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

Tradeshow visitors

Natural Products Expo West TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards

Walking the floor of the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, one is overwhelmed by the sheer number of tradeshow exhibitors and visitors. According to New Hope, the organization that puts on the show, there were over 80,000 visitors this year, and over 3,100 exhibitors.

That’s a lot of bone broth, honey, yogurt, Paleo diets and chocolate. Oh, the chocolate!

But there are literally tons of tradeshow exhibits, many of which stand out in unique ways. Let’s capture a few of these and call them out for service and recognition above and beyond.

Best Use of Bodily Function Statistics: GoodBelly

I watched as visitor after visitor stopped at the side of the GoodBelly exhibit and snapped a photo of The Poop Report, an infographic compiled from a survey of over 3000 people who visited the GoodBelly website.

The Poop Report: Good Belly
The Poop Report: Good Belly

Best Long Form Screenplay, er, uh, Exhibit: BabyGanics

BabyGanics have traditionally occupied an odd-shaped island space for years in the convention center, so I was a bit surprised to see that space occupied by another exhibit. It took a moment of spinning on my heels, but I did eventually find the 60′ (70′? 80′?) long exhibit. Just an inline exhibit, but they jammed a lot of longevity and functionality into the space.

BabyGanics Goes Looong!
BabyGanics Goes Looong!

Best Makeover: Nancy’s Yogurt

This booth is near and dear to my heart: it’s the second exhibit project I ever sold when I got into the business 15 years ago. So this is nearly 15 years old. For years, the booth has had the same look and feel. But a laminate makeover gave it an entirely new look and feel. In fact, I admit at first glance I thought it was an entirely new exhibit! But not the case – just a quick re-skin for a whole new look:

Nancy's Yogurt Before and After
Nancy’s Yogurt Before and After

Best Lettuce on a Wall: Indoor Farms of America

Inside Farms of America had a simple concept: show people what they do, and as a result it’s an eye-catching and ‘stop-in-your-tracks’ effect:

Best Lettuce Wall
Best Lettuce Wall

Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi

Kashi’s <1% display got people talking and snapping photos. It’s nothing but a large space with a hanging sign, the <1% display and, when you read the fine print, you discover their message about organic farmlands. Effectively done:

Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi
Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi

Best Use of Cactus Wisdom for Interactivity: Steaz Tea

There’s nothing like handing out cards with pre-printed fortunes to get people to line up. I know I did. Clever, interactive, and engaging in a fun way – a perfect fit for Expo West:

Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus
Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus

Seriously, I could go on forever with fun and silly awards for exhibits at Expo West: it’s a place with a lot of creativity. Yes, you’ll find uncreative low-budget exhibits that should (and probably did) embarrass the exhibitors, but what’s the fun in pointing those out? They know who they are, and they know when it’s time to upgrade. So let’s go with just one more that caught my eye:

Best Photo-Op Exhibit: StonyField Yogurt

A large painting on a wall and floor made it look like you’re standing in a bowl of yogurt, if photographed at the right angle. So I joined in. Lots of people waiting for their turn here throughout the show:

Best Interactive Photo-Op: Stonyfield Yogurt
Best Interactive Photo-Op: Stonyfield Yogurt

TradshowGuy Exhibits Shows Off Three New Client Booths at Expo West

it was a good Natural Products Expo West 2017 for all of us here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits! We welcomed three new clients at the show: Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley Bread, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant and Wedderspoon Manuka and Organic Gourmet Honey.

Expo West Tradeshow Exhibits

Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley Bread got it started with a 10×30 booth; 10′ is dedicated to the Alpine Valley brand, 20′ to the Dave’s Killer Bread brand. The booth featured three fabric graphics, two of which were backlit by LED lights, creating a bright and attractive light box. Both brands showed off their logos with stand-off direct print sintra with LED highlights. A small storage closet gave them plenty of room for product, along with two custom curved counters equipped with USB chargers and LED trim. One had a tablet kiosk affixed to the top.

 

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant is a relatively young company that has seen its products make a big impression in the marketplace. This year they introduced a new soap product to go with the deodorant, and showed it all of with a custom 20′ inline booth featuring two large fabric light boxes.

Both of these booths had custom flooring, which we’re seeing a lot more of these days.

