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

Tradeshow marketing

Top Ten 2018 TradeshowGuy Blog Posts

When I started looking through the analytics to determine the top ten 2018 TradeshowGuy blog posts, I faced somewhat of a dilemma. Many of the “most-viewed” posts of the year are not from 2018. Do I include those or not? Perhaps the best approach is to create two lists: one that includes the most-viewed, and the other narrows the list down to the most-viewed 2018-published blog posts.

Take a look – starting at Number One:

Most-viewed, posted in 2018

10 Reasons to Change Exhibit Houses

Most companies we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits work with one exhibit house for several years, and the urge to change doesn’t come around much. Maybe you’ve been comfortable or years, but something changes. Could be minor, could be major. But it does happen. People change, goals change, situations change. Changing vendors can be challenging and pose a set of challenges. Lots of people are uncomfortable with change and prefer to stick with something even though it’s a good idea to at least look around.

When doing your evaluation, look at all options. One option might mean staying with your current vendor. But when evaluating, make one list with those that are considered competent service providers and those that might be looked at as critical partners.

What reasons might you have – valid reasons – for shopping around for another exhibit house? Let’s take a look at some things that might come up.

Your needs and goals have changed. It may be that you’re working with an exhibit house that excels in smaller exhibits, such as inline modular booths, but you want something custom. Turns out that your current vendor may be able to do what you want, but it’s a stretch. Or perhaps you want more, such as a coordinated tradeshow marketing strategy with planning and execution, and all your current vendor does is design and fabricate exhibits.

Their designers aren’t thinking out of the box like you’d like. Exhibits can get really wild and weird, believe me. I’m sure you’ve seen them! But if the exhibit house you currently work with has a group of in-house designers that seem to stick with the tried-and-true, and never really show you something wacky, it might be time to find another designer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to move on from the same fabricator, it may just mean bringing in an outside designer.

Lack of Communication. Do you hear from your exhibit house only when you reach out to them for something? Or do they stay in communication frequently even though a show is not currently pending?

Problems with Delivery. In the tradeshow world, deadlines run the show. Does your exhibit house meet deadlines without breaking a sweat, or do you feel that they’re struggling – which means you’re anxious much of the time? The most reliable vendors can hit a bump in the road on occasion, but if that happens do they communicate that to you? Or is the failure to deliver consistently a trend in the wrong direction?

Change exhibit house

They take you for granted. Big exhibit houses are equipped to handle everything from small in-lines to gigantic island booths that spill out of a show’s floor, it seems. If you’re one of their small customers, it may be that they just assume you’re well-taken care of without really checking. Sometimes a lack of communication tells you that they have other priorities.

Poor Service. If a company really wants and values your business, you’ll see it in their service. There shouldn’t be invoice errors, lack of attention to detail, slow response time.

The person that’s handled your account has moved on. The new person doesn’t really “get” you. It may mean that you have to work to get to know them better. But as the account manager, that falls more heavily on them to retain the business than it does on you.

Personality clash. This could be anything (politics, religion, brusqueness, and so on). It may not mean it’s time to move on. It may just mean you need to deal with another person at the company.

Pricing. Not only what is the price, but what are you getting for the money? Some vendors are great at providing a basic service at a good price. Others may be more skilled with more resources who can creatively collaborate, but that may come at a cost you’re not quite ready for. An unexpected price increase may also spur a change. Price increase happen, everyone does it over time. But if a price increase is coming on things that you normally purchase from your exhibit house (graphics, labor for repairs and upgrades, etc.) and you aren’t informed ahead of time, that is not good business.

Culture. Maybe not as big a deal if you’re not actually working for a company, when it would be a really big deal. But sometimes that culture doesn’t transfer well and if it makes everyone uncomfortable and awkward, it might be time to move on.

