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

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Social Media is NEW! (No, it’s not…)

You’ve probably heard it a lot, and maybe even agree: Social media is NEW! It’s something that’s so brand-spanking new that it’s going to take you a lot of time and effort to figure it out! There are new tools, new toys, new ways of connecting. And since it’s NEW it’s gotta be confusing and confounding.

Nope, that’s not true. Social media has been around for quite awhile. Yes, some of the tools and toys are relatively new, but think about it: if you’ve been online for at least a decade you should be used to this stuff. I’ve been connecting with people online since before the Internet. You may remember a brief period of time in the early 90s – before the ‘net – when there were online community bulletin board systems (actually around from 1979 – 1995). These BBS’s would allow people to dial in to a central computer, share notes and programs. I remember having a conversation with a guy who introduced me to one of his BBS’s where he shared software. It would take two or three days to transfer a small software program from one computer to another via a dial-up connection.

But we were connected.

In fact, ‘instant chat’ was available as early as 1988, which was when IRC (internet relay chat) made its debut. It became a PC desktop feature with ICQ in 1996. Yes, we were sharing instant messages with smiley faces by the mid-90s.

Then came CompuServe, Prodigy and AOL (remember all those millions of CD’s you get in the mail hoping to get you to get on board with AOL?). And the web and email. Being from a radio background, my interest in those days was figuring out to share audio online. It wasn’t too tough, and shortly thereafter I was hosting (albeit briefly) a short comedy show online through a website I had figured out how to set up.

Yes, it was all pretty rudimentary in those days. But around 2004 podcasting came along and I jumped in with both feet.

Then around 2006 we all read about the new Web 2.0 where we’d all be interconnected. Except that we already were connected in so many ways.

Early in the decade lots of people were connecting using Friendster (founded 2002) and MySpace (2003).

Today with Facebook (2004), Twitter (2006), YouTube (2005) and LinkedIn (2003) generally regarded as the ‘big four’ of social networking, it’s not hard to realize that this stuff has been around for several years. And with our online connectivity reaching back a couple of decades, don’t believe anyone who says social media is “new” – it’s not.

What’s new is that the tentacles of social media are reaching further into small businesses, who are then trying to figure out how to implement these platforms into their marketing mix.

It takes some adjustment, admittedly. Often new people need to be brought on board, or current employees need to be re-purposed for some of their work day to ‘figure out’ how to use social media to reach their target market.

The good news is that there are unlimited resources available to help. If you’re the self-help type, you search blogs about social media marketing. If you’d rather hire consultants to teach you how to tie it all together, that’s appropriate as well. No matter how you approach it, there are myriad ways you can implement social media in your tradeshow or event marketing efforts.

But again – none of this is really new. If you think it is, you literally haven’t been paying attention. And you’re living in the past….around 1979.

If you still haven’t started using this “new” social media to reach your market, when do you plan to?

(image courtesy of Mentionablehonor and is used through Creative Commons)


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Telecommuting In Style

Are you stuck in the office all day long, five days a week? Happens to all of us. Happens to me most of the time. But every once in awhile I get inspired and take my work to the ski resort. Can’t do it every day, because on many occasions I have to meet clients in person. But if that’s not the case, I can often handle a lot of the details of work remotely, via a smartphone or laptop.

So Tuesday of this week I took my work to the slopes at Hoodoo Ski Bowl, my ‘home’ resort. And had a ton of fun while doing it. And answered a few client calls, an email or two and communicated with the office on a critical project as well. Yeah, the first time you might feel a little odd about actually taking a client call on the chairlift, but when you’ve handled the issue, you hang up and smile…

Can you work remotely? Can you find a way to mix pleasure with your job? It doesn’t always mean heading to Cabo or the ski resort. It might mean you’re taking meetings offsite to your favorite coffee shop. Or finding a way to engage with your clients or prospects through social media while you’re enjoying a day off. The lines are blurring and will continue to blur between our “work” hours and our “off” hours as we get deeper and deeper and more familiar with tools such as smartphones and the online platforms that allow us stay in front of other people’s minds much easier than before.

Even at a tradeshow you can easily stay in touch with people in other cities, keeping your business going in several areas while also seeing people face-to-face at the show.

Today’s work world means getting adept at using all of the available tools – and knowing which ones work for you and which ones to leave aside.

Some of the tools I use which help me work remotely include Dropbox and Carbonite. They allow me to access documents from anywhere and either work on them or email them when needed. Checking in with your community by using Facebook is also very useful and not time-consuming at all. By linking several accounts together (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn) you can reach people on all of those platforms by interacting with only one.


