Well, I’m not sure I am really on-board with this kind of promotion, but I admit its one of the most clever things I’ve ever seen: using flies to carry your message around at a tradeshow. Did they also supply flyswatters so you could actually grab one of the mini-leaflets?
I recently posted this query on LinkedIn’s Trade Show Marketing Group discussion page:
I’m looking for blogs that focus on tradeshow or event marketing. I’d like to create a blog post with a list of useful related blogs. Any suggestions?
The best blogs (to my mind) are the ones that have useful information, insight into industry happenings, active readers participating with comments and are updated at least once a week. A good blog also features a mix of media: audio and video and photo collections are a plus. Guest bloggers also add new blood to the cauldron of posts. Variety is indeed the spice that draws more readers.
I do not want to know of corporate blogs that are basically a platform for pitching products and services.
Would love to hear what blogs you’re reading event/tradeshow/conference industry!
I did get some responses – enough to put together a short post to look at the blogs and make a few comments:
I recently started a blog at http://2xhib.blogspot.com. I agree with your description of a good blog. My blog may not have all the ingredients yet you describe, but I am learning… like so many of us who started leveraging social media. Good luck with your blog.
As Nick said, his blog is brand new – just four posts as of this reading. However, his posts are informative and worth reading if you’re in the tradeshow industry. Nick, I’d urge you to try and post a few times a week. By doing that, you’re telling the world a few things. First, it shows you’re active. The more active you are, the more interested your readers will be. Secondly, it’ll give Google and the other search engines some content to crunch and log – and that will start sending more traffic your way.
Nick’s also getting started on Twitter. Keep it up Nick…always good to see relevant, worthwhile content.
We also now have a blog dedicated to exhibit and event marketing called Total Solutions Marketing, written by the TS2 show team at http://www.ts2show.wordpress.com.
Shauna Peters, Marketing Manager at National Trade Productions, Inc
Let’s Talk Trade Shows is hosted by Joyce McKee, a tradeshow marketing expert and consultant that I met years ago before blogs and podcasts were a ‘thing.’ I even had her on a phone interview at one point.
Joyce’s blog has a lot of good stuff, including audience ‘attractors’ like free e-books, papers, and lots of relevant posts. She also has started doing more video, which I always recommend because, let’s face it, some people just like to watch short videos. Not only that, but having a video shows your audience who you are, how you act, and how you talk. It humanizes you. As a result, it tends to attract people that like what you do, so they’ll come back more often.
Tradeshow Scoop, on the other hand, looks like a de-humanized blog. Yes, it has a lot of information about various aspects of tradeshow marketing. But there’s no face to it, no human element. The archive listing shows that it’s been on since March 2007. But there’s no information on the “About” page. After running across a few grammatical errors (‘there’ for ‘their’), and seeing no graphics, videos or other ‘eye-candy’ I realized that I would probably never return to this blog.
Finally, Shauna, I liked the Total Solutions Marketing blog. Good information posts, added graphics and photos to break up the copy, and at least a couple of posts a month for the past several months. It appears that the blog is taken seriously by the owners, and I would encourage more posts – and hey, get out that little Flip video camera and get on-screen for a few short informative posts!
We just started a blog that has a focus on face-to-face marketing. http://gallowire.blogspot.com/
We will be adding a wealth of content moving forward.
Valerie Hurst, Inspires GALLO Clients with Effective Trade Show Exhibit Marketing, Events & Environments in Cleveland & Beyond
Again, a new blog with just a handful of posts since launching in mid-September. This blog looks to have a more ‘human’ element with one post titled “Musings of a Guy Who Used to Play Football…Without a Helmet.” With a title like that, you’re drawn in to find answer the question ‘what the hell?’
I’ll check back and see how the new blog develops – thanks for the tip!
Let’s look at the Optima Graphics Blog first. At first glance, I can see there’s a pretty high level of fun and creativity here. They took the time to put together a video which – in ‘old-time’ fashion – showed what a ‘rapid response’ is. Yes, it’s just a commercial, but clever.
After looking a little deeper, it appears that the blog – while definitely a corporate blog – is set up to show the human side of Optima Graphics, while still pitching products and service. They have so far managed to walk the line between pushing products and having fun and showing their human side.
