One great thing about doing a weekly podcast with guests is that I meet a lot of people. This week it was a pleasure to meet and talk with Roger Courville, who helps learning leaders prepare to reach, teach and lead in the Connectorship Age.
It was a fun conversation about events and tradeshows, how to bring value to attendees and much more. Take a look:
This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the reggae-tinged band Noiseshaper. I’m not sure if the band still exists or is active, and the website looks to reflect that: the last update looks to be about 8 or 9 nears ago. But they left some great music behind.
Yes, it can be said without fear of being wrong that you will find useful tradeshow marketing articles in Exhibitor. That’s their thing. But in browsing their site this week, I found three which I believe go a little above and beyond because of what you can DO by reading them.
Let’s take a look:
How to Measure the Value of Tradeshow Marketing. Complete with downloadable worksheets, this one takes you through the steps to figure out what’s really going on with your tradeshow marketing efforts and all of that money you commit to it each year.
Taking the Lead. Collecting leads that are worthy of a challenge in and of itself. When you have to convert those leads to sales, that’s when the rubber meets the road so to speak. This article walks you through the steps on grading leads, setting goals, figuring out what questions to ask visitors and more.
Four Factors that Affect Graphic Costs. It seems that graphic design and production is often the item that doesn’t get checked until it’s too late. And lateness (among other things) can affect your cost dramatically. Check out these factors to help keep your costs in line.
A lot of exhibitors wouldn’t do nearly as well as they do without Exhibitor Magazine – often called the bible of the industry. Always good stuff there.
Matt Kazam joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Matt has done stand-up comedy in Las Vegas for years and is moving into the corporate and tradeshow world, so we sat down to discuss how he’s approaching that and some of the challenges that come up around that endeavor.
Let’s have a little fun, and rock out a little at the same time. Let’s find inspiration from some of the old classics and see how they play into your tradeshow marketing plan.
The Who: Who Are You: Yes, you need to know who you are as a company and an entity so that you can clearly communicate that information to your visitors using the elements of your exhibit, how you interact with visitors and help them solve problems.
Beatles: Can’t Buy Me Love. You might be able to spend your way to increased market share or a bigger booth space, but if you want your customers or clients to really love you, it takes more than money. It takes passion, belief, engagement, and follow-through.
Rolling Stones: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. As a marketer, it’s a great feeling to come off the floor after a successful tradeshow. It means you’ve done a lot RIGHT. But don’t get too satisfied. You can do better next time – and your competition still is trying to take clients and customer and make them theirs.
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? Experience counts for a lot in the tradeshow world. The more experienced booth staffers, for instance, the better they’re able to engage with attendees. The more experienced your exhibit designers and fabricators, the better the exhibit. And so on. Experience counts for a lot. And don’t forget that many of your visitors have decades of experience behind them as well.
Dire Straits: Love Over Gold: Yes, we do it for the money. But when I see people that do it for love – and are really loving what they’re doing – that is something that’s hard to compete with. If your competition is LOVING what they’re doing and you’re not, and all other things are equal – who’s going to come out on top?
T. Rex: Bang a Gong (Get it On): one of the most important pieces of exhibiting at a tradeshow is to tell people that you’re there. Let that information ring out everywhere: press releases, local TV/Radio if appropriate, social media, email blasts, phone calls, direct mail and more.
It’s a common question: should you stay with your current exhibit house or move on to a new one? Naturally, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. So, let’s go over some of the situations where the question might arise.
How long have you been with your exhibit house? While the length of association isn’t a critical factor, it’s often one of the items that people look at first. If you’ve been using the same company for a decade, you may start to wonder if you’re being taken for granted. Which takes us to the next question:
Are you being taken for granted? As a longtime salesperson and project manager working with clients in the exhibit world, it’s easy to slip into the ‘take it for granted’ mode. You think that once you have a client, they’ll always be there. After all, loyalty works both ways, right? No. It doesn’t.
Is their creativity limited? Even though you’ve been working with the same vendor for years, do they have enough creativity to help you as you expand? This gets to the next question:
Are you outgrowing your own exhibit house? You may work for a company that is growing by leaps and bounds. If your current exhibit provider only offers standard kits or modular exhibit properties and you’re ready for a custom-design-and-build, maybe it is time to move along.
Is there a change in your management? Often, changes in vendors come about because someone new in management has made the decision, or given heavy influence, to using a vendor that he or she has worked with in the past. It could be because they have a good working relationship, or they’re good friends with someone at the other exhibit house. In any event, changes in key positions at a company can lead to changes in vendors.
Are you shopping around? Often, changes come because a new, large project is in the offing and the marketing team wants to have a handful of exhibit houses compete for the job, so a Request for Proposal or RFP is released to a few select companies. May the best company win!
How successful has your overall exhibiting program been – and how crucial to that success has your current vendor been? I’ve seen some clients I’ve worked with grow significantly during my association with them. Our part – design and fabrication of the booth – may be a small part of their tradeshow marketing program, but it’s a key element. And since it works well, from their point of view, there’s no reason to change. Why fix what isn’t broken?
Do you get along with all the key players? No matter what you’re buying or contracting for, if the project or ongoing business association demands a lot of interaction, it’s critical that everybody has a good working relationship. If not, things get uncomfortable quick. Getting along with someone and having good communication when issues arise means more than almost anything else.
