I must get two dozen webinar invitations a week. On average, I attend one or two a week. Some are useful, most are not that great.
So is the webinar-as-promotion tool saturated? Overused? I suppose it depends on where you’re coming from. Many attend webinars, but even more people do not. And most companies don’t use webinars to show their expertise on a specific subject.
Webinars are useful when they are narrow, drilled-down topics, when they’re used to show expertise or to promote a specific product or skill.
But I think the exhibit industry is missing one area where a webinar might prove to be a very useful promotional tool: to promote an appearance at an upcoming tradeshow.
Here’s a brief video I put together to explore this topic:
Among all of the various promotion tools at your disposal, one of the best branding and outreach tools is a personal or company blog. I admit that this blog has brought me business and gotten me speaking gigs, so as much work as I put into it, I think it’s worth the time.
So the question is: are you blogging? If not, why not? If you are, what are you blogging about?
Here’s a collection of short videos I put together recently on how blogging might be best approached. The whole collection of five videos come to almost an hour of training, so if you can’t watch them now, bookmark this page!
Blogging 101: WHY You Should Consider Blogging
Blogging 101: Naming your blog and more
Blogging 101: Creating Great Posts
Blogging 101: Nuts and Bolts of WordPress (and other platforms)
One way to learn is to see what other people have done. You learn from both successes and failures. Here are stories of three successful efforts at using social media to promote events or appearances at tradeshows.
Check out these three short videos.
Let’s start with Portland, Oregon’s gDiapers – maker of eco-friendly kid pants:
And then move on to a US company called Relevansi that managed a multi-country, duo-hemisphere event long distance:
Finally to Criterion, a company in the manufacturing sector that used social media to get more leads and attention at a tradeshow:
Tradeshows can wield a terrific impact for businesses. The effect of waves of people coming to your tradeshow booth to find out more about what you do – and buying from you – can be great for the bottom line.
The thing is that trade shows can be crowded, and you need to work hard to set yourself apart from the competition. That can be accomplished in person with great banners, marketing materials, and branding. But there are things that you can also do with social media to generate a buzz that will keep people talking for a long time.
Use Twitter Hashtags to communicate – Twitter hashtags are a great way to make sure that the conversation keeps going. If people have a question after they leave your tradeshow booth, or simply want to talk about what they saw, they can leave a tweet with the tradeshow hashtag. That way they can be sure that the right people see what they’re talking about.
Hashtags are simply the pound sign immediately before a word on a tweet. It makes them searchable in Twitter, so anyone attending the show, or looking to find out more information, can find it.
Use giveaways – Are you giving some promotional products away at your Nimlok tradeshow booth? You can use these items to spark a little interest online. Mentioning them on your Facebook page or in a tweet can motivate people to make an appearance, and see what you have to offer in person.
Why not let people know that you’ll have a free _____________ to the first 100 people? If what you’re giving away is truly valuable, it may just be the incentive to get them to come earlier, creating a demand.
Preview your exhibits at the show – Do you have something great planned for your tradeshow booth? Facebook and Twitter are the perfect place to give your customers and fans a little taste of what they’ll be in for on the tradeshow floor.
What aspects of your industry or business are you highlighting? Is there something specific that you’re looking to promote? This is the place to expand your reach and get in front of people. Letting people know what they can expect ahead of time can increase the crowd.
Use QR Codes – Your marketing doesn’t have to be strictly from the online world to the trade show floor. You can use your tradeshow presence to drive people back to your website and social platforms and create more long term relationships. This can be achieved easily through the use of QR codes. You can put these simple codes on any of your marketing materials, and when your customers scan them, it will return them to a specific website of your choice.
You can send them to your Facebook page, if you want them to become a fan. You can send them to your blog if that’s where you’re publishing your best content. You can send them to a Pinterest page, if that’s where some of the best pictures of your work reside. The possibilities are endless. This is a great way to keep people wanting more.
Use The Same Graphics And Logo – You worked hard to come up with the perfect banners, branding and message for your offline tradeshow presence. Don’t throw that all away. Make sure that your Facebook and Twitter cover photos incorporate the same design. This will help keep a consistent look and feel between your offline business and your online presence.
