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

Tradeshow marketing

Can Mobile Marketing Improve Your Tradeshow ROI?

iPhone in Canada

Now that a lot of your audience are carrying around smartphones, are you even able to reach them anymore with email, blogging and your social media outlets?

Probably – at least you should be able much of the time.

But an ideal scenario is literally in your hands: reaching your audience with text messaging.

Here’s why text message (or mobile) marketing is worth considering:

First: approximately 97% of all text messages are opened and read! Yeah: wow, 97%!

Next: your competitors are probably NOT doing it. Yet. But chances are they will look at it soon.

Also: Texting can spur instant action because of the immediacy of the medium.

One comment I often hear when the subject of mobile marketing comes up: “…but who wants to get spam text messages?”

That’s the beauty. It’s not spam. Your audience has opted-in to your messages through your website or advertisement, and they can easily opt-out if they change their mind.

Let’s say you have a booth at a tradeshow, and you’re going to surprise your audience with a special deal, a celebrity guest, or some other reason to get people to head for the booth. By timing your text message, your audience can open the text (remember, it’s immediately sent), see the invitation, and come by the booth.

If you can narrow your market to a select group of show attendees, chances are good that you’ll get many of them to respond.

“Your only restriction with mobile marketing is the numbers of characters, so my best advice is consolidate and pack a punch with your message,” advises Van Allen, a leading business marketer and business author who uses text and SMS (short message service) technology to grow several business.

So the next question on your lips is (at least it was on my lips): how do you do this?

The difficult, and manual, way would be to send each message out individually.

Nope, you can see right away that’s not gonna work. Not with all you have to do to keep the booth running, right?

Sign up for a service such as Boomtext, Message Buzz or Moto Message, log in to your account, set up your message and when you’d like it go out and you’re set.

Some services I’ve seen have the ability to segment your audience. For instance if you put out an advertisement on “organic yogurt” you might have readers opt-in to get message specifically about organic yogurt. Other readers might want messages only about fruit-flavored yogurt. It gives you a chance to send extremely targeted messages based on the desires of your market.

Once you start thinking, the ideas on how to tie mobile marketing into your tradeshow marketing start tumbling over themselves.

Phone coupons, time-sensitive offers, opinion polls, welcome messages, games, video links…what can you think of?

If you have sent out or received text messaging, what’s your experience been?

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photo credit: jeffwilcox

Tradeshow Press Releases Increase Your SEO

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A terrific guest post by Brad Shorr on Heidi Thorne’s excellent blog ‘Promo With Purpose Today’ got me to thinking.

In the post, Brad discusses how long-term thinking and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help to bring more people to your website. And Brad says that press releases are an excellent way to seed your company’s brand throughout the web.

I can’t agree more.

But with apologies to Brad, I’d take it a few more steps.

If you’re planning a press release, come up with a short list of a half dozen keywords that people might be searching for in regards to your tradeshow appearance. Perhaps you’re in the food industry and you want folks to find your products and scheduled appearance.

Your first sentence should contain at least one or two of those keywords and the name of the show. Search engine algorithms tend to look for keywords within the first several words of an article or release. So don’t waste time getting to the point.

In the body of the copy, be sure to include the other keywords that you’ve targeted. Sprinkle them generously – but don’t overdo it. It’s got to be both search-engine friendly and human-friendly (readable!). It may take a little re-working, but you’ll know when it reads right.

At the end, be sure to include all of the pertinent contact information, including links to your company’s website and blog (the link-backs that Brad mentioned).

Press releases have jumped from old media to new media quickly – and the change really took place a few years ago. Press releases can be found by anyone searching for specific keywords – they aren’t limited to reporters and bloggers. And as Brad stated, you may actually get an immediate lead from your release.

Two of my favorite resources to improve your press releases include a book and a website.

Check out David Meerman Scott’s “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and Joan Stewart’s terrific website Publicity Hound. Be sure to subscribe to Joan’s weekly newsletter which is easily one of the best newsletters I open each week.

