information to put on your business card, like Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/YouTube links, and more…? Create a web page on your blog or website that has all of that, along with a bio, photo, or whatever else you deem appropriate.
  • Cupcakes!
  • Storefronts: mention a freebie if you scan the QR Code.
  • Best Buy label
  • T-shirts: I saw a QR Code t-shirt for sale online (just search any t-shirt site); upload your QR Code, include an invitation such as “Scan me to win!” and wear it proudly while people stop to scan you!
  • Like” us on Facebook
  • Marketing materials: Of course you can insert a QR Code in virtually any piece of marketing. The trick is to offer an incentive to scan: free download, limited-time product discount, exclusive offer, etc.
  • At a tradeshow: link the QR code to a ‘secret’ site where visitors can find such things as streaming video of the show, a virtual tradeshow website, special offers, photos, and more.
  • A few more ideas: business advertising, clues for a treasure hunt, an artist manifesto, link to a non-profit’s donation page, and a bunch more on this cool collection of QR Code ideas.

If you search for QR Codes on Google, there are just a million+ results. I would bet that in another year there will be five times as many. QR codes are exploding. The more companies that get involved will spur even more companies to get involved. It’s like a snowball rolling down hill. Or like global warming. Except for the snowball thing.

Tradeshow Collaboration Marketing

How can you work with a partner at a tradeshow? What can collaboration do to cut your tradeshow marketing costs and help spread your company’s name around a bit more?

While there are some benefits to be gained by working with partners in any endeavor, there are trade-offs to consider as well.

Share a Booth

Let’s say you’re a small company that struggles to come up with money for booth space and exhibit rental. If this is the case you might consider contacting a company that, while not a direct competitor, is at least in your industry and would benefit from exhibiting at the same show.

Mosaic, 20 Feb 2005

By renting the booth space together, you’re splitting the cost of both the space and the exhibit. Of course, you only get half a booth. Depending on your offerings, however, that might be a good fit and a good way to get your name out into the marketplace.

Another benefit comes when staffing the booth. By paring down the booth size and splitting with a partner, you need less people overall. While you would obviously want to have your side of the booth staffed, in some shows and situations one benefit would be to spell the other guy while he’s on a break.

Promote Each Other’s Products

Here’s a promotion that I’ve seen done successfully. Find another 4 or 5 exhibitors that are complementary to your company – but not direct competitors – and create a traffic-generation promotion. Create a map of the show floor highlighing the five participating booths, print it on bright paper, give each booth a stamp. Offer prizes from each exhibitor to be drawn from all maps that are stamped by all exhibitors and submitted. This encourages more traffic to each booth. Of course it’s up to you to take advantage of the additional traffic with your own offerings.

Social Media Pumping

Whether you’re on Twitter or Facebook, you can easily work out a similar promotion. However, instead of doing it on-site, do it online. Each vendor sets up a series of tweets via to drive traffic to their own – and their collaborator’s – booth. By doing this, you’re taking advantage of each other’s community, exposing all of the separate exhibitor’s online communities to all of the others.

Team Up To Impress

If you have a partner company that you work well with, float the idea of doing a ‘team dinner/party’ to expose each of the company’s to the other’s community. Company A invites a dozen or so clients, Company B does the same. The two companies split the tab. Everybody gets to know everyone else. Imagine if you could ramp this up to three, four or five companies.


With all of the various companies that exhibit at any given show, how can you leverage the event to help your company and assist another company for the greater good? Can you come up with a single product together? Can you combine two products for a single offering? A real estate company might team with a home staging company to offer a special deal at a show. A software designer might team with one of his clients to create a custom version of the software for a larger, different market.

There’s really no end to the amount of ways that you can collaborate with other exhibitors to bring both (or all) of you more business.

Get on your thinkin’ cap!

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photo credit: Genista

Nine Reasons to Love Tradeshow Marketing

What is there to love about tradeshow marketing? After all, it’s expensive, it’s hard work and you have to travel and set up stuff. And then stand for hours a day talking to hundreds or thousands of people. And then tear it down, pack it up and head home.

