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

Promotional Products

All You Need to Know About Tradeshow Planning and Traveling

This is a guest article by Lee Becknell of Pinnacle Promotions.

Trade shows provide companies and marketing professionals with excellent opportunities to grow their brand awareness and generate valuable leads, but there’s a lot of preparation that goes into participating in a trade show. Between budgeting, arranging travel plans, preparing staff members and ordering promotional products, it can be difficult to prioritize all the necessary tasks—especially if you’ve never attended a trade show before.

We’ve compiled some helpful tips to guide you through the trade show process. From determining which conventions to attend to booking your travel plans, you’ll be able to master your first trade show experience and grow your business in the process.

Selecting the right tradeshows

The first of many steps in the trade show preparation process is selecting which events are the best for you to capture the attention of your target demographic. Begin by researching upcoming events in your industry and decide if you’d like to showcase your business on a local, regional, national or even international level. If you’ve never attended a trade show as a professional, you may want to start small with a local or regional event before moving on to national and international events.

Depending on factors like location, other attending vendors and time of year, some trade shows may be more beneficial to your business than others. Ask other experienced business owners in the industry for tips and try to seek out feedback on specific shows for more insight on which events would be the most advantageous to your company. Keep in mind that you should try to plan all events for the year at once to keep yourself organized and provide plenty of time to make arrangements, including enough time to order promotional products.

Book flights and hotels in advance

Determining which tradeshows you want to attend well in advance ensures enough time to plan, prep your employees and purchase travel accommodations before prices begin to rise. Tradeshows typically attract people from across the country, and sometimes even the world, which means everyone will be scrambling for plane tickets and hotel rooms. The earlier you can plan, the better off you’ll be in terms of securing accommodations.

If you’re the one in charge of planning for tradeshows, you should develop a travel protocol to ensure that all employees know how they’ll be arriving at the event and where they’ll be staying. Once the most willing and qualified employees have been selected to participate in the event, you can create a spreadsheet to organize important information such as flight and accommodation details. If the event is close enough to drive to, coordinate groups to carpool.

Many tradeshows are hosted in convention centers, which are usually located inside a hotel. If you can plan the trip in advance, you may be able to secure rooms right at the convention center, saving your employees travel time and the additional costs associated with transportation.

Budgeting for the event

Setting a budget for any given event is an essential part of the trade show planning process. A good rule of thumb for estimating the total cost is to multiply the price of a space at any given event by three. This should give you an accurate guideline on how much you’re likely to spend on all major expenses, including booth rental, display materials, travel and promotional products.

Set objectives for the tradeshow

Tradeshows can provide businesses with many different kinds of opportunities—networking with other influential members of the industry, generating leads, expanding your brand influence and building a reputation for your company. But, before you hit the trade show track, you should set some clear, obtainable goals for your business.

First, determine specifically what you’re hoping to get out of each event and avoid goals that are too vague. Are you looking to expand your brand’s exposure? Generate sales leads? Recruit employees? Announce a new product line? All of these objectives are common reasons to get your company involved with trade shows. By narrowing down your intentions, you allow the business to more accurately create materials and select promotional products that will reflect your goal and lead to your target results.

Order promotional products well in advance to use as trade show giveaways

Promotional products are vital to the success of a company’s display booth. Handing out a unique product that people will actually use will help your business stand out and make an impression at the trade show. Though attendees certainly go to these events to learn more about the vendors and network with other professionals in the industry, people still tend to gravitate towards booths offering some type of trade show giveaway.

Attract more people to your booth by offering useful and interesting trade show giveaway products like customized travel bags or retail-inspired tumblers. Once you’ve attracted people to your booth, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to them about your company and spark their interest in your products or services. Another huge benefit of promotional products is that these items work as usable advertisements. Every time someone reaches for that promotional product with your company’s distinct logo, they’ll be reminded of your business, which can lead to conversions and positive word-of-mouth reviews.


Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.

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Small Biz 101: Budgeting for Trade Shows

This is a guest article by Lee Becknell of Pinnacle Promotions.

Trade shows take a great deal of forethought and planning, but your business will reap substantial rewards from participating in these types of events. Maybe your business is relatively small and you’re looking to expand your demographic, or you’ve just undergone a company rebranding – trade shows can provide a platform to spread your brand’s message and inform people of your products or services.

Whatever your intentions may be for attending a trade show, you’ll need to put a lot of planning into the process, which includes creating a budget. Use this trade show checklist to ensure your budget is considering all essential components such as promotional products and trade show giveaways, travel and booth fees.

