What is the future of tradeshows, events and conferences? While most people in the industry I speak with think things will (mostly) get back to normal at some point, that may still be some time away. Which leaves virtual events as one way of keeping the clock moving forward.
This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee offers a chat with Kaleidoko’s Jonathan Tavss, who discusses a recent virtual event he helped facilitate, and what the future of tradeshows and events, combined with a strong digital presence, might look like:
The social distancing guidelines put forth due to the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut off a majority of the economy, like turning off a spigot. It would be easier to line-item the businesses that are open than those that are closed: grocery stores, drive-through coffee shops and some business offices. Ten million in the US have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks.
The impact of this on the nation, on the world, is unfathomable.
I know many people who are sitting at home most of the day, binging TV shows or reading books or even playing board games or sharing music online. Others are making use of the time to learn a new skill, to tackle that novel, to write music, to create.
Others don’t know what to do.
If you’re still working, whether from home or in the office, and you have to sell to keep things going in the company, what do you do? What approach do you take?
I subscribe to several sales newsletters and thought I’d share a few thoughts. Some came from the newsletters, others from just my own experience. But here we are in a time where it’s difficult to even find someone to talk to.
First, when you call, it makes sense to ask your contact what approach their company is making. Are they putting everything on hold for the time being, awaiting the end of the social distancing and figuring they’ll kick back into action when the pandemic is over? Or are they moving forward with business as usual, as much as they can?
If it’s the former, tell them, that, ‘yeah, it’s a crazy time, I get it,’ and ask if you can send a quick email with your contact information so that when we do get back to normal they can reach back out to you. If it’s the latter, move into your typical sales questions to uncover any needs they may currently have for what you’re offering.
Another part of the equation is what you’re selling. If you’re in the restaurant supply business, chances are that your potential buyers are not even open, unless they’re doing take-out or drive-thru only. If you’re selling Personal Protective Equipment for health workers, you probably can’t keep up with the demand. It all depends on the specific products or services you’re selling.
Most people probably fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Which means you’re going to have to find a strategy that keeps at least some business coming in.
With millions stuck at home, that means people are going online to shop, they’re connecting via video meetings (Zoom is being mentioned dozens of times a day in the mainstream press!), telephone and email.
Questions to ask yourself:
What shape is the company website it? Does it need upgrading? Can you add new products, new services and new ways for people to connect?
Are your social media platforms being updated frequently? With so much time on their hands, everybody is on social media.
Can you offer a digital version of your services? Lots of people are taking this time to create online learning classes or other ways of sharing their information.
Can you connect with others regularly? Sure! Some people are starting up regular Zoom meetings just to have a face-to-face connection with others outside of their home.
Bottom line: be there for clients and prospects. Don’t stop doing outreach, however that looks for you. Don’t be pushy but if you continue to think you can offer something of value, something that your clients and prospects can really use, keep doing it.
You built an event calendar out for the year. You planned,
you upgraded, you designed and produced new graphics, maybe you even invested
in a new exhibit. But if the show doesn’t take place, how can you make the best
use of your upgrades or your new graphics?
A couple of suggestions:
Put together a short video, maybe a minute or less,
that you can share on social media. Explain that while you were planning to
launch a new product or debut a new booth, but the show cancellation prevented
you from doing so. Instead, show it off in the video. If it’s just a graphic upgrade,
show those off in the video. If it’s a new exhibit, your exhibit house should
have provided 3D renderings – show those off as well, and make sure to tell
your clients and prospects and social media followers that you’ll be using it
as soon as you’re able at the next show – whenever that is.
Use social media to launch the new products. If it’s
feasible, have a little contest and give away some samples. Pick a few winners
and mail them the samples.
Convene people for a Zoom virtual meeting. Maybe even make it a virtual tradeshow to where you can show off your new booth renderings – and hey, if you want to go all out and it makes sense for you and you have the room, set up the booth and use that as a backdrop for your Zoom call. Show it off!
