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


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.

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photo credit: sridgway

Can Mobile Marketing Improve Your Tradeshow ROI?

iPhone in Canada

Now that a lot of your audience are carrying around smartphones, are you even able to reach them anymore with email, blogging and your social media outlets?

Probably – at least you should be able much of the time.

But an ideal scenario is literally in your hands: reaching your audience with text messaging.

Here’s why text message (or mobile) marketing is worth considering:

First: approximately 97% of all text messages are opened and read! Yeah: wow, 97%!

Next: your competitors are probably NOT doing it. Yet. But chances are they will look at it soon.

Also: Texting can spur instant action because of the immediacy of the medium.

One comment I often hear when the subject of mobile marketing comes up: “…but who wants to get spam text messages?”

That’s the beauty. It’s not spam. Your audience has opted-in to your messages through your website or advertisement, and they can easily opt-out if they change their mind.

Let’s say you have a booth at a tradeshow, and you’re going to surprise your audience with a special deal, a celebrity guest, or some other reason to get people to head for the booth. By timing your text message, your audience can open the text (remember, it’s immediately sent), see the invitation, and come by the booth.

If you can narrow your market to a select group of show attendees, chances are good that you’ll get many of them to respond.

“Your only restriction with mobile marketing is the numbers of characters, so my best advice is consolidate and pack a punch with your message,” advises Van Allen, a leading business marketer and business author who uses text and SMS (short message service) technology to grow several business.

So the next question on your lips is (at least it was on my lips): how do you do this?

The difficult, and manual, way would be to send each message out individually.

Nope, you can see right away that’s not gonna work. Not with all you have to do to keep the booth running, right?

Sign up for a service such as Boomtext, Message Buzz or Moto Message, log in to your account, set up your message and when you’d like it go out and you’re set.

Some services I’ve seen have the ability to segment your audience. For instance if you put out an advertisement on “organic yogurt” you might have readers opt-in to get message specifically about organic yogurt. Other readers might want messages only about fruit-flavored yogurt. It gives you a chance to send extremely targeted messages based on the desires of your market.

Once you start thinking, the ideas on how to tie mobile marketing into your tradeshow marketing start tumbling over themselves.

Phone coupons, time-sensitive offers, opinion polls, welcome messages, games, video links…what can you think of?

If you have sent out or received text messaging, what’s your experience been?

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photo credit: jeffwilcox

Tradeshow Press Releases Increase Your SEO


A terrific guest post by Brad Shorr on Heidi Thorne’s excellent blog ‘Promo With Purpose Today’ got me to thinking.

In the post, Brad discusses how long-term thinking and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help to bring more people to your website. And Brad says that press releases are an excellent way to seed your company’s brand throughout the web.

I can’t agree more.

But with apologies to Brad, I’d take it a few more steps.

If you’re planning a press release, come up with a short list of a half dozen keywords that people might be searching for in regards to your tradeshow appearance. Perhaps you’re in the food industry and you want folks to find your products and scheduled appearance.

Your first sentence should contain at least one or two of those keywords and the name of the show. Search engine algorithms tend to look for keywords within the first several words of an article or release. So don’t waste time getting to the point.

In the body of the copy, be sure to include the other keywords that you’ve targeted. Sprinkle them generously – but don’t overdo it. It’s got to be both search-engine friendly and human-friendly (readable!). It may take a little re-working, but you’ll know when it reads right.

At the end, be sure to include all of the pertinent contact information, including links to your company’s website and blog (the link-backs that Brad mentioned).

Press releases have jumped from old media to new media quickly – and the change really took place a few years ago. Press releases can be found by anyone searching for specific keywords – they aren’t limited to reporters and bloggers. And as Brad stated, you may actually get an immediate lead from your release.

Two of my favorite resources to improve your press releases include a book and a website.

Check out David Meerman Scott’s “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and Joan Stewart’s terrific website Publicity Hound. Be sure to subscribe to Joan’s weekly newsletter which is easily one of the best newsletters I open each week.

And while you’re at it, run by David’s blog here.

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photo credit: Bohman

Banner Design Ideas for Trade Shows

Guest post by Danny Jessen

Being involved in the retail and trade show display business and seeing pull up banners go out to customers on a daily basis, I think I have a  good feel of what makes an effective banner design. And when you consider that the artwork and graphics are the very element that will “make or break” your banner display, you may want to read on!

Colours are King

Though you may feel limited to a particular colour palette that compliments your corporate colours and logo, great results can be achieved using colours that create strong contrasts. Whether its light on dark, or dark on light, or colours at the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, contrasting colours are very effective at catching the viewer’s eye. So be bold in your use of colour, but don’t over-do it. Try using just 1, 2 or 3 strong, contrasting colours – any more and you’ll start losing impact.

