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

Mobile Marketing

Natural Products Expo West: Days Three and Four

Babies – lots of babies – along with young kids, the occasional dog, lots of mascots/costumes, and a few weirdly dressed people. Typical Expo West!

natural products expo west

Saturday night – Day Three of Expo West – was spent hanging out with Oregon Business folks at their annual soiree at McCormick and Schmicks, and later, producing Monday Morning’s vlog/podcast. Now let me see if I can manage a recap of the final two days of Expo West.

Dozens of people I spoke with agreed that the show was somewhere between amazing and fantastic, or perhaps crazy-busy and overwhelming. Just saw the press release this morning from New Hope which showed that there were over 85,000 attendees, and 3,521 exhibiting companies, including more than 600 first-time exhibitors.

I mentioned in my vlog/podcast that I was impressed by the great detail that exhibit designers go to to capture a brand’s essence. I also got into a conversation with one booth staffer about the wild colors that are everywhere in the show. “Can you imagine what this show would be like without all of those colors?” he asked. Agreed. Bright and bold colors everywhere.

There were also a lot of BIG hanging signs, from 40’x40’ aluminum structures/fabric graphics to wooden panels and what looked like carved wooden signs. Does anybody look up these days at shows?

natural products expo west

There were a lot of clever interactive things going on at booths, offering people an opportunity to walk into the booth space and do something. It’s always a great way to capture attention. I counted at least a dozen “selfie” stations, with some including a circular light where you can take a selfie where you’re fully and evenly lit, and some stations where they’ll take a photo and then email it to you. One of the most fascinating and eye-catching interactives was a Rube Goldberg contraption in the KIND Snacks booth, showing how KIND snacks are made from start to finish.

There were many opportunities to tweet a hashtag with a photo for a chance to win something, so it was good to see the social media tie-in as well. Although, frankly, it almost seems run-of-the-mill, when six or seven years ago social media was all so new!

Another thing I noticed in booth fabrication was the use of see-through printed fabric. Everywhere I turned there was another example. See-through fabric is very useful in creating a barrier, but the see-through aspect gives you a view of what’s beyond it, without intruding on people that might be in a meeting room for example.

This was my sixteenth consecutive time I’ve attended Expo West in support of clients, for years, the halls have been set up in a specific configuration: foods, manufacturing, supplements, new products and more all have had their own areas. That didn’t change this year, but the layout changed – drastically – and it was interesting to see how the whole layout was essentially flopped from one end to the other. Lots of comments from people who weren’t sure how it worked, but from my view it worked just fine. Took a little getting used to.

Sunday – Day Four – started off much slower, in terms of visitors roaming the aisles. I was there at opening of ten o’clock, and the back reaches of the halls were lightly travelled. it didn’t take long for that to pick up. By late morning, it seemed almost as busy as previous days. It did give me a chance to speak to more people without feeling rushed. By 2:30 to 3 o’clock, exhibitors were offering all of their samples to attendees so they wouldn’t have to transport them back to HQ. And of course, some folks were pulling down banner stands and packing up suitcases by 3 o’clock. Ya ain’t s’posed to do that, but it happens anyway. Planes to catch.

natural products expo west

And finally, I know of no other show where, frankly, you never need to eat a meal offsite for ate least three days. Virtually every company is sampling the goods, from sausage, bagels, bread, toast and eggs to energy bars, drinks, coffee, teas, juices and other goodies. It’s easy to consume a couple of thousand calories without even batting an eye. Even if you try to avoid eating much, you’ll end up taking bite-sized samples here and there.

And don’t get me started on the varieties of chocolates.

Walking the Floor at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference

Here in Oregon, the cannabis industry is fast-growing, which means that tradeshows promoting the industry are popping up frequently. I walked the floor of the Cannabis Collaborative Conference last week, meeting people and posting photos of participants and exhibits on my social media outlets, especially Instagram and Twitter. I came up with a few takeaways:

Participants are very upbeat and positive about the future of the industry, despite the federal classification of marijuana as a dangers drug, and despite the recent announcement by the DOJ that they would more aggressively target people under federal laws, even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

One comment came from an exhibitor, who observed that attendees and exhibitors at this particular show were more likely those who were new to the industry, wanted to get into the industry or were smaller players. “The bigger players don’t need to be at this show,” she said.

