Twitter is a great source for a lot of things: breaking news, rants and raves, tracking of stories and trends. So nearly every day I’ll spend a few moments to see what’s being offered in the #tradeshow world.
It’s a mix of blatant self-promotion, informative articles and out-of-the-box posts that make ya just scratch your head.
And then, without naming names, I came across blatant pitches to rent a monitor, buy a booth, check out designs and more. Nothing wrong with that, unless it’s all you do with your Twitter account. I wouldn’t name names because they know who they are. I’m sure I’ve done it, too. But that’s not all I do.
And as for those goofy off the wall posts? Naah, not so much. The #tradeshow world is not populated by too many goofy people. We all take this stuff seriously. Even me. Sometimes.
Check out the #tradeshow hashtag tracking on Twitter now and then. Along with #eventprofs. Another good one from the event world.
This week is the launch of my new book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’m doing a lot of the normal launch things an author would do: sending copies to industry media and bloggers, along with industry colleagues. Creating a list of clients and potential clients that I’d like to get the book into. And much more!
Beyond that, I’ve created a series of 14 videos, with each one relating to one of the chapters in the book. Those videos are appearing, about one a day, at my YouTube Tradeshow Marketingchannel. Check ’em out!
You can also read the book for free here at TradeshowSuccessBook.com. You’ll be asked to opt-in to a mailing list (which, if you gotta, you can always unsubscribe from).
What do you get in the book? As mentioned in the subtitle, I’ve detailed 14 steps that are critical to tradeshow success. Not every successful tradeshow marketer uses all of these steps with utmost efficiency, but most of them make very good use of many of the steps.
So what are the steps?
Let’s take a look at the 14 Steps:
Step One: Going with or without a Map? Are you doing enough planning and organizing around your tradeshows?
Step Two: Dollars, Pounds, Euros: How Much Do You Really Need to Make This Work? A breakdown of the budgeting process for tradeshows and what it takes to budget for a new exhibit.
Step Three: Getting Ready for the Big Dance: Pre-show planning and marketing.
Step Four: Did You Come to the Right Dance? Just make sure that your target market is at the show you’re going to dump all of that money into.
Step Five: Home is Where the Booth Is: Booth design essentials, including function, traffic flow, graphics and more.
Step Six: Is Your Frontline Team Up to Snuff? Booth staff training!
Step Seven: What Do I Do With All of These People in the Booth? Now that you’ve drawn a crowd, what do you do with them?
Step Eight: Tweeting, Posting and Instagramming Like a King or Queen: Putting social media to work for you in a creative way.
Step Nine: Who’s Keeping Track of Those Damn Tweets? Someone needs to create videos, blog posts, tweets, etc. Here’s a great look at some online content ideas.
Step Ten: Got a Stack of Leads: Now What? Lead generation and follow up.
Step Eleven: Becoming the Zen Master of Stats and Records: Record-keeping is the secret sauce to tracking your success.
Step Twelve: Stirring the Public Relations and Media Pot: Working with industry media.
Step Thirteen: Do QR Codes Still Kill Kittens? And Other Tech Questions: A quick examination of technology in tradeshows.
Step Fourteen: Out Of Your Nest: Time to Fly! Your call to action!
Want to grab your own copy? Use the links above to own your own. Or if you want the digital version (PDF download), try this:
By setting a social media strategy for your organization, you’re saving time, reaching people more effectively and getting more mileage out of your efforts. Neil Patel of Quicksprout recently published this great infographic on creating a social media strategy and kindly offered to let us share it.
Infographics do a great job on illustrating a concept or breaking down a complicated concept to an easily understandable set of images and text.
Like this one. I heard from a fellow tradeshow exhibit from the UK who offered to share this particular infographic.
By using technology, you can uncover many benefits, as indicated in the original article on the Nomadic Display site:
• Social media and other forms of digital communication can enable you to connect with potential leads before a trade show even commences. In this way you’ll have list of warm prospects who are keen to speak to you on the day of the show.
• Gathering leads is a key aspect of many trade show exhibitions and technology can make this easier too. Touch-technology, instant messaging and social networking all make it easier than ever before to gather contact details from exhibition attendees.
• Technology can help you to demonstrate even complex products, to show testimonials and case studies and otherwise engage an audience who otherwise might pass straight on by your booth.
