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

Tradeshow visitors

Your Tradeshow Visitors Want These 6 Things from You

As an exhibitor, one of the prime directives you have is to deliver the goods to your tradeshow visitors. So what exactly are your visitors looking for? Let’s go over the shortlist:

  1. They want to see the new stuff. Most tradeshow attendees are in a position of power with their company. Which means they are shopping for new things they can acquire. If you have something new, make sure it’s front and center. If you’re still showing products or services that you’ve had around for a year or more, try and put a different spin on it so they can see it from a different perspective.
  2. Tradeshow Visitors

    They want to be engaged. Lots of choices here: interactive exhibits, professional presentations, products that dazzle and more. Give ‘em something to do or see for a short time and you’ve given them something they want.

  3. They want a pro to handle them. Which means that your booth staffer should be well-trained; they should know the product and the company they represent.
  4. They want to be treated with respect. Chances are they’re on a tight schedule with a lot of stops that day. A warm smile and a pleasant sincere greeting goes a long way.
  5. Depending on the show and their needs, they may not want to carry of lot of papers and samples. If you can provide choices for sales sheets beyond handouts, it saves them the hassle of carrying more stuff around. A digital download or a PDF showing up in their email when they’re back in the office is better than losing something in the hotel room.
  6. They don’t want to have their time wasted. A visitor will often try to dodge hungry-looking booth staffers because they don’t want to get captured by a salesman never to be seen again. Ask questions, qualify and disqualify and if they are not a potential customer, thank them and let ‘em go. If they are a prospect, get to the point, ask the pertinent questions, collect follow up information and let ‘em go.

As exhibitors, it’s easy to think about what’s important from your perspective. And that’s very important. But put yourself in your visitor’s shoes, and walk a mile or two.

10 Tradeshow Marketing Secrets They Didn’t Tell You

Well, these might not be actual tradeshow marketing secrets, simply because by its very definition, a secret is something that is not well known. The following items are fairly well known and no doubt you can easily find them online – but the question is: are you using them to their full capacity and capability?

tradeshow marketing secrets
  1. First, let’s look at first impressions. Hey, you only get one chance! And as you know, in tradeshows, perception is everything. Make your first impression strong, and the second piece of the puzzle will fall into place a little easier.
  2. Next, know that the image you put out at a tradeshow isn’t just a random piece of your brand – it’s your whole brand. It IS your brand. If you miss the mark here, your next puzzle piece just got harder.
  3. Up next: your staff. You can have the sweetest exhibit at the show, but if your staff sucks, it will all go for naught. Which means that your staff should not only know what they’re doing and be presentable and friendly and good with people, they should be well-trained in the challenges of dealing with hundreds of people on the chaos of the tradeshow floor.
  4. Now, be sure to have something for people to do when they arrive at your booth. It could be a product demo, an interactive tool, a video to watch, a virtual reality headset to wear – anything that engages them for more than 8.4 seconds.
  5. Ninety percent of success is showing up. Of course, you say, you’ll show up. But do you really? Are you really there for the full show? Are you there ready to listen to a client’s complaints and respond? Are you there to jump in when there is a problem or challenge and not leave it for someone else? Be there. All the time. Not just when you’re on the clock.
  6. Get the word out before the show. Pre-show marketing can take many forms. First question: do you have a plan? Second question: does your plan work?
  7. Cross your T’s. Dot your i’s! Details are important. When you slip on an important detail, someone – perhaps a potential client – is bound to notice.
  8. Yes, details are important, but so is keeping your eye on the bigger picture. Tradeshows are a powerful way to reach markets that you otherwise would not be able to access so easily and economically.
  9. Really, it’s all in the follow-up. Yup, I was kidding back in that earlier paragraph where I said the key to tradeshow marketing success was to draw a crowd and then know what to do with them. You’ve got to have a good follow-up plan in place. And be sure the work the plan.
  10. Finally, be flexible. Sometimes, you just gotta MacGuyver things and adjust to a changing landscape. Be willing to go with the flow and see where it leads, as long as your overall strategy doesn’t change.

Uncovering the Prospect’s Real Issue at the Tradeshow

If you’re standing at the edge of your tradeshow booth ready to engage with a visitor, remember that as try you qualify him or her, you’re really trying to find the prospect’s real issue. Once you do that, you can determine if you can be of assistance, or if you can’t.

Prospect's real issue

Tradeshow selling take place in a chaotic environment. Hundreds or thousands of competing exhibitors, and thousands or tens of thousands of attendees means everyone is vying for attention and they all have their own personal agenda. So when you get an opportunity to interact with a booth visitor, the best recipe for a successful encounter is to know where you want to go.

And often that destination is reached by trying to uncover the prospect’s real issue. How do you do that? By asking questions.

Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a show to get more leads for your IT business such as virus eradication and firewalls and related services Your visitor mention that they think their IT department is doing okay. That’s a bit of an opening – not much – but it should give you an opportunity to peel back the onion a bit.

“When you say that ‘you think’ the IT department is doing okay, what do you mean?”

They may tell you that from what their IT guy says, they seem to have dealt with most of the recent viruses with a rebuilt firewall. Or something. He’s not an IT guy.

“What do you mean by most? Can you tell me more?”

They go on to say that the IT guy only “swore for half the day” earlier in the week at something-or-other that was taking up all his time instead of being able to add on to the network which he was supposed to be doing.

“So your network administrator only ‘swore for half the day’ at having to deal with viruses? It sounds like he must have dealt with it. So it’s a done deal, right?” (You’re trying to backpedal a bit: psychologically it’s going to spur them to open up a bit more. If you suddenly tried to sell them your services without knowing if they need it, their defenses would likely go up).

Naah, he says, still some work to do. But he doesn’t know because he’s not the IT guy. Maybe it would be worth giving you his contact number, he says.

“Well,” you say, “that may be a good move. But he probably has his own go-to team to deal with issues like this, right?” (Still back-pedaling and acting like it’s not a big deal, to get him to open up more).

He doesn’t think so. In fact, just an hour ago when he was having lunch with the IT guy, the guy got a phone call from his assistant and they must have sworn back and forth for ten minutes over the situation. In fact, the IT guy may have to leave the show early to go deal with it.

“He and his assistant swore about the situation for ten minutes while you were eating? So the assistant has it handled, then?”

Uh, no, says the visitor. Gulp. Doesn’t sound like it. But then, he says again, he’s not an IT guy.

Now you’ve uncovered the real issue. It took a bit of doing, because your visitor was unwilling to reveal that information until you kept asking questions – and following up those questions with some ‘aw, shucks, it’s probably not a big deal, right?’ questions. And with your laidback but curious approach designed to get more information, he’s revealed the issue: that there really is a problem that your IT guy is trying to solve. Trying to put out a fire, in fact.

Sales is essentially the same whether it’s on the tradeshow floor, on the phone, or in someone’s office. It’s not about features and benefits. It’s about uncovering the problem and seeing if there is a fit between your prospect’s problems and your potential solutions. If there is, you’ll find an opportunity to discuss it in full at the earliest opportunity. If there is no fit, you wish him or her well and move on to the next.

Next time you’re on the tradeshow floor, try to refrain from hitting your visitors with a list of features and benefits at the first sign of a possible lead. Instead, drill down by playing a bit dumb, asking more questions and getting to the prospect’s real issues. Then you can schedule the next move that both of your agree on.

 

Using Video in Your Tradeshow Exhibit

Video monitors are ubiquitous at tradeshows as exhibitors by the thousands display video in their exhibiting space. But is any of it making an impact?

Video crafted for in-booth display is different than other uses. It’s easy to just grab content you already have lying around. After all, leveraging current assets is usually good practice and saves money.

Using video in your tradeshow exhibit.
Using video in your tradeshow exhibit.

But keep in mind that the tradeshow floor is a unique beast. Don’t just grab a 30 or 60 commercial that’s on file, or string a reel together of various items just to put something up. Instead, the content should be focused on the visitor. In particular, it should be designed to capture eyeballs as quickly as possible, and deliver a message that can be understood in just a few seconds. Which means that if you’re not shooting new video, you should take a digital razor to your content to make it as quick and flashy and concise as possible.

Unlike a well-made corporate online video that can capture attention for a couple of minutes before eyes wander, or a video made for a corporate conference room which may keep people watching for 5 or 6 minutes, the tradeshow video must address the situation: the tradeshow floor.

On the floor, there are hundreds or thousands of people walking by, with thousands of other exhibits and colorful distractions designed to capture attention – just like your video. It’s noisy, people are bumping into each other, or trying not to bump into each other, and other exhibitors are hawking their wares in a lusty competition. Just as it should be.

So what makes the tradeshow video stand out on the floor in that situation?

Video created for the tradeshow floor should be fast-paced: quick cuts, different scenes piled one after the other. It it’s repetitive and visually engaging, it’ll keep eyeballs for a few seconds longer. Got someone talking on screen or using a voiceover narrator? Make sure you include closed captioning or text overlays as the audio will likely get lost in the ambient noise, as will virtually any music you use as background.

Size of screen should be appropriate for the situation. Are you in a small booth, such as a 10×10? A 40 – 42” screen should be sufficient. A larger exhibit space will require a larger screen, especially if it’s buried deep within the booth. Any text on the screen should be able to be easily read while standing 10-15 feet away.

