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

Tradeshow visitors

Showing Up is Only Half the Battle

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.

Show up to delight your visitors

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?

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Asking the Right Questions

On the tradeshow floor, everything is important, but one of the most important is asking the right questions of your visitors.

I’ve been at three tradeshows in the past 5 weeks: two large expos (Expo West and NAB Show) and a smaller regional foodservice show.

In every show, I’m curious to see what questions are thrown out by booth staffers.

Frankly, I’m not impressed.

Yes, some good queries are pitched. But most initial questions or statements aren’t of much use to the exhibiting company.

“How are you today?”

“Would you like a free pen?”

“Still raining outside?”

(Looking at my badge) “What’s a TradeshowGuy?” (at least it got my attention)

“Have you been to this show before?”

None of those have much zing. Or pertinence to the situation.

How do you come up with good questions?

Let’s harken back to previous posts on this blog. To pose a good question, first understand what it is you’re trying to find out.

You’re there to sell a product or service, or to connect with distributors who will sell your products or services. Which means you want to know if the visitor even uses the product. Thanks to an interview we did with Richard Erschik, we know that the first question is often:

Do you currently use our product or a similar product?

After that, you’re trying to determine if the visitor is interested in purchasing that product in the near future:

Are you considering making a purchase soon? When?

Next, you’d like to know if the person you’re speaking to has decision-making power:

Who makes the decision? You? Or is there someone else that is involved?

Asking the right questions at the tradeshow.

And of course, you want to know if they have the capability to spend the money you charge for your service:

Do you have the money you’d need to invest in this product or service?

Many shows really aren’t trying to make sales on the spot. For example, the bigger expos are more about branding, launching new products and making connections with current clients, partners or distributors. In this case, what’s important is to get visitors to either sample your products (such as food), know about the new products, or in the case of other products such as electronic gear, cameras, software and more like we saw at NAB Show, to make sure that visitors were able to learn as much as they needed.

The company is paying good money – usually a lot of money – to exhibit at the show, which means that every visitor is critical. Ask good questions. Stay off the phone. Don’t eat in the booth. And don’t ask about the weather!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, April 1, 2019: NAB Show Preview

The National Association of Broadcasters Show is in Las Vegas from April 6 to April 11, 2019. I’ll be attending it for the first time ever. Crazy, right, since I spent three decades as a radio broadcaster. But it’ll be fun, I’m sure! This week’s podcast/vlog previews the show just a bit:

Check it out: NAB SHOW Website.

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING is the debut novel from Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow.

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More Statistics About Tradeshows and Visitors

Some people digest statistics like they’re eating chocolate cake. Others would rather eat a bug. But you have to admit, knowing the numbers can help you in your preparation and execution of your tradeshow marketing program. So let’s look at a few statistics and see which way they’ll lead you.

First, Spingo.com offers a collection of 20 Powerful Stats, including these:

  • 88% of companies participating in tradeshows to raise awareness of their brand .
  • The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is, on average, $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospect’s office is $259.
  • 92% of tradeshow attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services.

Display Wizard from the UK has a list of 20 Tradeshow Stats that will Blow Your Mind! Some of these are:

  • Just 22% of tradeshow exhibitors start planning their tradeshow marketing 1-2 months ahead of the show. 22% start planning 2-4 months prior to the show, and 18% are getting ready 4-6 months ahead.
  • It takes an average of 4.5 sales calls to close a sale without an exhibition lead, but just 3.5 calls to close a lead from an exhibition.
  • 81% of exhibitors use email to follow up on their tradeshow leads.

If you really love numbers, you’ll love digging into the data on one of the country’s largest shows, the Consumer Electronics Show. While 2019 numbers are coming soon, the 2018 numbers are impressive enough:

  • Total attendance: 182,198. That includes exhibit personnel, media and industry attendees, domestic and international.
  • Social media mentions of the show reaches 1 million.
  • Views of the CES Snapchat Live Story reached 49 million.
  • CES received a total of 107,120 media mentions and more than 71 billion potential media impressions in January 2018 alone.

Watch that page for the 2019 numbers this spring.

Finally, the Event Manager Blog offers 100 Event Statistics (2019 Edition), which includes these:

  • B2B events revenue worldwide amounted to $30.3 billion in 2016, up from $29.3 billion a year earlier.
  • The average ROI for events is in the 25-34% range. But almost one in five companies don’t know their ROI.
  • 93% use social media in their B2B marketing strategy, and 58% of marketers use social media before, during and after their events.