There are a lot of reasons that companies are not a good fit. And there’s no wrong answers. There are a lot of exhibit houses out there vying for your business. We hate to turn business down, but it happens because for whatever reason, it’s not a good fit.

free tradeshow exhibit quotes

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, December 10, 2018: Nathan Grepke

On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Nathan Grepke, President of Blue Pony, joins me to go over some of the latest technology and some of the things they’re up to in video production, presentation and mogician. Yup, mogician. Just take a look / listen:

Don’t forget the Tradeshow Tip of the week – a great list from Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies – and this week’s ONE GOOD THING: the opening weekend of ski season at Hoodoo Ski Bowl.

Don’t Miss This Critical Step Before a Prospect Leaves Your Tradeshow Booth

As an exhibitor, you’ve got most of the moving parts handled: logistics, schedules, booth staff up to speed on how to handle prospects, ask opening questions and so on.

prospect

But what’s the last thing you should do once you have converted a prospect into a lead? It’s a step that a lot of people in sales, especially newer ones, tend to overlook. And it’s easy to let this critical piece slip by quickly.

At the beginning of the visit, you clarify if the visitor is interested in your product or service by asking good questions. During the conversation with them, you’re asking more clarifying and confirmation questions.

But what about the very last step?

Confirming everything before they leave. Make sure that their business card or scanned badge info is accurate down to the email address and phone number. If you can’t get back to them easily, they’re lost. Confirm the next step: when you’ll call (or write, or visit), what that next step entails (more product information, order sheet, longer product demo, etc.), what you might need to send them prior to the call or visit (sell sheets, white paper, etc.).

In every sales meeting – and let’s be clear that a tradeshow visit that gets this far and turns a prospect into lead is definitely a sales meeting – the last step before parting is to confirm what the next step is.

The challenge that comes up if you don’t clarify the next step is that you may forget. Or your lead may be unclear what to expect from you and when. Better to take an extra minute so that there is no mutual mystification. Make sure you both know what’s coming next and when.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 19, 2018: Mike Thimmesch

There are a lot of people in the tradeshow industry who are well-travelled and highly experienced, and I love chatting with them about tradeshow marketing. In this episode I sat with Michael Thimmesch, long time Skyline marketer, now a consultant with his own company. We covered a lot of bases of tradeshow marketing, including his approach of the FIVE LEVELS of tradeshow marketing. Where are you? Take a look:

Find Mike’s LinkedIn profile here.

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING: The 50th anniversary release of “The Beatles” (White Album).

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 12, 2018: Larry Kulchawik

In this week’s vlog/podcast, I got a chance to learn quite a bit about something with which I’m not very familiar with: international tradeshow exhibiting. I’m guessing that a lot of us don’t get a chance for much exhibiting in Dubai, France, Spain, England, China or Japan or any of a number of countries. That’s why this week’s interview with exhibit designer and international tradeshow exhibiting expert Larry Kulchawik is such a treat. Loads of great information – and you should pick up his book if you do any international exhibiting. Check it out:

Find Larry Kulchawik here on LinkedIn. Here’s a link to his book on Amazon.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic. And if you want to see the entire Queen set at Live Aid 1985, which was the centerpiece of the movie, take a look.

What if Your Tradeshow Booth is Overwhelmed with Visitors?

I suppose having your tradeshow booth overwhelmed with visitors is a good problem to have, but if you have a small booth staff that can’t handle the number of visitors, it can be frustrating.

If you get lucky enough to face this problem, what should you do? Certainly, you want to capture contact info from as many people as you can.

tradeshow booth overwhelmed by visitors
Ken Newman of Magnet Productions knows how to draw a crowd!

Depending on the circumstances, you can approach it in a few ways. A little preparation for this will go a long way. For instance, have a couple of clipboards handy with pre-printed forms asking for just a few pertinent pieces of information such as name, phone, email and company. And if room, what do they want to talk with you about. If you’re overwhelmed with visitors, your staff can quickly hand out the clipboards and ask those that can’t stick around to leave their information behind – and be sure to ask for a business card as well. In fact, you can even say to those that hand you a business card to give a shortened version of their info on the form and make a note that they left a card. This gives you name, contact info, company and phone number without them having to write it down.