And while you’re at it, run by David’s blog here.

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photo credit: Bohman

Banner Design Ideas for Trade Shows

Guest post by Danny Jessen

Being involved in the retail and trade show display business and seeing pull up banners go out to customers on a daily basis, I think I have a  good feel of what makes an effective banner design. And when you consider that the artwork and graphics are the very element that will “make or break” your banner display, you may want to read on!

Colours are King

Though you may feel limited to a particular colour palette that compliments your corporate colours and logo, great results can be achieved using colours that create strong contrasts. Whether its light on dark, or dark on light, or colours at the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, contrasting colours are very effective at catching the viewer’s eye. So be bold in your use of colour, but don’t over-do it. Try using just 1, 2 or 3 strong, contrasting colours – any more and you’ll start losing impact.

Artwork: Sometimes Less is More

It can be tempting to try and get the most value from your trade show banner by loading it with images and artwork. Despite the temptation, I find that the vast majority of the time, one large image is more effective that a number of smaller ones. Multiple images act to dilute the visual impact of your banner as each image competes for the viewers’ attention. On the other hand, having one large, primary image creates a strong focal point that is very effective in the kind of open trade show or retail environments in which banner stands tend to be used.

Keep it Short and Keep it Sweet

In both trade show and retail environments the key function of a banner’s design is to grab the attention of the people passing your store or exhibition stand and entice them to approach. Bearing in mind that you may have just seconds to achieve this, large amounts of written information are most often counter productive. Keep your message short and simple by using large text, bullet points and images where possible. A clear “call to action” can be effective in having people approach, upon which a staff member, some printed material, or both can leave them with more detailed information.

I guess in summary, you could say that when it comes to trade show banners, simplicity is the key: Simple yet bold use of colour, clear and strong images to create a focal point, backed up with some brief written information and a “call to action”.

Effective banner design is not rocket science, but unfortunately more often than not, trade show and retail banners end up being less than effective. But now all you’ll need to do is follow these 3 simple rules to good banner design and you’ll be sure to get the most from your next banner stand investment!

Do you have any more ideas for producing effective trade show banner designs?


About the Author:

Danny Jessen is Marketing Manager at Slimline Warehouse Australia a trade show and retail display company, specialising in
Pull Up Banners.

Tradeshow Marketing – 3 Critical Steps That Will Ensure Your Success

Guest post by Rashid Kotwal

Alex was both exhausted and excited at the same time.

He’d just spent the day finalising his stand at a major tradeshow, and was looking forward to the hoards of people who’d be streaming past the next day.

It was an expensive exercise. By the time he added up the floor space, construction and personnel costs, he’d spent about $15,000, but Alex was sure it would be worth it due to all the new leads he’d be getting.

Walking through two major tradeshows over the last couple of weeks, I met lots of Alex’s.

Jamey, visiting at Origins

Sadly though, most of them will be disappointed with their results from the show.

Why? Because in many cases they won’t meet the right people, won’t engage them when they do, and won’t follow up.

Interestingly, there are major parallels with networking functions, so even if you’ve never contemplated exhibiting at a tradeshow, the principles I’m about to outline apply in everyday business networking.

So let’s take them in turn.

Meeting prospects…

Tradeshows, like networking events allow you to meet a lot of people at one time and in one place.

So rather than you running around the countryside visiting people, you get them to come to you.

How? By personally inviting them and setting up appointments to meet. That way you know you’ll be busy talking to the right people.

Greeting prospects…

While walking the aisles, I noticed three general behaviours.

Some stand attendants stood in the corridors and actively made eye contact, smiled and invited me to talk to them. Others stood there looking bored and made no attempt at contact. And the last lot sat at the backs of their stands talking amongst themselves or eating.

Guess which ones I spoke to? In fact there were other people I was interested in meeting, but they showed no interest in me, so I gave up after waiting a few minutes.

Ever been to a networking function where you’ve experienced something similar? You’re new and no one takes an interest in you, makes you feel welcome and you leave wondering if this was all a colossal waste of time.