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Do Pretty Ads Ring the Cash Registers?

Like millions I watched the Super Bowl over the weekend, not only to root for the Packers (!), but to gawk at the ads. Lots of clever ads put together which were damn entertaining. According to the Portland Business Journal, some of the most popular were produced by Portland’s Weiden + Kennedy, well known for creating great Nike ads over the years. They created the Chrysler and Coca-Cola ads which got a lot of critical and viewer praise.

My favorite (and it’s hard to choose, so if I were to write this article tomorrow, my fave choice might change) was the very popular VW ad with the mini-Darth Vader called “The Force.” It went viral before the Super Bowl and by Monday had garnered over 16 million views on YouTube:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0

While the Super Bowl is a terrific showcase for ad creativity, many critics (me included) wonder about the effectiveness of the ads. Advertisers spend around $3 million for a 30-second slot. Not to mention the time, energy and money that goes into creating the ad. Must be another three mil, at least, right?

That’s a ton of money, even if you’re Coca-Cola or Chrysler. As an advertiser you want it to pay off.

If the ad is number one on the popular charts but doesn’t sell more than a few bottles of coke or more than a few new cars, is the ad worth the investment? Hard to justify in my mind. But if the ad creates huge brand awareness and you’re able to point back to the ad as a key point in a rise in sales, you can probably justify it.

Hey, it’s the same with tradeshows – which is just another marketing tactic.

You spend a ton of money (it’s not cheap!), and hope the sales increase as a result.

So…some questions to ask as you prepare your creative for the tradeshow:

  • Is the booth pretty or effective? Or both?
  • Is your graphic message popular or does it ring the cash registers? Or both?
  • Is your in-booth demo clever and does it grab solid leads? Or is it just plain clever..?
  • Do your staffers have great questions for your visitors and do they use those questions to qualify a ton of great leads?
  • Do your leads make a nice pile of paper but fail when it comes to getting them to pulling out their checkbook to purchase your product or service?

It’s the same with websites, by the way. I’ve seen incredible looking websites which did virtually nothing for the business. And I’ve seen ugly websites that were extremely effective at turning a visitor into a customer.

Pretty and popular is nice. But sales effectiveness and lead conversion pay the bills.

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EDPA Slides and Audio Playback

Due to popular demand (okay, I had a couple of people ask if these items would be available and for some unknown reason I’m able to accommodate them), here are the slides and the slightly edited live audio recording of the recent presentation I made on social media at the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association annual conference. This was in early December in Jacksonville, Florida. I had a damn good time. I hope you enjoy this.

Note: you should be able to listen to this in ‘real-time’ and follow along with the slides. The presentation is about 45 minutes (with Q&A) and there are 90 slides so you’ll be clicking through, on average, about two slides per minute.

PS. If you listen closely to my advice about blogging, you’ll notice that I’m breaking my own rule with this post.

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Social Media Tradeshow Marketing Webinar Slides

Thanks to the 5 dozen+ that attended the webinar last week – here are the slides!

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Coming Attraction: Social Media 101 Webinar

Webinar setup

You may have had it up to HERE with social media! In fact, you may not want anything more to do with social media. Too much Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn?

If that’s the case, you can stop reading now and go back to pawing through your vinyl records because this doesn’t pertain to you.

Or you may be so into social media that the thought of learning the basics may seem so boring and old hat that you’d rather stick needles in your eyes. Or at least take a few moments to learn another smartphone app during coffee break. And tweet about it. And post it on Facebook. And hey, maybe even shoot a short video to put up on all of your social media outlets. After all, you have a five minute coffee break, right?

If that is the case, you can also stop reading now, because this is going to get boring!

However, if you’re among the crowd of people that would like to LEARN about Social Media, to learn how to get involved, why to get involved, and even what to do once you’re there – this webinar is for you.

Coming up in less than two weeks, I’m hosting two identical Social Media 101 webinars that will get you up and running on all of those platforms that you keep hearing about: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

And yes, blogging too! After all, I believe that blogging is the centerpiece of your social media efforts, at least as far as your company is concerned.

The webinar is free, and it’s set for two days so you get a choice: Tuesday the 27th or Thursday the 29th. You can register here.

Creative Commons License

photo credit: sridgway

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Changes at Chicago’s McCormick Place

I don’t usually do hard news on this blog, but I was contacted this week by The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB), who asked if I might be interested in taking a look at the following story. Having been to Chicago a couple of times for events at McCormick it’s good to see this consumer-focused legislation moving into place.

