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

Public Relations

Goal Setting for Tradeshow Social Media Marketing

Do you have a set of clearly defined, easily measurable goals for each of your tradeshows regarding your social media marketing efforts?

If not, here’s where to start.

First set down your show objectives.

What metric are you most interested n moving during your tradeshows when it relates to social media? Yes, you want to move the sales needle, but as you add on social media components, you are putting more people into the potential sales funnel.

Money Graph

There are myriad tools available for tracking your social media interaction, but your measurements should be driven more by what you want to learn.

Need to know how many visitors you had this year compared with last?

Want to find out if people respond to a series of tweets inviting them to your booth to get a great deal, meet a famous person or win a contest?

Need to know how many people see those photographs you posted on your Facebook page from the show, to gauge interest in your products or services?

Once you determine what you want to learn, start focusing on the various ways social media lets you do that in the realm of event marketing.

Some of the metrics you might be interested in:

  • Facebook page ‘likes’ – perhaps not as good as adding someone to an email marketing list, but by having them as a Facebook friend they are giving you permission to engage with them.
  • Booth traffic. If you have a rough count of booth visitors from last year’s show, you can compare to what you get this year. If not, start counting anyway – it’s a good metric to have.
  • Direct response visitors, which will come from contests or other come-ons sent out via Twitter or Facebook.
  • Getting more followers on Twitter. If you have show-goers following you on Twitter, chances are they’ll come to next year’s show as well, which means it’ll be easier to find and track them to your booth.
  • QR Code responses. If you invite people to download documents or sign up for a newsletter, track the number of people that have used the code. Compare the percentage that actually followed through on your offer.
  • Blog post views
  • Photo views
  • Video views and possible click-throughs from your YouTube channel to a specific landing page.
  • Want to take a survey in the booth? Here’s a great opportunity to do a little market research. Just make sure to ask respondents how they interact with you online (or if they do at all). Offer a small reward for taking the survey. Capture contact information – at least a name and email so you can follow up. Put them on a newsletter if you publish one.
  • Length of Facebook thread, to show you how much a particular topic or post resonates with your audience (of course, it might be the responses that they’re responding to, not your original post!).
  • Impressions and other opportunities-to-see you.

And of course the sales information that you should be tracking from show to show:

  • Number of leads
  • Number of registrations for demos (or other)
  • Number of appointments made
  • Number of proposals delivered
  • Number of sales
  • Amount of sales
  • Average amount of each sale
  • Comparison of different shows and year-to-year same show results

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts and your particular goals will of course be unique to your company and product or service. The more you are able to track social media metrics and compare those numbers with the more traditional sales tracking metrics and see how they work together (or not), the more informed you’ll be and the better positioned you’ll be to adjust your direction or jump in a new direction when the signs point that way.

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 photo credit: 401K

Why Your Company Should Consider Blogging

If you’ve been doing tradeshow marketing for years, and you’re edging into social media, good for you. Companies that work intelligently to drive traffic to their tradeshow booths are showing some great results.

But do you have a blog? If so, are you using it to its full effectiveness? If not, why not? Perhaps you should consider blogging. The presence of an active, engaging blog can make the difference between closing a deal or not, all other things being equal.

Here are some reasons to consider blogging:

  • It’s a marketing tool that’s much easier to maintain than a newsletter. You can add and change it at any time.
  • You want to influence people in your market.
  • You want to be seen as a thought leader or industry leader.
  • You have an expertise and you want to share.
  • You like engaging in debate with strangers, who can often become friends and perhaps even clients.
  • It helps you get found online. Blogs are search-engine friendly.
  • Blogs can bring your team together. As an example, the 300-employee company Hubspot in Boston invites any employee to contribute to the blog, which allows them to have several posts a day offering a number of viewpoints and various useful information.
  • Blogging forces you to stay sharp. By continually coming up with material you’re always learning and sharing what you learn. As a result, you become smarter and more well-known for knowing more than most people in your industry.
  • As a result of blogging people will ask you questions, which leads to you learning even more.
  • Creating great content leads to sales. Seriously. When you create great content, you create trust, which brings in people that are interested in your content. Those people often become business leads, and leads often become sales.
  • Creating content leads to comments and discussions. Those comments allow you to learn from readers to find out exactly what they’re interested in. It also gives you insight in to the pain points they’re experiencing. And in a sales call, knowing those pain points and how to solve them leads to sales.

So what about tradeshows, events and conferences? How can blogging help in your event marketing? Let’s take a look.

  • By having a blog platform, you are able to share more information about what happened at the event in real time.
  • As the date of the show gets closer, your blog is a platform for sharing what you’ll be doing at the show. Classic Exhibits’ lead-in to their appearance at Exhibitor this year was a perfect example. Their regular blog readers saw the various videos they posted that teased their Exhibitor appearance.
  • A blog is a perfect platform for posting multi-media from the event: audio, video and photos. This is a great place to interview happy clients and post those video clips on your blog, which become power testimonials for your product or service.
  • Once the show is over, your blog is a place to do continual follow-ups. Material that you compiled at the show can be spun out on your blog over the next few months.