Artwork: Sometimes Less is More

It can be tempting to try and get the most value from your trade show banner by loading it with images and artwork. Despite the temptation, I find that the vast majority of the time, one large image is more effective that a number of smaller ones. Multiple images act to dilute the visual impact of your banner as each image competes for the viewers’ attention. On the other hand, having one large, primary image creates a strong focal point that is very effective in the kind of open trade show or retail environments in which banner stands tend to be used.

Keep it Short and Keep it Sweet

In both trade show and retail environments the key function of a banner’s design is to grab the attention of the people passing your store or exhibition stand and entice them to approach. Bearing in mind that you may have just seconds to achieve this, large amounts of written information are most often counter productive. Keep your message short and simple by using large text, bullet points and images where possible. A clear “call to action” can be effective in having people approach, upon which a staff member, some printed material, or both can leave them with more detailed information.

I guess in summary, you could say that when it comes to trade show banners, simplicity is the key: Simple yet bold use of colour, clear and strong images to create a focal point, backed up with some brief written information and a “call to action”.

Effective banner design is not rocket science, but unfortunately more often than not, trade show and retail banners end up being less than effective. But now all you’ll need to do is follow these 3 simple rules to good banner design and you’ll be sure to get the most from your next banner stand investment!

Do you have any more ideas for producing effective trade show banner designs?

About the Author:

Danny Jessen is Marketing Manager at Slimline Warehouse Australia a trade show and retail display company, specialising in
Pull Up Banners.

Tradeshow Marketing – 3 Critical Steps That Will Ensure Your Success

Guest post by Rashid Kotwal

Alex was both exhausted and excited at the same time.

He’d just spent the day finalising his stand at a major tradeshow, and was looking forward to the hoards of people who’d be streaming past the next day.

It was an expensive exercise. By the time he added up the floor space, construction and personnel costs, he’d spent about $15,000, but Alex was sure it would be worth it due to all the new leads he’d be getting.

Walking through two major tradeshows over the last couple of weeks, I met lots of Alex’s.

Jamey, visiting at Origins

Sadly though, most of them will be disappointed with their results from the show.

Why? Because in many cases they won’t meet the right people, won’t engage them when they do, and won’t follow up.

Interestingly, there are major parallels with networking functions, so even if you’ve never contemplated exhibiting at a tradeshow, the principles I’m about to outline apply in everyday business networking.

So let’s take them in turn.

Meeting prospects…

Tradeshows, like networking events allow you to meet a lot of people at one time and in one place.

So rather than you running around the countryside visiting people, you get them to come to you.

How? By personally inviting them and setting up appointments to meet. That way you know you’ll be busy talking to the right people.

Greeting prospects…

While walking the aisles, I noticed three general behaviours.

Some stand attendants stood in the corridors and actively made eye contact, smiled and invited me to talk to them. Others stood there looking bored and made no attempt at contact. And the last lot sat at the backs of their stands talking amongst themselves or eating.

Guess which ones I spoke to? In fact there were other people I was interested in meeting, but they showed no interest in me, so I gave up after waiting a few minutes.

Ever been to a networking function where you’ve experienced something similar? You’re new and no one takes an interest in you, makes you feel welcome and you leave wondering if this was all a colossal waste of time.

And finally, following up…

Generally, you can’t actually buy things at a tradeshow. You’re there to make connections, not lug stuff out the door with you.

So it’s critical that you follow up any prospects you meet. And not just once. You need to keep your name in front of them on an ongoing basis – forever!

Offer them something (an article you’ve written or something else you know would interest them) in return for their business card.

I recommend you use a combination of phone (for the hot prospects), letter, fax and email over an extended period of time. And it’s not always about making the sale. Send them articles you think they’d be interested in, stuff happening in their industry etc. It’s about consistently keeping in contact.

Once again, the same applies if you meet someone at a networking event.

Do all three of these things and you’ll extract the greatest return from your investment in both time and money. Miss one and you’ll leave money on the table.

Rashid Kotwal is an international speaker and author who specializes in on-line and off-line strategies for direct response marketing and sales optimization. He works with sales organizations want to get more business, faster and with less wasted effort.For more information on Marketing, Sales and Customer Retention Strategies head over to

Copyright 2010 Rashid Kotwal

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photo credit: Benimoto

Ways to Attract a Crowd at Trade Show Exhibits

Guest post by Chris A. Harmen


When it comes to standing out among all of the other trade show booths, having something that catches visitors’ attention is key. At trade events, attendees don’t have time to visit each and every booth. They are there on a mission – to seek out the best of the best and give their business to the companies they feel match their organizations’ goals and needs. Some businesses may carry a highly superior product or service as compared to most of their competitors, but they simply do not have the attention-getting gimmick to attract business. Make sure your company does not fall into this category by choosing one of the many exciting ways to catch the attention of attendees at trade show booths.