CDB (cannabidoil) is exploding, positioned as a “non-high” pain treatment. A year ago it was barely mentioned. Today in Oregon it’s seen everywhere, it seems, and is heavily promoted as an alternative to other over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

I managed to see a portion of one of the presentations, which was a panel discussion on the challenges that the industry faces in the banking industry. As a cash business, stores are faced with getting that money into a banking system that resists the cash because, as institutions that are regulated by the federal government, they may be punished for doing just that. No easy answers!

I see that Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, that supports the industry, gave a keynote addressing the Department of Justice’s decision to repeal the Cole Memo. Would have liked to see that!

From the perspective of a tradeshow marketer, I saw a mix of good, clever and creative exhibits along with those that barely were able to cobble together a printed vinyl sign backdrop. Those that I talked to were excited about their position in the industry, though, and looked forward to being able to afford more expensive exhibits in the future.

Here are a few photos from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference.

10 Tradeshow Marketing Secrets They Didn’t Tell You

Well, these might not be actual tradeshow marketing secrets, simply because by its very definition, a secret is something that is not well known. The following items are fairly well known and no doubt you can easily find them online – but the question is: are you using them to their full capacity and capability?

tradeshow marketing secrets
  1. First, let’s look at first impressions. Hey, you only get one chance! And as you know, in tradeshows, perception is everything. Make your first impression strong, and the second piece of the puzzle will fall into place a little easier.
  2. Next, know that the image you put out at a tradeshow isn’t just a random piece of your brand – it’s your whole brand. It IS your brand. If you miss the mark here, your next puzzle piece just got harder.
  3. Up next: your staff. You can have the sweetest exhibit at the show, but if your staff sucks, it will all go for naught. Which means that your staff should not only know what they’re doing and be presentable and friendly and good with people, they should be well-trained in the challenges of dealing with hundreds of people on the chaos of the tradeshow floor.
  4. Now, be sure to have something for people to do when they arrive at your booth. It could be a product demo, an interactive tool, a video to watch, a virtual reality headset to wear – anything that engages them for more than 8.4 seconds.
  5. Ninety percent of success is showing up. Of course, you say, you’ll show up. But do you really? Are you really there for the full show? Are you there ready to listen to a client’s complaints and respond? Are you there to jump in when there is a problem or challenge and not leave it for someone else? Be there. All the time. Not just when you’re on the clock.
  6. Get the word out before the show. Pre-show marketing can take many forms. First question: do you have a plan? Second question: does your plan work?
  7. Cross your T’s. Dot your i’s! Details are important. When you slip on an important detail, someone – perhaps a potential client – is bound to notice.
  8. Yes, details are important, but so is keeping your eye on the bigger picture. Tradeshows are a powerful way to reach markets that you otherwise would not be able to access so easily and economically.
  9. Really, it’s all in the follow-up. Yup, I was kidding back in that earlier paragraph where I said the key to tradeshow marketing success was to draw a crowd and then know what to do with them. You’ve got to have a good follow-up plan in place. And be sure the work the plan.
  10. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes, you just gotta MacGuyver things and adjust to a changing landscape. Be willing to go with the flow and see where it leads, as long as your overall strategy doesn’t change.

7 Ways to Create Social Media Buzz Before the Tradeshow

So you wanna create social media buzz before the tradeshow but aren’t sure exactly how to pull it off? Of course there are dozens of strategies and tactics that will raise your profile above the average company, but not all will work in all situations and of course nothing is guaranteed. Your tweets and Instagram posts could be swept away by an unforeseen event or distraction that swoops up the eyeballs you were hoping to grab!

Create Social Media Buzz
Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill marches into Expo West with a dixieland band.