Dig into the numbers at your leisure – there’s a lot there to unpack and digest. And don’t forget the chocolate cake!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, January 28, 2019: Cannabis Conference

Just got back from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference 6.0 at the Portland Expo Center last week, and put together a podcast-slash-video blog about the event. Got a chance to interview half a dozen exhibitors about what they see as big challenges and best opportunities in the cannabis industry.

Also be sure to check the photo album I put up from the show, and my most recent advance look at the show here.


Thanks to the following folks for allowing me to put them on video and add them to the show!

And this week’s ONE GOOD THING is the recent book by Harry Bosch creator/author, introducing a new character, Renee Ballard: The Late Show.

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What do Visitors See in Your Booth That Makes Them Stop – or Keep Walking?

When people walk by your booth, they make a subconscious (or unconscious) choice on whether or not to stop and visit. In an instant, that choice is made. Much of what they base that choice in never really registers as a solid thought, but the choice is made regardless. They stop to visit and check out your booth. Or they keep on going.

What makes them stop? What makes them keep walking? Let’s take a look.

Brand: if they know the brand, they already have an impression. They have an emotion tied to the brand. It may be positive or negative. Or it may be neutral. In any case, the brand itself is part of that judgment.

Size of booth/how many people are already there: if a couple of dozen people are crowded into an island booth and they are all engaged in comes activity, or they are all paying attention to a single activity such as a professional presenter, they may decide to join. Nothing draws a larger crowd like a small crowd.

attract or repel tradeshow visitors

Newness or uniqueness of exhibit: if they come around a corner and see something they’re not used to seeing, that may impact their decision on whether to stop. The exhibit itself can be a big part of that subconscious process. Newness counts to a degree. New graphics, clean look, something different than they’ve seen before.

What’s happening in the booth: something interactive, something hands-on can spur people to impulsively stop to find out more. VR headsets. Spinning wheel. Quiz. Anything that lets people get involved, even if only briefly.

Familiarity: of course, familiarity can count, too, especially if that familiarity is of a positive nature. If they’re familiar and fond of a brand, that can draw them in.

Cleanliness (or lack): clean floors, fresh and wrinkle-free graphics, garbage cans that aren’t overflowing all create a positive impression. Clutter, grimy, broken, old or frayed exhibit pieces can put people in the mind of being repelled. They may not even know why, but they’ll subconsciously steer clear of something that their mind recognizes as distasteful. Something that’s not clean can repel.

People: your booth staff is critical in getting tradeshow floorwalkers to stop or not. A well-trained staff knows how to ask a good opening question, and how to engage. A great staffer will override other flaws in your booth, such as an older exhibit, minor lack of cleanliness, unfamiliarity with your brand and so on.

With thousands of people walking the floor at a tradeshow, everything you do and everything that they can see in your booth space can influence their decision on whether or not they will stop. A small change can add up to a significant difference in your response rate. If you could increase your visitor rate by 20% just by having a clean booth, would that make a difference? If you could triple your leads by doubling the size of your booth space and installing a new exhibit, would that be worth it? I’ve seen it happen. Every little thing counts. So does every big thing. What is drawing visitors to your booth? And what is repelling them without you knowing? Take a closer look next time.


This blog post came thanks to an idea from Mel White at Classic Exhibits. Thanks!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 12, 2018: Larry Kulchawik

In this week’s vlog/podcast, I got a chance to learn quite a bit about something with which I’m not very familiar with: international tradeshow exhibiting. I’m guessing that a lot of us don’t get a chance for much exhibiting in Dubai, France, Spain, England, China or Japan or any of a number of countries. That’s why this week’s interview with exhibit designer and international tradeshow exhibiting expert Larry Kulchawik is such a treat. Loads of great information – and you should pick up his book if you do any international exhibiting. Check it out:

Find Larry Kulchawik here on LinkedIn. Here’s a link to his book on Amazon.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic. And if you want to see the entire Queen set at Live Aid 1985, which was the centerpiece of the movie, take a look.

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What if Your Tradeshow Booth is Overwhelmed with Visitors?