About the author: Matthew Brennan is a marketing writer based in the Chicago area. He regularly writes about content marketing, blogging, and engaging with your audience. He has been published on ProBlogger, Soshable, and Business2Community. Connect with Matthew on his website, www.matthewlbrennan.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+.
The following is a guest post by Amanda of It’s Blogworthy.
Several years ago, trade shows were a completely different type of event. Vendors spent time face-to-face with clients, but after clients moved to the next booth, the interaction was essentially over. Marketers at trade show events worked tirelessly to bring customers in to their company’s area with giveaways, door prizes and specialty items.
In the past few years, trade shows have become an interactive event that begins before the show starts and doesn’t end until far after the booths have been packed up. Although marketers still use traditional materials (free pen, anyone?) social media has allowed them to connect with clients and potential clients in a whole new way. Will you be attending a trade show soon? Download the best apps for trade shows and check out these five ideas for making the most of social media at your next trade show.
Promote your attendance before the trade show begins on Facebook to build excitement about the event. Encourage customers who will be attending the event to visit your awesome Nimlok booth, and use your social channels to engage with them before you set foot at the event. Create a Facebook event and invite your customers, which can help you see what kind of traffic your booth might have. Use questions and polls to gauge interest. During the event, post up-to-the-minute pictures and behind-the-scenes shots of your booth, and don’t forget to post a post-event wrap-up.
Use Twitter to connect with your customers and other vendors using the official hashtag for the event. You can use this hashtag to judge social media interest in the event and seek out your target audience. Twiter is a great way to break the ice before the event and establish friendly relationships with potential customers, which may encourage them to stop by your booth when they arrive. Twitter is also a great way to connect with reporters, media outlets and influencers who will be covering the event; you may be able to spread news about promotions or company news through these channels.
If you have products that can be demoed – or an especially charismatic sales rep who will be attending the trade show – YouTube can be a great marketing tool before your trade show, during and after. Think about creating a series of videos hyping up your booth and sharing it through your social media channels and on the official hashtag for your event. At the trade show, take a quick video of your booth in action, or short interviews with individuals who stop by your booth (especially if he or she has a large social media network and may re-share your content.) YouTube makes it easy to create fun, informative videos and get them out to your audience quickly.
Create a Foursquare listing for your booth and encourage people to check in when they stop by. Foursquare may not be utilized by an extremely wide audience, but for the tech crowd, “mayorships” and badges can be highly sought-after social media rewards. Also, offer a prize for checking in to encourage the use of this channel with your audience.
Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare are all fun ways to enhance your trade show experience, but LinkedIn may be the way to close the deal with new clients or customers. Encourage them to join your company’s LinkedIn page to learn more about your business and connect on a professional level. You can also use your LinkedIn channel to promote professional development seminars or speaking engagements during the trade show event.
About the author: Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She’s also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. Amanda loves coffee, fashion, social media, and cats (not always in that order.) Her work has been published on family.com and blogher.com. Visit Amanda’s blog, It’s Blogworthy or follow her on Twitter and Google+.
A tradeshow attracts all sorts of people: vendors, exhibitors, store owners, tradeshow managers, booth handlers and more. They all have different goals at the show. But it’s safe to say that many of them end up doing a lot of the same tasks with a smart phone or iPad, which means that many use the same apps.
Here is a list of apps I’ve used a past tradeshow junkets that come in handy. Some are essential while others are just nice have.
Whether you use Google Maps of the native iPhone mapping app, getting from Point A to Point B in a rental car should be as easy as possible.
Yeah, who needs the hotel alarm clock when you have your clock app? I was glad I had it the time the power went out at the hotel!
Having a camera on your smart phone can be the handiest thing you’ll ever use. Need a picture of a booth? Want to record a quick video testimonial?
The Weather Channel
Yes, you spend most of your time inside, but knowing what’s going on outside can help you adjust travel and meeting schedules.
You could just open up your web browser, but the Wikipedia app makes it that much easier to look up something specific.
