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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Cold Calling Blues

cold calling, sales

When it comes to sales, you are in charge. Nothing happens in a business until a sale happens. Without the sale, nobody in the company is asked to build or provide anything to a client. Nobody is able to send out an invoice or bill. No money comes in, no bills get paid, no employees get paid. So until a sale happens, whether it’s on the street, in the store, online or at a tradeshow, nothing happens.

This was one of the first lessons I got when I moved away from talking into a microphone for a living to selling tradeshow exhibits. It puts a lot of pressure on ya! But it also opens doors to growth that you might not often recognize, or otherwise have in your life.

As a company owner at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, I’m responsible for many things – one of them is to bring in business: to make a sale. And frankly, it’s a competitive marketplace. There are a lot of good tradeshow companies, designers and fabricators out there. So, like any other company, we’ve tried any number of things: advertising in local and national publications, Google Adwords, sending out regular newsletters, soliciting referrals from current clients, blogging and other types of inbound marketing, social media outreach, walking the floor at tradeshows, gathering information on exhibitors to follow up later…and cold calling.

But, you say…Isn’t cold calling a good way to bug people? To interrupt them? To intrude upon their busy day? After all, in this online world, if people want to find what you’re selling, shouldn’t they be able to do it online? Certainly, but since being online in a crowded world isn’t perfect, businesses need to be able to reach potential buyers directly.

And that means cold calling.

Frankly, I’ve never been a big fan of cold calling for a number of reasons, but as my Sandler Sales trainer keeps telling me, “You don’t have to like it you just have to do it.” And with better tools and more effective questions, it becomes easier. And, as with any other selling method, it can bring in business.

In the past 30 days of cold calling I’ve uncovered several leads for potential projects. I’ve even found half a dozen people that told me “you should have called a couple of weeks ago!” as they just made a deal for a project.

Which tells me a number of things:

  • Businesses are buying
  • Every business is in a different situation and you might be exactly what they’re looking for
  • If you use cold calling as part of your selling strategy, as in any part of your strategy, you’ll continue to uncover leads

So to bring this around full circle and relate it to tradeshow marketing, it’s worth doing. Your audience – your potential clients – are all in different situations. Some may have just purchased exactly what you’re offering. Others may not need your services for another year or more. But some will be in the perfect sweet spot where their needs match up with your product, service and capabilities.


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

Tradeshow Marketing: Are You Jimi Hendrix or Ernest Hemingway?

tradeshow marketing - jimi hendrix or ernest hemingway

Seriously, isn’t that an absurd question to ask about tradeshow marketing: are you Hendrix or Hemingway?

tradeshow marketing - jimi hendrix or ernest hemingway

Or maybe not. Let’s have a little fun for a moment.

Picture Jimi Hendrix standing at the edge of your tradeshow booth, or on a small stage in your booth, looking to draw people in for a show.

Now imagine Ernest Hemingway, sitting at his typewriter, carving out phrase after phrase to tell a story in a simple, eloquent and easily understandable way.

Which would make for a better result? Hendrix or Hemingway?

Hendrix was a showman. A one-of-a-kind guitar player whose talent still ripples through time.

Hemingway was a storyteller. His tales resonate through time as well.

Frankly, you might need both. You need a good tale, and you need a showy way to get people’s attention so they can take it all in and respond in a positive fashion.

Which are you – Hendrix or Hemingway? Or some combination of the two?


Now, let’s watch some Jimi…

And just for fun, a clip of why Ernest Hemingway was such a badass…


Photo Credits:

Ernest Hemingway By Lloyd Arnold – http://www.phoodie.info/2013/07/19/from-the-desk-of-ernest-hemingway-this-weekend-cuba-libre-celebrates-my-birthday/, Public Domain, Link

Jimi Hendrix By Reprise Records – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, Link


Grab our free report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 27, 2017 [video replay]

Had a great chat with Ashley Blalock of the Ashley Avery Agency in NYC, an agency that provides models and spokespersons for tradeshow exhibitors. It was a fun and informative chat – check it out:

Ashley’s One Good Thing included two books!

Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amorusa

And you can find the Ashley Avery Agency here.

