Yes, I tried to play back the recorded interview on Facebook but for whatever reason it wasn’t working. Still more research and practicing to make it work. But in the meantime, all the content is here!
Got a chance to chat with John Halvorson of Transgroup Global Logistics this week for the vlog/podcast. John was a great interview, unloading lots of great information on the ups and downs and back and forths of tradeshow shipping. Give a listen or take a look on either the audio podcast version below or the video version.
Sometimes I get tradeshow exhibiting questions. Well, frankly, I get a lot of questions. Some of them are even about tradeshow marketing! It’s worth seeing what people are asking, as well as what they’re thinking but not asking (I think!).
Q. Are tradeshows really worth attending?
A. The answer is: it depends! It depends on a variety of factors. Where to start? Let’s say that on average, companies spend about a third of their yearly marketing budgets on tradeshows, so there is definitely a lot of money ending up promoting products and services via tradeshow marketing. To get the most bang for your buck, do your due diligence by making sure you’re at the right show(s), with a good-looking and effective booth and well-trained and prepared staff.
Beyond that there are so many variables you could write a book about it. Well, actually, I did.
Q: How do I know what kind of booth to get or what size?
A. While this is generally dictated by budget constraints, other factors come in to play, such as the size of the show (exhibitors and attendance figures are important to have), what competitors will be at the show and how important a particular show is to your overall tradeshow schedule. Sometimes a small 10×10 booth does a great job representing your company with only a few staffers. Other shows may dictate that you consider stepping up your presence. Lots of exhibitors that show up year after year at shows that are beneficial and help them build their businesses will continually invest in larger booths to make a bigger impression at the show. And when it comes to tradeshows, more than any other kind of marketing, perception is critical!
Q: Graphics are a big challenge for us. What’s the best way to approach this subject?
A. Graphics are critical to the success of your booth, so it makes sense to get the most effective design and use the highest quality. Design is critical in that your design should be striking, compelling and simple. Putting too much into a design means that people will not stop to digest it. Large images, bold text, compelling questions or bold statements are all ways to get effective graphics on to your booth. And be sure to work with someone who’s used to creating the large-format, high-resolution graphics that are necessary for effective tradeshow graphics. And work with a production facility that does high-quality production.
Q. Even with a big booth in a good location and a great product, we’re still coming up short of the amount of leads we feel we should be generating. What else should I consider?
A. A few areas to look at: booth staff competency. Are they properly trained on how to handle visitors in a tradeshow? Also, do you have any interactivity in your booth? That might be something that a visitor can put their hands on, which takes them a few moments during which you can then uncover information to qualify or disqualify them. Finally, you might consider hiring a professional presenter. A good one is worth their weight in gold in the amount of leads they can generate.
Q. I’ve never exhibited before. We know it’s important to make our presence known at some very targeted shows. What’s the best way to start?
A. Talk with a professional who can walk you through your various options. These depend on budget, of course, but you’ll want to compare renting vs. buying; custom vs. modular or system booth and go over which shows are really a good fit for you. From there you can talk about how best to show off your product or service, how many people to take to the show and what kind of lead generation tools you might want to consider using.
Q. Tradeshows are expensive. What are some good ways to cut costs?
A. Yes, they can be expensive! But you can find ways to keep costs down. You can look at cutting exhibit costs by not using hanging signs (expensive to hang), using a modular booth vs. custom, using reusable packaging material, not having extra boxes shipped to the floor (drives up drayage cost) and much more. For a very thorough list, I’d recommend you take about 45 minutes and watch Mel White’s recent webinar with Handshake on 25 Ways to Cut Costs at Your Next Tradeshow. It’s well worth your time.
Last week I sat in with the good folks at Handshake.com and offered a look at Tradeshow Logistics: Getting Your Ducks in a Row. It’s a part of tradeshow marketing that is critical, but tends to be set aside in favor of things such as pre-show marketing, staff training, lead generation and so on.
In this webinar, we covered a lot of pertinent things, such as shipping, booth upgrades and graphic changes, the logistics of lead generation and getting them back to your sales team and more. Thanks to Handshake.com for offering to have me host another webinar with them!
Tradeshow Success is built on a lot of moving parts, and it’s often hard to know exactly how successful the show is unless you track the details. So let’s dive in a little and see what 8 essential tradeshow metrics mean the most to your overall success.
