One of the most valuable aspects of tradeshow marketing is
the ability to reach markets you would not normally be able to reach. In fact,
it’s what has helped Bob’s Red Mill grow through the years. Bob Moore, the
iconic Bob of the company, recognized early that by exhibiting at regional and
national tradeshows, they could get their products into markets that would
otherwise be extremely difficult to crack.
It means going to the right shows where attendees are from
companies that can ramp up distribution, that can become good partners. It
means making those connections and deepening them over the years so that your
products are valuable to them, and their ability to distribute into outlets
that you would have a difficult time doing on an individual basis is valuable
to both parties.
Yes, selling and making connections at tradeshows is
important. But one of the most important things to recognize is that once you meet
and acquire a partner there, part of the purpose of the show is to use it as a
platform to introduce new products. Not only that, but when you’re in those longer
conversations with partners, you can dig deeper into what’s important to them
and their end users, the consumers. Feedback is critical not only to making
sure the right products are being created and manufactured, but for keeping the
lines of communication open and honest. When problems come up, if you have a
good partner, the communication can be candid, and problems can be addressed.
Often a tradeshow is the only face-to-face meeting that partners have each
year, and the value of meeting and shaking hands and seeing people in person
cannot be overstated.
Use the tradeshow as a way to find and open new markets. Keep in mind that relationships will solidify as time goes by and the face-to-face communication is an important part of those relationships. Which you get when you sit down across the table at a tradeshow.
It was a couple of months ago that we featured Dominic Rubino on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee video blog/podcast. This month the interview Dominic did with me appeared on his Profit Toolbelt Podcast, which is aimed at the ‘growth-minded contractors,’ who often end up attending or exhibiting at home shows.
Our conversation focus was on how to stand out at a Home Show. Fun conversation. Click the image below or this link and head on over to the interview.
The first time I walked “backstage” at a tradeshow, I realized how nuts it really was. A thousand different things going ten thousand different ways. Thousand of exhibitors, laborers, electricians, forklift operators, scissor lift operators, and so much more are all involved in an elaborate dance that takes place over a few days until opening day when everything looks perfect. Then once the show is over the same crazy dance happens in reverse.
Most people don’t think about what goes on behind the scenes, as long as it happens and their exhibit looks great for the show. But, oh, the things that have to happen for the show to take place.
For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sat down with Jim Wurm, Executive Director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association. The EACA is the main organization that advocates for all of those behind-the-scenes companies and employers. And there are a lot of different ones. Really good conversation and yes, I learned quite a bit:
I sat down with a long-time colleague to be interviewed this week and to prepare I put a list together of the 5 must-do’s for successful tradeshow marketing. We didn’t go over the whole list because the conversation took its own path. But I thought – hey, it’s a good list! Here it is:
Have an exhibit that draws people in.
We could go into this in detail, but your
graphics and messaging should clearly tell people at a glance:
problem you solve for them
Have a goal. Share that goal with your staff.
Reach new markets
Launch new products or services
Find new hires
Meet current customers, partners and
Have a well-trained staff
Your staff should know how to greet people
Your staff should know the products or services
Know how to gather the proper information for a
good lead…which leads to…
Know what a lead is…
A lead is NOT a card in a fishbowl
A lead is someone who qualifies
looking to buy what you’re selling
have a budget
know when they’re going to buy
have the power to make a decision
Once a lead is qualified, the follow up is
Gather the right information
is the follow up
is the follow up
is doing the follow up
is the follow up: sending a brochure, sample, in-person meeting?
We did get to a few of these, and they were good talking points throughout the conversation. One she produces the interview and gives me a link, I’ll make sure to include it in a blog post soon!
How does taking a stand on what might be a controversial issue affect a business? Are there places where you can take a stand and make your viewpoint known without stepping into controversy? This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee takes a look at taking a stand:
It’s a holiday here in the US as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Are you taking the day off? Are you working? How do you get downtime when you need it? And yes, you really do need it! What is motivation? And do you really need it? What about focus? Is that better?
So many questions. I take on a few of them on this morning’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:
Tradeshows and events have been running since 1851, the 1st one being “The Great Exhibition” in London. It’s safe to say the exhibition world has drastically grown since the 1800’s, as have the price tags that are part and parcel of today’s exhibition experience.
Organising an event takes time, patience
and some form of budget to support the design of an exhibition stand or display
accessory. Within the industry you’ll be faced with many questions regarding
the costs and the necessities.
To create an understanding of what you
need, along with the tradeshow essentials, take a look at a list of costs to
consider before booking your event: –
Booking your stand space
The Exhibition Stand
Stand accessories, such as
banners and displays counters
Promotional items – Leaflet,
pens and lanyards
Transportation for you and your
full stand design
Additional extras such as
seating, lighting and interactive monitors
With all costs considered, it can appear
daunting. Yes, it is an investment, but when tackled correctly a successful
event can help towards business growth and place you on the right path to build
new relationships and gain potential customers.
If you’re still searching for the reason to
attend your first event, we’ve listed 4 benefits that you’ll be able to take
away from the experience.