Booth Space

One of the most essential aspects of your trade show display, your booth should be secured as soon as you decide to attend an event. The larger the booth space, the more expensive the rental cost will be, so give some serious thought to how much space your company will actually need. Aside from booth size, the location of your display plays a role in price determination. If you’re interested in a spot closer to the trade show’s entrance, you’re going to end up paying more. Though a location closer to the entrance may gain more attention, opting for a booth further in the back of the space could cut costs.

Utility Expenses

Once you’ve selected a booth at the event, you’ll need to secure any other utilities your display may require, including electricity, WiFi, AV services and other accessories. This part of the budget often gets overlooked by those who are not as experienced with trade shows. As you’re planning for the event, consider what types of extras your booth may require. Are you planning to play an informational video about your company or show photos of products? You’ll need to make arrangements for electronic connections and TV displays. Write down any additional costs and then inquire with companies near the event space to get a price estimate and add this into your budget.

Staff Costs

For a successful trade show experience, you’ll need a well-trained, professional group of employees who are willing to attend the event and share their expertise with guests. Because trade shows are typically considered occurrences outside of normal work hours, you should factor in additional wages to compensate qualifying staff members. Prior to the event, you’ll also need to train employees on what to say, how to behave and what to wear at these events. To present a sleek, united front between employees, you can purchase uniforms specifically designed for trade shows like comfortable Nike t-shirts branded with your company’s logo.

Travel and Accommodations

Aside from booth rentals, traveling to the event can be one of the most expensive parts of your trade show budget. The best way to keep this cost down is through early planning. Determine which trade shows your company will attend for the entire year and then begin scheduling travel plans right away to avoid rising prices as the event approaches. Work with other members of the marketing team to decide how many employees will be needed at the event. Then, factor in the cost of flights or renting vehicle transportation plus hotel accommodations. Keep in mind that booking a place to stay far from the event may save money in the short term, but don’t forget the additional travel costs to get from the hotel to the convention center.

Promotional Products and Trade Show Giveaways

An excellent method for spreading your company’s message and brand, promotional products and trade show giveaways, commonly called “swag,” should be a focus for your trade show preparation. Offering some useful or unique items to attendees is a great way to capture their attention and give them something to take home that will remind them of your company.

Select well-known brand-name items and have them personalized with your logo or choose a promotional product that’s beneficial to others in your industry. It’s best to order these items in bulk to get the lowest possible price. In order to plan how much you’ll spend on promotional products, estimate how many trade shows the company will attend in a year and then research how many people are expected at each event to get a sense for the number of promotional products you should have on hand.

Booth Graphics

Now that you have your booth space figured out, you need to consider how you’re going to make your company’s area look attractive and professional—feel free to get creative here. Most companies that attend trade shows will order custom signs with the name of their business and sometimes the company motto. Offering brochures or pamphlets can help inform attendees about your business and give them something to remember you by along with promotional products. People who frequent trade shows are interacting with dozens of different businesses in a matter of hours or days. It’s rare that attendees will remember every single company they encountered, so providing them with helpful reminders, like handouts and trade show giveaways, will encourage information retention and may generate prospective leads.

Plan How to Transport Booth Accessories

Another minor detail that many companies overlook when planning for trade shows, logistics are essential to transporting your supplies. If you’re traveling a long distance with a lot of equipment (think TV displays, furniture for your booth, etc.), then you’ll likely need to book a freight service to deliver the accessories. For companies that don’t require much equipment, you can also consider shipping essential items, including your promotional products, to the trade show location to lower your overall cost. Be sure to get an estimate on either logistics services or shipping costs when planning your budget.


Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.

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Determining Which Tradeshow Metrics to Track Based on Show Objectives

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the main goal of all tradeshow marketing is to grow your business, right? Yes, you’re right. But that’s a general and somewhat vague-sounding goal, so it’s worth breaking it down a bit more.

The main goals for exhibiting typically fall under these categories:

Branding

Lead Generation

Sales

Most everything you can do, whether it’s pre-show marketing, in-booth activities, or post-show follow-up, helps support these three main goals.

To support your Branding efforts, consider the following goals:

tradeshow metrics

Easily recognizable exhibit that captures your brand. How do you measure this? One way would be to survey visitors as they pass through the booth to gauge their feelings on the exhibit.

A trained booth staff that knows and understands your show goals and how to properly interact with your booth visitors. This isn’t something that is easily measurable, but investing in your booth staff by hiring a professional trainer is an expense that can be measured – and I’m confident you’ll see an improvement in critical metrics as a results.

Samples given away – if a lot of people want your stuff, that’s a good indicator. Easy enough to measure.

Social media engagement. Did you get good response from the photos and videos you posted from the show floor (as well as before and after the show)? Compare post count and engagement from show to show.

When it comes to Lead Generation, the following metrics and activities can contribute to the overall success:

Making sure that your lead has concrete contact information and specific follow up details. Count leads and track trends from show to show.