Last, but not least, we worked with Wedderspoon from Philadelphia to create a wood-shelf oriented booth to show off their line of New Zealand honeys. This was a simple, elegant wooden booth that gave them a large hanging graphic in the middle, several display shelves and ample storage space.

All of the companies reported glowing comments from visitors on their new exhibits. But more importantly, the great folks from Dave’s Killer Bread, Schmidt’s Naturals and Wedderspoon loved the exhibits and were a joy to work with. It’s another good reminder of why we’re in this industry: to make you look good!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, March 6, 2017 [video replay]

On this week’s coffee, I spend some time going over the question of asking better questions. If we learn to ask better questions, we’ll get better information. So what does it take to ask better questions? Take a look:

Notes from this week’s vlog:

Fast Company article by Stephanie Vlozza

Lifehack Article

TED talk on asking better questions

ONE GOOD THING: The Portland International Airport


Get the free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

7 Kinds of Exhibits to Look for at the Tradeshow

There are hundreds of styles and types of exhibits at tradeshows, but in my estimation you can reduce them to just a handful of ‘kinds’ of exhibits. Do you recognize these?

  1. Super-Duper Over-the-Top Big Tent Exhibit. You know these kind. This exhibit has a hanging sign, a dozen or more people working the booth who are wearing matching tees or tops, are handing out samples and generally trying to be the ‘big dog’ in their niche. And with this kind or exhibit, they usually succeed.
  2. 7 Kinds of Exhibits to Look for at the Tradeshow

    Large Format Well-Branded Exhibit. Most likely an island, but you can tell in an instant who the exhibitor is. Highly professional. The staff is smiling, greeting everyone appropriately. Kicking ass and taking names.

  3. Something New. Often an inline exhibit from a company that changes it up frequently. Some companies take the same exhibit year after year after year. There are some exhibitors, however, that bring a brand new look almost every year. These are companies that are challenging their competitors and the status quo.
  4. Same Old Exhibit. Just referenced in last paragraph. The company that doesn’t even bother to change their sign from year to year even though a casual observer can tell they should probably do some updating.
  5. The Kluge Exhibit. Creativity run amok, where a (usually) small company has a couple of creative folks who take bicycle parts, discarded barn wood or whatever and somehow manage to come up with an exhibit that knocks your socks off. What are they selling again?
  6. Basic. Lots of companies start here. There’s not a lot of creativity, but simplicity is important and the message is clear.
  7. The WTF exhibit. Poorly executed graphics with unclear messaging, bored-looking staffers. It makes you wonder WTF are they doing at the show?!

Next time you walk the show floor, see how many of each kind of exhibits you can identify! And if you can add to our list, feel free to drop a comment!

Before You Attend a Tradeshow, Read This!

Why should you read this before you attend a tradeshow?

First, let’s assume you’ve never been to a quality industry show that’s packed full of exhibitors and attendees. Oh, sure, you’ve been to a few regional home shows at the fairgrounds, or attended a chamber of commerce show with fifty or so small exhibitors. But that big show in Las Vegas, NYC, Anaheim or Chicago?

If that’s new to you as an attendee – there’s a first time for everything – let’s go over a handful of things to help prepare you.

before you attend a tradeshow, read this!

Get your travel plans in order. Flight, hotel, ground transportation. Know the location of your hotel or Airbnb in relation to the show site and the airport. In some cities, renting a car makes sense (Anaheim, maybe Vegas), in others you’re betting off taking ground transportation (SF, Chicago, Boston). If you’re planning to take mass transit, know where to get on and how to get to where you’re going. Mapping tools on smartphones are very good at giving these directions – so make sure your phone is charged, and even bring a small charger with you in case you can’t find an outlet on the fly. Travel as light as possible, but take all you need to function on the road – which is of course different (to a degree) than at home!

Double-check all show documents. Make sure you have the various bits of paper, emails, or whatever to get into the show. Bring contact numbers, not only of your home office (duh), but include a handful of contact numbers of show organizers.

Assemble a show plan. Most big shows have apps or online tools to allow you to create a plan. This allows you to add exhibitors and booth numbers to put together a list which makes it easier to find them all. Do this a week or so before the show. If there are educational sessions, create a plan for those you’ll be attending. When at these events, you’ll often have time to meet other attendees and do a little networking.