One of the most memorable methods was one I saw years ago when Griffin refurbished an old VW bus and drove across the country for a couple of weeks, tweeting and posting photos and videos all the way. By the time they drove the bus onto the tradeshow floor, hundreds of people were waiting for them. So you might consider how to play up your travel to the event. It might grab attention if it’s different than the norm. Anyone want to bounce from SF to LA on a pogostick wearing a branded shirt? Hey, just a thought!

So here are some more thoughts and ideas on how to create a little social media buzz prior to the show:

  1. Know the show hashtag, so that everything you put out is trackable and findable by show followers, whether they follow your actual account or not.
  2. If you have new products or services, create a teaser video or three and get them out onto your social media platforms.
  3. Maybe you’re going to debut a new exhibit at the show. Work with your exhibit house to tease elements of the exhibit with photos prior to the show.
  4. Consider creating a special landing page on your website just for the show. Let people make appointments, view more videos, learn about new products, get invited to parties, sign up for email or text notifications, whatever.
  5. If you have a company CEO or other management member speaking at the show or being part of a panel, be sure to include that in any information you post. And if you’re sponsoring a specific event or area of the show, don’t forget that.
  6. Got a contest or something else to draw people to your booth? Start promoting the contest online a week or so prior to the show. Any sooner and it becomes old quickly. Wait too long and you won’t reach as many people.
  7. Create a special hashtag just for your company for just this show and invite people to post photos of themselves wearing your product using the hashtag. Draw several prize winners from among the photos during the show and give away a bunch of your products to both show attendees and those that weren’t able to attend.

By engaging with attendees prior to the show, you create social media buzz that increases the odds you’ll draw more people to your booth during the show. If you manage to come up with this year’s VW bus promotion that goes viral, you might even get a raise!

8 Ways to Use Instagram at a Tradeshow or Event

Planning on putting more focus on using Instagram at your next tradeshow or event? Congratulations. After all, it’s one of the most popular social media platforms out there with more than 400 million daily active users. But before you get started, do a little planning and it’ll be much easier to capture and post photos.

  1. Use the Event Hashtag. This way people at the show will find your posts much more easily.
  2. Go behind the scenes with photos. Show the exhibit set up, the show prep meeting, or the travel to the show. Build some excitement as you approach the show, and of course during and after.
  3. Don’t focus exclusively on your products or services. The most boring Instagram accounts are those that do nothing but promote, promote, promote their own stuff. Sure a product placement is cool, but make sure you have faces, preferably happy and smiling. Show off your exhibit and the people that visit.
  4. Use the Geotagging options. And don’t just stop there. Spend some time going through other photos from the same event and location: either comment or like those so you’re building engagement and followers.
  5. Promote the event before, during and after. Show what you’re going to do, show your team doing it, and then once it’s over, show more photos of what you’ve done.
  6. Promote a contest. Instagram contests do work – but be sure to post your rules for how it works, and how you choose a winner. And be sure to give away a relevant prize.
  7. Share to other platforms. Yeah, it’s easy, but be clear about how you’re doing it. If you just click the buttons, you’ll likely get a link to your Instagram post instead of the actual image. So either share the images separately, sign up for an IFTTT account, link your two accounts, and add this recipe that will “tweet your Instagrams as native photos on Twitter.”
  8. Share the event hashtag photos on a monitor in your booth. Yeah, you’ll probably need some smart nerdy tech guy to set this up, but it’s definitely doable.

Have a great time at the show – and share on Instagram!


Free report: What 7 Questions Do You Need to Ask Your Exhibit House?

10 Event Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

This is a guest post by Miriam Couturie

Event planning is no easy task, but it’s a vital part of marketers’ jobs. Companies spend about 20 percent of their budgets on marketing for events. Plus, 67 percent of business-to-business marketers find marketing at events as one of the most effective ways to meet future clients and customers. This is your opportunity to shine as a brand at the exact moment customers are most open to new relationships and budget allocation for upcoming initiatives. Don’t let that opportunity slip away by making these easily avoidable mistakes.