(Dateline: Chicago)

Downtown Chicago

Changes were announced this week that “truly changes the landscape here in Chicago,” according to David Causton, McCormick Place General Manager.

What are the changes?

New legislation that wound its way through the Illinois General Assembly that basically gives the customer (the exhibitors) a new bill of rights.

For instance, “The legislation grants exhibitors the ability to do their own electrical work or contract it out, and bring in their own food for personal consumption.” That from the press release issued last Friday, May 7th by the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB).

According to the e-mail I received this week from Maura Cheeks on behalf of the CCTB, the legislation is waiting for Governer Quinn’s signature to become law. He’s expected to do that soon.

As Maura put it: “The new legislation will create a new business model for McCormick Place. This important first step was the collaborative outcome of state, city, business and industry leaders to bring a host of positive changes for our meeting and convention customers, exhibitors and attendees.”

Check out links here for more on the story:

The CCTB’s official statement in support of the bill.

The CCTB’s President, Tim Roby, has presented a webcast with Dave Causton, General Manager of McCormick Place, to discuss how these proposed changes will benefit Chicago’s convention customers and exhibitors. View the webcast and video comments here – or click to view now:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1R9IAkOCxHY&feature=player_embedded

Along with the CCTB website, check Chicago Meeting Matters for background, fact sheets, videos and other information.

Wow. Hard news from Tradeshowguy Blog. Whodathunkit?

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25 Reasons NOT to Bother With Tradeshow Marketing

Overheard complaints about tradeshow marketing, the travel, the show and other things…?

  1. It’s expensive.
  2. You usually gotta travel.
  3. Logistics are a bear.
  4. Shipping an exhibit costs an arm and a leg.
  5. Did I mention the drayage? Oy….
  6. Standing on your feet all day.
  7. You don’t get to sleep in your own bed for a few days.
  8. My suitcase didn’t fit in the trunk of the rental car.
  9. Getting in an airplane. Yikes. Not a middle seat!
  10. So many unexpected challenges on the road.
  11. Deadlines, deadlines.
  12. Who are all of these people? I don’t know any of these people!
  13. Our hired ‘pro’ presenter really blew it that time.
  14. I thought YOU had the leads!
  15. Yeah, we just put up a fishbowl to collect business cards to give away an iPod. Got some great leads!
  16. No, we’re not on Facebook. Should we be?
  17. Yeah, I heard that Twitter thing was a waste of time.
  18. YouTube? Why should we be on YouTube? I thought that was only for funny cat videos.
  19. The coffee here in (fill in the blank) sucks.
  20. The bars don’t have any microbrews like we do back home.
  21. Geez, the time change is really throwing me off.
  22. That last guy asked so many questions I finally told him to leave.
  23. Hey, I think I’m gonna go hit on that girl at the booth around the corner. Be right back!
  24. No, I can’t meet tonight. There’s a game on TV.
  25. I’d rather be at home.

Okay, complaining is fun. Maybe you have your own?

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Skiing and Social Media Tradeshow Marketing (Seminar Coming!)

What does skiing have to do with using social media to market your tradeshow booth? Very little. Okay, it’s a biiiiig stretch! But nonetheless, earlier this week I managed to get up to Hoodoo Ski Bowl in central Oregon to do a little skiing…and daydreaming about using social media, Twitter and…well, you’ll just have to watch the video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HshK8roKLrU

And yes, I am planning a live/local seminar (wow, I sound just like a local TV newscaster –Live, Local!) coming up on April 8 here in Salem, Oregon. Are you in the area? Can you come? Find out more by clicking here.

Early bird registration is still underway, which means you save $10. And IF you manage to read the fine print, you’ll see that you are actually getting my whole Social Media Tradeshow Marketing Bundle AND the live seminar…for ten bucks less than the current price of the bundle. Hmmm…is this a clever marketing ploy, or just plain stupidity?

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Podcast: Mike O’Neil Interview

Author Mike O’Neil recently sat down with me and discussed a wide range of topics, from LinkedIn and Facebook to Meetup.com and Twitter and how those various social media platforms can be used to promote events.

During this excerpt, Mike discussed the differences between using Facebook and LinkedIn to promote events, and talked about how Twitter’s huge ‘people’ stream means you have to be more engaged to get people to respond to your event promotion tweets.

The complete 40-minute conversation is included as a bonus download in the recently-released Social Media – Tradeshow Marketing Bundle now available here: http://budurl.com/smbundle.

Mike’s book is great: “Rock the World With Your Online Presence” – a book that specifically shows you how to create a rockin’ LinkedIn profile.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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