Attending a tradeshow puts you in the best
place possible to build new relationships. Your brand and stand will attract
potential customers, therefore leading to conversations with other industry
It doesn’t have to stop there. Use your
time wisely and explore the exhibition floor. Take it upon yourself to visit
other business spaces. Doing so, presents another opportunity to strike up
Outside of social media and online
platforms, exhibitions offer amazing brand exposure. Your selected displays
will home in on what your brand has to offer and your unique selling points.
All of which will be visible through custom artwork and promotional items.
The blank canvas that a stand or display
product provides is priceless. Use the space to promote, intrigue and capture
Learn and Expand on Industry Knowledge
Whether you have been in the industry 1 year or 50, there’s always something new to discover. Use the time to find out about new competitors, up and coming trends, innovative design and alternate display options.
Networking with other businesses allows you
to ask new questions and educate yourself. As a brand, to learn and to grow is
to develop new ideas and progress with new trends.
From the relationship building, brand
exposure and the want to expand your knowledge, you’ll be able to begin further
growth within the business. Be sure to take business cards and contact details,
so when the shows over, you’ll have the correct point of contact.
Use the new found information and contacts
you have gained to your advantage. Connect on LinkedIn, send follow up emails
and keep your brand relevant and current so your details are at the forefront
of their mind.
Extra Tips on How to Make Exhibiting
Do your research and ensure you
are attending the right show for YOU
Check your stand position and
Use social media and email
marketing to promote your attendance
On the day, take contact
details from those who you speak with and make contact the following week
Make your brand memorable by
choosing the right stand design and delivering a presence
Create a list of goals to
achieve on the day
Position the co-workers with
the greatest knowledge and understanding of the business on the stand space
Vicky Peat is a Marketing Executive for Go Displays based in Peterborough, UK. As a content marketing writer within the Exhibition and Tradeshow industry, Vicky enjoys sharing industry knowledge to encourage and educate new and experienced exhibitors.
When it comes to tradeshow marketing, anything goes. Right?
Well, maybe not everything, but certainly it’s a time to try things. Do things
Or. Maybe not. Tradeshows are fraught with risk. You’re
putting a lot of money on the line. Generally speaking, the cost of tradeshow marketing
is about a third of a company’s overall marketing budget. Which means that it’s
a lot of money in play, making it hard for a company to risk much.
In a sense, tradeshows can be an interesting mix of the
precise and the experimental.
The precision is important, to be sure. Your tradeshow staff
is your front line. The most important piece of the puzzle. They need to know
what they’re doing and why. If mistakes are made, or if your staff isn’t as
well-trained as they could be, your company might miss out on a good amount of
Your exhibit is important. It’s the 3D representation of
your brand, and if it’s not spot-on, it’ll send mixed messages to your audience.
Your products, demos and sampling have to be well-thought
out and well-executed. Make some mistakes in these areas, and again, you’re
leaving potential money on the table.
Precision is important in these areas.
But tradeshows are also ripe for experimentation. You have opportunities to do surveys, market research, unusual activities, oddball booth items and much more that will grab eyeballs and attention without impacting the precision needed in other areas. VR, smoothie bikes, live music, projection mapping, unusual use of video….the list is endless as to how creative you can get at tradeshows and still do all of the precise things that you need to do to engage with attendees, capture leads, have an exhibit that captures your brand precisely.
Tradeshows are a balancing act no matter what you’re trying to balance. Adding some experimentation along with the precision gives you flexibility, a little tension (which makes people stop and look), and keeps you, your visitors and your competitors on your toes.
If you’ve attended the same tradeshows over the years, no
doubt you’ve seen an interesting phenomenon: some companies attend for years
and then just stop.
Why? What caused them to disappear?
Certainly, there are a thousand answers to that question,
and much of those answers likely have a lot to do with internal dynamics as
much as the show itself.
But I’ve seen it happen frequently.
I’ve worked with some companies that have exhibited at the
same show for years, only to decide after seven or eight appearances that they
weren’t going to get anything useful out of another appearance.
Why’d you stop going? I’ve asked that question and received
a variety of answers:
“We’ve pretty much maxed out our ability to get new distributors, which is why we exhibited at that show. Our focus is on working with those retailers one on one to get more focused on giving them better products based on what their customers want.”
“The show moved a couple of weeks. Meaning it fell into a different fiscal year. And once the new company owners saw how much their tradeshow budget would be increasing for the fiscal year, they got to looking closer at all the marketing. We’ve decided to pull back and re-examine our entire marketing strategy.” This company did return to the show a couple of years later.
“We kept getting lousy locations which we couldn’t overcome. We put our marketing dollars elsewhere.” In this case, we wondered if they couldn’t have done better to market their appearance in spite of the bad location. It’s been done.”
“Our company has matured to the point that this particular show no longer works for us.”
And so on. There are a thousand reasons to continue
exhibiting at a show. And as many to decide not to exhibit again, or at least
for a couple of years.
Tradeshow marketing is expensive. For companies that are
investing in this marketing channel, it behooves them to make sure the dollars
are well-spent. And one of the questions that should be asked is: should we
really be at that show this year?