Entice Trade Show Booths’ Visitors With Giveaways

One of the simplest ways to attract people to your trade show exhibits is to offer something free. Everyone likes the prospect of free things, and the bigger the better. If your company has the budget for it, offer something like a couple of nights free at a luxury resort. If you do not quite have the financial capability to offer something that glamorous, consider a free visit to a day spa or massage parlor, or something as simple as a free meal at a nearby restaurant – maybe one that offers or utilizes your company’s products or services. For smaller companies, even a bowl of candy will bring people into your booth. Position the candy display a little ways into the trade show booths, so it is harder for visitors to just grab the candy and keep walking.

Demonstrations And Technology

There are many basic ideas that can be overlooked when trying to attract and retain potential clients. Product demonstrations at trade show exhibits are always a great way to show off your product and build up a crowd. Consider wearing a microphone with a small speaker to really draw attention.

Make use of technology like internet access, lights, a DVD player/projection screen, or even lasers. Display your company’s professionally designed website in the background, and use spotlights, like colored, moving ones, to draw attention to areas of your booth. If your business has a workshop video or DVD demonstrating what you do, have it play in the background. Lasers can flicker in the background to make your trade show booths seem exciting and tech-savvy.

Hire Show Stoppers And Stay Friendly

Again, if your company has the budget for it, hire whoever you can who will attract attention to your exhibits. Celebrities, athletes, musicians, and comics are all options. Clowns on stilts, jugglers, celebrity look-a-likes, and even attractive models with marketing backgrounds can help bring over potential clients.

Even your own sales staff and booth exhibitors can be showstoppers if trained correctly. Be sure to project energy at all times. Have a couple people manning the booth, so if someone gets tired they can switch positions. Remember to smile and mingle with the crowd. Don’t just remain in the booth’s background.

By enticing attendees with giveaways, demonstrations, technology, and special guests who may stop visitors in their tracks, you will see more traffic and, consequently, more sales after trade show exhibits.

Chris Harmen writes for the leading provider of trade show exhibits Canada Skyline. They offer professional consulting and advice as well as a complete line of Canada trade show booths.

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photo credit: AskDaveTaylor

Tradeshow Marketing Bucket List


What is on your Tradeshow Marketing Bucket List?

What? Why would that matter? Compiling a list of things that might be fun to do – in tradeshow marketing, no less – before you kick the bucket?

And again, why not?

By putting together a Bucket List for your tradeshow marketing efforts, you will begin to form larger ideas and put meat on the skeleton of tradeshow marketing ideas that already exist in your mind. But those ideas may be limited by the reality of your budget, schedule, availabilities and staff.

But wouldn’t it be get a little inspiration from the movies and have fun to play a “What If?” game?

So – suspend the constraints of your current reality and ask: what might go on your Tradeshow Marketing Bucket List?

  • Shows that you’d love to attend
  • Promotions you want to do
  • People you want to meet
  • Locations where you’d like to go to a show
  • Tradeshow booths that you’d like to purchase
  • Graphic artists or designers you’d love to work with
  • Products you’d like to promote

Can you see where this is going? Imagine all of the possibilities that you can come up with using those ideas as thought-starters. Undoubtedly you can come up with more kickstarters with a little more thought.

Create a Tradeshow Marketing Bucket List. Then keep it handy and start ticking off the items as you do them.

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photo credit: the paessels

Health of the Booth Staff

Guest post by Darryl Noble

Trade shows take a lot of money to invest in. Getting a return on investment makes it an imperative that everything at show goes well. There is a lot of books and advice available for displays, giveaways, traffic, and even which shows to attend. There is help on who to choose to man a booth and what they should do while in at the exhibit. What is most often ignored is the staff’s health. It would not take much to disrupt all the plans with a booth staff member taken out by sickness. A lackluster performance by staff could also torpedo all plans for a good return on the trade show investment.

Most everybody has general knowledge about healthcare make sure they follow it.

When the booth is set-up pre-show, have staff wipe it down with anti-bacterial cleaning wipes. The same during slow times of a show or at the end of the day. While talking about antibacterial, they should also use hand sanitizer often throughout the day, as they will be shaking a lot of hands.

If the trade show will be out of area, make sure they are prepared for a new geography or climate. If the staff is from Phoenix and use to a desert spring, taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest could require warmer and staying dry attire. Also, consider if one is staying at the conference hotel or staff has to travel to the exhibit area everyday. Staying in air conditioning all day and then having to take a hot twenty-minute bus ride can be hard on people. Places like Phoenix and Las Vegas can be above 100 degrees during all the summer months.

Then there is good scheduling of staff. The schedule should rotate staff often unless they are able to go somewhere and rest their legs. Also, they should have a place and rest their minds. Having rooms at the host hotel is always good, unless the trade show is far separated from the hotels. Regardless, the staff should be able to stay alert and lively. Also, if the trade show or conference has an active nightlife to it, account for it. Staff that is entertaining clients late into the night should not be working the morning shift in a booth.

