Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.
In the midst of a pandemic, what’s a nationwide staffing entity to do? In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, we find out how one agency is doing it, anyway. Jane Gentry, CEO of Fusion, spoke with me about how they’re addressing the myriad issues surrounding staffing events and retail outlets both physically and virtually.
Plus, she shares some great tips toward the end about how to make more sales and maintain great relationships. Take a look/listen:
Find Fusion online here.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Twitter.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.
With tradeshow marketing on the sidelines, now is as good a time as any to brush up on your tradeshow marketing skill and knowledge. And here’s a great place to find a whole lot of tradeshow marketing tips – all in one place, and all worth their weight in gold. Check out this short under-three-minute video:
Find all of these tips at TradeshowBuy.com!
Another in a continuing series of short videos, under three minutes, that takes a look at an aspect of tradeshow marketing. This time, it’s a look at the variety of skills a good tradeshow marketing manager should have.
I sat down with a long-time colleague to be interviewed this week and to prepare I put a list together of the 5 must-do’s for successful tradeshow marketing. We didn’t go over the whole list because the conversation took its own path. But I thought – hey, it’s a good list! Here it is:
- Have an exhibit that draws people in.
- We could go into this in detail, but your
graphics and messaging should clearly tell people at a glance:
- Who you are
- What you do
- What problem you solve for them
- We could go into this in detail, but your graphics and messaging should clearly tell people at a glance:
- Have a goal. Share that goal with your staff.
- Brand awareness
- Generate leads
- Add distributors
- Reach new markets
- Launch new products or services
- Find new hires
- Meet current customers, partners and distributors
- Have a well-trained staff
- Your staff should know how to greet people
- Your staff should know the products or services
- Know how to gather the proper information for a good lead…which leads to…
- Know what a lead is…
- A lead is NOT a card in a fishbowl
- A lead is someone who qualifies
- They’re looking to buy what you’re selling
- They have a budget
- They know when they’re going to buy
- They have the power to make a decision
- Once a lead is qualified, the follow up is critical
- Gather the right information
- Name and contact
- When is the follow up
- Where is the follow up
- Who is doing the follow up
- What is the follow up: sending a brochure, sample, in-person meeting?
- Gather the right information
We did get to a few of these, and they were good talking points throughout the conversation. One she produces the interview and gives me a link, I’ll make sure to include it in a blog post soon!
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.
Got a song stuck in your head?
This is a guest article by Halle Summers of Fastenation.
If you are planning on attending or setting up a booth at a tradeshow for the first time, you probably already know how valuable these events are for growing a business. They offer numerous opportunities for increasing awareness of your brand, making sales, and networking with prospective customers and clients. While business is increasingly being conducted online, trade shows provide an opportunity for business owners and consumers to meet face to face, forge relationships, and learn about new products.
If you have ever attended a tradeshow, it should come as no surprise that exhibiting at one requires a lot of work and careful planning. It’s often necessary to start planning several months in advance to ensure that you have everything you need by the time the event makes its way into town. There is a massive amount of competition at these events, and, if you just show up and hope for the best, your booth will likely get lost and be overlooked by most attendees. If you are gearing up to be an exhibitor for the first time, here are a few essential tools and tips to ensure the success of your first trade show event.
Make Assembling an Eye-Catching Display Your Top Priority
The human attention span tends to be pretty short. When people are surrounded by all sorts of exciting things to see and do, it can be even shorter. This means that you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of event attendees and draw them into your booth. If your display isn’t eye-catching, a lot of people will likely pass by your booth without even stopping.
The good news is that assembling an eye-catching tradeshow display doesn’t have to be difficult. Use attention-grabbing images instead of words. Make use of bright (but appealing) colors. Have products on display. Make your booth feel welcoming. There are all sorts of things that you can do to put together an amazing display. When you’re packing up to head to the event, make sure you have the right tools and supplies for setting up your display. Things like gaffers tape and VELCRO® brand hook and loop tape are lifesavers when it comes to hanging banners, putting up signs, and assembling the various parts of trade show booths. Table skirting clips are great for trade shows, too, as are cable hangers. Trust us; few things are worse than showing up at a tradeshow with an awesome display but lacking the tools and supplies needed to set it up!
Prepare Your “A” Team
The people you have working at your booth can have a huge impact on how well the trade show goes for your business. There are a few different options when it comes to staffing. You can bring your own employees, or you can work with an event staffing agency. The downside to working with an agency, though, is that you will need to put a lot of effort into training your team and ensuring that they know all of the ins and outs of your business. When you have your own employees working the booth, they already have a lot of knowledge about your products and services.