On the downside, I noticed a lack of ‘widgets’ or further information in the right-hand sidebar. This is a good opportunity to put link listings, previous post listings, free e-book downloads, links to graphic templates, and links to other pages where we could learn who’s actually behind the blog. The more human face we see, the more inclined we are to want to do business with someone.
Display Diva, hosted by Tracey Lindsay, is certainly an active blog. It’s fun to read, with off-topic posts such as quotes from Mad Men’s Don Draper, complaints about Twitter and more. Tracey does get in tradeshow and exhibit-related articles and posts, but doesn’t flinch at putting something up just because she finds it amusing or entertaining.
I would also give her high marks for having her Twitter feed displayed (in spite of her dissing Twitter in a recent post!). There are a few points of dissonance, such as the upper-right hand “Archive” header, which then offers links to her Twitter account and the main page at LinkedIn (where’s the link to Tracey’s LinkedIn page?). I also feel that she’s missing an opportunity to put previous post links, free e-books, etc., in the sidebar instead of leaving it mostly blank.
Finally, I wanted to take a quick look at the blog from Classic Exhibits. Mel was too humble to ask me to review it, but to my mind, it’s the epitome of what a ‘corporate’ blog should be. It has useful information and articles posted regularly; it offers opinions on the state of the tradeshow industry, and it showcases new company products. Most of the articles are posted by Mel White, Classic Exhibit’s VP of Marketing and Business Development or Kevin Carty, the VP of Sales at CE.
The blog has a distinct personality which makes it fun to read – and to even get a little riled up about if you’re an exhibitor. Kevin and Mel have obviously made a decision to call ’em as they see ’em by posting opinions on various aspects of the industry. It makes for engaging reading.
I also like that the blog is seamless integrated into the overall Classic Exhibits website, making navigation back and forth effortless. Kudos to Kevin and Mel and their C.E. team for continuing to stay on the leading edge of online marketing and social media.
And a few final thoughts on blogging and social media in general…
A blog is a living, active thing; an online extension of who you or are, or what your company is. It needs to be fed regularly, like any living thing. Articles, quick posts, videos, audio podcasts, guest posts…whatever you can come up with to keep readers coming back.
And if you’re going to have a blog, make sure you’re doing all you can to drive traffic to it. I find that a third of my traffic comes from Twitter, a third comes from Google organic searches, and the rest from a variety of sources. Click-throughs are increasing from both Facebook and LinkedIn.
If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, look into setting one up. If you’re on LinkedIn, join some groups and start discussions. Nothing wrong with asking a question based on a recent blog, podcast or video that you posted and pointing people to your page. Some topics hit a hot button and the next thing you know you’ve got a few dozen more visitors.
Offer freebies – things of value – on your site. Write an e-book, put together a special report or other download. You’ll notice I have a page set aside on this site with a series of PDFs intended to help tradeshow marketers. Publish a regular newsletter. Contribute to other blogs.
Remember, in this world where social media is drawing millions of people, you are what you publish.
Here’s a guest post by Kevin Ehlers of Event Technologies of Long Beach, California
In today’s economic climate, increasing tradeshow ROI is as important as ever. While we can get very in depth on how to do this, I’d like to throw out a few quick trade show strategies that can help your company close more deals from your trade show leads.
Trade Show Lead Qualification – Being face to face with prospects is the main benefit of exhibiting at a trade show. The conversations that take place on the show floor determine which leads are good opportunities. The challenge is recording that conversation. Just scanning their badge with an exhibitor lead retrieval system doesn’t cut it. You need to either have to use a trade show scanner with custom qualifiers or use lead retrieval software with custom surveying capabilities.
Lead Rating – Once you have the trade show leads qualified you can use a lead scoring system to rate the leads (hot, warm, or cold – A, B, or C, etc.). There is no need to waste the sales reps’ time with the cold leads, so only send out the good leads. This will keep the reps engaged in your program, save them time, allow them to put more energy into the quality leads and, as a result, increase trade show ROI.
Sales Lead Distribution – With each day that passes, the trade show leads get colder and colder. You ideally want to get the leads to the reps within 2 or 3 days after the show. This gives the reps a week or so to contact all of their leads before they turn cold. Rapid sales lead distribution will increase your sales reps’ success rates.
