It was a couple of months ago that we featured Dominic Rubino on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee video blog/podcast. This month the interview Dominic did with me appeared on his Profit Toolbelt Podcast, which is aimed at the ‘growth-minded contractors,’ who often end up attending or exhibiting at home shows.
Our conversation focus was on how to stand out at a Home Show. Fun conversation. Click the image below or this link and head on over to the interview.
This is a guest post by Rodney Laws, Editor at Ecommerce Platforms.
We’re all familiar with tradeshow swag. If you’ve been through a hectic stretch of tradeshow attendance, you’ve surely lurched back to your vehicle of choice with a heavy bag of assorted items — and if you’ve ever presented at such a show, you’ve most likely opted, or been told, to hand out some products (free of charge).
It’s a long-standing staple of the industry,
so you might think it’s inevitable, but you have a choice in the matter. Don’t
want to offer free gifts? You don’t have to. If you’re on the fence, though,
you might be looking for a nudge in one direction or the other. So what should
you do? Cover your stall in tempting swag, or leave it bare and focus on the
reason why you’re there?
To borrow from ecommerce parlance (it is my industry, after all), it’s like the delicate matter of landing page development: you can have a generic landing page that doesn’t impress or offend, or you can build a custom landing page that differs from the competition in ways that may delight or frustrate. Neither option is perfect. Either can go wrong.
To help you decide what’s best for you, here
are the pros and cons of giving out free gifts. Consider them my gifts for you
(have I tipped my hand there?).
Why you should give out free gifts
All those tradeshow presenters can’t be totally misguided in breaking out the
swag bags. Here are the main reasons why you should dish out the goods:
They can easily be branded. You don’t need to hand out generic items that will get thrown in bags and immediately lose any association with you. If you do it well, you can give out branded gifts that get across your brand identity and possibly your brand message too (it depends on how much space you have for text and visuals).
Tradeshows can be dry. As much as professionals will get hyped-up ahead of a tradeshow, the energy can run out quickly if exhibits are dull and they drank too much the previous evening. But free gifts will always get attention — and even if that attention is brief, it’s better than no attention at all.
You can get quite creative. Pens are always useful, but you don’t need to offer pens. If you can think of something portable and not overly expensive, you can make it a free gift, and that gives you a lot of creative scope. Look at what others are doing, and come up with something different.
People often expect them. Unfortunately, the precedent of free gifts at tradeshows can make life hard for those exhibitors who don’t have any. It might be viewed as indicative of a lack of effort, or even a cheapness that bodes poorly.
Why you shouldn’t give out free gifts
That something is popular doesn’t mean it’s sensible.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t
give out free gifts at tradeshows:
The ROI might not be there. While it’s great to get plaudits for the quality of your swag, you
need meaningful ROI for the process
to be worthwhile. If you keep handing out products and getting less value in
return than you spend on them, then you’d be better served not giving out any
gifts at all. Sometimes there isn’t much point.
You can make it a selling
point. If you just have an empty stall, no one will
care, but if you make a point of your lack of free gifts — you could make it a
stand against plastic use, for instance, or simply explain that your brand is
so good that you don’t need gimmicks (this is itself a gimmick, of course, but
don’t mention that) — then you can get the same kind of attention at no cost.
Overall, then, should you bother giving out free gifts? Well, it depends on whether you think there’s ROI to be yielded. If you can choose the gifts well and make them actionable somehow, they can prove quite fruitful. Here’s my suggestion: try to come up with a smart free gift strategy. If you devise one, use it. If you don’t, forget the gifts. Simple!
Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.
The first time I walked “backstage” at a tradeshow, I realized how nuts it really was. A thousand different things going ten thousand different ways. Thousand of exhibitors, laborers, electricians, forklift operators, scissor lift operators, and so much more are all involved in an elaborate dance that takes place over a few days until opening day when everything looks perfect. Then once the show is over the same crazy dance happens in reverse.
Most people don’t think about what goes on behind the scenes, as long as it happens and their exhibit looks great for the show. But, oh, the things that have to happen for the show to take place.