Do one-on-one outreach to clients. Make calls, send
emails. If convenient (or wise), schedule coffee or lunch. Keep in touch! Heck,
schedule a Zoom call and send a coffee gift card ahead of time so they can have
a fresh cup on hand! Talk to them about what you were going to do with the
Other promotions: create a small brochure and mail it to your clients and prospects showing off your new products that you were going to debut at the tradeshow. Have a sale. Offer free shipping. Do a BOGO sale.
Bottom Line: It looks like the frequency and functionality of tradeshows and events are going to be drastically cut for the foreseeable future. Don’t wait to figure out what you can do in place of tradeshow and events. There’s always something.
You’ve heard the phrase “think outside the box.” But in the
tradeshow world, sometimes it makes more sense to think inside the box.
In many cases, it does make sense to think outside the box. Which means, generally,
to do things you don’t normally do. Turn it upside down. Work backwards. Do
But tradeshows have so much riding on them that the more you
have a plan and the better you stick to it – with minor deviations as warranted
– that it pays to stay inside the box.
Make the plan. Execute the plan. Stay inside the box.
While you’re making the plan, many weeks or even months
before the tradeshow, that might be the time to think outside the box. What can
you do that’s different? What your competitors aren’t doing? What might be an
activity in your booth that attracts people? What kind of different ways you
can think of to promote your appearance?
During the brainstorming and planning phase, come up with as
many different and unusual approaches you can think of that might help you
stand out. But vet them. Test them. Make sure they are practical and can be
executed as flawlessly as possible. Then, once you have something in place, iron
out the rough spots and prepare it for the show.
And once the show starts, don’t stray from the script unless
there’s agreement among the principals that it’s a good move. Otherwise, work
the plan, take notes on how it went, and make adjustments for the next show.
Thinking outside the box isn’t a bad idea, in fact in many cases it’s a great idea. Just know when and where to do it. The tradeshow floor where thousands of visitors are passing by, where competitors are putting up their best, is not the place to wing it.
Wear colorful branded clothing. Whether it’s a staff
of two or three, or twenty, having colorful branded clothing will immediately
let visitors know who’s working the booth and who’s a guest. Bright colors
attract, so put your logo on the front and an enticing message on the back. And
to change things up from day to day, create a different colored set with a different
message for each day of the show, and make sure your crew coordinates. Bright colors,
especially if they’re tied into your brand work well: yellow, red, orange, blue,
Setup a giant prop and invite people to take a photo.
Could be anything: a mascot, a giant purse, a full-size model of one of your
products (if it’s small, for instance); something that stops people in their
tracks. I’ve seen mascot, angels, musicians, giant hanging props, exhibits made
from bicycle frames and more. They all had one thing in common: they begged to
have their picture taken.
Once that photo has been taken, invite the visitor to spread
the word on social media and include the show hashtag to make sure the post
gets seen. Offer prizes to people that photo and share online.
Give something away and offer an incentive to wear it.
One way is to print up a few hundred t-shirts or hats with your logo along with
a fun message and tell people that if they put it on right there, they can also
take home another gift. And tell them if you catch them wearing it at an
after-hours show (be specific as to which one), you’ll be giving away $50 bills
to random shirt wearers. This type of promotion gets others involved and spreads
the word about your booth and products throughout the show.
Have a unique exhibit that begs to be seen. Sounds
straightforward, but to break out of the cookie-cutter mold, it takes a
designer that’s willing to create something unique and wild and a company that’s
willing to spend to make it a reality.
Give visitors something to DO. Interactivity goes a
long way. At the NAB Show, there were several exhibitors that gave visitors a
chance to learn new software by joining them for a free class. Not only are you
drawing interested people in, you’re keeping them involved for up to an hour
and showing them exactly how the product works.