Trade Show Lead Follow Up – As I just mentioned, the leads get cold quickly after a show. Trade show lead follow up needs to happen while the show (your company) is fresh in the prospect’s mind. Industry studies show that the leads are cold about 2 weeks after the show ends. A good idea is to send out an email immediately after the show to every lead saying “thank you.” This will keep your message fresh in their mind while you go through your lead rating and distribution processes.
I hope this post will help you rethink your trade show strategy. While these tips will take a little of your time to research and implement, they will reap rewards in the form of increased trade show ROI.
Event Technologies provides custom solutions for exhibitors that want to employ technology to improve the means by which they collect, distribute, follow-up and report on the leads that they generate at their tradeshows and events. Kevin Ehlers is the VP of Sales and Marketing and can be contacted at Kevin@event-technologies.com or www.event-technologies.com.
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no it’s — it’s a guy on a ladder that’s about to fall!
All tradeshows have their cast of characters – both heroes and villains – but you may be so engrossed that you don’t recognize the hero (or the villain) working right beside you.
Holy Giant Graphic, Batman! It’s time for our list of the Top Ten Tradeshow Superheroes:
10. The Flash: If you want something done, ask a busy person. There’s always someone on the booth staff that has the ability to get things done, no matter what it takes. They look ordinary, and in fact, wear no special costume, but when an issue or problem arises, this person makes it happen. Weakness: Burnout. Moving so fast for so long will definitely take its toll. In fact, the friction caused by moving so fast through Earth’s atmosphere may actually cause smoke or minor burning.
9. Captain America: Always fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way, Captain America seeks out wrong and strives to make it right. Whether it’s a banner that’s crooked, a small piece of dirt on the carpet, this super hero will go the distance to make everything perfect. Weakness: Perfection is impossible. That’ll probably drive Captain America bonkers some day.
8. The Incredible Hulk: Okay, he’s typically mild-mannered, but suddenly during set-up of the booth, he turns into a behemoth able to lift large light fixtures, trusses or graphics to make set-up go easier. Be sure to buy the guy a drink after set-up. He’s earned it. Weakness: Low self-image; needs emotional reinforcement.
7. Iron Man: No doubt you’ve met this super hero, but may not have recognized him. According to comic book mythology, Iron Man wears a suit of armor, yet underneath it all he battles demons such as alcoholism and a broken heart (literally, with a piece of threatening shrapnel), but is a brilliant businessman. Weakness: So yeah, a flawed hero (aren’t they all?).
6. Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl: One minute she’s there, the next she’s gone. In the blink of an eye. Sometimes when you’re looking right at her. Disappears at certain hours only to reappear in the lounge. Weakness: Tends to like the handsome nerdy type. Especially those with a rubber personality.
5. Politeness Man (from National Lampoon): Perhaps not a real super hero, still he does exist. No matter how rude people are to him or his staff, Politeness Man always manages to keep a smile pasted on his face, and treats people exceedingly nice. Weakness: Can slip into a pithy condescending tone when his pals are not looking.
4. Johnny Storm, The Human Torch: A hothead at heart, all he needs is to encounter some small inconvenience and it’s all “Flame On!” Stand back or you’ll get burned. Weakness: Water of course. Prefers something shaken, not stirred.
3. The Joker: Okay, not really a super hero, but the nemesis of all that is good about tradeshows. Constantly looking for ways to party harder, play practical jokes, make fun of people, but he vanishes when the going gets tough. Always returns to claim some sort of victory. Weakness: I think Batman has his number. Right?
2. The Silver Surfer: Exiled to Earth by Galactus after saving the planet from destruction, the Silver Surfer….uh, wait. The Silver Surfer of the tradeshow floor is the aloof yet powerful entity (often a CEO or upper level management guru) that is visible for brief moments, then disappears into high-level conferences to discuss saving the company or aligning with another all-powerful entity. Or something like that. Weakness: Still has a problem relating to the citizens of Earth. Would rather take that surfboard to parts unknown (Barbados, Jamaica, Maui, etc.).
1. Wonder Woman: No further description necessary – she’s a wonder and she’s a woman. Does it all. Unfortunately, she only exists on another company’s booth staff. A perfect 10, and often thought of as a vanishing species. Weakness: None discovered so far.
