In just two weeks – Feb 17th at 1 pm Pac / 4 pm Est to be precise – I’ll be doing a one-hour webinar on what strategies and techniques you can use to close more business at tradeshows by drawing more people to your booth via your online social media activity. This means looking closely at how you can use Twitter, blogging, YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites to get people engaged with your upcoming show and ultimately with your brand and company. Here’s a quick look at one thing that we’ll be going over.
What do you want to learn about using social media to market at tradeshows? Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to cover that in the webinar!
Need to lift declining attendance at a regional or local tradeshow? You might take a tip or two from what Jill Harrison, the Manager of Public Relations and Image Development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce did.
When I asked for stories in a HARO request last year, Jill chimed in with a great story on how they brought more people to the show – and kept the buzz going during the event for attendees and those that couldn’t be there in person. Let’s let her tell it:
Here at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, we use social media heavily for our twice annual tradeshow called SchmoozaPalooza. There are two main ways we use it: 1) to drive event attendance and 2) to update followers during the actual event.
Our event, called “Business After Hours”, had declining attendance. We decided to re-brand it (and call it SchmoozaPalooza) and spread the word in a new way – through social media. We set up profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace and Facebook. We started by attracting “friends” before we tried to sell or promote anything. We figured out what our followers were interested in, and informed them on a variety of events, not just about SchmoozaPalooza. This helped us build credibility. After a period of time, we began to promote SchmoozaPalooza. The closer to the event we got, the more we promoted it. By the time the event drew near, we had 102 followers on Twitter, 441 friends on Linkedin, 209 friends on Plaxo, 117 friends on MySpace, and 568 friends on Facebook.
During the actual event, we encouraged our attendees to “tweet” what they were doing, what was happening and what they thought. A large TV screen in the front and back of the event showed the scrolling “tweets” to passersby.
After the event when we did our evaluation, we saw that attendance had nearly quadrupled – from 200 to 725. Our revenue doubled. The best part is that we can utilize these friend groups in the future. Social media helped us reach a whole new audience.
Certainly using Social Media to draw more visitors to an event can be done – but it doesn’t happen over night and it does take planning and execution.
I like that Jill and her team had a plan and spent some time building credibility before they started to promote SchmoozaPalooza, then built on the promotions as they got closer. I disagree with Seth Godin’s take that putting up a tradeshow booth is an event and not a process. Getting people to your show or to your booth is an ongoing process that goes from show to show and builds on past experiences and promotions.
For your next tradeshow (whether you’re organizing the show or just putting up a booth at the show), take a hard look at Social Media and see what it can do for you. Learn from other experiences and look to create your own experiences. Then build on them.
In October Jay Tokosch appeared on our podcast to discuss “Follow Me,” an iPhone app that is customizable for tradeshows to help direct you to various booths, locate yourself, and generally help your whole tradeshow experience.
Jay just sent me a note with a link to a YouTube video that Core-Apps just tossed up that demos the app. This quick video definitely shows how cool the app is.
Tradshowguy Blog was launched early in 2009 for several reasons. While it’s been almost a year – but not quite – I thought it might be a good time to turn the spectacles to the past year.
First, I started the blog because I had been itching for an outlet for thoughts, ideas, interviews and other assorted ‘stuff’ on or about the tradeshow industry.
Secondly, I was hoping to do some personal and company branding, for both myself and the company I work for in Salem, Oregon – Interpretive Exhibits.
Third – and more selfishly – I wanted to have some fun with the social media aspects of blogging.
No doubt I accomplished all, to my continuing satisfaction.
What I didn’t expect was that I would meet a ton of great people and start new friendships and relationships with them.
Tradeshowguy Blog has opened up a lot of doors to people and businesses I didn’t know existed.
Take Ken Newman of Magnet Productions. Ken found me through a Twitter search for tradeshow people one night last February. The next morning he sent out a tweet that caught my eye. Flattery! Buttering me up! What the hell?
So I went to his website, found his phone number and rang him up. Ken and I had a great conversation and while getting to know each other found we had much in common. Later in the summer I stopped and had a cup of coffee with him in San Francisco. We’ve struck up a long-distance friendship which will no doubt continue.
Then there’s Steve Farnsworth, also in San Francisco. I found Steve through a Twitter search for PR professionals. Turns out Steve stopped doing PR a couple of years back and now helps IT companies find their way through the Social Media landscape.
Steve helped a lot – he offered to publish one of my articles on his (very well-read) blog; he set up a Twitter chat with me; and he’s been very willing to have a few extended chats to share his thoughts about his Social Media experiences.