• Staying “front of mind” helps you to ensure that your company is the first that your leads think of when they need a solution that you offer. Increasingly sophisticated tools make it easier to maintain contact with your prospects after a show without making them feel “claustrophobic” and ensures that your messages arrive at optimal times.
Since I’ve written and blogged about using social media engagement at events, tradeshows and conferences for years at TradeshowguyBlog.com, I would be remiss if I were to not chime in on that broad topic before this tradeshow marketing email course ran its course!
But it’s much too big of a subject to cover in one email. So let’s establish a few things:
Social media is used by many, if not most, of your competitors
Lots of companies, however, don’t use social media properly, or get lost when trying to navigate the ins and outs and don’t get more than a few feet past the starting gate.
Your audience IS engaged in social media.
If you get nothing else from this lesson, remember that there is no one right way to engage in social media. Every company has a different level of knowledge and resources to throw at it. Which means that no matter where you are, your competitors will be doing both a better job and a worse job than you.
And if you’re NOT using social media, may I ask: why not?
Social media and the inherent connectivity and engagement has changed the world. Why would you NOT get involved in some way? And don’t say your industry is not involved. Every industry is. Don’t say you’re too old. Nope, that’s not the case – there are people older than you who are very adept at it (you’re lazy). And don’t say you don’t have enough time. That may be partly true, but there are people with less time than you that still find time to engage at least some.
To begin, you should have an OBJECTIVE. What do you want to gain out of social media engagement? If all you want are sales, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed, because sales are rarely a direct result of social media engagement.
If you are hoping to find new ways to engage with your market, find out their likes and dislikes, identify complaints, answer questions, solve problems…social media is designed just for you.
When it comes to using social media at events, some obvious ways to use it are to drive traffic to your booth, promote products and services and to make connections with fans, colleagues and your market. The key is FUN and to keep it light. Social media – for companies at least – is not a place to make heavy political statements or to slam competitors. Not that a little levity at your competitors’ expense doesn’t have a place, but it should be done thoughtfully.
Next, you must identify WHO is going to represent your company. Is it your marketing team? Or is it an outside agency, or a combination thereof?
Often, the combination works best. Your employees know your company culture, which is important in striking the right tone in posts and keeping important information at the forefront. An experienced agency, on the other hand, knows the pitfalls of tweeting inappropriately or responding to a sudden social media crisis.
Next, you will have to determine the best PLATFORMS to spend time and energy on. While there are several key platforms that come to mind – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. – it often takes an experienced agency to help identify the most important platforms. You know, the ones where your audience and target market hangs out and engages the most. If you’re currently involved in a handful of platforms, you probably have an intuitive understanding of the platforms your audience spends time and responds best.
Finally, you have to create CONTENT, and it must be created continuously and consistently. How many Twitter or Facebook accounts have you seen that are dormant and whose last post was over a year ago? It happens all the time. This goes back to identifying the resources you have available, either in-house or whether you have the ability to hire an agency to do the work for you.
Content comes in many faces: tweets, blog posts, short Facebook posts, photos, videos and responding to comments and questions on your platforms. When you get involved in social media you must make a commitment, and that commitment extends beyond the next month or year.
Social media is a marketing initiative, but unlike other marketing initiatives, there is no end date. An advertising campaign has a stop and start date. Social media is ongoing and the commitment is ongoing, too.
Knowing that you must be committed before jumping in with both feet shouldn’t keep you from getting involved, though. If nothing else, pick a platform – Facebook is probably the obvious choice if you’re not there – and create an account and start.
That’s all it takes to begin. You can make adjustments and learn as you go. Like all of your competitors!
And when it comes to using social media at tradeshows, there’s a LOT more to discuss. Which is why I’m giving you a PDF copy of my latest book: Super Networking at Events and Tradeshows Using Social Media. Just click the hotlink to download your copy now!
We’d all love to get more people to like, approve, respond, comment or share our tweets, posts and articles. Here’s a simple way: add an image. In fact, you should make it a hard and fast rule to not post anything without some sort of image. No, seriously!
You are an experienced tradeshow marketer. You probably have been to many more shows than most of your colleagues. You’ve seen it all – from the small mom and pop shows decades ago to the sophisticated shows with several thousand exhibitors. You’ve seen goofy musical acts, professional product or service demonstrators in booths, wolfed down tons of free food samples, pocketed hundreds of free giveaways until you finally decided they were mostly just worthless junk.