Have you spotted any of these Superheroes lately? Did you thank them for the good work they do (except the Joker)? Did they vanish to their secret lair as soon as the work was finished?
Or – and this may be a tough question to answer – are YOU a superhero? If so, hurry up and change back into your disguise…or be prepared to sign autographs the next time you stop slow down for coffee.
Let’s be up front. I don’t own an iPhone. I don’t have a cell phone with 3G networking (at least I don’t think I do).
And yet I see advertisements every day on TV that hawk the ‘fastest 3G’ networks out there, etc. As if it’s supposed to mean something to me.
Look, I think I’m a typical electronics and IT consumer. I am online for hours a day, both business and home. I spent too much time on Facebook and Twitter. I check into LinkedIn now and then. I cruise my favorite websites, such as CNN.com and ESPN.com daily. I subscribe to way too many e-mail newsletters. So I know the Internet pretty well.
But I get confused and confounded when I see ads from AT&T or Verizon or whoever touting their latest ‘3G’ networks.
I don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
I can make some presumptions, though. Perhaps it’s a new way for cell phones to work faster? No? How about getting online with an iPhone or Blackberry? Am I getting closer?
I think I’m on the right track, but it still doesn’t answer the question: Why are these companies presuming their customer even know what they’re referring to?
Hey, let’s go Googling!
Searching for ‘3G network’ the first listing (under the sponsored links which must have cost thousand of dollars, right?) is a Wikipedia page:
Let me quote a couple of sentences: “International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 (IMT-2000), better known as 3G or 3rd Generation, is a family of standards for mobile telecommunications defined by the International Telecommunication Union, which includes GSM EDGE, UMTS, and CDMA2000 as well as DECT and WiMAX. Services include wide-area wireless voice telephone, video calls, and wireless data, all in a mobile environment. Compared to 2G and 2.5G services, 3G allows simultaneous use of speech and data services and higher data rates…” blah-de-blah…
So I’m right. I guess.
I was camping with a friend over the weekend. She delighted in showing me her new iPhone ($99!) and all the things it could do. Her take on 3G? “I think it means Third Generation,” she said, “but Third Generation of what I don’t know.” I guess it just means faster.
To my mind, the phone companies hawking the 3G network capabilities are making a giant leap. Whether it’s a leap of faith or a leap of confusion I’m not sure. No doubt this has been discussed at the highest levels of advertising agencies and the phone companies selling the technology.
But doesn’t it seem like the same thing when we used to see ads comparing the online dial-speeds: “14.4 MBS vs 28.8 MBS vs. 56.6 MBS…” and we just assumed that – even without know what the hell they were referring to – the bigger the number, the better?
Perhaps that’s the answer. The ad agencies and phone companies just keep throwing confusing terminology at us, assuming that we’ll at least grok the essence of what they’re saying: 3G is good! 4G is better! Well, whenever 4G arrives, which it must! Right? As one follows two…
Still, I can’t help but think that they should do a bit of explaining. What is 3G and why is it so cool? Why would you want it? What benefits does it give you? I mean, more than just ‘fast.’
But then again, maybe that’s the only thing that matters. We see “3G: Faster!” And that’s all we need. Gotta have it!
Are you making assumptions with your marketing? Does your audience understand? Or do they just need to know that it’s faster, better, higher, brighter?
It reminds me of the old story about how one ad agency – several decades ago – took an everyday consumer item – beer – and by describing it in great detail to their audience, managed to catapult themselves into holding the lion’s share of the market. But it’s just beer! Right, but when you tell your audience how you do what you do, and what the reason is, and what it means to the end user, you position yourself against the competition.
I don’t see this happening with the positioning for 3G networking. It’s all the same. No specifics.
I don’t know the answer. I’m just asking the question.
However, I’m nearly convinced I should get an iPhone if I can find one for $99. Pretty cool stuff.
UPDATE: I was thumbing through the latest edition of Portland’s Business Journal and ran across an ad for the new ‘4G’ network. Hey, I thought I was just making it up…
Yeah, yeah, it’s a tough market. And ya gotta have what the people want, right? Of course!