Contests. Give people a chance to win something by
guessing the number of beans in a jar, answering a quiz, spinning a wheel or
something else increases the chance you’ll get visitors to stop at your booth.
Make sure to engage them in a brief conversation to uncover their needs regarding
Famous mugs. Lots of companies hire famous (or at
least semi-well known) people to be a part of the show. Authors, speakers, sports
stars, actors, and so on can all draw a crowd. Authors in particular, if they’re
in your industry, can be a good draw if they have a new book out. I’ve seen
dozens of people in line to pick up a free copy of a new book and get it signed
by the author (and snap a selfie!), and I’ve waited in line to get a prop soft baseball
signed by Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
Comment wall. I see these more and more. Ask a bold question
or make a bold statement and invite people to chime in with their thoughts on a
wall. Invite people to snap a photo of what they wrote and share it on social
media (make sure the wall is branded and has the show hashtag on it).
Bring media production to your booth. Know someone
that is a podcaster in the industry? Invite them to record a few episodes of
their show in your booth, and make sure to provide some good guests for them,
whether it’s people from your company, or others. The simple act of recording a
show in your booth will make a lot of people stop. That’s a good time for your
staff to engage those visitors politely to find out if they’re prospects.
If someone in your company has written a book, offer free copies of the book along with free printed photos with visitors and the author. This has worked great for years for Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill, one of our long-time clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits. Every time they exhibit at the bigger expos, Bob spends time signing books and posing for photos while a photographer takes photos and has them printed up in a few moments for the visitor.
There are literally countless ways to draw crowds to your
booth. It all boils down to creativity and execution. What can you do to
improve the traffic at your next show?
I got an email the other day from someone whose newsletter I had just subscribed to, and in the introduction email there was a link to the top 5 most read blog posts on her blog. That’s when an idea light lit up over my head and gave me an idea for a blog post (as a blogger, you’re always looking for ideas, right?).
Next thing you know I was pawing through my Google Analytics account to find out what were the most-viewed posts on this blog. These are the ones that floated to the top, for whatever reason. It’s all organic. I don’t advertise, but I do share links now and then on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. On occasion there might be a link here from Pinterest. Or another blog.
This blog is aging. It’s over ten years old, having been launched in November, 2008. There are almost 1000 posts.
One more note: the analytics breakdown shows the front page as “most-viewed” and a couple of pages (not posts) showed up in the top ten as well, including the Contact Me page and the We Accept Blog Submissions page. But beyond that, here are the top ten blog posts since the beginning of the blog (in traditional countdown order):
Number Ten: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Exhibit RFPs. I created a one-page sheet on what should go into an Exhibit RFP (Request for Proposal), and posted it on Cheatography.com, a site for thousands of cheat sheets. Kind of fun. They regularly sent me emails telling me how many times it was downloaded (500! 1000! 1500!). Not sure how accurate that is, but obviously it’s been seen by a lot of people. From September 2017.
Number Seven: How to Build a Tradeshow-Specific Landing Page.Inspired by Portland’s Digimarc, it’s a look at the steps you can use to put together an online site specifically to interact with potential tradeshow booth visitors. From December 2017.
Aaaaand, at Number ONE: SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. It still surprises me that this post gets a whopping 3.95% of all of the traffic on the site. At the time I wrote it I had been spending a fair amount of time with a friend who was going through school to get his degree in marketing, and one thing that we discussed in depth was the SWOT Analysis. S=Strengths; W=Weaknesses; O=Opportunities; T=Threats. It’s a great exercise to work through in regards to your tradeshow marketing appearances. Check it out. It’s from February 2015.
This is a guest post by Vaibhab Kakkar of Digital Web Solutions.
Getting to rub shoulders with the leaders in digital marketing. Hearing their experiences and learning from them. Building useful contacts and partnership opportunities like never before.
Digital marketing conferences bring it
all down under one roof.