Don’t have clipboard with forms or even blank paper? You might think ahead and toss a small notebook in to the booth crate. You can at least ask the questions and write that info down.

No notebook? Ask for a card, tell the guest that you’re sorry that you’re swamped right now but that you want to get back to them soon: “Can we schedule a meeting later today or tomorrow? Or would it work better to call you when you get back to your office?”

The goal with this situation is to get contact info for as many people as possible – if they leave without you doing that, they’re likely gone for good. Grabbing a card and making a note on the card is sufficient. Even if you don’t get a chance to jot a brief note on the back, you can make a return call a few days later.

At busy shows, it’s kind of rare to have a few moments when you’re simply overwhelmed, where you just don’t have the booth staff to handle the influx of visitors. But if you can do your best to capture contact information before they leave, you have made a connection, even if it’s tentative. But it’s better than not capturing anything from them!


Photo courtesy Ken Newman of Magnet Productions.

7 Tips for Boosting Your Tradeshow Booth Traffic

This is a guest post by Lee Becknell.

While the reasons for attending a tradeshow are different from company to company, everyone has essentially the same tradeshow goals – we all want to spread awareness about our brand, make sales, and forge connections with new partners and customers.

boosting tradeshow booth traffic

Regardless of how top-notch your product or service or how flashy your booth, you won’t achieve any of these goals if you don’t have a steady stream of traffic. Get creative in your tradeshow approach so that no one can resist stopping by your exhibit.

  1. Make your booth unmissable—Step No. 1 of effective tradeshow marketing: design a show-stopping, crowd-pleasing, sales-grabbing booth. Of course, how big and bold you can go varies greatly on your budget, but be sure to look around at some of the top tradeshow booth ideas to get some inspiration and learn how you can do more with less. You don’t necessarily have to have a huge and flashy environment to draw in more visitors. Simple but creative designs—turning your booth into an indoor garden, recreating the feel of an art gallery, or including interactive components—are the most successful in today’s tradeshow landscape. Anything that serves as a conversation piece will get people talking, generating some big-time buzz.
  2. Dress your reps to impress—After your booth, the first thing attendees see is your reps. You should make sure that anyone representing your brand adheres to a strict dress code, and one that jives with your brand image. In other words, if your brand has a laid-back, youthful vibe—and those are characteristics of your target audience—then it’s okay to have your reps dress in jeans and company T-shirts. If you’re catering to a crowd of attendees in suits and dresses, it’s best to stick to the suits and dresses yourself. When visitors think they’ll be in like-minded company, they’re more likely to cozy up at your booth and connect with your team. Be sure that all representatives wear badges displaying their name and company to keep things professional.
  3. Showcase your giveaways—A not-so-well-kept secret in the tradeshow world is that swag is everything. The fact of the matter is that registered attendees are much more likely to pass on your booth if they don’t believe they’ll get something out of it, whether it’s a new partnership or a free gift. Make your promotional giveaways part of the display so that passersby can see them from the aisle. It’s also a good idea to go name-brand with your freebies and to use them as incentives. Save your cool items, like custom Nike swag bags and YETI tumblers, for those who sign up or commit to a deal.
  4. Promote your presence—Make sure that your existing customer base and networking circle knows that you’re exhibiting so they stop by and bring their friends. Be sure to schedule marketing emails and blast your social feeds with your exhibit location and encourage all of your followers to visit. Not only do you need to promote your own presence on social media, but you need to leverage the broader event pages and hashtags to get attendees who may not yet be engaged with your brand to look at your posts.
    boosting tradeshow booth traffic
  5. Host a giveaway—As we’ve already discussed, tradeshow attendees love free stuff. With that in mind, one of the best things you can do to entice visitors to your booth is to host a giveaway. Choose a desirable item—perhaps a gadget, a gift card, or a getaway—and make it a prominent feature of your display. Ask everyone who passes your booth to drop in a business card as their entry and designate a time and place for the official drawing at the end of the show. This is beneficial to you for many reasons. It draws attention to your booth, encourages visitors to stop by twice (once to enter and once to see who won), and earns you lots of new contacts and leads.
  6. Get on the VR bandwagon—There are a few important technologies that you should be leveraging to get ahead in today’s tradeshow environment. The first is virtual reality. If it’s in your budget, do what you can to draw in customers with VR, primarily if what you’re selling is a place or an environment that can’t be recreated at the show. For example, the German airline Lufthansa drew major props when it invited tradeshow attendees to watch the world’s first 360-degree movie filmed on a Boeing 747 at a recent tradeshow—in virtual reality, of course. VR can help users visualize, learn, experience, and get hands-on training with your product without the need to get them in the door for a real-life demo.
  7. Make your booth a getaway—What do tired, busy show-goers want more than anything? A place to chill. If you can make your show environment simultaneously high-energy—you want attendees to take action, after all—and relaxing, you can bet that visitors will come back again and again with friends. Whether it’s adding a TV, massage chairs, or a couple of phone chargers, anything you can do to make your booth feel homey and welcoming is a win. Just be careful about loafers! It’s important to keep the energy flowing rather than stagnant in a tradeshow environment.

