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?
I first crossed paths with David Meerman Scott over a dozen years ago. Since then he’s written several books and been a keynote speaker at countless conferences, discussing the changing world of marketing and public relations. On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, David joins me to talk about his just-released book, Fanocracy, co-written with his daughter Reiko Scott.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING. Actually, four of them!
These days, business owners spend a lot of their time on the internet. Many do not have actual space for office and spend their time looking for digital marketing strategies and making digital products. You might feel like you are working in a void when you run an online store, even if the work is very rewarding. You may not ever talk to colleagues or even your consumers besides over the phone and through email. Does this imply that face to face marketing has no place in e-commerce marketing?
answer is: no, it is not so. In fact, digital business owners can profit from face to face marketing as much as a
business owner with a physical store can.
What is Face-to-Face Marketing and Why Does It
marketing applies to any situation where you sell your business to a group or
an individual. You get to look at your customers in the eye as you offer your
angle or connect with them on an individual level. For example, you may meet
someone at a grocery store. They may ask what you do and you say that you
create online photography classes for enthusiastic.
conversation might change at this point. However, if the other person is into
photography, they may ask questions about your online class. You can offer your
website address or business card where that individual could discover more
about your class. This is an instance of spontaneous face to face marketing. You get benefits of this opportunity to let
them know about your store and the products you sell online.
how does face to face marketing matter?
Think back to the time you last went to a retail store. You were unsure what
you were looking for but you had a basic idea. You may experience more frequently
when you buy electronics. They may know they have come here to buy a tablet,
for example, but they don’t know what features will be most beneficial to them.
In a brick-and-mortar store, you are checking the collection out, perusing the
details of every product, and the price tag also. Eventually, a store
representative shows up, asking if you need help.
accept their offer gratefully and they explain what the tablet is all about and
if it meets your demands. The representative might also suggest a few other
models that could be suitable for you. You are grateful for their help and it
helps you choose, and thus, more prone to buy that tablet right away.
does this happen? It is because a personal connection was established between
you two. Maybe they shared a joke with you and answered all your questions. All
of these things are face to face
communication advantages. It just does not always have to happen in a
physical store. Therefore, face-to-face marketing matters because it’s a
totally diverse experience from digital marketing. You can meet prospects who
otherwise would not have known about your online business, and you can address
issues and pain points to boost the chances of a sale.
let us look at some of the benefits of face-to-face marketing.
Benefits of Face-to-Face Marketing
are some of the benefits of face to face
you visit a restaurant for the first time and the food and wait staff impress
you so much that when a friend later asks your recommendation for a restaurant,
this one immediately comes to your mind. You recommend this restaurant because
of the awesome experience you had. This is called word-of-mouth marketing. When
someone likes a particular product or service, they are likely to tell everyone
they know about it.
similar concept works for face-to-face marketing for your online business. When
you meet people, you can create an experience that leaves a positive impact on
them. After the person becomes a consumer, you deliver an amazing digital
product that meets their requirements. Then, awed by your service, they will
talk about your product to other people.
Causes Your Audience to Come You
probably already know that online marketing becomes more challenging over time.
It’s not a waste of time surely, but online business owners are finding it more
difficult to find audiences organically. Face-to-face marketing takes away the
scalability aspect that affects several small businesses. Events can bring you
more customers directly than just waiting for customers to find you through
customer referrals, search engines, and social media.
can take the example of our photographer again. They can attend a convention or
show for photographers. When they put themselves in those events, they expose
themselves to many potential customers.
Credibility and Relationships
are what make up a business. The best business owners know that generating
relationships with their customers and prospects can enhance customer
acquisition and retention. You can consider your own relationship with your
local business. You may have been going to the same bakery for the last ten
years and you can’t even think about going anywhere else because you’re very
satisfied with their products and service. Developing similar relationships
with customers online is possible.
Yourself More Noticeable and Available
prefer it when businesses make themselves accessible. The people you help also
demand those things. If you are incapable to convey on their expectations,
you’ll possibly lose a buyer. You can utilize face-to-face marketing to ease
your prospects’ concerns. Tell them that you are both available and reliable so
that they feel more relaxed buying your product or service. Face-to-face
marketing makes you additionally more noticeable. This is particularly valid if
you talk at an event or associate in its construction.
For many businesspeople, interacting in person
proves far more comfortable than interacting online. When we communicate in
person, we appear more sincere and more natural than when we communicate online,
especially through text. They can see your body language, facial expression,
and the way you present yourself. Moreover, listening to your voices makes them
fully appreciate what you are saying based on delivery.
You can profit from face to face marketing in various ways. You can produce more ROI, profit from an identified audience, build relationships with potential and prevailing customers, increase your reliability, and interact more efficiently.
And they were all good, fun and worth your time to listen.
But I got to thinking about podcasts that actually gave you
solid actionable tips to make things happen. And there were several. Let’s
recap and give you a chance to dig in again.
