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

Newsletter

Tradeshow Competitor or Collaborator?

You may think the difference between a competitor and a collaborator is easy. Pretty cut and dried. But is it?

In tradeshows you can meet all sorts of other companies. As an exhibitor, you can probably identify the direct competitors pretty easily. They’re selling either the exact same thing you are with a different name, or something that’s so similar that most people couldn’t tell them apart.

Coke vs. Pepsi. Nike vs. Adidas. Ford vs. Chevy. Classic competitors all.

There are a number of ways to work with competitors, as there are many ways in which you can identify potential partners for tradeshow promotions.

Collaborate with a Competitor

As competitors, one easy way to team up is to both promote a non-profit that is important to your industry. For example, if two outdoor clothing makers partnered up to help raise awareness for a non-profit that was working for, say, public access to forest lands, that would be a good way to position both companies as aligned and working toward similar goals.

Similarly, competing companies could team up at a tradeshow to fight for attendees’ rights. Bigger voices can have a bigger impact, especially if those voices came from well-known companies.

Create a Partner

When it comes to collaboration, it’s a bit easier to dream up ways to work with other companies that will be exhibiting at the same show. You can come up with joint promotions (you sell coffee, they sell pastries; you sell cars, they sell high-end floor mats) that are a good natural fit.

Before the show, get together with the other exhibitor and brainstorm ways you can move traffic around, or benefit from each other’s booth visitors. For example, you may have a newsletter sign-up sheet: on the paper, give people the option to sign up for your collaborator’s newsletter, too. Spell out the benefits of doing so.

However you approach collaboration with a competitor or a partner that’s not a direct competitors, realize that it will take more time and energy to make it happen, and likely a sign-off from managers to move forward. But the right collaboration can help raise brand awareness for both companies.

Pool Your Resources

If both companies are small but want to make a bigger impression, consider pooling your resources to grab a bigger booth space. Instead of 20 10x20s, share a booth and make it a 20×20. Of course, in this instance you’d want to really be ready to show visitors that you’re working together in a very significant way. But by doing this, the booth can show off more of each company’s strengths, and since it’s probably going to be a one-time appearance, it would make sense to save even more and just rent a booth instead of having a new custom booth created.

Come up with contests, or ways to involve more than one exhibitor that moves attendees from one booth location to another. Invite visitors to pick up a Bingo-like sheet with a handful of companies on it. If they go to all booths mentioned and have the sheet stamped, they can have the completed sheet submitted for a chance to win a prize package from all the companies involved.

Beyond the Show Floor

Off the show floor, you could throw a dinner or party and invite both (or more) company’s customers. By doing so, the underlying and unstated message is “We’re proud to be associated with this company and stand by their services and products.” It shows visitors something new about one company that that they may not have known before and raises the level of trust and integrity for all.

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Can’t-Miss Tradeshow Newsletters

Doesn’t every Tom, Joe and Susie have a newsletter these days? After all, they can be very useful in getting your message in front of eyeballs on a consistent basis.

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The fact is, my inbox is filled daily with dozens of newsletters of all sorts: news, marketing, comic strips, social media engagement, big biz, small biz, and so on.

I tend to open about one in ten if I’m in a generous mood. More like one in twenty or one in fifty. In other words, it’s hard to get my attention (or anybody’s) these days with just a newsletter. There’s got to be something in there that makes it worthwhile to click and open. And read.

But there are several newsletters that I read frequently. Some I open every single time right when I see it and stop what I’m doing. Others get put on the ‘later’ list and I usually make it back to them.

These are the tradeshow industry-related email newsletters that I read almost every time they arrive. I say almost because, hey, even I have to take a day off now and then! There are others out there – some are closed to the public and others don’t arrive frequently enough to warrant attention, and some I just don’t know about – but here are the tops in my book.

Exhibitor Magazine: a companion to their monthly print magazine, the newsletter is a useful and professional addition to your inbox.

TSNN: The Tradeshow News Network: between this and Exhibitor Magazine, you will have your pulse on the beat of the tradeshow industry news and happenings. Bonus: they have several editions available.

Classic Exhibits Tradeshow Tales: Mel and Kevin at Classic Exhibits in Portland, Oregon, offer great insight, humor and passion on a regular basis.

Andy Saks, Spark Presentations: Andy is a tradeshow presenter, Emcee, Staff Trainer and Auctioneer. In other words, he gets up in front of people. A lot. And his now-and-then newsletter is always a good read.

Anders Boulanger, the Infotainers: I enjoy this newsletter as much as any. Anders is a solid writer and communicator and always has thoughtful, meaty – and useful – pieces.

Marlys Arnold, Tradeshow Insights: Marly has been a show organizer and an exhibitor and comes at the topic from a unique perspective. A worthwhile read anytime.

Susan Friedmann, Tradeshow Tips: Susan is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) who has written many tradeshow related books and publishes a weekly tip sheet for exhibitors.

Skyline Tradeshow Tips: Friendly and useful, this newsletter doesn’t seem to show up a lot but when it does it’s good.

BONUS

Here are some non-related business/marketing/sales newsletters that I read all the time. I think you’ll love ’em:

Monday Morning Memo: Roy H. Williams of Austin, Texas, author of the Wizard of Ads and a former radio ad salesman, rings my Monday morning with a loud and clear bell every week. I look forward to this.

Sales Tips for the Aspiring Rock Star: Paul Castain, sales trainer and marketing enthusiast is always a fun read.

Tim Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body, publishes a newsletter every Friday (and at other random times) of stuff that has caught his eye. Good stuff.

Dave Pell’s Next Draft, billed as ‘The Day’s Most Fascinating News,’ is all of that and more.

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Social Media Resources Newsletter

The latest Tradeshow Marketing Tips newsletter is a ‘short-list’ of our favorite social media resources.

There are places to get started blogging, photo-sharing, doing online social media research, and more. You’ll find video-sharing sites, web conferencing, event promotion sites and things that we’ve used over and over—along with a few items that we’re just learning about. If you have a resource to share – please do! Just leave a comment on this post…and thanks!

Download the newsletter with the latest list and get past newsletters here.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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