Warning: the following is part plug and part explanation as to why Interpretive Exhibits has now teamed up with Nimlok. Most of my blog posts aren’t plugs (this one is!), but I thought it a useful blog post:
Recently the good folks at Nimlok headquarters in Chicago approached us and inquired if we would be interested in representing them in the Northwest and more specifically, in Oregon.
Given our long-time affiliation with Classic Exhibits in Portland, we were hesitant, but decided to check it out anyway.
Nimlok brought quite a bit to the table. And while their product line does cross over some with Classic Exhibits, there is enough difference between the two (and they are aggressively marketing the brand online to help their dealers), so it made sense to take a closer look.
Classic Exhibits for years has excelled in high-quality, low-to-moderate-cost portable exhibits. In the past few years they’ve expanded to custom-hybrid exhibits.
Nimlok made their bones years ago on quick-and-easy pop-ups and portables as well, but also in recent years have expanded greatly, becoming a leading vendor of high-quality aluminum exhibits and fabric graphics. They’ve invested heavily in state-of-the-art fabric production, which was really the element that tipped the scales. Being able to keep graphic production in-house means having complete quality control. They have new aluminum framing systems and exhibit approaches that are out on the leading edge. When at the Nimlok New Distributor Boot Camp in July they showed us a new truss that’s capable of spanning 30 feet without any support other than at each end. Drop a seamless fabric graphic up to three meters tall below that and you have a dynamite tradeshow back wall.
So even though there are similarities, there are enough differences that to us it makes a good fit.
Meanwhile, back at the Interpretive Exhibits ranch….our in-house talents are geared to ‘one-of-a-kind’ custom design and fabrication that is well suited to museums, visitor centers and unique tradeshow exhibits. Our clients, such as Bob’s Red Mill, Kettle Foods, Nancy’s Yogurt, Natracare, gDiapers, Bi-O-Kleen, Allegheny Teledyne Wah Chang and many others have all been knocked out by the design and fabrication skills brought to bear on their tradeshow exhibits. Not being a designer, I am often amazed too at what our team comes up with.
Classic Exhibits is out go-to-source for the low-cost smaller modular and pop-up exhibits, and we’ll continue to use them.
Nimlok is an added dimension to our offerings at Interpretive Exhibits. Aluminum frames from small to gigantic; from traditional rectangle shapes to ‘I can’t believe they did that with an aluminum frame!’
Truth be told, exhibit-buying is off quite a bit in the industry. But with the economy appearing to turn around, we feel we’re in a great position at Interpretive Exhibits when those tradeshow marketing purses start to open up a bit more.
Kenji Haroutunian, the Show Director of the Outdoor Retailer Shows (Summer and Winter Market) discusses how the recent show went, the state of the show, the upcoming year, and how social media is set to explode as a means of connecting people at the show. If it hasn’t already!
I was in Salt Lake City last Monday the 20th through Friday the 24th attending the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009 show, thanks to Dean and the great guys at Lifelines. Now if I can only convince the powers that be that I need to be there in January to review the same show. Just because I’d…uh…like to see the area with snow on the mountains. That’s it! Got nothing to do with the fact I’ve been a skier since the age of seven…nope.
Unfortunately I was unable to blog during the show, so I made notes to gather my thoughts for a post-show post. Did manage a few tweets from the show from the busy bank of PCs at @tradeshowguy.
First thing at the show was to respond to several of the tweeters that were doing things to draw people to their booths, like Sole Shoes, who were offering a pair of ‘platinum sandals’ to the first dozen people to come to the booth to say ‘It’s Your Sole!’ Which I did, and they did. Also chatted with some great folks at @ENDFootwear from Portland…not sure who is the Tweeter there, though.
Impossible to keep up with all the promotions; you can’t be everywhere at all times. But there were some standout in-booth events/promotions that caught my eye (as well as many of the attendees):
Keen Shoes of Portland: taking photos of people and pinning them to a large bulletin board where they answered the question: where would you like to travel in your Hybrid Life (promoting their hybrid life shoes)? My answer? Jamaica. After collecting names and handing out buttons for three days, Keen gave away $1500 to someone to help them make that trip. No, I didn’t win! During the same time period they gave away the grand prize, Keen also sold a couple of styles of their sandals for $35 (about half price) with all proceeds going to a fund-raiser.