Mistake #1 Being Invisible

Blending into the background is never a good idea. The whole point of attending events is to advertise, so standing out is a must. With so many others at your events, get creative to draw some attention to your booth. Don’t just show up with a white tent. Make sure to invest in one that has your logo. You can also consider adding giveaways or games to your booth to make it more interesting. Even a little music can go a long way. Finally, make sure to bring business cards so that it’s easy to swap contact information and follow through on next steps.

Mistake #2 Sending the Wrong People

Your staff represents you and your company so send team members who really know what they’re talking about, and that you would feel comfortable speaking to your best clients. If you send people who can’t speak to your brand or products, your company may appear incompetent and could hurt your image.

Mistake #3 Poor Location

It’s your job to select the perfect spot for your event. Locations depend on the nature of the gathering — you probably wouldn’t choose a small, quiet cafe for a big tech conference. The easiest way to avoid this? Aim for high-traffic areas. Put your booth near anything that could end up with a long line. You can feed off the success of free booze bars, or big swag giveaways, and infiltrate those lines to strike up conversations with everyone.

Mistake #4 Difficult Booth Setup

There’s nothing worse than having to rush through setting up a complicated booth. The simplest solution is to look into easy-up tents. Custom outdoor event tents, or even custom canopy tents for indoors, are a great answer. Not only will this take some stress out of the event, but you’ll have greater visibility with custom printed graphics.

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Mistake #5 Ignoring Social Media

Social media has become vital: Eighty-four percent of event organizers promote their events on Facebook, and 61 percent use Twitter. Don’t think that because you’re attending in person, you can bypass social media. Instead, design a custom hashtag and encourage booth visitors to use it. Many events promote their own hashtags that can help advertise your tent and company. Posting photos of your booth/tent and posing for photos with other social media active attendees will give you a deeper reach into the community, so don’t be shy. Be the life of the party online and off.

Mistake #6 Underestimating Costs

Events are expensive, and not allowing wiggle room in your budget is a vital mistake. Maybe there’s an entry fee you didn’t know about, or one of your props breaks and needs replacing. Fact is, you can always have to expect the unexpected so be prepared to spend more than you planned. Plus, with event costs increasing by between 2.5 and 5 percent each year, this year’s booth will likely cost a little more than last year’s.

Mistake #7 Not Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Because 44 percent of attendees use their phones at events, it’s vital to have a mobile-friendly website. That means moving away from tiny font and photos, aiming for data that is visible, and clickable, on a Smartphone. Chances are that your booth visitors will be looking at your website to view your product line, but if your website is not mobile- friendly, you could end up losing out on sales. This is a risk, you do not want to take and must avoid at all cost.

Mistake #8 Leaving the Booth Unattended

You went through all the trouble of signing up, paying for, travelling to, setting up, and planning your day around manning the booth …. Why are you wandering around and abandoning your booth? What if you walked into Starbucks and no one was behind the counter? What if you went into Best Buy and there were no nerds in blue shirts around to help you find the giant TV you probably don’t need? Event booths are useless without you at the help.

Mistake #9 Paying Full Registration Price

Event registrations take up a big chunk of cash. But because nearly 65 percent of event planners believe early-bird discounts are a great way to promote events, by thinking ahead you can find discounted prices, leaving extra room in your budget for an outstanding booth.

Mistake #10 Forget to Follow-Through

Attending the event is only the beginning of a marketer’s work. After meeting potential customers or clients at an event, it is vital to gather their contact information. Business cards are ideal — hand out your own, too. Follow up within a week after the event, so you and your company are still fresh in their minds.

Conclusion

By avoiding these mistakes, your event is sure to go off without a hitch. Taking these steps can help you stand out in a large crowd of other businesses and attract more attention and new clients and customers. Avoiding these common mistakes can do wonders for your company.


Author: Miriam Couturie is the Marketing Manager at Ins’Tent Industries. She is responsible for managing the marketing department along with all tradeshows and exhibitions. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise through educational content and blog posts

Your Tradeshow Marketing Questions Answered [Webinar Replay]

It appears that our first webinar of 2016 went off with a hitch or a hiccup. At least that’s what it felt like! Here’s a replay in case you missed it:

Sign up for future webinars at TradeshowGuyWebinars.com. Our next one is set for February 16 at 10 am Pacific, and will feature Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston Texas. The title of his presentation is “Tradeshow Leads Guaranteed” so you’ll want to make sure to attend!

