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

Tradeshow visitors

11 Signs You’re a Tradeshow Prep Expert

tradeshow prep expert

Sure, millions of people head off to tradeshows worldwide every year, but are they really tradeshow prep experts? Are they ready, I mean really ready for the tradeshow? Let’s take a look at what the average tradeshow manager should be doing to show they’re truly a tradeshow prep expert.

  1. You plan a whole year in advance. Yes, the show is over, but did you already book next year’s space and check to see if you could upgrade to a better space?
  2. You reach out to your exhibit house at least 3 – 4 months ahead of the show if you have minor graphic upgrades on your schedule. Reach out 6 months in advance if you’re planning to create a new exhibit or are anticipating major upgrades to your current booth. Sure, the exhibit house can turn around graphic upgrades in just a short time, but the further in advance you are of the delivery date, the better for all parties concerned.
  3. You know what messaging you’re going to send to your potential booth visitors at least a few months prior to the show. Some folks will get emails, some may get a nice snail mail package, others will get a personal phone call. This means prioritizing your prospects and doing your best to set appointments with the hot prospects and getting warm and cool leads to at least come by the booth for a chat.
  4. You’ve downloaded or otherwise saved the show manual or information at least a couple of months prior to the show, and know what it takes to coordinate shipping, I&D and other logistics.
  5. You have your housing booked the day it opens or shortly thereafter. Depending on the show, the housing can go quickly.
  6. You book your flights and rental car about 6 weeks out. I’m told that this is the optimum time for best pricing for book flights. If you book a car, this is also a good time to do that.
  7. You’ve coordinated with other parts of the company to make sure you have products and/or services ready for launch prior to the show.
  8. You have shift schedules prepped and distributed at least a week ahead of time.
  9. If your booth staff is wearing special colored and branded clothing, it’s been ordered at least a couple of months prior to the show.
  10. You know exactly what you’re going to wear at least a week before the show – and it’s packed a day or two ahead of time.
  11. You especially know what shoes you’re going to wear!

Okay, you may have more – but if you’re doing all of this and more, you’re definitely a tradeshow prep expert!

10 Best Pinterest Boards about Tradeshow Marketing

Yes, I have a Pinterest account. No, I don’t spend a lot of time there. Something about not having enough bandwidth and so on. However, when I do get over there, I find a lot of things to like. Such as these boards on tradeshow marketing which are standouts!

Kimb T. Williams‘ board on Tradeshow Marketing Items features a variety of eye-catching items which make it a worthwhile stop.

best pinterest boards on tradeshow marketing

Nyche Marketing’s Tradeshow Marketing board has a bunch of infographics, exhibits and more.

Yes, it’s a corporate account, but Staples Promo board on Tradeshow Items has a lot of ideas.

From Danielle McDonald comes Tradeshows and Markets – tons of ideas-starters here.

Carl Phelps’ Exhibit Installation Ideas doesn’t have a lot of content, but what is there is inspiring.

Here’s Tradeshow Booth Design from April Holle. Banners, infographics, creations and more.

A lot of the images in Libby Hale’s Tradeshow Design board don’t strictly fall under the tradeshow design umbrella, but lots of great images to view here.

Teri Springer’s Tradeshow Design board is short on images, but long on inspiration. Wavy ceilings, tilted walls and hanging letters area ll eye-catching.

10×20 inline tradeshow exhibits are very popular, and Display Jay has gathered a collection of over a hundred images in 10×20′ Tradeshow Displays.

Let’s finish off our list of ten best Pinterest boards about tradeshow marketing with Anna Kammarman’s lively (and long-winded) Business – Tradeshow Tips and Tricks; For Exhibitors: Tips for Creating a Profitable #eventprofs #tradeshow.

9 Tips for Closing More Tradeshow Leads

This is a guest post by Charles Dugan of American Image Displays


There is no such thing as a closing a sale by luck at a trade show. The process of generating and closing leads is defined even before the event begins. Believe it or not, although most exhibitors collect leads during the trade show, many of them have no plan in place for following up. According to a study by Exhibitor Media Group, 98 percent of trade show exhibitors collect sales leads at trade shows, but less than 70 percent have a formalized process in place to follow up on those leads.