Don’t Sell at the Tradeshow

Huh? Don’t sell at the tradeshow? Isn’t that why you’re there – to take names and kick ass? Sure, you won’t get an argument from me.

sell at the tradeshow

However, let’s take a look at the tradeshow situation. The event is designed to bring hundreds or thousands of people by your booth. If your intent is to sell – and just sell products at the event – then you’re going to spend more time with each person. It takes time to write up an order, and depending on your product or service, it probably takes time to determine exactly what that service or product is. How long is the service going to last? What version of your product is best for your client? When do they want it? What is their goal in using your product or service and can it really help them?

Sure, if you’re just selling single pack food items or something that can be sold in just a few seconds, they go ahead – sell, sell, sell!

Most products take longer. Even if you’re ultimately selling a single food product, you may be trying to get into more stores, or hook up with distributors. Which means you’re not actually selling at the show.

You’re just qualifying.

And once you qualify, you both then agree on the next step.

And that’s when the real selling begins.


Grab our free report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Tradeshow Execution is Not Outside the Box

thinking tradeshow marketing outside the box

“Outside the box.” Should you be thinking about your tradeshow marketing using an outside-the-box approach?

Well, that depends. If you can come up with an unusual way to draw crowds, or do pre-show marketing that whets attendees’ appetites, I think you’ve got something going.

But if you’re looking for something outside the box when it comes to actual execution of all of the needed elements, you’re probably better off drawing inside the lines.

When it comes to greeting visitors with a smile, having a pertinent question for them, and responding to questions with accuracy and integrity, you’re on the right track.

When it comes to having a booth that meets all of your function needs, from attractive graphics and proper demo or sample areas to storage and meeting, you’re probably going to want to do it by-the-book.

When it comes to tracking lead generation, sales follow up and tracking ROI, keep it on the straight and narrow.

In other words, do all you need to do using tried-and-true activities designed to effectively execute the functions of exhibiting – stay inside the box – and you’ll be happier for it.

But when it comes to getting people’s attention through what might be considered outlandish or outside-the-box promotional methods, have at it.

Just make sure that once all of those people get to your booth, you have the systems and experience in place to benefit from them.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: February 20, 2017 [video replay]

List-making! In this episode of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I take a look at the top 7 things I like about being a tradeshow exhibit project manager and owner of TradeshowGuy Exhibits. And I explain why making a checklist for your exhibit project is a very good thing.

As for today’s One Good Thing, I shared a night sky app called SkyView. Check it out.

The Importance of Knowing Your Tradeshow Marketing Goals

What are your tradeshow marketing goals? It may seem an obvious question. But it bears some attention before schlepping off to the show, setting up and accosting attendees.

Each show is different with a unique audience and a unique set of competitors. How you determine your goals depends on those combinations. Some shows may be better at connecting you with retailers, some better at interacting with buyers, others better at connecting with bigwigs who can make big things happen.

In general, the tradeshow marketing goals can fall under three main areas:

the importance of knowing your tradeshow marketing goals

Brand Awareness and Perception

In this area, you can build on your company’s marketplace awareness with an effectively branded booth that shows off your credentials or capabilities. You can promote specific products, launch new products, position your company effectively against competitors, or even reach new markets.

Floor Activity Goals

This is where you can work to increase traffic, have one of your managers speak at a conference or panel, speak with industry media outlets, compile information about your competitors, interact with attendees, promote your message, give demos or hand out samples, work to build traffic through promotions and social media engagement and more.

Things to Measure

I’ve always advocated that exhibitors count visitors. It’s not always easy on the crazy chaos of a tradeshow floor, but if you can keep count you’ll know the number of visitors you had. Use that as a baseline and count the visitors at each show and compare year-to-year. You’ll also count leads and sales that result from those leads. Do a little market research by taking a survey or visitors and compile the results. Keep count of any new distributors, suppliers, retail buyers and more.

Knowing your tradeshow marketing goals gives you focus, especially since those goals change from show to show, from audience to audience.


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

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee February 13, 2017 [video replay]

Check out the Monday, February 13, 2017 edition of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, where I go over organization, accountability and structure. And a short list from Richard Larsen of Brandwatch: Ten Top Tips for a Successful Tradeshow Booth.

 

The One Good Thing I referenced in the vlog was night skiing, in particular at Hoodoo Ski Bowl in the Central Oregon Cascades. Lovely!

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!

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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