Types of content can range from showing off new products, to your CEO or other notable company executive introducing the products or services (with captions), to lifestyle video that reflects the use of your products. Short testimonials work well. Behind-the-scenes clips taken in your factory or plants or office are also good ways to show the people behind the brand. If you have great professional video of your products, you might also find a place to include them.

Finally, remember that however long your video is, most people won’t stand there and watch it all, unless it’s just a minute or two. And with the ease of plugging a thumb drive into the back of the monitor and setting the video on “loop” means most visitors will have a chance to see most, if not all of the video at one point or another.


Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

Tradeshow Social Media Video Guide

In case you hadn’t noticed social media video is exploding, driving traffic and eyeballs both on and offline. So it makes sense to strongly consider making video a part of your tradeshow strategy. Posting videos or going live from the show gives followers a sense of the show without actually being there, and if done correctly can help paint a picture of the people behind your brand.

If you’re going to put some videos together to promote your tradeshow appearance, it helps to color inside the lines as it were. Unless you’re a creative genius like Scorsese. So let’s take a look at some of those guidelines you might follow.

Facebook: Go Live from the show floor from your phone or laptop or tablet. Keep it short, but look to connect with viewers using short product demos, in-booth interviews with clients or visitors, interacting with booth staffers and more. Give your followers an intimate look at the people behind the products and services.

YouTube: Great for longer-form videos, but don’t overdo the length. You can go live, but it’s not a simple one-click from your page as it is with Facebook. Create videos that give information: product demonstrations, how-tos, and stories that build your brand.

Instagram: Now that you can combine stills and videos into short stories, capture several items and publish together as a single post. Aim for collections that demonstrate a lifestyle that relates to your brand. And of course, with a click you can go live on Instagram.

Twitter: Short videos are the rule on Twitter, as the stream is going so fast. One or two minutes is all you really need to capture someone’s attention. To the best of my knowledge, you can’t go live on Twitter (is Periscope still a thing?), so you’ll have to upload to YouTube or Vimeo or some other video platform and post a link.

Regardless of the platform you’re on, plan on posting multiple times during the day. If you’re going to do video from a tradeshow at all, make a full-on commitment so that your followers that are not at the show are able to anticipate your videos and join in the fun from a distance. Be sure to use show hashtags so that people outside of your company social media followers can find your video posts. And have fun – it’s just video! Everybody’s doing it! You’ll learn and get better as time goes on.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: April 24, 2017 [Video and podcast replay]

On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Podcast, I go over the various things that you will encounter while trying to learn a new skill. I also look at a number of ways to keep people engaged in your booth. Remember, the key to tradeshow success is drawing a crowd (giving them something to see or do) and then knowing what to do once that crowd arrives.

Check out the podcast here.

And go over to our podcast page where you can subscribe.

Does Your Tradeshow Exhibit Evoke Emotion?

“Does your tradeshow exhibit evoke emotion in the mind of a visitor?” might be a funny question. The better question might be: “HOW and WHAT emotion does your tradeshow exhibit bring out in your visitors’ hearts and minds?” But by asking it, you’re pulling on the string of branding, high-impact motivators such as confidence, sense of well-being, protecting the environment, being who you want to be and a litany of other emotions that pull in one direction or another.

tradeshow exhibit evokes emotion

Let’s use one of our clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, Bob’s Red Mill, as an example. Their foods are mean to inspire good eating with high-quality grains, oats, cereals, mixes and more. Good eating equals longer life and better health. Better health equals a positive feeling. Hence, just seeing the Bob’s Red Mill exhibit can evoke an emotion that gives people familiar with the brand a sense of well-being and comfort. All without them even thinking about it. As long as the visitor has a familiarity with the brand and products, their brain will make a quick connection with a positive result.

Let’s try another brand, say, United Airlines. With the recent debacle of having a booked passenger dragged off the airplane with smartphone video cameras in action that spread quickly throughout social media and mainstream news outlets, many visitors to a tradeshow with a United Airlines exhibit might have a different feeling today than they did just a month prior.

According to Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon, writing in the Harvard Business Review, “On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.” Gaining that emotional connection pays off in numerous ways as they buy more, visit you online or in your store more, are less concerned about price in favor of quality, and listen more to what you’re saying, whether on a TV or radio ad, in a magazine, or in a weekly newsletter.

When it comes to evoking that positive emotion when visitors at a tradeshow come upon your booth, your branding and costumer experience already has to be in place, at least to a certain degree. A visitor that’s familiar with your brand and has a positive feeling upon seeing your exhibit has internalized that – but beyond that, she recognizes the key elements of the brand successfully executed in the design and fabrication, down to the small details.