With a little planning on everybody’s part, an entire exhibit staff can stay healthy and be able to bring the company a lot more money than it put out. Really, it comes down to remembering the little things along with the big things of a trade show event.

There is more help available for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking at exhibiting at expos and conferences. Here is information about using a used trade show display. One can also look at which trade show product options are available for an event. Visit now to learn more.

Introducing Interpretive Exhibits Design Search

As a long-time distributor of the Classic Exhibits line-up of tradeshow products, it’s great to see that there is now a ‘deep-well’ way to search out one of their exhibits for your specific exhibiting needs.

Exhibit Design Search (link here and also on the navigation bar above) takes you to the database of hundreds (if not thousands) of varieties of exhibits. These range from small accessories such as round graphic stands (definitely cool!) to large island exhibits – and everything in between.

To use Design Search, just click on the link and head to the site. Here’s where you’ll find the opening page which is designed to let you intuitively and quickly find what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s a great browsing tool.

Along the way you can view the Top 12 exhibits, catch a Photo Gallery, see what exhibits can be quickly shipped if you’re in a hurry, check out the Specials and even browse the dozens of Tradeshow Tip articles.

Beneath each exhibit rendering you’ll see a link labeled “Add to My Gallery” – when you click that you start to create your own line-up of favorites or exhibits you want to save and review closer later. It’s a great way to share with other team members to get their feedback.

The drop-down menus allow you to filter your search using price points, booth size and lead times – as well as give you the opportunity to do a text search.

Now all of that by itself would be pretty damn cool. Almost awesome.

But here’s what takes the Design Search tool to the next level: the burgeoning P_5_D photo gallery. P_5_D stands for ‘Past 5 Days’ and it is an on-going stream of photos of exhibits that go out the door.

Not only does this let you see what other clients are interested in (and have put $$ down on), it allows you to see how each one of them has possibly made adjustments and alterations to a standard exhibit. A great way to help generate ideas, eh? Plus: each photo is of something REAL that was actually created – not just a computer rendering of what something is SUPPOSED to look like. Getting a chance to see the real stuff shows you how it would look in your booth.

And if you check the drop-down navigation under the ‘View By Week’ tab you’ll see that the photo albums go all the way back to late 2006 – almost four years of product that has gone out the door to happy customers.

All in all, Exhibit Design Search is a fun way to waste a bunch of time AND look like you’re working at the same time. So if your boss comes in you can tell her that you’re researching the company’s new exhibit possibilities.

And hey, chances are pretty darn good you’ll find something that will exactly fit what you had in mind!

Product Training from Classic Exhibits

Mel White, Classic Exhibits VP of Marketing & Business Development

Classic Exhibits invited me to attend a day-long training of their new products and services this week. Interpretive Exhibits has been a distributor for Classic Exhibits for several years – probably our longest association with an exhibit manufacturer. We like Classic Exhibits for several reasons, not the least of which is that they’re right up the road in the Portland, Oregon metro area and easy to visit.

The training also included a small group of exhibit folks from the San Francisco Bay area, who were up for the day to get the skinny on what C.E. has to offer.

And yes, they have a lot to offer; in fact, the list seems to continue to grow. Classic Exhibits has recently added a number of eco-friendly and sustainable products to their line. They also have created a number of unique exhibit designs in the past few years that have proven to be winners with their clients. Competitors, too, it appears, as some of the designs have been ‘knocked off’ by other companies.

We spent some time learning about the awesome (yes, I really said awesome) Design Search tool available to Classic Exhibits’ distributors. It allows buyers or browsers a chance to go through hundreds of designs and configurations and see mock-ups and actual photos of several versions of each design. For years Classic Exhibits has photographed every exhibit that goes out the door and keeps adding the photos to the mix, giving you as a buyer a chance to see how other people have adapted a particular exhibit to their use.

Even if you’re not in the market for a new exhibit right now, you might be interested in spending some time going through the Design Search tool – just to see what the possibilities are. Check out Design Search here.

Beyond that we all got a chance to touch, feel, hold and eventually dismantle some of their exhibits, including the Perfect Ten hybrid, Sacagawea hybrid and the Magellan hybrid displays. So easy to dismantle. Like butta…

Finally a look at the tough old bird; the standard pop-up exhibit that has built a reputation over the years as the toughest little pop-up in the industry: the Quadro S pop-ups. These babies are so sturdy that Mel White, the VP of Marketing & Business Development, described one meeting demo that he started by standing on top of the exhibit. Yeah, that’s tough and sturdy.

All in all, great to see what new things are coming out, and getting reacquainted with the old stand-bys. Need an exhibit? Check out Classic Exhibits Design Search here.

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