Booth visitors: knowing the overall number of booth visitors, or at least a valid estimate, can give you valuable information, especially in a year-to-year comparison at the same show, and from show-to-show. Even though when you measure show-to-show it’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, it does give you intel to help judge the show’s effectiveness.
Leads generated: one of the more straight-forward metrics you can track, but it’s important to break them down into at least thre
e levels: hot, warm and cool. This will give the sales team the information to correctly follow up on the hot ones right away and the warm and cool ones later.
Sales as a result of the leads: track how many new customers came out of the show in the first three months, six months and year (depending on the type of product or service you offer). Track the overall sales amount. It’s harder to track B2B sales from a tradeshow simply because you might not get a new customer until a year or more has passed.
New leads: a slight differentiation from all leads, this breaks out the brand new potential clients from those that you’ve had some sort of contact before. Valuable information, indeed.
New customers: same with customers – how many news ones did you get as a result of a show vs. how many are repeat customers that happened to be at the show and buy something because of the show.
Budget: actual vs. estimated. Keeping track of the investment is important; knowing how much over or under budget is critical.
Cost per lead: divide the overall cost of the show by the number of leads gathered to get a cost per lead.
Return on Investment: divide the overall net profit you’ve gained over three, six, twelve months by the net profit from the show (gross profit minus the cost of attending the show).
There are other numbers you can track, but if you do nothing but track these metrics you’ll have a lot more insight into the kind of success your tradeshow marketing program is giving you.
Here’s a guest post by Dennis Salazar of Salazar Packaging of Plainfield, Il. Dennis caught my attention with a couple of tweets that steered me to his blog, which discusses sustainable packaging. Given that every tradeshow exhibitor has to deal with packaging in one way or another – shipping, product packaging, etc. – I asked if he’d be interested in contributing a guest column. Here’s Dennis’s contribution:
No, not the Ethel Merman variety of show business; I’m talking about the exhibit hall, hard floors and long hours type of show business. The type of show where the only thing more outrageously priced than a square foot of booth space is the five minute lunch you gulped down which consisted of a cold hot dog, served on a stale bun with a once carbonated soft drink that hasn’t been bubbly since the 2005 Auto Show.
The fact is that I have seen very few companies work within the guidelines of sustainable packaging, the way people do when they are preparing for a show.
At the show exhibitors do green packaging right!
Here is what I have noticed about show exhibitors:
Most of the packaging for booth displays is wooden crates and wood is still considered the greenest packaging material because it is natural and renewable.
A booth display will be used over and over again for years with perhaps only minor changes to graphics. This means the wood used to ship it is also reused many times.
Even when a display is replaced, the company making the new display is very likely to re-crate the new model with the same wood.
Booth displays are painstakingly “right sized” so there is little wasted space or excess packaging material to be found. This saves money on everything from construction to the multiple shipments it is certain to experience.
Motive versus Results in Sustainable Packaging
There is a very small segment of green minded people who are more interested in the condition of the heart rather than the end result. For them it is not enough to do the right thing, you also have to do it for the right reasons.
Of course I care about the motivation behind a company’s green actions but I am equally concerned about what they are able to accomplish. I would rather see a company with strict financial motivation and great end results than a company with a sincere eco heart and mind, who talks the talk beautifully but has little green success.
If you closely examine most show packaging, you will agree it typically does an excellent job of satisfying critical sustainability requirements because it is renewable, minimal and reusable.
With more than 30 years of industry experience, Dennis Salazar is founder and president of Salazar Packaging, Inc. He is a prolific writer and popular speaker on the topic of sustainable packaging. His blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging, has been acclaimed by both the green and packaging communities.
What company should ship your tradeshow booth? Could be a tough question and a difficult answer. But there are a few steps you can take to make it easier.
First, ask other exhibitors. Find out who they’ve used, what their experience has been and their thoughts about the cost. Then start a few months before your next show so you’ll have time for due diligence on the potential shipper.
Determine if the company handles a lot of tradeshow booths. If so, perhaps they’ve got a truck going to the same show, which could lead to some savings.
Some questions you might ask:
Can you track shipments online? How your shipments are kept secure? Have they worked with the venue before? Do they have any references?
To get an accurate quote, you’ll need a count of the pieces you’re shipping, along with dimensions and accurate weight estimates.
Finally, once you’ve found a good shipper, don’t be afraid to be open to other recommendations – keep your ears open. The industry shifts quickly and keeping your options open is always a good idea.