And that’s why it’s always great for
aspiring marketers to be a part of these conferences. But, can you or your
fraternity attend all the big conferences? (Like
all of them?)
Certainly not! You’ll need to make a
To help you do that, here’s a list of the
top 9 digital marketing conferences. To make sure these are worth your while
and buck, we have shortlisted these on the basis of content.
So, let’s get going!
1. Digital Summit: Austin
Key Topics: Customer’s
journey throughout the funnel, SEO, email marketing, content, UX.
Date: June 04-05, 2019
With a total of 40 digital marketing
experts assembling under one roof to make the Digital Summit: Austin happen,
the event will certainly be rich with priceless insights.
To start off, the pre-event talks on 3rd
June will include words and wisdom about influencer marketing and popular CRO
Moving beyond that, the conference will majorly
focus on every important factor affecting digital marketing strategies.
So, be it SEO. Content. Email marketing.
UX. Or growing your network along with your net worth, within the two days,
speakers will open up and elaborate about all of these.
Also, failures and success stories don’t
even need a mention.
The tickets are running out shortly and
are priced between $200 to $995. A basic $200 ticket will simply allow you
access to the masterclass, while a $995 platinum pass will include everything from
lunch to exclusive keynote meetup & platinum swag.
As the call to actions on websites and in
ad sets are crucial for converting prospects into leads, the CTA conference
will shower useful knowledge about how you can optimize your CTAs to the max.
Talking about techniques for writing
brilliant CTA copies, choosing the right CTA colors, links and much more, this
conference will guide you with everything you need for CTA optimization.
Super early bird passes are priced at CA$426.93
for existing Unbounce customers and CA$747.93 for everyone else.
Grab your passes here before the super-early bird period goes off and the prices go high.
Also, to get a rough idea of how the CTA conference events usually are and how the last one was, you can have a look at the speaker videos from last year’s event.
3. Nottingham Digital Summit
Key topics: SEO, PPC,
Location: Nottingham, UK
Date: July 03, 2019
Take your digital marketing skills to
another level with over 700 delegates and 26 expert marketing speakers and
trainers. The grand event in Nottingham is going to have some of the digital
industry’s leading thinkers, visionaries, and practitioners.
And another great thing about it?
Starting off at $50, the event is going
to be the cheapest on this list. In fact, the costliest pass itself is priced
at only a hundred dollars.
Which is why the event is supposed to be
attracting a large number of aspiring and amateur marketers looking forward to
honing their skills.
Grab your passes here, before the day is all sold.
Key topic: Digital
Location: Seattle, WA
Date: July 15-17, 2019
An electrifying and highly energized
digital marketing conference, MozCon may just be bursting many digital
marketing bubbles this year.
And with all the speakers and attendees
from all walks of the marketing business, it may just be a perfect place to
network with like-minded marketers and marketing enthusiasts.
By being a part of this event, you’ll get
to learn about SEO, mobile, growth, analytics, content and a lot more.
The exact location of the event is The
Washington State Convention Center situated on Pike Street.
To get an idea about what follows in MozCon 2019, you can have a look at the speakers who were there at the 2018 MozCon.
The price that one has to pay for
attending the event varies for members and non-members of Moz. While members of
Moz can avail a pass for $799, non-members will be required to pay $1,299 for
the same pass.
To get your tickets before the early-bird deals expire, click here.
5. eTail Eadigitalst 2019
Key topics: Retail and
Location: MA, Boston
Date: August 19-22, 2019
If you are a retailer looking forward to
expanding your brand by exploring and bagging on new digital retailing
opportunities like e-commerce, this conference can change your stars.
eTail has been inviting and gathering top
retail executives from around the globe for 20 years now. The key USP of their
conferences is that they bring their “how-to’s” from leading retailers. This
motivates newbies and other experienced-yet-aspiring retailers to scale their
businesses on their will.
The tickets for the conference are reasonably priced between $1,299 to $3,899. For further details and booking your place, you can check out their official website.