How Cloud-Based POS Software Can Benefit Tradeshow Exhibitors

The following is a guest post by Jodie Pride:

Cloud-based point of sale systems are becoming increasingly popular, especially among smaller retailers. They are usually less expensive than traditional POS systems and can be more convenient for retailers because they can access their customers’ data from anywhere, providing they can connect to the internet.

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And it’s not just offline transactions that cloud based POS benefits: if the retailer has an ecommerce site, they can also solve a number of problems when it comes to transactions.

Traditional cash registers – you know, those big clunky tills that a lot of shops still use – and even some modern POS softwares tend to be awkward and clumsy to set up and use, which can slow down transactions (which you definitely don’t want) and devour your time. It also takes time to train new employees to use this outdated equipment. That’s where cloud-based POS comes in…

Tills are practically rooted to the floor – there’s no way you’re going to be able to pick it up and move it around should you need to, as you would need to for a trade show. Having a cloud based POS system can be a lot more convenient than old-fashioned tills because merchants can access customer data from anywhere as long as they are connected to the internet. This feature is very handy for small business who sell in trade shows and farmers markets, brick and mortar stores and on their ecommerce site – you now have a portable POS system which you can use just about anywhere.

With a cloud based POS, you now have a portable till which you can take with you to trade shows, making life much easier – you can now make sales without being tethered to a cumbersome till, or collecting cash in hand for products sold.

This is a guest post by Jodie Pride who writes for Veeqo who provide inventory management software and cloud based POS software.

TSEBK download intivation2-rounded corners

Write More Orders at Trade Shows by Replacing Paper with Digital Technology

This is a guest post by Sarah Leung

Looking at your trade show strategy, you may already be doing a lot of things right: a perfectly designed booth, a well-trained staff, high foot traffic, and the ability to build great rapport with customers and prospects.

You may also be part of the shrinking majority of trade show exhibitors still writing orders on paper. If this is the case, it’s likely that you’re still not getting the most out of your trade shows.

For anyone who’s ever attended a trade show, it quickly becomes apparent that they can be extremely hectic. In a sea of competition, both vendors and buyers are looking to maximize their time on the floor. Customers often have a long list of booths to visit, while exhibitors need to work quickly in order to see as many buyers as possible.

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In this environment, the slow, tedious process of writing orders on paper can result in lost business due to queuing, distracted buyers, and smaller orders. More and more wholesale brands are realizing that this inefficiency is hurting business, and that the solution can be found in technology.

Sales order management software, for instance, allows brands to store product information, images, customer details, order history, and sales reports on a mobile device. Orders can be written with just a few taps and swipes, and sales reps see more customers on the trade show floor. Read on to learn how technology can expedite your customer interactions at trade shows and yield big results.

Building the Case For Technology At Trade Shows:

  1. You Aren’t Slowed Down by Product Catalogs and Samples

Any sales rep knows that flipping through a paper catalog and sifting through a pile of samples isn’t the optimal way to sell. It’s a time-consuming process, and it can be overwhelming for the buyer.

Technology can expedite this process in significant ways. Imagine that your entire catalog is available digitally on an iPad and organized in easy-to-navigate categories. You can browse the catalog with just a few swipes, zoom in on high-resolution product images, and add products to an order with a quick tap.

If the customer sees a physical product that they like in your display, you can scan the barcode to add it to the order. Think about how much faster (not to mention cooler) this experience will be for the customer.

  1. You Have Existing Customer Information Readily Available

If you’re writing a lot of business at trade shows with existing customers, having their information available on your digital order-writing interface is invaluable. No one likes to go through the tedium of answering questions like “What’s your shipping address?” and “Can I get your phone number?” for the umpteenth time.

By having access to contact details, shipping and payment preferences, and order history during your face-to-face meeting, you can just pull up their record, check out their past orders and preferred products, and start writing the new order.

If you’re meeting with a new customer or prospect, you can just type in the details, or snap a photo of their business card for later.