Seth Kramer: Seth is a longtime professional presenter and, in this conversation, shares great tips on how to use a presenter, and how to prepare your staff for the influx of people and leads that will result. Other tips include how to gauge the interest of potential clients as they watch the presentation.
Sam Smith of Social Point: Sam talks about the many ways that games can be used to bring people to your booth and keep them there. Tips on creating an engaging activity, how to strategize to accomplish your objectives, and using new technology in tradeshow booths.
Francis Friedman: What’s happening with the Modern Digital Tradeshow? A lot! And Francis digs into how our industry is the foundation of the 1X per year event and the world is a 24/7/365 digital world.
Laura Allen is known as The Pitch Girl, and frankly, her method of distilling the essence of your pitch to a short soundbite is one of the handiest things you can have at a tradeshow when someone asks you what you do.
David Newman is a marketer’s marketer. His ideas work on so many levels, with tradeshows being just one. He discusses how to start a marketing plan, offers tips on marketing videos, how to use speaking (yes, at tradeshows) as a way to market your business and more.
Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound. Yes, this appeared in late 2018. But hey, this half-hour podcast is probably the best 30 minutes you’ll spend if you’re trying to get a handle on your tradeshow marketing with specific actionable tips. Tips on preparation (get the show manual, try to find a speaking or panel slot), what to do at the show (make sure you have enough handouts such as FAQs, cheat sheets, quizzes, flash drives, etc.), why you should hang out a few times near the media room (get a blogger to write something about your company, let media folks know you’re an expert in two or three areas of your industry and many more), how to visit competitors booths, how to follow up and so much more. Seriously, a goldmine of actionable information related specifically to tradeshow marketing.
Hope you enjoy these seven podcast/vlog replays and find some great tips to put to use as you head into your 2020 tradeshow marketing schedule!
Let’s assume that your company does a fair amount of
tradeshow marketing. Maybe a dozen shows, including two or three large national
shows and smaller, regional or more-focused shows where your product fits in.
Your first show of the new year is still a couple of months
away, so you’re probably thinking you have time to make sure all is right.
And you’re probably on the right track.
But it might be worthwhile to go over your checklist for the
new year one last time.
Let’s assume that you had decent results last year but would
like to improve on those results in 2020.
Here are a number of areas to look at and things to consider
as you plan your show schedule.
Know Your ROI
Return on Investment is critical for tradeshow success. Just
because you’re getting sales doesn’t mean you’re making money. Calculating your
ROI is, in theory, straightforward enough. You’ll need to know a few things,
such as how much it cost you to exhibit at a specific show. Add those numbers
up, including travel, booth space, any capital investments such as a new
exhibit, any samples you handed out, drayage, shipping – all of it – until you
get a final number.
Now, gather all the leads from that show, check with sales
to learn how much profit the company actually netted from those leads. Then do
Beyond your goals of making money, see what else you can do
to make your tradeshow investment worthwhile. Drive traffic to your website or
social media platforms, track the number of booth visitors, networking with industry
colleagues, launching new products and more – these are all valid and valuable
things to track.
Plan Some Surveys
A tradeshow is a great place to do a little casual market research.
Set up a survey on a tablet, offer a prize to people that answer questions, and
see what useful information you get.
Train Your Staff
Really, when was the last time you paid a professional to
come in and train your booth staff? The proof is in the pudding. A well-trained
booth staff is one of the most important things you can do to increase your
level of success.
Hire a Professional Presenter
Perhaps not every tradeshow booth needs a presenter, but if
you’re going to get serious about showing off a complicated product, having a
professional presenter that knows how to draw a crowd and distill the critical
bits and pieces of your product or service in invaluable. And worth every
Beyond these ideas, it always helps to keep your staff
informed on plans as appropriate. If your staff knows what you’re planning and
what the company’s goals are, and why, they will be much more likely to have
buy-in to the company’s success.
It’s a little hackneyed, I know, but how often do you say to
yourself, “Where does the time go?”
I said it again just a day or two ago when I noticed the calendar, did the math, and said, Holy Smoke, where does the time go?
2020 beckons. Are you ready?
I don’t usually do a formal year-end assessment of my
business, TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In the past I have shared on these pages and
in the weekly podcast, the state of the business. And I don’t plan to do a
formal assessment this year.
But, having said that, I can safely say that 2019 was the
best year yet for TradeshowGuy Exhibits. In terms of new business, new clients,
and total dollars. Which means we must be doing something right.
The challenge of running your own business, and specifically
a business in the tradeshow world, is that cycles often determine the amount of
business and the number of clients we work with at any given time.
For example, the first four months of the year were
incredible. New projects, new clients galore. The next four months were good,
not great. Certainly not like the first four months. And the last four months
have seen us hunting and wishing for more business. But like the cycles that we
end up living with, I can already see a few months into the future and see
things picking up. Perhaps not as grand as it was 12 months ago, but still
Another 100 or so articles, along with the podcast, were posted on this blog, bringing the total posts to over 1000. In November the blog also celebrated its eleventh birthday. If you’d have told me I’d still be blogging eleven years later, I would have probably choked. But wow, here we are.