And finally, following up…

Generally, you can’t actually buy things at a tradeshow. You’re there to make connections, not lug stuff out the door with you.

So it’s critical that you follow up any prospects you meet. And not just once. You need to keep your name in front of them on an ongoing basis – forever!

Offer them something (an article you’ve written or something else you know would interest them) in return for their business card.

I recommend you use a combination of phone (for the hot prospects), letter, fax and email over an extended period of time. And it’s not always about making the sale. Send them articles you think they’d be interested in, stuff happening in their industry etc. It’s about consistently keeping in contact.

Once again, the same applies if you meet someone at a networking event.

Do all three of these things and you’ll extract the greatest return from your investment in both time and money. Miss one and you’ll leave money on the table.

Rashid Kotwal is an international speaker and author who specializes in on-line and off-line strategies for direct response marketing and sales optimization. He works with sales organizations want to get more business, faster and with less wasted effort.For more information on Marketing, Sales and Customer Retention Strategies head over to http://revealedresources.com.

Copyright 2010 Rashid Kotwal

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photo credit: Benimoto

Ways to Attract a Crowd at Trade Show Exhibits

Guest post by Chris A. Harmen

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When it comes to standing out among all of the other trade show booths, having something that catches visitors’ attention is key. At trade events, attendees don’t have time to visit each and every booth. They are there on a mission – to seek out the best of the best and give their business to the companies they feel match their organizations’ goals and needs. Some businesses may carry a highly superior product or service as compared to most of their competitors, but they simply do not have the attention-getting gimmick to attract business. Make sure your company does not fall into this category by choosing one of the many exciting ways to catch the attention of attendees at trade show booths.

Entice Trade Show Booths’ Visitors With Giveaways

One of the simplest ways to attract people to your trade show exhibits is to offer something free. Everyone likes the prospect of free things, and the bigger the better. If your company has the budget for it, offer something like a couple of nights free at a luxury resort. If you do not quite have the financial capability to offer something that glamorous, consider a free visit to a day spa or massage parlor, or something as simple as a free meal at a nearby restaurant – maybe one that offers or utilizes your company’s products or services. For smaller companies, even a bowl of candy will bring people into your booth. Position the candy display a little ways into the trade show booths, so it is harder for visitors to just grab the candy and keep walking.

Demonstrations And Technology

There are many basic ideas that can be overlooked when trying to attract and retain potential clients. Product demonstrations at trade show exhibits are always a great way to show off your product and build up a crowd. Consider wearing a microphone with a small speaker to really draw attention.

Make use of technology like internet access, lights, a DVD player/projection screen, or even lasers. Display your company’s professionally designed website in the background, and use spotlights, like colored, moving ones, to draw attention to areas of your booth. If your business has a workshop video or DVD demonstrating what you do, have it play in the background. Lasers can flicker in the background to make your trade show booths seem exciting and tech-savvy.

Hire Show Stoppers And Stay Friendly

Again, if your company has the budget for it, hire whoever you can who will attract attention to your exhibits. Celebrities, athletes, musicians, and comics are all options. Clowns on stilts, jugglers, celebrity look-a-likes, and even attractive models with marketing backgrounds can help bring over potential clients.

Even your own sales staff and booth exhibitors can be showstoppers if trained correctly. Be sure to project energy at all times. Have a couple people manning the booth, so if someone gets tired they can switch positions. Remember to smile and mingle with the crowd. Don’t just remain in the booth’s background.

By enticing attendees with giveaways, demonstrations, technology, and special guests who may stop visitors in their tracks, you will see more traffic and, consequently, more sales after trade show exhibits.

Chris Harmen writes for the leading provider of trade show exhibits Canada Skyline. They offer professional consulting and advice as well as a complete line of Canada trade show booths.

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photo credit: AskDaveTaylor

What I Learned From Talking Dogs

attentive

In cartoons and movies, dogs can talk. All the time. They must think we’re not listening. Or maybe they’re smart enough to know that we puny humans don’t understand dog-talk.