A visitor that’s not familiar with your brand will still experience a gut feeling upon seeing your booth. The accuracy of that evocation has everything to do with how skillfully your 3D exhibit designer and your graphic designer have understood and communicated the elements of your brand. Once they inhale that look, as it were, they’ll make a decision on whether to more closely check out your products or services. If all is done right, your visitor will get an accurate emotion of the brand that you’re hoping to disseminate.

tradeshow exhibit evokes emotion

This is all not precise, of course. You can’t just plug in a color or texture or design or graphic and provoke a predictable reaction. Even ugly and unplanned exhibits can still have a successful tradeshow experience, which may be due to other factors, such as the competition, the specific product, the enthusiasm and charisma of a particular booth staffer or some other unknown element.

But the better your exhibit reflects your true brand, the more powerful it becomes in the heart and soul of your visitor. And they’ll take that home with them.

Create Tradeshow Buzz

How do you create tradeshow buzz? You know the one: the exhibit that keeps getting talked about. Don’t you want to be that exhibit? Don’t you want to be working at that one location where everyone seems to be heading?

create tradeshow buzz

Buzz is not something you can automatically turn on like a light switch. And even the best-laid plans to create buzz don’t always work, especially if some other company has gotten a plan afoot to outbuzz you!

A few things to consider that may get you to the place where you are creating buzz:

  • Giveaways: do you have that one thing that people want to have? Do you have that one game that everyone wants to play?
  • Interactivity: what is it people are doing in your booth that draws a crowd. Is it a virtual reality station? Is it a hands-on demo that leaves people talking?
  • In-booth demos: with the right pitch man or woman pitching the right product or service at the right show, a crowd can magically appear. Is it because the demonstrator is doing baffling magic along with a pitch? Is it because of their charisma and stage presence?
  • Celebrities: face it – most celebrities at shows are not the top name draws, such as Brad Pitt, Will Smith or Jennifer Lawrence. But there are a lot of second-tier celebrities (and third and fourth) that may mean something to your target market.

Beyond the in-booth activities, or the exhibit itself (which, is a stunner, can create buzz), look beyond:

  • Public Relations: Prior to the show, connect with influencers who might be interested in your products or services. Media, bloggers, industry wags and more can help build advance buzz.
  • Advance planning: get the word out before the show using pre-show advertising, social media engagement, direct mail, email, broadcast and internet opportunities as you see fit.
  • Press conference: if your product launch is truly newsworthy (and you should confirm that with industry media folks), throw a press conference. If you’re not used to putting on a good press conference, hire a pro.
  • Be crazy: this takes chutzpah and frankly, most companies probably don’t have it. But if your CEO is a leading edge person with an outlandish outlook, maybe saying something crazy about your product or service will bring people to your exhibit.
  • Unusual promotions: Spy at Moz was a promotion that invited attendees to track down ‘spies’ at the conference who were waring special red stickers, take a picture and then tweet it out. If you can co-promote with a couple of other exhibitors, the word will spread quickly.

It may be somewhat trite as an expression, but thinking out of the box can go a long way to generating tradeshow buzz. What are you willing to try next time?

In Tradeshows, Perception is Everything (Almost!)

When you are going out on a date, my guess is you dress up. If you’re a guy, you’ll put on some nice clothes, fuss with your hair a bit, brush your teeth and maybe put on a dab of cologne. If you’re a girl, you’ll do much the same, only probably spend longer (is that a sexist remark or just an observation of reality?). In either case, the intent is to put your best “YOU” forward. You want to give a good impression.

tradeshow perception is everything

It’s the same at a tradeshow. You want to put your best look forward. And in probably almost more than any other marketing medium, tradeshows are critical to putting out a good impression.

The perception visitors have of you is what they’ll take away. And while there are many elements, from the exhibit to the booth staff and how they interact, to the products or services you offer, the bottom line is: what the visitors thinks they see is the impression they’ll take home.

And while this often means bigger is better and more impressive, that’s not always the case. And in fact, smaller exhibitors can often make a big impression by doing thing differently with booth activities, a ‘must-see’ product, a special guest in the booth, an unusual exhibit or giveaway or more.

If your visitors leave with the perception that your company is sharp, the product is great/cutting edge/marketing leading or whatever, and your exhibit is top-notch regardless of the size, you’ve accomplished your mission.

If those visitors see an old and tired exhibit, lazy or uninterested booth staffers, products and services that don’t inspire, that’s what they’ll remember.

Regardless of what your company or employees or products are really like, the perception is the reality. So put out the best impression you can. And if for some reason the perception is more impressive than the reality, you know you’ve got some work to do behind the scenes. But on stage – out where everyone can see you and make up their own minds based on what they see – that’s where you’ll leave a lasting impression.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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