Yet, in spite of all of these great reasons to blog, make no mistake: blogging isn’t easy, and there’s not necessarily a direct payoff from all of the effort that goes into a blog. However, an active blog can be a powerful tool and is often the difference between making a sale or not when going head to head with a competitor who is not blogging.

(photo by Annie Moles, courtesy

David Meerman Scott’s NAMM Keynote

I’ve been a follower of David Meerman Scott for many years, and his find blog, and have interviewed him a couple of time for podcasts. His material is fresh, cutting-edge, and if you’re interested in learning about how social media works in real-time, he’s the guy to follow and learn from. Yes, it’s long – you’ll need an hour – but find time to watch this terrific keynote presented at this year’s NAMM January 20th in Anaheim.


David Meerman Scott keynotes the 2012 NAMM show from David Meerman Scott on Vimeo.

Social Media Isn’t All You Gotta Do

(With a wink and a nod to John Lennon...)

As much as I love social media and believe in its effectiveness to reach people and bring them together for a thousand and one purposes, when you’re doing tradeshow marketing, it can’t be your only marketing strategy.

In other words, don’t become too enamored with social media. Use it as another marketing arrow in your quiver.

Continue to use (or enhance your use of) other marketing tactics:

  • show sponsorships
  • direct marketing
  • email marketing
  • partnerships
  • public relations
  • pre-show promotions
  • contests
  • personal invitations
  • in-booth demonstrations
  • seminars and presentations
  • effective follow-up
  • tradeshow staff training
  • (what else can you add?)

Find ways to tie your social media efforts into these other more traditional tradeshow marketing tools. Blog from your booth. Shoot video at the show and post to YouTube and Facebook. Tweet about your in-booth guests, demos and contests to drive traffic. Social media can be quite effective at your tradeshow – but when used in conjunction with other methods, the combination can be deadly – to your competition.


Dealing With Negative Social Media at the Tradeshow

It’s rare, but not unheard of, for social media to backfire at the worst possible time and you’re facing the dreaded scourge of negative social media. Usually the worst possible time is when your company has a majority of its resources on site at a tradeshow. If most of your people are focused on doing demos, interacting with booth visitors and putting out a thousand little fires that seem to ignite during the show, the last thing you want is to have a blow-up on your social media platforms.

For example, let’s say you have a hot new product that is hotter than anticipated. You’ve even run out in the second day of the show and there’s no way you can fulfill demand.

Or maybe one of your employees opened their mouth to the wrong person and left a negative impression, strong enough for them to go out and tweet or post to their Facebook page.

In most cases, the negative comments usually won’t get too far, especially if you promptly respond and openly try to deal with any issues created.

But on occasion, depending on circumstances of the situation, those comments can get out of hand and go viral. So how do you prepare for such an eventuality, even if the odds are slim.

First, be aware – in a real time basis as much as possible – what’s being said about your company and products. This takes vigilance, and often means using some sort of tool that can monitor Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and others. Search for ‘social media monitoring tool’ and you’ll find plenty of good suggestions.

Second, be prepared for anything. Know how to get in front of a bad story. Be ready to respond appropriately – and make sure you respond as quickly as possible. Your Public Relations department should be ready to respond to that 3 AM call, and have the power to do so. Management has got to trust the PR department that they can craft a message that’s appropriate.

Third, don’t DO NOTHING. The worst thing is to sit on a story and wait for all departments to chime in. For instance, if you think that you need a legal opinion before responding to negative comments, chances are the story will entirely get away from you before you know it. Better to get a partial response out instead of no response at all.

Finally, don’t think that you’re immune because you have a product or service or a company that doesn’t lend itself to a firestorm of negativity. It CAN happen, and if you’ve at least talked about it and have some sort of plan in place, chances are you’ll be able to respond when needed.

Grab our Free Report: 7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

Do Pretty Ads Ring the Cash Registers?

Like millions I watched the Super Bowl over the weekend, not only to root for the Packers (!), but to gawk at the ads. Lots of clever ads put together which were damn entertaining. According to the Portland Business Journal, some of the most popular were produced by Portland’s Weiden + Kennedy, well known for creating great Nike ads over the years. They created the Chrysler and Coca-Cola ads which got a lot of critical and viewer praise.

My favorite (and it’s hard to choose, so if I were to write this article tomorrow, my fave choice might change) was the very popular VW ad with the mini-Darth Vader called “The Force.” It went viral before the Super Bowl and by Monday had garnered over 16 million views on YouTube:


While the Super Bowl is a terrific showcase for ad creativity, many critics (me included) wonder about the effectiveness of the ads. Advertisers spend around $3 million for a 30-second slot. Not to mention the time, energy and money that goes into creating the ad. Must be another three mil, at least, right?