Whatever.

I don’t mind talking dogs. In fact, I like them just fine. My 10-year old son watches Scooby-Doo and movies like ‘Cats and Dogs’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ that feature talking dogs.

As far as he knows that’s the way it should be. Dogs and cats talking, and if they’re on screen we can hear and understand them.

It’s as if someone magically transformed those run-of-the-mill pets into super-beings that now are able to converse in languages not common to their species.

I wonder if we humans can do that….

Let’s say that we’re able to…uh…read minds, for instance. What would your booth visitors be saying if you could read the thought balloons above their heads?

“My, that booth needs cleaning.”

“Jeez, that guy’s on the cell phone again!”

“Hmmph, he should have at least used a breath mint to cover up that onion breath!”

Or what if all cell phone conversations within ten feet were beamed right to your head?

“Yeah, uh…let’s meet at the street…no, never mind, let’s do it after lunch. No, wait. Can you meet me here?”

“What’s your problem? I mean, what’s your freakin’ problem, man?”

“Yeah, I know, I know, but I really DO have to go out to dinner with her…it’s business…the boss told me I had to…”

I’m sure you’d hear a lot of idiotic and innocuous chatter. Maybe every 100th phone call you were eavesdropping on contained a nugget of information about your competitor or industry that made you rich.

Hey, since we’ve already established that dogs can talk, it’s not much of a leap to tell ourselves that we can hear private cell phone calls, right? Or read minds?

By imagining talking dogs, you can imagine a lot of wild and crazy things. Like making your booth from orange peels (what a smell!). Or creating a booth back wall of tires. Or teaching your visitors to juggle. Or sending visitors home with a Polaroid photo of themselves. I dunno – creativity comes in many forms. Are you being creative in your booth?

Are you being creative – I mean, really creative – in the important areas of tradeshow marketing?

  • lead gathering
  • lead follow up
  • booth design
  • visitor interaction
  • staff training
  • schmoozing with clients
  • putting on a demo
  • enticing visitors to your booth

If you can be more creative and interesting than a majority of your fellow exhibitors you’ll find yourself with more traffic.

The whole talking dog approach to this blog post was to draw you in and make you say ‘what the hell?’

Did it work? Did you wonder what the hell I was writing about?

If you’ve made it this far you should check out my new favorite book on creativity, ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko. I just finished it today and am already planning a number of ways to use it for future endeavors: sales, writing, brainstorming, planning, creating…so many ideas have come out of just READING the book that I can’t wait until I actually start to implement and use his ideas.

Check it out here (affiliate link): Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition)

Also check out a funny talking dog joke.

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photo credit: raggio(ALL4HIM)productions

Tradeshow Time: Class is in Session

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What did you learn from your last tradeshow appearance? Did you learn that you, well, perhaps shouldn’t have even been there?

Sometimes that’s the best lesson you can learn: that the money you spent on the show was wasted and you won’t do that show again.

Or will you? Maybe the lessons you learned included the fact that this particular show was wasted, but that you learned enough about the show to make adjustments and refocus for the next go-round.

Let’s face it: even the most expensive marketing mistake comes with a lesson. Sometimes it’s hard to find, and other times it’s staring you in the face.

It could be that you learned that the show’s audience is not for you.

I recently teamed up with the Salem Business Network and Communication Steroids for the Salem Chamber of Commerce’s ShowBiz 2010, a business-focused day-long tradeshow. We prepped and planned, created and executed. And when it was over, we evaluated the results.

First, we couldn’t point to more than a handful of actual leads for Communication Steroids. And we had about 20 sign-ups for the Salem Business Network. As it turns out, signing people up via our laptop in a busy, chaotic show was more time-consuming than anticipated. So even had everything gone according to plan, the sign-ups would have been fewer than desired.

But luring people to sign up for something FREE isn’t always easy. You’d think so, but it’s counter-intuitive. When people hear that something is FREE, they often thing there’s a hidden catch or that the service is not worth much anyway. After all, they must reason, if it’s free what value can it have?