Selling with a smile

One of the most important things you can do to draw more visitors to your tradeshow booth is to exhibit with a smile. Put your friendliest, most charismatic employees on the frontlines and train them to act as hosts and hostesses of your environment. If they’re able to make warm connections with people passing by, whether it be making eye contact and smiling or asking them a question, they’ll be able to help convert visitors to loyal customers. Be sure that your exhibit has an open and inviting feel no matter what.


Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

Why Tradeshows Work – and Why They Don’t

When you think about it, there are several reasons why tradeshows work to reach new markets. And many reasons as to why they wouldn’t work for you.

Let’s start with why tradeshows work.

Tradeshows are organized for one very good reason: to bring buyers and sellers together under one roof for a short amount of time. It’s an extremely effective way to help both parties make connections. By setting up an exhibit at the right show – one that has hundreds or thousands of people or companies that are in the market for your product or service – you can save a ton of money when compared with trying to have face-to-face meetings with those same people at their company locations. Imagine meeting 100 people at a show over the course of three days. Then imagine the cost of traveling to 100 locations spread throughout the country (or state or world) and having the same meetings. Granted, a meeting in someone’s office is typically more relaxed than a meeting on the tradeshow floor. But other than the time and relaxation factors, it’s pretty much the same meeting! You’re determining if the prospect uses your product, is capable of making a purchase (they have the $$), and if they have the ability to make that decision for the company. It’s the same on the tradeshow floor.

Why tradeshows work

Given all of that, tradeshows are the perfect structure for spreading the word about your product among a very large crowd that – again, if it’s the right show – are your target market. Naturally, you’re competing against companies that may be trying to sell virtually the same product or service to the same target market. That’s where the fun starts: how do you differentiate from them, how do you approach the prospect, how do you understand their needs, how do you make them look (and feel) good?

On the flip side, given the high cost and a multitude of variables that go into planning and executing a tradeshow appearance, a lot of exhibitors have come to the conclusion that tradeshow marketing doesn’t work. For them.

You could point to a number of reasons why it doesn’t work for them. They’re at the wrong show. With the wrong exhibit. In the wrong space. With a booth staff that isn’t properly trained. Going against competitors that are way ahead of them in experience, savvy, planning, and attitude. In fact, attitude, I would argue, is one of the keys to winning vs. losing at a tradeshow. But let’s take it a step further: let’s not even use the words “winning vs. losing” because that frames it as a competition. Yes, it is, in a sense. But if you consider all tradeshows as more than that – as a learning experience – take that experience and apply it to the next round. What worked? What didn’t? Why did something work, and why did something else not work? If that’s hard to figure out, it might mean you’re too close to it. Ask someone on the outside to take a look and give an objective perspective. Buy a book or two and learn how it’s done from people that have been there before.

Don’t give up. Keep plugging away. Keep trying. It can – and will – work for you, eventually.


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

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