Depending on your show goals, make sure you have prepped your interaction with the various exhibitors. As an attendee, you’re likely going to be looking for products that you’re either going to sell or use, and perhaps recommend. Know what questions you’re going to ask, and be prepared to absorb information in whatever form is offered. Chances are exhibitors will have both electronic and paper sell sheets, for example, so you should be prepared to know how you’ll compile them. If an exhibitor wants to give you a paper sell sheet and you prefer digital, use an app such as Scanner Pro or Microsoft’s One Drive, which allows you to create PDFs of the sheets in an instant and upload them to your cloud account. Beyond that, as your company representative, you should be prepared to have the kinds of appropriate conversations to advance your agenda.

Plan some networking meetings, but be open to opportunities that will undoubtedly arise. Which means, don’t under-schedule but don’t over-schedule yourself!

Pace yourself. If you’re in an unfamiliar city, find a few moments if you can to look around. Try not to stay up too late to party with show-goers. Keep to familiar exercise routines as best you can. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Finally, if it really is your first time to attend a large show in a far-away city as a company representative, follow the lead of your fellow employees who have been to the show before, and learn what you can.

And dammit, have some fun along the way! Not everybody is able to attend big shows on their company’s behalf, so consider yourself lucky!

7 Tradeshow Exhibit “Must-Haves”

Time for another list – this one is called 7 tradeshow exhibit “must-haves” and it’s pretty simple. What 7 things (items, people, plans) are essential to making your next tradeshow appearance a whopping success? Let’s count them:

  1. Branding that is clear as an angel’s giggle. A visitor should know at a glance what you sell and what kind of a company you are. She should be able to intuit so much with that glance: how you approach the marketplace, how the company culture works, how you view the environment, wha

    t kind of company you are. A good 3D exhibit designer working with a knowledgeable and responsive marketing team can work magic with the right design.

  2. Professionalism that is as obvious as, well, Captain Obvious. Your fully-trained staff will know how to approach visitors in a friendly and engaging way, and how to either answer their questions or get them to the right person. Staff training goes a long way and is worth more than you’ll ever spend on it.
  3. Lead capture system as effective and smooth as a glass of fifty-dollar bourbon. Once you have a prospect in your sights, make the transition from visitor to prospect so easy when gathering contact and follow-up information that they’ll barely know it’s happening.
  4. Interactivity that engages and draws a crowd. Okay, not every activity can draw a crowd at all times. But what if you had something in your booth that was interesting and engaging enough that once a few people got going, it attracted other people? And if that activity was directly related to your product or service, wouldn’t that be about the best you could do? Well, you could top that by making sure you were gathering contact and follow-up information from as many of those people as you could, once you qualified them.
  5. A comprehensive tradeshow marketing plan that covers months leading up to the show, through the show, and through the follow-up period. This would mean pre-show marketing, show execution and immediate follow-up with the hottest prospects.
  6. Enough STUFF: business cards, lead sheets, sell sheets, samples, demos – all of the stuff you need to hand out to visitors, show they what you do and so on. Take more than you think you’ll need. Unless its dated, you can always repack it and use it next time.
  7. Comfortable shoes. Ha! You saw this one coming, didn’t you?

Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Five Mistakes You’re Making at the Tradeshow

More than two-thirds of exhibitors do not have a solid plan in place and end up making mistakes at the tradeshow as they exhibit.

5 mistakes you're making at the tradeshow

In fact, not having an organized, comprehensive plan is one of the most common mistakes that exhibitors make.

And it’s safe to say that nearly all exhibitors don’t have a solid grasp of the metrics of their success or failure that comes from that tradeshow appearance. Why? Because companies tend to put all of their energy, time and money into putting on a good show, and very little into counting the results after the end of the show. Measuring your results – leads, sales closed – is one of the most critical measurements you can make.

Let’s look at some of the common mistakes you might make as you exhibit at the tradeshow.