Driving a rental car means you assume risks. AAA’s app is very useful in helping you get roadside assistance, searching for hotels, and perhaps cashing in on member-only deals.
Out walking and need a potty? The WC Finder may help you out. I say ‘may’ because it doesn’t always have accurate information – although I’ve found it is correct more often than not.
You have to fill up the rental car before returning it. This app gives you easy access to the closest, lowest-priced gasoline.
Helps find your iPhone if you lose it. Of course, you’ll need a laptop or an iPad or you’ll have to coordinate with someone back in the office to find it, but Hidden is great at tracking lost iPhones.
One of many QR code scanners on the market.
Is Vine a source of silly six-second videos or does it help capture a client’s buzz and help spread it around? Once you try it, you may find you like it.
Set up your account to ping you whenever you get an @reply. Great way to keep up with online buzz by searching hashtags.
Post photos, updates and more quickly.
Check into places – you might even learn something about the area or see that a client or prospect is on Foursquare, too.
This has saved me more times than I can remember. Back up the computers at home and have immediate access to any archived file, like a forgotten set-up drawing or contact information. Easy to view and download files, which you can then forward via email.
Much the same as Dropbox, although there are strong differences. Dropbox can have shared files and folders, which can give clients access to files with more ease than Carbonite.
While I’ve used this app for a couple of years, I know that I haven’t come close to using all of its features. Those that do rave about it for file clipping and saving things that you can easily access on any device.
99 apps in one, including things like auto camera, Clinometer, Decibel measurement, flashlight, Plumb Bob, Sleep Aid and even a ton of fun things like generating a fake phone call or fake text when you just have to have a good excuse to get out of a meeting.
Everyone is here posting filtered photos, are you? Not essential, but lots of eyeballs there.
Great place to view and post photos of clients, booths, meetings, people and more.
Okay, it’s only happened a couple of times to me, but they were both significant, so they’re worth recounting.
When I moved last year, Comcast said the best way to transfer service to my new house was to just take all the equipment to the new location and give ‘em a call when the hook-up was complete and they’d just turn the switch and voila! we’d have service!
Well, generally speaking, that happened, except for one thing. I have online voice mail access, and no matter what I was doing, or who or how often I was calling, or who was at the other end of the line, they couldn’t make my voice mail appear online. It worked fine on the phone, but I was used to checking it online. For whatever reason, Comcast insists on creating a whole new account when you move and transferring everything over, which was one of the main reasons the voice mail wouldn’t transfer seamlessly.
After several calls in 8 weeks and several promises that it would happen, in my frustration I tweeted:
@comcastcares Been 8 weeks since I moved and Comcast is still unable to figure out how to restore access to online voice mail. #epicfail
In another instance, my company was having an ongoing discussion over disagreements in a contract with Cision after we had leased Radian6 to use for social media research for a client. It seemed no matter how we responded or whom we responded to, it was as if no one was listening. The emails, phone calls and letters we sent were ignored. When we did get a communication from Cision, it was always a new person with no knowledge of any previous communication, and the conversation had to start all over from the beginning. We even sent the CEO a registered letter hoping to at least get someone’s attention, but to no avail.
Finally I posted this on Twitter:
@cision How do we get a reply from the Cision CEO? He failed to respond to a registered, certified letter this summer over a contract issue.
Within a couple of days (it wasn’t immediate), I heard back from someone at Cision asking for a phone number so they could contact me. I gave it to them, and was contacted by someone that was actually interested in helping us resolve the issue. It took a few weeks and some back and forth, but it was resolved to our satisfaction.
It really shouldn’t surprise me, but customer service is very active on Twitter. Is it because companies are dedicating resources to tracking online conversations, or manning the Twitter accounts? Are they afraid of having a negative experience go viral, which has happened too many times to count? Is it just smart business? Or is it something else?
Whatever the impetus, I like that there is often a quick way to get someone’s attention and get issues resolved.
So how do they do it? How do the volunteer organizers of World Domination Summit pull off a top-notch, world-class event – including tripling the attendance in the past year?
