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

Mobile Marketing

How I Approach Social Media Interaction in 2018 (and a little history)

Since social media has become such an integral part of today’s online world – what would you do if you had to withdraw from Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn? – I think the approach to how it is effectively used has changed. And it comes down to a number of factors. I’ve been thinking recently about how my use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn – and to some extent, YouTube – has changed over the years. Thought it might be fun to spend a little time going over that here.

Recent Changes

Let’s start with a recent change. When I first got onto Instagram, the name TradeshowGuy was in use, so I picked TradeshowExpert and moved on. Last year, in the process of registering TradeshowGuy as a trademark, I looked again and discovered that TradeshowGuy was no longer being used on Instagram, so I grabbed it. Figured the more accounts I could get with that handle, the better. I use the TradeshowGuy handle on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And have my eye on at least one more.

Back before we called it social media, we called it “Web 2.0,” which as a usable term was doomed from the start. I had heard about Facebook, and joined on June 1, 2007, when there were just over 20 million users. Yeah, I know, right? 20 million!

Facebook

For years, I had just a personal account with Facebook, but eventually created a number of organization pages, including TradeshowGuy Blog on Facebook. I tend to not post a lot to that page, because it’s never gained much traction, with only 355 current followers. My newsletter automatically posts to the Facebook TradeshowGuy Blog page, and a few other items, but it’s lagging in my attention.

Twitter

First Tweets on TradeshowGuy!

I joined Twitter on November 19, 2008. That’s when I first used the TradeshowGuy handle. It’s one month before I first posted on this blog. The first blog post came about when I interviewed Magic Seth for an older podcast that I was currently doing. The podcast was very random, with no rhyme or rhythm. Twitter took a little getting used to. Today on Twitter I jump in and out, and admit it’s my most-used platform. I’ll frequently use Hootsuite to schedule about 3-4 daily tweets, focusing on a mix of promotion of blog posts, videos, podcast, products and some totally random fun stuff. When I’m “live” and not putting out scheduled tweets, they usually are a mix of personal photos, retweets, links to articles I’ve found in and out of the tradeshow world and things that just interest me. And of course, when people respond or like tweets, I try to acknowledge them with an upbeat response. I also admit that when I just want to zone out and scroll through some social media feed these days, Twitter is my game of choice. It edged out Facebook a couple of years ago.

LinkedIn

I signed up for a LinkedIn account on April 17, 2006. LinkedIn is a good platform for engaging with connections and entities and people you follow, and for letting people know about new blog posts, podcasts and videos. Engagement is modest, but it seems to be consistent. To me it’s all about presenting yourself as a likable, easy-going person (because that’s what I feel I am!) and avoiding religion and politics. In today’s fractured tribal world, I’ve found through experience that if you post a strong political opinion it can blow up in your face. And it’s typically unpleasant. For that reason, I stick to business.

Instagram

First Instagram Post!

Instagram, being a visual medium, is also great for business and personal. Given that the account has the TradeshowGuy handle, I do tend to toss a lot of business related photos up, but certainly not exclusively. My friends and family know me as TradeshowGuy, so it works both ways. And as I learned a loooong time ago, you really can’t keep your personal life and business life separate, no matter how hard you try.

YouTube

The YouTube Tradeshow Marketing channel is used (almost) exclusively at this point for posting the video versions of my podcast. I do use it for other types of videos, but only sporadically. I took a look and see that my first video was posted November 2, 2008, right around the time I started this blog, got on to Twitter and more than a year after I joined Facebook. I am a little surprised that the first video has over 1,000 views! You’ll also find how-to videos, and some fun stuff in there as well.

Pinterest

Pinterest is my least-used social media platform, and I think that’s a bit of a shame, because when I do go there, I like it quite a bit. I occasionally will add pins to the various boards I have, many of which revolve around technology, music and movies and other fun things. I have noticed lately that there are almost 6,000 views of the various pins I have, so maybe I should spend more time there! But in my experience, creating new pins by uploading photos is a bit tedious, which is probably why I shy away from it.

Overall, while I’m still pretty active on social media, I’ve pulled back from my busier online days of 2010 – 2012. In fact, back then, this blog focused solely on blog posts about how to use social media with events, conferences and tradeshows. After a ton of articles with just the social/event focus, I opened it up again to the wider world of tradeshows and events. I think social media is important, and when I’m at an event, I’ll make sure to post a least a few things on a handful of platforms. I’ve found that Twitter is the go-to for most event-goers, and Instagram is a strong second. It’s easy to include hashtags, easy to share, easy to search, and generally a cleaner look than Facebook.

Live Video

What about video? I use pre-recorded video regularly on the vlog/podcast, as you probably know. But here in 2018, live video is how a lot of people roll. You can hardly go a day or two without seeing some famous person such as Gary Vaynerchuk or Peter Shankman doing a live video on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. I’ve done a handful, but my preference is recorded. Live video is fun, but it’s not really in my wheelhouse, and unless I’m on the road and have something interesting to talk about, I’d rather not just do live video of me, you know, having breakfast or something. Like some other people! But I expect I’ll do more live video as time goes on.

TradeshowGuy Blog

The most important online real estate you can have as a business, whether small or medium, is a blog. With all of the other platforms, you don’t own the platform. Rules can and do change, and those changes can have a big effect on how people find you or interact with you. And if you do something against their rules, you can find yourself closed out of your account, and you have to fight to get back in. Doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  With a blog, you are leasing a service which hosts your blog, but you own the content, and you control how it looks. Does it work? Yes, to a degree, but blogging and using social media doesn’t automatically bring new business in. In 2016, fully two-thirds of my company’s business came from people that found me online. It hasn’t been that significant since then, but to me, being out there on social media, and regularly creating content on a blog is one of the best and cheapest ways to be found online – and when people are ready to buy, they go looking for someone that can solve their problems.

Engagement is Key

The bottom line to a successful social media program is to understand three things: realize that it’s a never-ending task, that you have to be yourself – even if you’re representing a company brand – and that you have to engage. That means responding when people comment or ask questions. And don’t wait a day or two or a week. Respond as close to real time as you can.

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.

IMG_3184

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.

cash-register-576181_1280

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

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

Call 800-654-6946 for Prompt Service
Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected <br />
QA4E-AZFW-VWIR-5NYJ