Make sure that the team you assemble is made of people who are friendly, motivated, professional, and outgoing. You don’t want someone who is going to sulk behind the table and make zero effort to engage with attendees! Choose team members who work well together and complement each other’s knowledge and skills. Ensure that everyone is prepared to handle questions. Trade show attendees tend to have a lot of questions about businesses and their products and services. Every single person who is working the booth and acting as a representative of your company needs to be an expert on your product and business, and they need to be able to handle inquiries with confidence and ease.
If your business sells a product, your team needs to be prepared to give product demos, too. Tradeshow attendees want to be able to experience products for themselves before committing to buy, so doing product demos and allowing potential customers to try out your merchandise is a great way to build relationships and make sales. If your company provides a service, you should figure out a way to demonstrate that, too. Show event attendees what you do. Don’t just tell them about it.
Give Stuff Away When you set up a booth at a tradeshow, making money is probably one of your ultimate goals. That doesn’t mean, though, that you shouldn’t give away some freebies. For event attendees, free swag is one of the best parts about going to a trade show. People love free stuff, and they expect to get a lot of it at tradeshows. Promotional items, such as branded notebooks, pens, hats, tote bags, or water bottles, are always big hits. Any type of freebie works, though. You can draw a pretty big crowd by simply handing out some tasty fresh-baked cookies. Get creative and be generous. Doing so gets people talking about your booth and entices attendees to stop by.
Setting up a booth at a tradeshow offers numerous benefits for business owners. If you want to make the most of the event, though, you need to be prepared. Start planning several months in advance to ensure that you have time to order banners, tools, and other supplies, assemble your event team, and provide adequate training. The more you put into planning for your first trade show, the more you will likely get out of it.
When the big day arrives, stick to your game plan, and have fun! Exhibiting at a tradeshow requires a lot of hard work, but there is no reason why it can’t be enjoyable, too.
Halle Summers is a Marketing Coordinator for FASTENation Inc., a premier global manufacturer, technical converter, distributor, and designer of adhesive based fasteners and tapes. Halle enjoys sharing her unique perspective and knowledge through her blog writing. When she isn’t writing articles, she enjoys spending time in downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer.
Wear colorful branded clothing. Whether it’s a staff of two or three, or twenty, having colorful branded clothing will immediately let visitors know who’s working the booth and who’s a guest. Bright colors attract, so put your logo on the front and an enticing message on the back. And to change things up from day to day, create a different colored set with a different message for each day of the show, and make sure your crew coordinates. Bright colors, especially if they’re tied into your brand work well: yellow, red, orange, blue, fluorescent.
Setup a giant prop and invite people to take a photo. Could be anything: a mascot, a giant purse, a full-size model of one of your products (if it’s small, for instance); something that stops people in their tracks. I’ve seen mascot, angels, musicians, giant hanging props, exhibits made from bicycle frames and more. They all had one thing in common: they begged to have their picture taken.
Once that photo has been taken, invite the visitor to spread the word on social media and include the show hashtag to make sure the post gets seen. Offer prizes to people that photo and share online.
Give something away and offer an incentive to wear it. One way is to print up a few hundred t-shirts or hats with your logo along with a fun message and tell people that if they put it on right there, they can also take home another gift. And tell them if you catch them wearing it at an after-hours show (be specific as to which one), you’ll be giving away $50 bills to random shirt wearers. This type of promotion gets others involved and spreads the word about your booth and products throughout the show.
Have a unique exhibit that begs to be seen. Sounds straightforward, but to break out of the cookie-cutter mold, it takes a designer that’s willing to create something unique and wild and a company that’s willing to spend to make it a reality.
Give visitors something to DO. Interactivity goes a long way. At the NAB Show, there were several exhibitors that gave visitors a chance to learn new software by joining them for a free class. Not only are you drawing interested people in, you’re keeping them involved for up to an hour and showing them exactly how the product works.
Contests. Give people a chance to win something by guessing the number of beans in a jar, answering a quiz, spinning a wheel or something else increases the chance you’ll get visitors to stop at your booth. Make sure to engage them in a brief conversation to uncover their needs regarding your product.
Famous mugs. Lots of companies hire famous (or at least semi-well known) people to be a part of the show. Authors, speakers, sports stars, actors, and so on can all draw a crowd. Authors in particular, if they’re in your industry, can be a good draw if they have a new book out. I’ve seen dozens of people in line to pick up a free copy of a new book and get it signed by the author (and snap a selfie!), and I’ve waited in line to get a prop soft baseball signed by Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
Comment wall. I see these more and more. Ask a bold question or make a bold statement and invite people to chime in with their thoughts on a wall. Invite people to snap a photo of what they wrote and share it on social media (make sure the wall is branded and has the show hashtag on it).