  • First, you don’t have a comprehensive plan. This means going from A-Z and planning to cover all your bases, from pre-show marketing and show execution to having an exhibit that accurately represents your brand and communicates your message to counting leads and sales after the show is done. Know what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, how you’re planning to get back your return on the investment and where your tradeshow appearance fits in your overall marketing strategy.
  • Secondly, you may have the wrong people in the booth. Tradeshow floors are a chaotic busy mess where hundreds or thousands of people come and go all day long. Without proper preparation, which usually means staff training and picking the right people, you’ll end up with sales people or other staffers that can’t interact with precision, veracity and alacrity with those visitors. They’re not asking proper questions, they’re letting big fish get away and they’re spending too much time on little fish or people that won’t ever buy.
  • Third: you’re repeating yourself. Do you ever see the same company at the same show with the same exhibit year after year, showing off the same products? On close examination it seems nothing really changes from year to year. A company that’s on top of their game will upgrade the booth regularly or replace it when necessary; they’ll have new products to show off and new ways of interacting with visitors.
  • Fourth: you’re cheapening your brand by having inappropriate brand ambassadors in your booth. Pretty models in skimpy outfits may attract a crowd, but they do nothing to improve or define your company’s brand unless, of course, your brand is built on pretty models in skimpy outfits. Otherwise, in today’s climate, exhibiting in the US using those types of representatives will likely get you negative feedback.
  • Fifth: the biggest tradeshow marketing sin of all – you’re not following up on all of those leads in a timely manner. The fact that tradeshow leads are cheaper by the dozen and more targeted than any other kind of lead, coupled with the fact that your competitors have many of the same leads in their bucket, means that you must strike while the iron is hot. Letting a lead sit more than a few weeks means it grows colder and colder until you might as well toss it out with the other dead fish.

We all make mistakes – it’s part of life – but the more you can minimize mistakes with oodles of tradeshow marketing dollars on the table, the better off you’ll be.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

Tradeshows by the Numbers

Tradeshow numbers rattle around my brain. It’s just part of the scene, man.

For instance, when someone asks how much exhibits costs, I whip out this factoid: industry averages for a custom designed and fabricated island booth ranges between $135 and $165 per square foot. Your mileage may vary.

If they ask about inline booths: Industry averages for inline booths is around $1,000 per linear foot. Again, your mileage may vary.

But there are other numbers, too. If you toodle on over to Statista and check out their facts on tradeshow marketing in the US, you uncover some more interesting numbers:

  • Average number of tradeshow visitors per 100 square feet of exhibit space in the US: 2.2
  • Average time tradeshow visitors spent viewing exhibits: 9.5 hours
  • Share of tradeshow visitors attending that tradeshow for the first time: 38%

Let’s stop a moment. Think about that last one. Over 1/3 of all tradeshow visitors to that show you’re exhibiting at are NEW to the show. Never been there before! You’re exposed to a whole lot of new people. And think about the number of people – 62% – that may already be familiar with your brand. Put those together and 100% of the people at the show you’re exhibiting at next are susceptible to your brand message.

Now a few more:

  • Share of tradeshow visitors planning to buy exhibited products or services: 48%
  • Share of potential audience who remembered visiting a company’s tradeshow exhibit: 81%

A few more fun digestible numbers from WillWorkInc:

  • Worldwide the tradeshow industry is worth about $14 billion, which is about 2.7% in 5 years.
  • Even though tradeshow attendees average 2.3 days and 9.5 hours on the tradeshow floor each year, 46% of those attendees only go to one show a year – make that visit count!
  • 82% of attendees had buying power, according to Exhibit Surveys. Sell something!
tradeshows by the numbers

From big shows to regional and local shows, putting up a booth with an accompanying tradeshow marketing program is an effective way to reach new markets and create new business.

Let me close with some tradeshow numbers on one of the world’s largest shows. Last year’s Consumer Electronics Show drew more and 170,000 people for tech’s biggest show. In 2017, a show which closed down less than a week ago from this writing, the show celebrated its 50th anniversary with more than 3,800 exhibiting companies and more than 2.6 million net square feet of exhibiting space. More than 175,000 industry professionals, including 55,000 from outside the US for the Las Vegas event.

Sell or Die Podcast: Are Tradeshows Even Worth it Any More?

As much as I love Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales training (along with books, speeches, podcasts and more), I wasn’t sure where he’d come down on the idea of using tradeshows as a way to generate leads and sales. But when I saw the new Sell Or Die Podcast with Jeffrey Gitomer and Jennifer Gluckow, I had to share. This is just a brief snippet they posted on YouTube talking about tradeshows, and it’s a great start to the discussion:

Hmmm…maybe I should tell them about the TradeshowGuy Blog? As an old radio guy, I could probably figure out what to say as a guest on their podcast! Check out the Sell or Die podcast here.

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