GoPro sport camera did a rather loud promotion several times throughout the show, which I stumbled across twice. The founder of the company (don’t think he mentioned his name!) is a natural promoter, getting his crowds to shout out the product name several times. Of course, handing out a couple of dozen GoPro cameras over the course of a few days doesn’t hurt, either!
Aquapac had several great nature photos on display and ended up giving a handful away on Thursday afternoon before the big run-up to the grand prize of a Baja Mexico whale-watching trip.
Booth size and layout
Not having been to Outdoor Retail before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But after walking the floor for an hour, the most obvious thing is that large companies here like LARGE booths, enclosed walls on 3 or 4 sides, second stories and lots of display space. A 100′ x 60′ was not uncommon.
Green exhibit construction was also at the forefront, with graphics printed or mounted on cardboard; recovered wood used as booth walls (from barns or old houses); cardboard tubes, and even booths cobbled together from wire fencing, bike frames, small trees – you name it, this show has it. I came away with a strong impression that most of the companies involved are very aware of the impact on the environment of their booth-building choices.
Dogs and Kids
Yes, ORSM09 is a dog and kid-friendly show. Lots of dogs and lots of friends. Even ran across a post from @theclimbergirl as she highlighted the ‘Dog of the Day.’
Let’s say you sell a product that has a long sales cycle of several years. How do you keep on those company’s radar screens so that when they are ready to buy, they think of you?
Trade shows happen to be an excellent and low-stress way to stay in touch. Let’s say Prospect Company A is exhibiting at seven shows in the next year. If you can get to two of them and greet the principals you’ll be making face-to-face contact on average every six months. This gives you an inside track on other sales folks pitching them with a similar product. And the good thing about trade shows is that you have several dozen (if not a hundred or more) potential clients at the same show.
Company managers, CEO’s and movers and shakers will attend the bigger ‘expo’ type shows, so that’s a good place to introduce yourself. Come up with an objective for meeting them – even if it’s as simple as “Hey, I was attending the show because I wanted to meet some potential clients.”
Don’t try and pitch them at the show, but do try and ask a few questions to get a feel for their interest and needs for your particular product.
Follow up with a thank you card within a few days, clip an article of interest a month or two later and before you know it you’ll be on a first name basis with your prospect.
Perhaps no term is more hyped and less understood in the exhibit industry than “Hybrid.” System manufacturers and custom builders are describing their latest and greatest designs as portable hybrids, modular, hybrids, even custom hybrids. Why the emphasis on this term? The answer is simple: value. More than ever, exhibitors are demanding displays that do everything – assemble quickly, look custom, ship light, and reconfigure. Just a few years ago that was impossible, but not now.
If you’ve spent any time walking a trade show recently, you’ve noticed the profusion of aluminum and tension fabric graphics. In a nutshell, those are the building blocks of hybrid displays. Aluminum is attractive, structural, and lightweight. Tension fabric is vibrant, durable, and cost-effective. Together they serve as the creative backbone for displays priced from $4,000 to $250,000.
But what makes them hybrids? Putting them in context with traditional displays will make the explanation clearer. For the past 30 years, the world of portable or modular displays has been dominated by pop ups, panel displays, and modular laminate exhibits. These are “systems” with defined configurations, components, and accessories. Custom exhibits, on the other hand, have offered endless design possibilities since they were built primarily from wood.
Hybrids merge those two worlds and are less systems than concepts. Hybrids start with aluminum extrusion (such as Octonorm or MODUL) and tension fabric. Beyond that, the design can be anything and can include anything. There are portable hybrids consisting of an aluminum extrusion frame and tension fabric graphics, which pack in roto-molded wheeled cases. There are modular hybrids which add modular laminate components and pack in roto-molded tubs or small crates. And there are custom hybrids which combine extrusion with just about anything else – metal, wood, plex, glass, and sometimes even portable or modular systems. As with all custom exhibits, it comes down to whatever fulfills the design and marketing requirements for the client.
Hybrids may not be the ideal for solution for everyone. For many exhibitors, a basic pop up or full custom makes more sense for their exhibit marketing goals. However, hybrid exhibits are here to stay until there is a replacement the versatility of aluminum extrusions and the bold impact of tension fabric graphics.