I suppose having your tradeshow booth overwhelmed with visitors is a good problem to have, but if you have a small booth staff that can’t handle the number of visitors, it can be frustrating.

If you get lucky enough to face this problem, what should you do? Certainly, you want to capture contact info from as many people as you can.

tradeshow booth overwhelmed by visitors
Ken Newman of Magnet Productions knows how to draw a crowd!

Depending on the circumstances, you can approach it in a few ways. A little preparation for this will go a long way. For instance, have a couple of clipboards handy with pre-printed forms asking for just a few pertinent pieces of information such as name, phone, email and company. And if room, what do they want to talk with you about. If you’re overwhelmed with visitors, your staff can quickly hand out the clipboards and ask those that can’t stick around to leave their information behind – and be sure to ask for a business card as well. In fact, you can even say to those that hand you a business card to give a shortened version of their info on the form and make a note that they left a card. This gives you name, contact info, company and phone number without them having to write it down.

Don’t have clipboard with forms or even blank paper? You might think ahead and toss a small notebook in to the booth crate. You can at least ask the questions and write that info down.

No notebook? Ask for a card, tell the guest that you’re sorry that you’re swamped right now but that you want to get back to them soon: “Can we schedule a meeting later today or tomorrow? Or would it work better to call you when you get back to your office?”

The goal with this situation is to get contact info for as many people as possible – if they leave without you doing that, they’re likely gone for good. Grabbing a card and making a note on the card is sufficient. Even if you don’t get a chance to jot a brief note on the back, you can make a return call a few days later.

At busy shows, it’s kind of rare to have a few moments when you’re simply overwhelmed, where you just don’t have the booth staff to handle the influx of visitors. But if you can do your best to capture contact information before they leave, you have made a connection, even if it’s tentative. But it’s better than not capturing anything from them!


Photo courtesy Ken Newman of Magnet Productions.

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Best Opening Lines for Tradeshows

Earlier this week we got a chance to hear directly from magician and professional tradeshow presenter Robert Strong. One of the items that caught my attention and led to the podcast/vlog interview with Robert was his report from the tradeshow floor asking people what their opening lines were:

As you’ll see, there are a lot of ways people try to break the ice with tradeshow visitors. Not all of them work. Not all of them are effective.

Take a look and listen to the interview I did with Robert and you’ll find a way to approach this issue of how to come up with an engaging, pleasant and effective opening line.

7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 5, 2018: Robert Strong

Magician and professional tradeshow presenter Robert Strong discusses how to draw a crowd, how he works with clients, and what makes a good opening line – and a lot more – in this enlightening interview.

 

Find Robert Strong here.

Robert was kind enough to share some great material including the following posts:

Want Over 1000 Quality Scans a Day at Your Tradeshow Booth?

If You Don’t Clearly Define Your Goals at Your Next Tradeshow, You Will Lose to Your Competition

Robert as Guest on the Savvy Event Planner Podcast

Your Tradeshow Booth Would Be Twice as Successful if Your Booth Staff Simply Removes Typical Bad Behaviors

Robert also shared a list of Best Booth Behaviors:

1.     Remove bad behaviors: No eating, drinking, cell phones, sitting, booth huddles, etc.
2.     Add good behaviors: Stand, face the aisles, smile, make eye contact, initiate conversation, etc.
3.     If you are not getting rejected a hundred times an hour, you are not initiating enough conversations.
4.     Have a strong opener: What do you do at your company? What is the most interesting thing you have seen at this show? What is your (companies) biggest pain point?
5.     Make the current attendee you are talking with the most popular person at the show.
6.     Be able to do the overview (elevator pitch) in 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 90 seconds.
7.     Understand and communicate concisely the giveaways and raffles.
8.     Be able to scan badges and do it quickly.
9.     Qualify leads quickly, make introductions, and end conversations quickly.
10.Have three case studies (success stories) rehearsed and ready to go.
11.When doing a demo, scale. When you see someone else starting a demo, help them scale.
12.You are on stage. High five each other, fist bump each other, enthusiastically cheer for your fellow booth staff, and let the attendees see that you really like each other and are having fun.
13.Treat the attendees exactly how you would want to be treated if you were in someone else’s booth.
14.Make a follow-up plan and take notes.

And finally, this week’s ONE GOOD THING: the Bag Man Podcast about Vice President Spiro Agnew.


7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

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