Tracking the overall visitor count. Yes, this is hard to do, but with technology it’s becoming easier. By knowing the percentage of visitors that convert to leads, you have valuable information that can be used at subsequent shows.

Sales Success comes from the follow up and the tracking of the total amount of sales achieved as a direct result of a show. Here’s where it gets a little dicey. Some tradeshow leads will pay off immediately, others in the medium-term and some in the long-term. If you can attribute a sale in March of 2019, for example to a show you did in July of 2016, add the profit earned from that sale to the Return on Investment from your July 2016 show. You probably won’t automatically know this information, especially if your company is a fairly large business and goes to several shows in a year. But by tagging the prospect as someone that first came into your sales funnel at that specific July 2016 show, no matter how many follow up steps it took, if they become a new client and you can attribute the income from them to a specific show, make sure to do so.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 30, 2018: Mike Stanton

With so many places to order branded merchandise, how do you know what you’re really getting? Sometimes it takes an expert to help you figure it out. This episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee feature Mike Stanton of Agitprop Productions discussing the ins and outs of tracking down quality promotional branded items.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: LED lighting!

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Responsible for Drawing a Tradeshow Crowd? 9 Top Notch Ways to Spend Your Money

Drawing a tradeshow crowd is the boiled-down essence of the reason for exhibiting at a tradeshow. With hundreds or thousands of competing tradeshow exhibits, every single one of them wants to find a way to draw the biggest crowds throughout the tradeshow. Having a crowd – and knowing what to do with it – is the best path to success in your tradeshow marketing endeavors.

drawing a tradeshow crowd

Given that, let’s take a look at ways you can spend a little money and draw a crowd.

  1. Hire a pro. Professional presenters know what they’re doing. They will put together a short presentation designed specifically to not only draw a crowd but inform and educate the crowd about your product or service.
  2. Have an exhibit that is visually appealing and feels comfortable to walk into. Many exhibits look great but feel intimidating and will turn people away. Does your exhibit invite visitors to come in?
  3. Do consistent pre-show marketing. Letting people know what to expect at your show is one of the keys to getting people to make a special trip to your exhibit.
  4. Have in activity that relates directly to your product. Digimarc’s appearance at the National Retail Federation expo in New York gave attendees a hands-on experience that was unique and unforgettable.
  5. Leverage your social media activity. Make sure that all posts include the show hashtag and your booth number.
  6. Have a famous person in your exhibit. No, you can’t hire the Brad Pitts, George Clooneys or Jennifer Lawrences, but you can hire an author or speaker that is well-known in your industry to draw a crowd.
  7. Have a well-trained and fun booth staff.
  8. Offer food. Yes, at a food show, you won’t stand out that much. But at a non-food show, it can help draw a crowd. One exhibitor I saw years ago at a tech show made smoothies for visitors. Since it took a minute or two for each smoothie to be made, the staff had plenty of time to chat with folks in the smoothie line to determine if they were prospects or not.
  9. Offer a unique giveaway. Promotional items are a dime a dozen, but if you are offering something useful and cool, word will get around.

And remember – once you have drawn a crowd, be sure you know what to do with them!

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Tradeshow Giveaways for 2017

Frankly, I don’t know that much about tradeshow giveaways. I tend to leave that to the people I know who have been doing it for years. Maybe it’s easy to pick something out of a catalog and submit an order. Choosing the right giveaway that resonates with your audience takes more thought and insight.

So I thought it might be fun to see what shows up when you search for tradeshow giveaways + blog posts + 2017.

What’s New for 2017?

First, here’s a post from the Delta Marketing Group. It’s a 2014 post that was updated earlier this year. It highlights tech giveaways such as smartphone smart phones, cable dock magnet mounts, keystands and more. There are also several with non-tech items such as socks, adult coloring books and more.

Perry Office Plus offers a look at light-up items, chargers, LED flashlights and others.

EmbroidMe offers a variety of items in this infographic.

tradeshow giveaways 2017

The idea behind tradeshow giveaways would seem to be to make something useful so that they keep the item around for a long time. IAEE looks at some of these items, which included phone chargers, wearable tech and others. If your giveaway is environmentally friendly, it leaves the visitor with a positive impression of your company.

Metro Exhibits looks at some of the best ideas for 2017 giveaways, including keychain LED lights, sports bottles, drawstring bags and more.

Let’s wrap it up with this blog post from Crazy Dave’s Promos, which offers tradeshow giveaways such as USB flash drives, totes and bags, stylus pens and more.

Of course you can easily go online and order tradeshow giveaways. But to me it makes more sense to find a trusted partner that you can work with over time. It’s a good way to keep you aware of trends. This helps you come up with unique offerings that match with what your company is trying to do with tradeshow giveaways.