Perhaps we should start with what in the world IS the World Domination Summit? While you’re likely to get a few thousand answers when you ask the attendees, to my mind the event is a gathering of creative, innovative, entrepreneurial-minded folks from dozens of countries that takes place over a long weekend in Portland, Oregon every July. It just wrapped up its third year. Yup, its third year.
Year one – 2011 – saw almost 500 people gather for two days of speakers, workshops and casual networking meet-ups. 2012 that number doubled to about 1000. This year, the attendance was 2800, filling the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland for two days of presentations along with several other smaller workshops and meet-ups where attendees got to listen to and interact with authors, speakers, literary agents, entrepreneurs and other creative folks.
And every one of them seemed to be in a damn good mood all weekend long!
The event was started a few years ago by author and blogger and world traveler Chris Guillebeau, who had been mulling over the idea of gathering some of his blog readers together for a couple of days of listening to interesting speakers, exchanging information and learning. He hoped he’d get 50 people – and ended up selling out almost 500 tickets, with demand for much more.
After the first year – in which he admits he lost around $20K – he realized he needed to get a little more organized on how to actually run a successful event. Well, the event was successful from the attendee’s standpoint, but when the organizers lose twenty grand, something has to change.
As the preparation and organization for year two of WDS wound down, they realized they’d have about $100,000 left over. What to do with the money? After all, the idea was not to make a profit (although they didn’t want to lose any), but to help people out in their endeavors. It was decided to give the money back to the attendees, and at the end of the event each person got an envelope with a $100 bill and a note urging them to put the ‘funds to good use. Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different – it’s up to you.’
Of course, there’s a large social media component to the event, with an online searchable database so you can connect with and learn about other attendees, as well as overt promotion of the event hashtag #wds2013. Loads of tweets and events, packed with thousands of photos, showed up continuously throughout the weekend. As I’ve observed many times before, events and social media fit together like hand and glove – they’re made for each other.
Many attendees have posted photos on their Flickr accounts, including this cool collection from Mike Rohde, which gives a good representation of the event through his creative note-taking.
Now that the third year of WDS is over, what made it such a successful event?
From my vantage point as a twice-attendee (2012 and 2013), I think there are two keys: first, it’s absolutely non-corporate in any way shape or form. There are no logos anywhere (except WDS), and no mentions of any underwriters. I admit I really appreciate that aspect. Second, it comes off as a genuinely helpful gathering of like-minded people who simply love getting together.
At the Saturday morning keynote from presentation expert Nancy Duarte, I sat next to a woman named Vicki and asked her why she came. “I’m addicted to inspiration,” was her response. I’ve been reflecting on that ever since. Addicted to inspiration. We all want and need inspiration – and the World Domination Summit gives it – in spades.
The speaker line-up ranges from well-known authors, writers and radio host to not-so-well known people who simply have a great story to tell. In between there are interesting highlights of attendee stories, the Unconventional Race, lunch meet-ups, indie-movie screenings, yoga breaks, wide-ranging workshops and much more – all topped off by a private party in downtown Portland at Pioneer Square, which got passers-by wondering just what the hell was going on behind the fences!
At one of the gatherings, entrepreneurial expert Andrew Warner interviewed Chris and they spent time discussing the money aspect of the event. Surprisingly (or not), there are no secrets. As Chris said, there are 2800 people attending, most of whom paid about $500 – do the math (it’s around $1.3M gross). But as he said, renting the halls, producing the various pieces of swag, offering catering for mid-morning snacks, renting Pioneer Courthouse Square et al – it all adds up. The event was expensive to produce – and all of the speakers are non-paid volunteers (what wasn’t clear is if their travel and lodging were paid for; I’d be curious to know that).
In other words – the World Domination Summit is unique in a true sense of the word: there’s nothing quite like it in the world. Attendees feel like they’re ‘in’ on something that no one else is.
Be unique – do something that is unlike anything else.
Don’t taint it with corporate sponsorships, which ultimately take away from the uniqueness.
Offer a wide variety of speakers.
Surround the event with mini-gatherings to spur more networking.
Have a great sense of humor about how everything works – and be ready for things to go sideways.
Be open about all aspects of the event.
Check out the complete set of #WDS2013 photos provided by event organizers here.