And personally, I kept up a consistent exercise routine of
daily yoga, daily walks (with the dog who insists!), lots of bicycle riding and
lots of skiing.
How about you? How was your year? Was it what you expected? What
do you have planned for 2020?
Whatever you are looking for next year, buckle up – it should
be a wild ride!
What is an earworm? Basically, it’s song or melody that gets
stuck in your head and you have a hard time unsticking it. It goes around and around
and won’t go away.
It happens to me all the time. I must have fifty songs
bounce around my head on any given day. Some stick for a few moments, others
for up to an hour.
Why not come up with a short list of good songs to get stuck
in your head that make sense for your next tradeshow appearance?
Let’s start with Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
It’s catchy and gets to the point of any attendee’s message to an exhibitor: yeah, I’ve seen your stuff before, but what have you done for me lately? Plus it’s a classic mid-80s dance video, so there’s that.
Prince – Kiss
Another video from 1986. Popular year, perhaps? Maybe not an actual kiss, but certainly a metaphorical one. You want that connection that leads to becoming either a client or a supplier. And to do that, there’s a certain amount of closeness that must be done.
So why not a metaphorical kiss?
Rolling Stones – Get off My Cloud
Exhibiting at a tradeshow means sharing the stage with hundreds or even thousands of other exhibitors. But in YOUR booth, you’re the master. No other brands allowed. So yeah, get off my cloud, two’s a crowd!
Beatles – Come Together
Now that we’re in the Sixties for a few moments, how about we ask The Beatles for a song? Come Together is certainly a great earworm, and oh-so-appropriate for a large gathering.
Billie Eilish – Bad Guy
Let’s jump up to the present for Billie Eilish and her mega-hit Bad Guy. Not only is it catchy as hell, but at every tradeshow there always seems to be a bad guy. Sometimes it’s the neighbor exhibitor that’s playing loud music in their booth or crowding out your visitors. Or some floor manager that is making it difficult to get your crates delivered to your booth in a timely maner. The good thing is, there are not that many bad guys at tradeshows. Most people are there to have a good time and be a good guy or gal.
Queen: We Will Rock You
Exactly what you’re looking to do at your next tradeshow: rock your visitors.
Back in the dark ages of technology and social media, say
2008 or so, I read many prognosticators who predicted that tradeshows would
disappear. Or become shells of themselves, simply because everyone was going
digital. I remember seeing online ‘virtual tradeshows’ where you could navigate
from booth to booth and see what companies were hawking.
Except that virtual tradeshows never really got going so
much. And the real thing is doing just fine, thank you very much.
Why? My hunch is that it’s because people are face-to-face.
In real time. In real life. Instead of interacting online over Skype or virtual
Don’t get me wrong: there is a time and place for
interacting online, for social media, for Skype or Zoom.
But tradeshows are here to stay and they’re growing.
A recent (July 2019) post from Marketing Charts indicates that tradeshows have not only proven to be effective across all stages of the buyer’s journey, the channel has a projected annual compound growth rate of 4.3% through 2023.
The article shares other key points, including that tradeshows are the second largest and fastest-growing source of B2B growth. The B2B tradeshow market is expected to be a $15.7 Billion market in 2019, moving up to $18.5 Billion by 2023.
Yes, tradeshows as a method of marketing are critical to a
company’s success. The money spent on tradeshows often will take up as much as
a third of a company’s marketing spend.
There are lot of reasons that companies are successful at
tradeshow marketing (as well as many reasons they’re not successful!), but to my
mind it all comes down to the face-to-face aspect.
Yes, there are a lot of books about tradeshows. In fact, I wrote two of them. Many – actually, most – are good investments. A candid, experienced author can walk any exhibitor through the briar patch of tradeshows, which can often ensnare the inexperienced exhibitor. Actually, tradeshows can ensnare the experienced exhibitor, too. It happens all the time. Just check out the Plan B column in the monthly Exhibitor Magazine, which is full of real tales of exhibitors having to MacGuyver their way through the crazy, deadline-heavy world of tradeshow exhibiting.
Mel White, the VP Marketing/Business Development at Classic Exhibits, has always been a prolific and entertaining writer. His blog posts enliven the pages at Classic Exhibits.com, and his insight into tradeshow marketing comes from years of experience. (Full disclosure: Mel was instrumental in going through both of my books with a fine tooth comb to make them much better than where they started, and encouraging me at every step).
And now Mel has released a book available as both a Kindle download and as paperback, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? A Humorous Guide to Effective Trade Show Marketing. Brilliantly illustrated by Meredith Lagerman, the book touches on a lot of the elements that make his blog posts entertaining and educational: zombies, Sasquatch, dumb stuff people do at tradeshows, why your booth staff kinda sucks and much more. And, of course it’s highly entertaining while making sure to impart great tips and tricks along the way.
As an introduction to tradeshow marketing, or as a refresher if you’ve been exhibiting for years, What’s So Funny About Trade Shows? is a great addition to any marketing library. Highly recommended!