Bring media production to your booth. Know someone that is a podcaster in the industry? Invite them to record a few episodes of their show in your booth, and make sure to provide some good guests for them, whether it’s people from your company, or others. The simple act of recording a show in your booth will make a lot of people stop. That’s a good time for your staff to engage those visitors politely to find out if they’re prospects.
If someone in your company has written a book, offer free copies of the book along with free printed photos with visitors and the author. This has worked great for years for Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill, one of our long-time clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits. Every time they exhibit at the bigger expos, Bob spends time signing books and posing for photos while a photographer takes photos and has them printed up in a few moments for the visitor.
There are literally countless ways to draw crowds to your booth. It all boils down to creativity and execution. What can you do to improve the traffic at your next show?
There’s more than one way to annoy your prospects when it comes to trying to sell something to them. Whether it’s on the phone, in person, at a tradeshow or via email, it seems most of the pitches that hit me are designed to annoy.
That’s probably not really the case, but it seems that way.
Let’s take the example of spam. Okay, it’s a really easy example. But at least some of them appear to be trying. “Appear” to be. Just got an email from a software company inviting me to download an “employee performance management software pricing guide.” The email looked nice. Good graphic design which tells me that some thought went into the messaging. The message was clear. But it just wasn’t for me.
There are at least a couple of things wrong with this. First, it was emailed to an email address that I basically retired three years ago, so I know it’s from someone who didn’t care if the email was valid before sending something out. Secondly, they have no idea what kind of company we are – how many employees, what we do, how we do it. We are a project management company that works with subcontractors, not direct employees. They’re shooting in the dark, and it’s pointless and a waste of time, theirs and mine.
Another easy way to annoy people is to call them at random and start pitching something without knowing what the company does. I’ve lost count of the number of calls I’ve gotten from call centers and the first thing out of their mouth is a pitch. No question about whether I even use the product or what my company does. They just ramble on, because that’s the script they were given and the instructions to deliver it quickly.
At tradeshows, I’ve walked by booths and had my badge scanned without anyone even looking to find out if their product or service is of interest to me. Now I’m on their email list where I get pitches that have no relevance to me. I’ve had booth staffers stop me in the aisle and give me a minute or two or three of song and dance complete with in-depth details on the product they are hawking. But…I would never even buy the product. I’m not in their target market.
Do you sense a trend? One of the things I’ve learned in sales and marketing is that if you’re not marketing to an audience of people that are interested in your products or services, you’re wasting time, money and energy.
The Answer is Simple
It seems simple. Yet so many businesses today don’t care and don’t even bother to appear to care.
On occasion I’ll get a cold call from someone who’s actually done a little research. Maybe they looked at our company website, or they’re calling from a targeted list they purchased, which at least puts them in the right ballpark to have a conversation.
And yes, on a rare occasion or two, I’ve actually purchased something from someone who cold-called me. They knew what we did as a business, they understood how their product could help me, they patiently answered questions and gave me a chance to ponder the offer for a few days before deciding to move forward.
Yes, selling can be done properly, to people that are ready and willing to buy your products. But it won’t work when the pitch gets lost among people who will never be a customer.
Where is your sales pitch going?
If you do a Google search for “showing up,” you get all sorts of links and suggestions as to what it means. Showing up for a performance, showing up for important events in your life for your friends and family, showing up at work by giving it your attention and energy.
Showing up is important. As Seth Godin put it, though, we’ve moved way beyond simply showing up, sitting in your seat and taking notes. Your job is to surprise and delight and change the agenda. Escalate, reset expectations and make your teammates delighted.
Sure, showing up is important. On a personal and business level to me, showing up means controlling my behaviors and emotions. Knowing that when I set out to do a day’s work, I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do (calls, projects, communications with clients, writing, etc.), and doing my best to do it, every day. For example, I made a commitment in January of 2017 that I would show up every Monday to do a video blog/podcast for at least a year. Once the year was up, I would assess it from a number of angles. Was is working? Was it fun? Was it good? Did it get any attention? Did my guests get anything worthwhile out of it? Did the listeners give good feedback, even if there were very few? Based on my assessment of those questions (not all were completely positive, but enough were) I committed to another year. Then another.
So here we are.
Showing up at a tradeshow is more than just being there. If you are to take Seth Godin’s perspective, you want to have more than just a nice exhibit. You want to show up with more than just average enthusiasm and average pitches to your visitors. You should set high expectations for your company and your team.
How can you do that? By starting months before the show and having ongoing conversations about how to get visitors to interact. How to get them to respond. How to tell your company or product’s story. How to make it exciting to just visit your booth, exciting enough so that your visitors feel compelled to tell others to come.
There are no wrong answers, and plenty of right answers.
What will you do beyond just showing up?