So what’s to love? Let’s count the ways…

  1. Opportunity: a tradeshow is a great opportunity to meet people who, in most cases, have PAID to be there and WANT to see what you’re showing off.
  2. Learning: when you’re attending a tradeshow you’re going to be exposed to hundreds of new products and service offerings in your industry.
  3. Competition: while the booth across the aisle may be competing with you, it’s easy to feel a kinship with him. After all, they’re in the same boat as you: trying to keep their business going and thriving. By sharing stories and getting to know each other, you can connect better to the community that you all share.
  4. Travel: If you don’t like to travel, scratch this from your list. But if you do, getting on the road for several days is always great – if for nothing more than a change of pace.
  5. Challenge: the simple challenge of putting your best foot forward at a tradeshow amidst all of the other exhibits is unlike other marketing challenges.
  6. Challenge 2.0: If you approach the next tradeshow as a personal challenge, see how well you can do in your sales, your presentation skills, listening, answering questions. There’s a lot to learn about your interpersonal skills engagement on the tradeshow floor.
  7. Opportunity 2.0: At a tradeshow you have access – if only for a few moments – to CEO’s company presidents, marketing managers, etc., any of whom can open great doors for you if make a good connection. So…how can you make a connection?
  8. Market Research: Your booth visitors are a great source of information – if only you ask. Do a survey, hand out questionnaires, have people demo new beta products so you can get in a little product testing while pitching your newest stuff.
  9. After Hours: Whether you’re in Vegas, New Orleans, Anaheim or Buffalo, there’s always a new place you can check out after the show. Take a client, get to know a colleague a little better. After hours at a tradeshow is a great opportunity for deepening relationships. And, uh, y’know…for having some damn FUN!

What can you add to the list? What do you love about tradeshow marketing?

Building Your Event-Related Community With Social Media

In the wake of the presentation I gave last week at the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association Access 2010 conference, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about what it takes to build community.

In the event industry, it’s my opinion that social media is an extremely useful tool to promote shows, create and connect with communities, and foster deeper connections while attending shows.

It seems that in one sense the social media world is just getting started with connecting at events. But with each new story, I sense that the ‘connecting’ is getting more involved and the ‘connectors’ are becoming more adept at the connecting.

And then this morning Paul Castain’s timely blog post on ‘How to Build an Online Community!’ shows up. Paul is a terrific connector and has built a large online community, and in this exquisitely useful post he shares what has worked for him.

If you’re looking to build a community around a specific event, there are some slight adjustments I’d make to his overall plan (which has a lot of great ideas).

If you’re attending a tradeshow, one suggestion might be to create a specific ‘virtual tradeshow website’ just for that show. It’s an approach that would make sense for those larger expo shows you attend, but likely wouldn’t be worth the investment of time or money for small, local or regional shows. Derek Mehraban of InGenex Digital Marketing shares his story in a recent TradeshowGuy Blog podcast.

If you choose not to create a virtual tradeshow website, make sure that you’re online with a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If you have a good presence on LinkedIn, include that as well.

Don’t forget the media: connect with industry bloggers and trade publications ahead of time. Let them know what new products or services you’ll be unveiling at the show. The press are attracted to new and shiny objects, so if you can offer something new you have a much better chance of getting some press mentions.

In the run-up to the show, collect your in-house list of clients, friends, acquaintances and prospects. Send out an e-mail blast a couple of months ahead of time asking people to ‘like’ your Facebook page, and follow you on Twitter and YouTube (if you have a YouTube channel).

With the show a month or so away, send another email reminder asking people to connect with you online. At this point, it would be appropriate to include a link to a short video about what they might expect at the show or a blog post promoting your appearance. Remember, you’ll get more response if you slant the article or video to ‘what’s in it for THEM’ and try not to make it so much about YOU.

Keep publishing: videos, blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates/photos, etc. During your planning, be sure to use a tool such as that allows you to schedule posts ahead of time. This will free up your show time to focus on the actual show, interacting with folks and sending out real-time tweets or posts (“just met @clientXYS at the show!”). Make a point of mentioning people by name or Twitter handle so they’ll feel loved.

With a couple of weeks to go, invite people to your booth (if you’re exhibiting), or to connect with you at a Tweet-up or other meeting. Find opportunities to connect face-to-face.

During these face-to-face meetings, collect business cards or other contact info. Schmooze! It’s fun!

During the show, try and shoot some timely videos, such as testimonials, customer or visitor interviews and post a few of them. Hold back a few for posting after the show.

Once the show is over, do a wrap-up or two. Post a few videos. Send out a thank-you e-mail with links back to your show follow-ups. Send physical thank you notes to those folks that you felt you made a great connection with – and those that you’d like to make a better connection with. A cool tool for card follow-ups is (yes, that’s an affiliate link).

As Paul points out, it’s great to have all of those online platforms, but the key is to keep engaged. INTERACT with those folks in your community. Respond to their questions. Reach out with an offline thank-you or phone call. Give content away with no strings attached. Find out what your community’s ‘pain points’ are and work to resolve them. Work to move those online connections to an offline relationship or friendship.

When it comes to building a community around a tradeshow, keep in mind that those folks you’re connecting with will become more active during show time. Work to leverage those folks to stay connected with you via Facebook or your newsletter.

You’ll find that the first show will likely fall short of your expectations. Don’t worry. Social media connections take time. Keep at it. From my observation, as exhibitors and organizers keep at it, each show becomes more successful than the last and the connections get deeper and wider.

With social media connections, you’re in for the long haul. Or you’re likely not in at all.

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

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