That’s a ton of money, even if you’re Coca-Cola or Chrysler. As an advertiser you want it to pay off.

If the ad is number one on the popular charts but doesn’t sell more than a few bottles of coke or more than a few new cars, is the ad worth the investment? Hard to justify in my mind. But if the ad creates huge brand awareness and you’re able to point back to the ad as a key point in a rise in sales, you can probably justify it.

Hey, it’s the same with tradeshows – which is just another marketing tactic.

You spend a ton of money (it’s not cheap!), and hope the sales increase as a result.

So…some questions to ask as you prepare your creative for the tradeshow:

  • Is the booth pretty or effective? Or both?
  • Is your graphic message popular or does it ring the cash registers? Or both?
  • Is your in-booth demo clever and does it grab solid leads? Or is it just plain clever..?
  • Do your staffers have great questions for your visitors and do they use those questions to qualify a ton of great leads?
  • Do your leads make a nice pile of paper but fail when it comes to getting them to pulling out their checkbook to purchase your product or service?

It’s the same with websites, by the way. I’ve seen incredible looking websites which did virtually nothing for the business. And I’ve seen ugly websites that were extremely effective at turning a visitor into a customer.

Pretty and popular is nice. But sales effectiveness and lead conversion pay the bills.

Tradeshow Pre-Show Publicity Guide

BarCamp AMS 2005 Opening - 35

If you want to get the most out of your tradeshow exhibit, you should do your utmost to let people know before the show that you’ll be there by using a tradeshow pre-show publicity guide. Not only will it give those folks who can’t attend the show a chance to learn about your new offerings and the fact that you’re going to exhibit – it also gives attendees something to look forward to.

Key goals include:

  • letting people know about new products
  • cluing the media in on your new products and your upcoming appearance
  • alert people to access to your key people: CEO, designers, managers, etc.
  • schedule interview with media and bloggers onsite during the show
  • generate buzz
  • generate new sales leads
  • get your CEO or other lead person on the speaking schedule at the show

Are there any press-only pre-show functions that you, as an exhibitor, can attend? Are there awards programs that you can participate in? Should you hold a press conference at the show? All of these are good questions who’s answers may lead you to new opportunities for exposure. And if there’s anything you want MORE of at a tradeshow, it’s EXPOSURE.

How’s your online press area? Your press kit should have information on the latest products that you want to push, and should be available in many formats: text, audio interviews, video demonstrations if appropriate and photos. The more ways you offer the information, the easier it becomes for the press to use your information.

If you choose to issue a press release, keep in mind that you’re competing with dozens or hundreds of other press releases. To create a compelling press release, the most important thing is to create a compelling headline. Without a ‘hooky’ headline, you’re sunk because no one will read past a boring headline. Your press release – if related specifically to something going on at the tradeshow – should have the various points of contact for people in your booth.

Engage social media. Find out what bloggers might be covering the event. Ask colleagues (or even competitors) who they have seen covering the event in the past. Include links to your Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn outlets if available. Create event listings on LinkedIn and Facebook and spread the word through your contacts.

photo credit: roland

Grab our free report: 7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

Tradeshow Press Releases Increase Your SEO


A terrific guest post by Brad Shorr on Heidi Thorne’s excellent blog ‘Promo With Purpose Today’ got me to thinking.

In the post, Brad discusses how long-term thinking and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help to bring more people to your website. And Brad says that press releases are an excellent way to seed your company’s brand throughout the web.

I can’t agree more.

But with apologies to Brad, I’d take it a few more steps.

If you’re planning a press release, come up with a short list of a half dozen keywords that people might be searching for in regards to your tradeshow appearance. Perhaps you’re in the food industry and you want folks to find your products and scheduled appearance.

Your first sentence should contain at least one or two of those keywords and the name of the show. Search engine algorithms tend to look for keywords within the first several words of an article or release. So don’t waste time getting to the point.

In the body of the copy, be sure to include the other keywords that you’ve targeted. Sprinkle them generously – but don’t overdo it. It’s got to be both search-engine friendly and human-friendly (readable!). It may take a little re-working, but you’ll know when it reads right.

At the end, be sure to include all of the pertinent contact information, including links to your company’s website and blog (the link-backs that Brad mentioned).

Press releases have jumped from old media to new media quickly – and the change really took place a few years ago. Press releases can be found by anyone searching for specific keywords – they aren’t limited to reporters and bloggers. And as Brad stated, you may actually get an immediate lead from your release.

Two of my favorite resources to improve your press releases include a book and a website.

Check out David Meerman Scott’s “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and Joan Stewart’s terrific website Publicity Hound. Be sure to subscribe to Joan’s weekly newsletter which is easily one of the best newsletters I open each week.

And while you’re at it, run by David’s blog here.

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photo credit: Bohman

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