Does your current exhibit house struggle to fill your needs? Are they a good fit? This may be one of those ‘you can’t see it because it’s behind the scenes’ situations, but if you sense that the vendor is stretched thin to meet your needs, they may not be a good fit. For example, at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, there’s no way we could handle a NIKE. It’d just be too much for us, even though having the contract would be a feather in our cap. You know, something to brag about to Mom. Our ‘wheelhouse,’ if we have one, is designing and fabricating smaller exhibits, from 10x10s to small islands, along with coordination of logistics when desired. Your exhibit house should know their capabilities and tell you if what you’re looking for isn’t a good fit for them.
Finally, when it comes to fit, are you lost in the crowd? Smaller exhibitors may work with large exhibit houses, but in some cases, your small 10×10 project may be such a small project for a company that is used to building those large custom islands, that your teeny-tiny inline exhibit is not all that important to them. And if your project doesn’t feel important, you don’t feel important to them.
There’s no definitive answer to the question of when you should leave your current exhibit vendor. If you’ve been with your current vendor, it may take a significant change in your needs or changes in key positions to get to that point. In any event, there are hundreds of exhibit providers ready to assist you if you’re ready to make a change.
Richard Erschik of TradeshowLeadstoSales.com joins me for a fun and very useful conversation about how to generate (and follow up with) great leads at your next tradeshow. What are the five questions you need to ask before you’ve identified a good lead? Watch or listen now:
Maybe these should be not-so-frequently-asked tradeshow questions. Or as we like to call them: NSFAQs. Because I don’t know if these questions ever get asked. But maybe they should.
What do I do when the exhibit doesn’t show up? Hmm. It comes down to having a plan B. Or being able to think quickly on your feet. Being resourceful. Being like MacGuyver! It might mean printing up a quickie banner at a local print shop, getting a couple of rental chairs and table, setting up a laptop with a slide show. Anything to show your guests. Yes, of course you’ll do your best to track down the exhibit and it MAY get to you in time. But if not…
Why do exhibitors do dumb things?
We’re only human. That’s why we left all but a half dozen business cards in the office. That’s why our eyes glaze over after a long day right when that big prospect comes up and asks a really good, engaging question. That’s why we can’t sleep in an uncomfortable hotel bed and we show up at the booth with eyelids and tail drooping. That’s why – when we do all of these things – we still suck it up, put on a smile and make the best of it.
Why did the company decide to invest in a HUUGE island booth but only provide three staffers? Or the flip version: why did the company cut corners with a small inline booth but have 15 people scheduled? Could be bad planning. What do you think?
When did your co-worker take that weird/ugly/goofy photo of you and decided to post on your company Twitter account with the show hashtag and now you’re getting lots of comments? When you weren’t looking. Are you going to get even?
Why am I standing next to a handful of booth staffers who think they need to keep checking their phones 85 times a day, eat a sandwich in the booth, and ask questions of visitors such as: “Can I help you?” Here’s one with an easy answer: they’re newbies and nobody bothered to tell them that tradeshows are a unique environment. It’s a sales environment, but atypical. You need to discern if your visitors would use your product, if they’re in need of it now or the not-too-distant future, who is the decision maker and do they have the budget? Once you know that, you have a qualified prospect and you can set a follow-up that both sides agree on.
Exhibiting at a tradeshow is a great way to show off your wares, but it’s also an excellent way to uncover things about your tradeshow competitors. Let’s take a look at a half-dozen things you can find out.
Exhibit presence. Of course, the most obvious thing. You can tell at a glance what they want people to see and feel when they set up a booth. But look closer: is it bigger than last year? Is it newer? Have they made changes, or are they using the same old exhibit? Are they growing in their exhibit presence or are they downsizing?
Products/Services: Naturally, this would be the second-most-obvious thing. Are they hawking something new, or does it all look like familiar products with nothing new?
Attitude. Do the booth staffers smile and engage rapidly with passersby? Or do they sit in the back with their eyes on their phone or are they eating? Booth staffers often violate many rules of engagement at tradeshows without thinking, and it may mean that dozens of people keep walking instead of stopping to talk. Other companies exude a great spirit at all times – their staffers are wearing branded shirts, are doing activities designed to engage attendees and more. What’s the attitude of your competitors?
Management. Does the company send managers to assist in the booth? Or are they offsite taking meetings. You may not find this out without an inquiry or two, but you should be able to find out how involved management is in the show.
Job openings. Some companies will openly advertise job openings. Others will let you know if you make a discreet inquiry. Lots of openings usually mean the company is doing well. But it might also mean they have a lot of turnover.
No doubt you can uncover other things about your competitors if you keep your eyes and ears open. There’s probably a little gossip to be had if that’s your thing, along with changes in various departments that you might be interested in. Whatever the case, don’t let the opportunity to check out your tradeshow competitors pass you by!
Have you checked out Quora? I think I heard about it a couple of years ago and may have even answered a question or two along the way. If you’re not sure what Quora , check out the Wikipedia description:
“Quora is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Its publisher, Quora, Inc., is based in Mountain View, California. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users’ answers.”
And yes, there are questions and answers about almost anything. Including tradeshows. Let’s have a little fun and share some of the best Q’s and A’s about tradeshows and tradeshow marketing:
What should I know before attending my first tradeshow? An author in the industry, David Spark, jumps in with one of the deepest answers I’ve seen on Quora. It includes videos and deep explanations. Yeah, it’s kind of a self-serving pitch for his services and his book, but it hits the mark in all ways.