For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sat down with Jim Wurm, Executive Director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association. The EACA is the main organization that advocates for all of those behind-the-scenes companies and employers. And there are a lot of different ones. Really good conversation and yes, I learned quite a bit:
I’ve known Kathleen Gage of PowerUp for Profits for years and she recently asked me to be on her podcast. Like me, she posts both audio on her podcast page and video on her YouTube channel. Kathleen knows how to get to the center of what is helpful to listeners, and this time was no different:
If you’d like to click through to the post that is specific to this interview, click here. She has broken down the conversation into the topics we covered, including Foundation for Success, Follow Up, Make Your Booth Time Engaging, Pre-Show Marketing, Swag and more. We covered a lot of ground in a short conversation.
I sat down with a long-time colleague to be interviewed this week and to prepare I put a list together of the 5 must-do’s for successful tradeshow marketing. We didn’t go over the whole list because the conversation took its own path. But I thought – hey, it’s a good list! Here it is:
Have an exhibit that draws people in.
We could go into this in detail, but your
graphics and messaging should clearly tell people at a glance:
problem you solve for them
Have a goal. Share that goal with your staff.
Reach new markets
Launch new products or services
Find new hires
Meet current customers, partners and
Have a well-trained staff
Your staff should know how to greet people
Your staff should know the products or services
Know how to gather the proper information for a
good lead…which leads to…
Know what a lead is…
A lead is NOT a card in a fishbowl
A lead is someone who qualifies
looking to buy what you’re selling
have a budget
know when they’re going to buy
have the power to make a decision
Once a lead is qualified, the follow up is
Gather the right information
is the follow up
is the follow up
is doing the follow up
is the follow up: sending a brochure, sample, in-person meeting?
We did get to a few of these, and they were good talking points throughout the conversation. One she produces the interview and gives me a link, I’ll make sure to include it in a blog post soon!
How does taking a stand on what might be a controversial issue affect a business? Are there places where you can take a stand and make your viewpoint known without stepping into controversy? This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee takes a look at taking a stand:
Many clients I work with struggle with many of the bits and
pieces of their tradeshow exhibit, including furniture Some clients prefer to
own a handful of stackable chairs that stay in their exhibit shipping crates
when not in use. Others like the idea of having a fresh new look and budget for
furniture rentals every show.
There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just whatever works
best for you.
Certainly, there are pros and cons to renting an exhibit,
which is a bit part of any exhibit house’s overall business. Same with furniture.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Pros – Advantages of Renting:
Selection: Furniture rental companies are vying your business just like any other supplier. And to remain competitive, their selection has to be deep and wide. Which brings us to the next thing:
Shiny new: Renting furniture means you’ll get a piece that has only been used a few times, if at all. There’s a lot of turnover in the furniture rental industry and to stay on top, companies have to offer high quality. Which means that they are offering their best. If you get a piece of furniture that is scuffed or damaged, chances are you won’t use that company again.
Ease of use: This is one of the biggest drawing cards. Most furniture rental companies have warehouses near the major metro areas. When you rent chairs, tables, sofas, loveseats or whatever, it shows up at your booth space. At the end of the show, you just leave it there and the furniture company picks it up. And most bigger shows will have a local rep on site to deal with any issues that come up.
Damage: your furniture will get tossed, bounced, dropped and damaged eight ways from Sunday. It’s the nature of the tradeshow world. And after a while, it gets old and worn out.
Storage: when you rent furniture, you don’t have to pay to store it.
Shipping: when you rent furniture, you don’t pay to ship it. It just shows up. The price is all-inclusive.
Cons – Advantages of Owning:
Less Cost: not necessarily a negative, but weigh the cost of renting furniture a half dozen times over a year vs owning and storing a set of furniture, and undoubtedly the cost to rent that many times will be higher than purchasing something and using it six times.
Storage: If you have sufficient storage space and the chairs fit in your shipping crates, you don’t have to worry about them.
No Surprises: When you own furniture, you don’t worry about renting something turns out to be different than what you expected.
Less Hassle: Don’t have to deal with yet another vendor.
Is renting furniture the right thing for you? Talk to your exhibit house. No doubt they work with at least one good furniture rental vendor that can answer your questions.
Webster’s defines “ruckus” as “a disturbance or a commotion.”
A disturbance can be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint and the circumstances. The word “disturbance” is non-judgmental. “Commotion” is the same. It’s not necessarily inherently good or bad; positive or negative.