Twice a month we send out some great deals – and nothing else! Get on the list now – click here!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: April 3, 2017 [video replay]

On today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I look at daily routines. What’s yours? Do you have one? Should you have one? Take a look/listen:

And as for today’s One Good Thing: it’s the Sound Opinions podcast from WBEZ in Chicago.

 

 

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6 Unforgettable Tradeshow Tips

Here are six random but unforgettable tradeshow tips to take you to a successful tradeshow experience.

  1. Standing out. Your tradeshow exhibit should stand out from others in any way it can. Of course, with hundreds or even thousands of booths trying to attract eyeballs, that may be difficult. But if you realize that every other booth is trying to do the same, you can stand out by being different. That may mean a dynamic color, a hanging sign, bright colors, bold statements and compelling questions in your marketing message.
  2. Freebies. There are right and wrong ways to approach giving away trinkets and tchotchkes. Don’t give something away just for the sake of giving something away. Having a pen with your logo on it may mean something to you, but to a visitor, it’s like every other pen they got that day. If the giveaway is usable and memorable, it may get noticed longer. For instance, a premium giveaway for a special visitor that you’re really trying to sell may mean a metal coffee cup with your logo or something similar. Work with your promotional products company to find the appropriate freebie.
  3. Business cards. When was the last time you went to a networking event or tradeshow and realized you didn’t have enou

    gh business cards? It happens. In fact, it happened to me last week! Plan ahead and don’t forget to take more than you think you’ll need.

  4. 30-second pitch. Most standard sales pitches will be packed with features and benefits, but that is a good way to become very forgettable. Instead, come up with an engaging question, or an introductory question that gets a visitor to stop. Then you can go into a pitch that focuses on how you work with clients: “we help frustrated marketers that can’t find a good graphic designer, or they’re embarrassed by poor printing, or they don’t have an overall program to get their brand image out online – I don’t suppose any of these concerns or challenges affect you?”
  5. Traffic Flow. If your booth is blocked off from the aisle by tables and chairs, people won’t come inside your booth. If they don’t come inside your booth, you can’t have a comfortable conversation with them about what their challenges are and how your product or service may help them. No matter what size your booth, the traffic flow should be a prime consideration of your booth design.
  6. Have fun! Tradeshows are a short-term, high energy commitment. The more fun it looks like you and your staff are having, the more people you’ll attract. And tradeshow are all about attracting people and knowing what to do with them!

Take these 6 unforgettable tradeshow tips and use them to make your next tradeshow appearance a successful one!

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35+ Items to Have in Your Tradeshow Tool Kit

What’s in your tradeshow tool kit?

As tradeshow veterans, you probably have your go-to list of ‘don’t forget’ items. So I thought it would be fun to check around and compile a thorough list of things you might at least consider taking in your kit. Whether they are in a travel bag, or (in some cases) in the exhibit crates, the list can get long. The key is to have an item when you need it. And being on the tradeshow floor trying to get a light to hang, or unscrew a tight screw or fix a banner stand, each situation requires a different fix.

toolkit

So let’s jump in and see what people would put on their list.

  1. Pens – ball point, Sharpies, large markers
  2. Tape – scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape, masking tape
  3. Stapler and staple gun
  4. Business cards – more than you think you’ll need
  5. Business card holders
  6. Note pads or post-it notes
  7. Refreshments such as water or soda
  8. Small containers for giveaways
  9. Clipboards
  10. Table cloths or table throws printed with your logo
  11. Backup phone battery or charger
  12. Extra phone cables
  13. Small tool kit with screwdrivers and box cutter
  14. Rubber bands and paper clips
  15. Extension cords and plug-in strips
  16. Small first aid kit
  17. Hand sanitizer and lotion
  18. Breath mints
  19. Snacks
  20. String or heavy duty twine
  21. Cord keepers or plastic zip ties
  22. Zip lock bags
  23. Cleaning supplies
  24. Hand vacuum or portable carpet sweeper
  25. Safety pins
  26. Flash drives, including digital copies of any giveaways
  27. Comfortable shoes!
  28. Promo items
  29. Signage
  30. Name tags
  31. Photos of the assembled booth
  32. Email signup sheet or software on iPad
  33. Samples or giveaways
  34. Staff contact information and detailed travel plans
  35. Copies of all show paperwork (booth #, contract, set-up instructions, etc.)

 

Got it? Good!

 

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27 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing [Webinar Replay]

Here’s a replay of our April webinar, 27 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing:

Sign up for the May webinar, featuring Andy Saks of Spark Presentations at TradeshowGuyWebinars.com.

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