Discount coupon for eTail passes: Retailers can use MKTERMS19 to avail 20% off on current prices.
Key topic: Inbound
Location: MA, Boston
Date: September 3-6, 2019
What makes INBOUND stand out of all the
other digital marketing conferences on this list? A stand-up comedy show.
But calm down, that’s not the highlight.
Apart from lighting up the mood with a spot-on stand-up show, the event is
going to discuss in detail some of the most effective inbound marketing
strategies and techniques.
Also, the event will include innovative
discussions and presentations relating to inbound. This is to make sure that
the attendees get the most of the killer inbound growth tactics.
Speaking of the strength, INBOUND is
going to be totally houseful with over 25,000 guests arriving at the venue from
more than 100 nations. The past INBOUND events became famous for getting
influential speakers like Michelle Obama, Deepak Chopra, and Brian Halligan and
Dharmesh Shah on-board.
Apart from that, the event is charmed up with an instagrammable ambiance, the INBOUND studio, and platforms for interviews, videos, and curated content (which can also be reinvented for IGTV).
Prices range between $299 and $1,399. For booking your seats, go check out their register page.
7. Social Media Strategies Summit: NYC
Key topic: Social media
Location: New York
Date: October 15-17, 2019
With over 63% of customers expecting companies to offer services via their social media channels, the need for investing rightly in social media marketing is real.
Helping you with the same, Social Media
Strategies Summit: NYC is going to talk in details about crafting, managing,
and optimizing all your social media marketing strategies.
That’s the first aim of the conference;
instructing the attendees about the nuts and bolts of a successful social media
strategy to position their brands for success.
The tickets start at a price of $1,399 and go up to $2,289. To see various pricing features and to book yourself before the prices go up, see their pricing page.
8. Internet Summit
Key topics: Digital
marketing using Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and several other platforms
Location: Raleigh, NC
Date: November 13-14, 2019
For all the digital marketing enthusiasts
who are always hunting for new marketing tactics and using new media platforms
for expanding their reach, Internet Summit can be a boon.
Speakers include Dave Isbitski from
Amazon, Diamond Ho from Facebook, Caroline Hubbard from LinkedIn, Seth
Weisfield from Pinterest, Ben Morss from Google and many more from other
Also, the event will cover topics like
email marketing, storytelling content, mobile marketing, UX design and
optimization, analytics, etc.
And the best thing about the summit
provides is a continued learning experience with access to speaker slides and
recordings after the conference, so, you don’t have to worry about forgetting.
Standard ticket prices start at $445 and go up to $1,195. However, if you book before July 24, 2019, you can save $200 on each pass that you buy.
9. Digital Marketing Leaders Summit: Hong Kong, 2019
Key topic: Digital
Location: Hong Kong
Date: December 13-14, 2019
One of the greatest digital marketing
conferences taking place in the last month of 2019, Digital Marketing Leaders
Summit: Hong Kong will uncover the secrets of SEO, influencer, email, and
social media marketing.
The conference is going to have some of
the leading thought and internet marketing leaders from across the globe.
To get an idea about their previous events, have a look at the list of their previous speakers.
Early bird passes are priced at $799, $899, and $ 1,099. To know more about what the three passes offer and to book yourself before the early bird offers go void, visit their registration page.
For marketers and entrepreneurs trying to
step-up their marketing game, the concept of digital marketing conferences can
turn out to be a game changer.
But with hundreds of such conferences
taking place every year, choosing the best one can get you in sweat. To ease
things out for you, here we talked about 9 of the top digital marketing
conferences, hand-picked by us, so you know what you just can’t afford to miss.
Hopefully, this helped you.
Don’t forget to share this piece with your marketer friends to pick the right conference for you and to book tickets before the seats dry out.