But you can insert your judgment into your ruckus, into the
disturbance or commotion you make.
At tradeshows, GoPro’s Nick Woodman used to famously create
a commotion by standing on a table, hooting and hollering, gathering people
around, showing off the GoPro camera and give away prizes. The company’s market
cap zoomed to almost ten billion dollars before coming down to earth. Along the
way GoPro created a new category in the digital camera world. Now that’s a ruckus.
That’s one way to shake it up.
Meduri Farms decided to invest in a new island exhibit and
double the size of their footprint at the International Food Technicians Show.
Their first time with the new exhibit they tripled their leads. That’s another
way to shake it up.
Dave’s Killer Bread dedicated much of their branding space
at 2019’s Natural Products Expo West exhibit to the idea of giving felons a second
chance. That’s yet another way to shake it up.
There are plenty of ways to use your tradeshow space to
shake it up, to make a ruckus, to cause a disturbance or commotion for a good
cause. Or to double your leads. Or to grow a company.
It’s a holiday here in the US as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Are you taking the day off? Are you working? How do you get downtime when you need it? And yes, you really do need it! What is motivation? And do you really need it? What about focus? Is that better?
So many questions. I take on a few of them on this morning’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:
Tradeshows and events have been running since 1851, the 1st one being “The Great Exhibition” in London. It’s safe to say the exhibition world has drastically grown since the 1800’s, as have the price tags that are part and parcel of today’s exhibition experience.
Organising an event takes time, patience
and some form of budget to support the design of an exhibition stand or display
accessory. Within the industry you’ll be faced with many questions regarding
the costs and the necessities.
To create an understanding of what you
need, along with the tradeshow essentials, take a look at a list of costs to
consider before booking your event: –
Booking your stand space
The Exhibition Stand
Stand accessories, such as
banners and displays counters
Promotional items – Leaflet,
pens and lanyards
Transportation for you and your
full stand design
Additional extras such as
seating, lighting and interactive monitors
With all costs considered, it can appear
daunting. Yes, it is an investment, but when tackled correctly a successful
event can help towards business growth and place you on the right path to build
new relationships and gain potential customers.
If you’re still searching for the reason to
attend your first event, we’ve listed 4 benefits that you’ll be able to take
away from the experience.
Attending a tradeshow puts you in the best
place possible to build new relationships. Your brand and stand will attract
potential customers, therefore leading to conversations with other industry
It doesn’t have to stop there. Use your
time wisely and explore the exhibition floor. Take it upon yourself to visit
other business spaces. Doing so, presents another opportunity to strike up
Outside of social media and online
platforms, exhibitions offer amazing brand exposure. Your selected displays
will home in on what your brand has to offer and your unique selling points.
All of which will be visible through custom artwork and promotional items.
The blank canvas that a stand or display
product provides is priceless. Use the space to promote, intrigue and capture
Learn and Expand on Industry Knowledge
Whether you have been in the industry 1 year or 50, there’s always something new to discover. Use the time to find out about new competitors, up and coming trends, innovative design and alternate display options.
Networking with other businesses allows you
to ask new questions and educate yourself. As a brand, to learn and to grow is
to develop new ideas and progress with new trends.
From the relationship building, brand
exposure and the want to expand your knowledge, you’ll be able to begin further
growth within the business. Be sure to take business cards and contact details,
so when the shows over, you’ll have the correct point of contact.
Use the new found information and contacts
you have gained to your advantage. Connect on LinkedIn, send follow up emails
and keep your brand relevant and current so your details are at the forefront
of their mind.
Extra Tips on How to Make Exhibiting
Do your research and ensure you
are attending the right show for YOU
Check your stand position and
Use social media and email
marketing to promote your attendance
On the day, take contact
details from those who you speak with and make contact the following week
Make your brand memorable by
choosing the right stand design and delivering a presence
Create a list of goals to
achieve on the day
Position the co-workers with
the greatest knowledge and understanding of the business on the stand space
Vicky Peat is a Marketing Executive for Go Displays based in Peterborough, UK. As a content marketing writer within the Exhibition and Tradeshow industry, Vicky enjoys sharing industry knowledge to encourage and educate new and experienced exhibitors.