We also didn’t quite understand the audience that showed up to the show: instead of business folks, it was mostly (probably 90%) people ‘trick-or-treating’ to grab free samples and handouts at a lot of the booths. To their credit, the Salem Chamber of Commerce has tried to dampen that portion of the crowd by charging $5 entrance fee – but it still didn’t seem to have much effect. So there were few people at the show that we could actually describe as serious prospects.

Given all that, it’s hard to know how things will unfold over the next year. We did have a handful of folks we met who liked the offerings, and if any of them develop into a good client in the next 12 months we can say the minimal investment in booth space rental and graphics was worth it. But we can’t say it yet.

Every opportunity to get out into the marketplace is a chance to learn; to understand your market better, to research the wants and needs of your market, to understand the show better, to see how your people work in a chaotic sales situation.

Given that tradeshow marketing is not cheap, your best approach is to learn as many lessons as you can on as many different fronts as you can.

Doors are open: Class is in session!

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photo credit: Christina Spicuzza

Questions to Ask Before You Start Tradeshow Marketing

A recent LinkedIn discussion focused on ‘What questions do you ask yourself when deciding on an exhibit for a tradeshow event?’

There were a lot of answers and discussion on the topic, and after I chimed in with my two pennies’ worth, it got me to thinking: what does it take to even commit to a tradeshow marketing effort?

If you’re a new company looking for marketing opportunities and markets to tap, or a company that’s never done a tradeshow, it’s an interesting question to ponder.

In other words, what is the lead-up to the question asked in the LinkedIn discussion?

To my mind, the decision to even get into tradeshow marketing should begin with a handful of questions:

  • Can we reach a valuable market via tradeshows?
  • What will it cost us in terms of money and resources?
  • Is it a short-term or long-term effort?
  • How will it affect our image in the industry? In our market?
  • If we get involved, who’s going to do it?

After this, you’ll evolve to questions that may be particular to your company, but those are good questions to kick off your internal discussion.

Tradeshow marketing can be an incredible boon – or bust – depending on how well you do it.

You’re laying a lot on the line. Take time to examine it from all angles before jumping in the pond.

How Bob Marley Can Inspire Your Tradeshow Marketing

Bob Marley, 1979- photo by Roger Steffens

It was 29 years ago today when I was a young DJ in Salem, Oregon. One of my jobs was to ‘rip-n-read’ the news, so I was regularly heading to the news room to see the latest, and include the pertinent stories on the air.

On that day, May 11, 1981, the news came over that Bob Marley had died of cancer. He was in Miami, on his way home from alternative treatment in Europe. He didn’t make it alive.

As Music Director, my main job was to handle the music playlist for the Top 4o AM station. I was a big Bob Marley fan, but it was hard at that time to justify playing any of his music on the air. No one in the world of TOP 4o knew who he was. Yes, some folks knew he wrote “I Shot the Sheriff” which had been a Number One Hit for Eric Clapton in ’74. And he had written “Stir It Up,” which Johnny Nash tossed up the charts in the mid 70s.

But his recordings had a hard time getting a toehold on ‘traditional’ music radio. The one minor exception was “Roots, Rock, Reggae” which made it up to #51 on Billboard’s Top 100 in 1976. And yes, as a Music Director I played it. Mixed it right in with Wings’ ‘Silly Love Songs,’ Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music’ and Dorothy Moore’s ‘Misty Blue’ among others. Hell, I thought it fit just fine. But when it faded a few short weeks after debuting, I couldn’t justify keeping it around so I dropped it out of rotation. Except in my living room of course.

So how could Bob Marley make an impact on your life? On your tradeshow marketing? Think it’s a stretch? It depends on how you apply it.

In reading about Bob’s life, one thing sticks out: his unceasing devotion to his path. He knew from the age of seven that he would be a singer. He never let anything derail him. No doubt there were many chances to choose to do something else, but he never wavered.

So that’s one thing: figure out your tradeshow marketing goal – and stick to it. Don’t let anything keep you from your objective.