Vaibhav Kakkar is the CEO of Digital Web Solutions, a globally trusted agency with a full suite of digital marketing & development solutions. Vaibhav believes in building system over services, and has invested in multiple tech startups including RankWatch, NotifyFox and a CRM software to help scale up client agencies from scratch to niche-leaders with million dollar turnovers.
I’ve been attending tradeshows for nearly twenty years. In
looking back on photos from that era – the early ‘Naughts as the first ten years
of this century are sometimes referred to – things look different. It’s often
subtle, but what the photos from that era show is what’s NOT there. You have to
look closely and compare the images from around 2003 – 2005 with images from
The big changes?
Video: Depending on the show, some are stark and blatantly obvious. For example, I saw so many large video walls at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas I lost count. Big, small, portable banner-stand-like video walls, large walls used for training (Adobe and others), most of them extremely high quality.
Some smaller shows or different types of shows may not have
the large video walls (or only a few), but my impression is that a majority of exhibits
have large video monitors. These typically range from around 40” to as much as
70” and all show sharp images. It’s much easier to attach monitors on exhibit
walls when the monitors are so slim compared to what was available a couple of
Fabric Graphics: Printing on fabric has come so far, it’s hard to imagine what it was like at the turn of the century. Printers have gotten so much better and fabrics have also improved that in many cases what you’re seeing on the exhibit walls are fabric graphics printed with such depth and clarity it compares with top of the line paper printing.
LED lighting: Hand in hand with fabric graphics, the evolution of LED lighting has meant better lights for a fraction of the cost. Combine LED lights and an aluminum frame with fabric graphics and voila you have a fantastic-looking lightbox that shines!
Augmented Reality: I’ve only seen this a few times at tradeshows, but I think it’s going to spread. It’s showing up at museums and other permanent installations. Why not tradeshows?
3D Virtual tours: Again, not used so much these days, but check out the recent interview I did with Phil Gorski from Ova-Nee Productions and see what they’re doing in the tradeshow space. I can see this happening more and more to take the physical tradeshow to a larger audience in the digital world.
Virtual Reality: Not something that is taking over the tradeshow world, but it is definitely there and a smart exhibitor that chooses to use VR will plan to do it right. Here’s an interview I did with Foundry45‘s Dave Beck.
Interactive Touch Screens: Depending on the way you want your visitors to interact this can be a big benefit to help show off your company, products and people.
Charging Stations: At the turn of the century hardly anyone thought of the need to charge a portable device. Now it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have that need a time or two a day during a long tradeshow. Charging stations can be custom-designed and built to fit your brand and to fit seamlessly into your exhibit.
Apps: Of course, there were no apps 15 – 20 years ago. Today it is a rare tradeshow that doesn’t have its own app where you can find exhibitors, information and subscribe to updates about the show.
Social Media: This also didn’t exist back then. Today it almost seems old school to be doing regular social media posting about your tradeshow appearance. I mean, even Grandma is on Instagram, right? But social media is still a good way to post photos, respond to comments and let your followers know what’s going on while your company is exhibiting.
Good infographics communicate information in a way that no article alone can and these 100+ digital marketing stats are no exception. This new post from VisualCapitalist.com draws research from Hubspot, BrightEdge, Statista, FoundationInc, OptinMonster and many others to illustrate results that marketers get from email, social media, mobile, paid advertising, lead generation, content marketing and others. Yes, this is digital only, but so many tradeshow marketers are combining digital marketing with their face-to-face marketing, that it made sense to not only show a bit of the infographic, but link to it. Here’s a link to the blog post; here’s a link to the infographic itself. Or click the graphic below and go direct to the graphic which we’ve put on this blog.
There are a lot of basics to marketing, and we all often think we’re doing everything we should. Then we hear someone like Ronnie Noize spelling out some simple steps and we think “hmmm…might have missed something!”
Ronnie Noize of DIY Marketing Center in Vancouver, Washington, joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, and shares not only her top five marketing tips, but her top five “prosperity” tips as well. Good stuff!