Trade show success is a result of strategic actions taken before, during, and after the show.

closing more tradeshow leads

Before the Show

The actions you take during the pre-show phase will directly impact how effective you are at generating quality leads. Here are four  pre-show tips:

  1. Choose the right show

When it comes to choosing which shows to attend, think quality over quantity. It’s better to select a show that has one hundred attendees with a need for your product, than a show with thousands of attendees who aren’t looking for the type of solution you offer. Select trade shows based on industry, location and size; events where there are high quality leads that fit your customer profile.

  1. Perfect your pitch

Make sure to practice your pitch before the show. You should be able to answer questions fluidly and naturally, building attendees’ trust in your knowledge and authority.

  1. Reaching out to attendees

View the trade show’s mailing list (if available) to see who will be attending the event. Reach out to these individuals and introduce yourself through email or social media. LinkedIn works especially well for this.

  1. Implement a lead collection system

Whether your system is as simple as jotting down each lead’s information on a clipboard or as complex as using a full-scale CRM software; be sure it allows information to be recorded efficiently and in an organized manner. Collect as much important information as possible. These details can come in handy later during the follow-up.

During the Show

Follow these steps during the show to build rapport and set the stage for a successful close.

  1. Reserve a private room

Consider renting a private room. Trade shows can be noisy and busy. By reserving a private room, you will have a quiet place to bring leads to answer their questions, discuss pricing, and even draw up contracts; without the distraction of the surrounding convention.

  1. Utilize call to actions

Use every appropriate opportunity to prompt attendees to complete a specific action. These call to actions could include signing up for a free trial or a demo, or scheduling a consultation. At the end of each interaction, let each person know what to expect for the next steps – whether it be an e-mail, a phone call, or another form of contact.

After the Show

The trade show may be over, but the job is not done yet! Follow these tips to close more leads post-show.

  1. Persistence

Be persistent in your follow-up, but understand there is a fine line between persistence and annoyance. If you can, mention something specific about your conversation during the first follow-up message so they remember your interaction.

  1. Network with social media

Invite leads to connect with you on LinkedIn or other social channels. This way, they are part of your network for the long-term and can become more familiar with your business.

  1. Tailor your message

Don’t use the same follow up message after every show. If your email looks like a form letter, it will be ignored. Instead, tailor your message to each lead. Be friendly and always make yourself available to answer questions.

Conclusion

If there is one reason to attend a trade show, it is to earn more business. Remember that successful lead conversion doesn’t start or end at the show. Have a plan in place to ensure you have the best chance of attracting quality leads to your exhibit, and closing deals.


About the Author

Charles Dugan is the President and Owner of American Image Displays, a trade show display and equipment company based in Seattle. He has over 20 years of experience consulting businesses with their trade show marketing.

14 Best Tradeshow Infographics on Pinterest

Infographics do a great job of quickly communicating information in a fun and effective way, especially if you’re like me (and 65% of the rest of the population) and are a visual learner. So let’s sift through some of the great tradeshow infographics floating around on Pinterest these days.Click through to the Pinterest posts, or browse the infographics below.

  1. Pipeliner Sales: 7 Keys to Getting Leads from Tradeshows
  2. Xibit Solutions: Anatomy of a Tradeshow Booth
  3. Inpex: Tradeshow Etiquette 101
  4. Media Mosaic: How to Boost Traffic at Your Tradeshow Booth
  5. Infographicality: Six Things to do Before Your Next Tradeshow
  6. Solutions Rendered: Creating a Successful Tradeshow Booth
  7. Skyline: Bad Booth Staffers
  8. Proj-X Design: How to Get the Most out of Tradeshows
  9. NWCI Displays: Tradeshow Booth Regulations
  10. Pardot: Marketing Automation for Tradeshows
  11. Bartizan Connects: Countdown to ROI: A Timeline to Plan for a Tradeshow
  12. Exponents: How to Get in to the Mindset of Attendees
  13. Skyline: 25 of the Most Common Tradeshow Mistakes
  14. Nimlok: Tradeshow Elements


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.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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