Another piece of Bob’s life I truly appreciated was his dedication to his craft. He gave his audience his best. Always. There are stories of when he was in the recording studio, he’d stay late nights for hours and do take after take on a vocal track to get the right one.

When Bob Marley and the Wailers toured, he was always the first off the bus to rehearsal, and the first back on the bus after the show.

So: devotion, dedication and takin’ care of business. Good things to keep in mind for any endeavor.

When you get to his music, you run across lyrics and songs that lift and inspire:

“Could You Be Loved” – are your visitors looking for a little love from your business? Treat ’em nice!

“Get Up, Stand Up” – stand up for your visitors’ rights! Again, treat ’em nice.

“Positive Vibration” – one of Bob’s best known uplifting songs:

If you get down and quarrel everyday
You’re saying prayers to the devil, I say
Why not help one another on the way
Make it much easier

And of course you could tie in many other song titles to tradeshow situations (make up your own situation for the following…)

“Work”
“Judge Not”
“Keep on Moving”
“Rat Race”
“Night Shift”
“Jammin'”

and my fave:

“Slave Driver”…ever had one of those bosses?

Okay, all in fun…but definitely some inspiration here. Put on some Bob Marley next time you’re doing prep for your upcoming tradeshow – and see if you can get a little inspiration, Jamaica-style.

A Classic: The Curved Back Wall Pop-Up Display

You’ve seen them for decades. Probably set them up at tradeshows. Maybe loved them, or cursed them.

It’s…The Curved Back Wall Pop-up Display!

They’ve been around so long it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where and when they started. I’ve tried to no avail. I’m sure some archaeologist will someday find the first curved back wall display with a caveman skeleton embedded in the rock next to it. Maybe the display will be advertising Saber-toothed tiger hunting tools, mmm?

Let’s face it – this display is an easy solution to the challenge of creating a low-budget, easily-transportable and easily set-up tradeshow booth.

Some view it as a cheap alternative to a more custom look. And it’s true, a custom booth often stands out more than the curved back wall pop-up display.

But in a sense the curved back wall pop-up display is an elegant solution with quite a bit of flexibility.

First, of course, is that you have the choice of using either fabric panels or graphic panels.

Fabric panels in a multitude of color options give you the ability to attach any graphics or photos or messaging you want with Velcro.

Graphic panels that go from floor to the top of the exhibit can create a stunning look. I’ve seen some curved back wall pop-up displays adorned with such powerful photographs that I’ve stopped in my tracks.

Many of the newer curved back wall pop-ups have the ability to install shelves for monitors or to display other items. When a visitor sees a shelf it’s a little unusual so that can also be a good attractor.

And with the curved back wall you have the ability to shift the display around a bit for greater effect. Let’s say your booth is open on two sides. By shifting the booth a couple of feet in a semi-circle towards your neighboring booth (without going so far as to violate height restrictions), you open up both open sides of your booth to visitors, which makes your entire 100 square foot space more inviting and accessible.

With the evolving fabrication techniques, a curved back wall pop-up should last a damn long time, too. A reputable manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty on parts and labor, so your investment is minimal – and a good one.

Finally, the ability to set up the booth in short order – even by someone who’s never done it before but can read and follow directions – makes a pop-up the Swiss Army knife of exhibiting. Add in the ability to convert your carrying case to a counter-slash-storage unit gives you even more bang for your buck.

So that’s the Curved Back Wall Pop-up Display. Pricing ranges from about $1,000 up to $3,000 or so depending on size, style and manufacturer. If you price-shop online to get the lowest price possible you can probably beat that.

But if all you’re looking for is the lowest price, a word of advice: yes, you may get the lowest price – but are you getting a product that will still be giving you service in ten years? Sometimes investing a little more time in checking out the actual product (how it’s made, what the warranty is, who is making it, etc.), and investing a bit more $$ means you won’t be kicking yourself in a couple of years because the cheap version broke after being set up just a few times.

I’m just sayin’…

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