There were others, of course. Guest posts included Dennis Salazar of Salazar Packaging, Roger Pike of Communication Steroids, Kevin Ehlers of Event Technologies, Rose Esposito of the Marcomm Group – and more to come.
Fun videos – some I filmed, some that were done by others but made sense to share on the blog.
I also did a survey towards the end of the year that was intended to give insight into how tradeshow managers and organizers used Social Media in their tradeshow promotions and appearances. Much of that information should find its way into a webinar / teleseminar planned for the first quarter.
All in all, after almost a year of blogging on Tradeshowguyblog.com, I feel like I’m just getting started. Just finding my feet, as it were. Some posts got a lot of attention that surprised me. Some posts I thought would get great readership did not.
If you’ve made it this far – thank you! I appreciate your time and attention – and I don’t take it for granted.
Let’s see what we can get up to on 2010, eh? And, oh by the way – the proper way to say that is ‘Twenty-Ten.’ In case you were wondering.
With social media becoming a hub of connection in both business and personal worlds, it’s a good time to look at how you’re planning and implementing your online social media strategy to connect with your customers and potential customers, whether you’re a B2C or B2B entity.
Just being on Facebook, Twitter and your own online website, whether a blog or a static site, is not enough. Writing blog posts and tweeting about them is not enough. Sure, all of that is good – but if you’re just putting a few random online tactics into action your overall strategy will likely suffer. (
Depending on the situation and the size of your company, you may be the only person that handles the company’s online presence and social media activity. Or there may be a concentrated group that works together.
Among the main areas to focus on:
Overall editorial/marketing social media strategy
How to tie those and other social media entities into your tradeshow schedule
Create a brief plan for the year, which might look like this:
Objectives: a) sales, b) connecting with current customers
Objectives: a) lead gathering, b) adding to our e-mail list
Objectives: a) new product launch, b) new branding/look (new booth or graphics)
Objectives: a) sales of new product, b) introduce company to new area of country
and so on.
Once your plan is outlined, start filling in the holes, and answering several questions that relate to your Social Media efforts:
Who’s going to lead the charge?
Who’s on the front lines Tweeting, updating the blog and Facebook pages? What will the tweets consist of? What will you do online to draw booth visitors?
If you are going to put up videos on YouTube and your blog, who’s going to write, shoot and produce (and upload)?
Once the plan is finalized, who will need to sign off on it? Who is required to implement the plan?
Moving your messaging for the company across all of those various platforms, online and offline, in a unified manner is not simple or easy. In fact, there are very few companies that get it right and consistent across all platforms, so don’t feel bad if you are missing some components.
Internal coordination and communication will be essential to carry off the plan – a hard enough challenge even when all hands are on deck and aiming for the same objective. This is where double-checking and back-tracking will pay off in ensuring the appropriate messages are going out on the right channels.
Another important aspect of your social media is listening. What is the marketplace saying about your products, or similar products from your competitors?
In a recent Twitter exchange and recaptured in a blog post, Steve Farnsworth of Digital Marketing Mercenary asked that question of his followers:
@Steveology: What are some of your favorite social media listening tools?
* @IanBragg: Twhirl, IceRocket.com and Hashtags.org. For Facebook, I use my own profile, not a 3rd party.
* @chadhorenfeldt: addictomatic, tweetdeck, Google Reader
* @kkmett: We have been using Filtrbox, not as fancy as Radian6, but easier on the budget.
* @SashaHalima: I like Twitter…a lot. Treat it like an RSS/wire thing sometimes. It’s what I use the most, followed by FB.
* @DannyBrown: Social Mention (http://socialmention.com), Google Alerts, Twitter 🙂
* @Aerocles: Tweetbeep for brand mentions & Hootsuite’s ow.ly for link tracking and stats…those are the 2 that i use the most
* @ginidietrich: My fave social media monitoring tools are here! (Click To Read Her Post)*
Listening to your market’s conversation about your products and services should be a continuous process because the conversation is always changing. Sifting through the various conversations using keywords will take some getting used to. Could be this is one area where you might really considering bringing in a pro.
Being hesitant to be proactive about social media strategy is what holds many companies back. After all, it’s new. Fitting it in with the hundred other things you do daily can take away from your current focus.
But there’s always going to be something new. It’s just that this is a ‘new’ thing that your current and potential clients are engaging in and embracing with a passion.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Or ask for help from other people in the company, or if appropriate, outside the company such as consultant or adviser.
Interview with Heidi Thorne of Thorne Communications in the Chicago area. Heidi is an expert in promotional products and discusses the hottest current products – as well as those that have fallen out of favor.
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.