  1. You Can Duplicate Past Orders in Seconds

For a customer that simply needs to place a reorder, you can use order management technology to just pull up the past order and duplicate it. You can use the saved time to share new items from your line, and hopefully increase that order size before it’s processed.

  1. You’ll Have Accurate Inventory Information

Accurate, up-to-date inventory information is extremely valuable on the trade show floor. Customers may ask about inventory availability, and calling your back office to confirm quantities before placing an order can slow down the process.

Order management software can give reps access to inventory information in real time. Having a reality check on your inventory numbers can also allow you to sell more strategically. If you’re low on inventory for certain items, you can notify the buyer (and avoid unpleasant surprises later) or simply steer them in a different direction.

  1. You Can Automatically Apply Customer-Specific Discounts

Remembering customer specific pricing can be a major thorn in a sales rep’s side. In the craziness of a busy show, having to remember those details can be a nightmare.

With sales order management software and mobile order writing, vendors can store those customer-specific discounts, so that there’s no need to do anything more than choose products. The correct pricing will be automatically applied. If you’re negotiating with customers in real time, one-time discounts can also be added.

Ultimately, what all of these features add up to is major time savings—for both you and your customers. It’s time that can be used to have more high quality conversations with buyers, and to ultimately increase your return on investment at each and every show you attend.

Author Bio:

Sarah Leung is Content Marketing Specialist at Handshake, where she creates high-impact sales, marketing, and technology-related content for wholesale brands. When she’s not writing, she’s talking with sales reps, sales managers, and other industry professionals to source new topics of interest and further understand how Handshake has helped them increase sales and build their businesses.


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Is your booth stuck out in ‘left field’?

Earlier this month I attended Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center. Yes, it’s a big show with a few thousand exhibitors, and over 70,000 attendees. And it continues to grow.

I spoke with literally a few hundred exhibitors, and almost all of them said the show was ‘great,’ ‘excellent,’ ‘busy’ and so forth. I say ‘almost’ because there were a few exhibitors who felt they weren’t getting all they could or should. One exhibitor said that he felt ‘stuck out in left field of Dodger Stadium!’ and wished his small 10-foot booth could have been in a busier hall.

A very lonely booth?
A very lonely booth?

I get it. As a first or second time exhibitor at a big show, stuck in left field of Dodger Stadium, wondering where the crowd is – that’s a tough place to be.

Is there an answer to this dilemma? Depends. If you’re a first or second time exhibitor who didn’t have much money to spend, you might end up out in left field, away from the madding crowd. So even though attendance at the show was up it might not do much for you.

If you anticipate that you’ll be in this situation, here are the steps I’d suggest you take in order to alleviate a crowd shortage.

Promote, promote, promote.

Pre-show marketing is more important than ever if your booth location will prevent a bulk of the audience from casually running into your booth. This can come in many shapes and sizes (and should), but at the minimum, spend some time letting your current clients know where you are.

Email: If the show offers access to an email list of attendees, think about renting the list for a one-time email blast. If you have an internal list, make sure they know about your booth location and product or service offerings.

Prizes: In your promotional material, offer prizes or free samples to visitors. Consider offering a premium giveaway for the few that respond to a small promotion, or to those targeted distributors or potential clients.

Social media: Whether it’s done internally by one of your staffers, or you hire an agency, keep the chatter going about what’s going on in your booth, and what specials or attractions you have.

In-booth guests: Is there some tie-in with a notable author or other figure in your industry? Perhaps that means an author who’s looking to promote a new book, or a speaker who’s willing to chat and sign autographs in your booth for an hour for a fee.

Unfortunately, many exhibitors that get a poor location come away feeling that the show really didn’t do well for them, even though attendance was up and most exhibitors grabbed a lot of leads. Yet when asked what they did to promote their appearance, they don’t have much of an answer.

Having a poor, less-trafficked location can be a show killer, but it also means that the success falls upon you much more to make the best of it. The audience is there. It’s up to you to let as many of them know as possible.

TSEBK download intivation2-rounded corners

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