And it’s a pretty good bet you know what works. You’ve tested pre-show marketing, booth staff training, having your best sales people on the show floor and you wonder why your company’s sales staff still has a hard time following up on all of those leads once the show is over.
So let’s see it: let’s see the results of those years of experience. What did you get out of it? By now you must have figured out exactly where the wasted dollars are – and you’ve plugged those holes so that every single dollar spent on tradeshow marketing makes an impact. Right?
Yes, let’s see the records of all of those tradeshows. No doubt – with your experience – you can pull out a 3-ring binder for every show for the past decade and answer any question about the show: how much was spent on booth space, drayage, travel and lodging, pre-show marketing, etc. – and can show us what the ROI was on all of those dollars invested.
Heck, you can probably even show us in great detail with song and dance, the impact of your young social media team. No doubt they’re compiling stats on how many contests they’ve run through Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to the booth – and what the results of those contests or show specials are. They likely have a precise count of the number of photos and videos they’ve posted in relation to the show, and what the feedback was from them.
So: let’s see them. Let’s see all the results of your professionalism in action. If you can immediately pull those results up on your computer or grab a binder and hand to me – then you’re good. In fact, you’re awesome. You can go back to whatever it was you were doing before you started reading this letter. After all, you are the pro. You’re the expert – the veteran tradeshow marketer who’s been doing this for years. No one can surprise you. After all, you’ve seen it all.
But, if not – if you can scrunch up your face and say ‘Hmmm…I might admit that there are a few missing spots…’ I would ask: What exactly is missing?
Don’t have all the records you think you should? You’re not doing all that you really could be doing at each show?
Let’s suppose that it might be good to have a refresher on the various elements of tradeshow marketing – JUST to make sure that you’re not missing any pieces. After all, it’s not a bad idea to see things from a new perspective, right?
So, from my viewpoint, here’s a list of what you might consider keeping track of in your tradeshow marketing endeavors:
Overall Tradeshow Marketing Objectives
Shows You Attend and the Specific Objectives for Each Show
Public Relations Outreach
Exhibit Booth: size, age, layout, cost
Booth Staff: who are they; what’s their experience and training and overall level of knowledge of the tradeshow marketing efforts
Show and Booth Visitors: breakdown of each show in detail
Social Media Sharing: who’s in charge, what content gets shared, what are the results
Post-show Follow Up
Lead Generation: methods of collection, grading, distribution
Final Overall Assessment
These bullet points can be broken down in great detail and the more detail you have, the more educated you are – and the higher the chances that you will have a more successful show.
Remember this: your competition is out there and many of them invest heavily in booth staff training, pre-show marketing, public relations, and social media engagement. They’re not fooling around. If you’re not looking closely at these items on a regular basis and keeping your tradeshow marketing assessment current, you could be slipping behind because it’s a good bet your main competitors are. Those competitors want to win – and they want to take away your current clients and customers. No doubt they’re doing everything they can to achieve those goals.
What are you doing with your tradeshow marketing to keep one step ahead of your competitors? Are you investing in an upgraded booth when the old one is falling apart or do you limp along another year? Are you investing in keeping your booth staff on top of their game with regular trainings? Are you investing in creating a great experience for your clients and potential clients at the next tradeshow, or do you just cross your fingers and hope that the status quo will be ‘good enough’ for this year?
Do you think your competitors are settling for ‘just good enough’?
Just a few moments cruising through Twitter and I grabbed a few good posts on how to draw more people to your booth and liven up your event. How? I just searched using the hashtags #eventprofs and #tradeshow.
Twitter is a great resource for virtually every industry. If you know the most-used hashtag for that industry, it takes just a few moments to track down great ideas. And don’t forget to re-tweet the good ones!
Roger Pike and I just completed a one-hour webinar this week on performing a Social Media Audit and creating a Social Media Policy. Every tradeshow marketer should be aware of these two critical pieces of the marketing puzzle.
Social Media Audit: This portion of the webinar guides you through the process of taking a basic social media audit. It’s something that every company engaged in social media (and if you’re not, why not?) should be doing. Determine your base line and set goals for each social media platform.
Social Media Policy: Every company is engaged in social media, whether they know it or not. Every employee represents your company. How are your employees representing you? Do they know what your expectations are? (go to 21:30 in the video to jump ahead to this section)
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: