Ready for a new custom booth, but don’t know where to start? You might consider putting together an RFP (Request for Proposal) and sending it to 3 – 5 exhibit fabricators.
Whatever your approach, make sure you have an internal company discussion that addresses your booth needs: size, branding, budget, function (needs may include display tables, food serving areas, AV equipment, laptop stations, etc.), transportation (what shows will you attend?), storage, extra signage, interactive items, etc.
Since you’re creating a custom exhibit that you’ll use for years, take your time: after every show, make notes about what works and what doesn’t with your current exhibit. Document what your employees and visitors say. Hold project meetings, get staff input and keep a file.
When it’s time to issue the RFP, make it as thorough as possible. Issue the RFP to a handful of exhibit house, be upfront about how many companies you’ve invited to respond, and make sure the budget and timetable are realistic for what you want. If you can pull that off the chances of creating a fabulous exhibit has increased a hundredfold!
During a discussion with a friend of mine NOT in the exhibit industry recently we were curious if there were any good ‘informational’ tradeshow marketing blogs that were not just a shill front for a sales pitch in each post.
So we took a look, searching for ‘tradeshow marketing blog’ on Yahoo, Google and MSN.
It didn’t take long to find blogs that were corporate fronts that spent most of the time pitching a sale, a product or a service – but little useful tradeshow marketing information or tools.
It took a little longer to find actual honest-to-goodness blogs that seemed interested in helping you become a better tradeshow marketer.
So here was our bar: if you’re billing yourself as a ‘tradeshow marketing blog’ there should be at least 50% content that is informative and useful. Now that doesn’t mean there can’t be ANY pitches, but those blatant BUY SOMETHING NOW blogs didn’t make the cut.
In a brief time, here’s what we found:
EXHIB-IT! Blog is billed as a ‘Tradeshow Marketing Experts’ blog, and operated by DJ Heckes, owner of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts in New Mexico. I’d heard of her before, and can recall reading some of her stuff years ago. The WordPress powered blog appears to have been around since late ’07 or early ’08, but there appear to be only one or two posts a month. While not a terrifically active blog, there is good information here. (Alexa rank #3,839,792 most popular website)
Tradeshow Marketing Blog.com is full of great posts relating directly to tradeshow marketing. It’s the stepchild of Ideas 4 Now in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It’s been around since June of 2008 and looks to have 3 – 4 posts per month. Traffic-wise, it’s Alexa ranking is 2,828,682.
Tradeshow Emporium’s Weblog (does anybody use that word ‘weblog’ anymore??) is a mix of useful tradeshow marketing information and industry news. It appears to have a little over half-a-dozen posts over the past month. While most were useful, there were a couple that were blatant pitches or product announcements. The blog, hosted on WordPress.org, didn’t have an Alexa ranking and didn’t offer any contact or ‘about’ information on the blog; I had to track it down through links in their product-pitch posts.
The Trade Show Exhibit Advice Blog offered useful marketing and information posts – about 3 or 4 a month – and is the blog of the Tradeshow Network Marketing Group near Chicago. The Alexa ranking is 4,371,558.
Heidi Miller’s Talk It Up! blog is mostly tradeshow marketing related, although other things slip in. Heidi is a professional tradeshow presenter so her insights are filtered through her experiences as getting up onstage at show after show. She’s a frequent post-er and uses embedded videos often to illustrate her point or to add to the variety of her blog. Definitely a worthy blog. Alexa rank is 1,118,497.
We found several more, but just wanted to toss a few out there as an ‘average’ sampling in a random search using just one term: “tradeshow marketing blog.’ Many that we found were just pitch-fests. Others offered useful information mixed in with a pitch or two.
And of course a few blogs that we’re aware of in the tradeshow industry didn’t show up with our specific search term.
What tradeshow marketing blogs do you like? Leave a comment with a link if you’d like!
In the old days it seemed a tradeshow was an excuse to party half the night and wake up in the hot tub.
But with an eagle on budgets being the norm today, how can you stretch your bucks? Let’s look at five ways:
Plan ahead. The sooner you know details of your show set-up and travel plans the better. You can usually save by submitting show paperwork early, and booking flights and hotels months, not weeks, ahead of the show.
Buy a nice carpet and take your own trash cans instead of renting
Know the rules. Some shows will enforce codes that can be very costly, or penalize you if you break them. Your trade show manager should have the show books nearly committed to memory.
Ship early. Last-minute drayage costs can shoot the moon.
Avoid high cleaning fees: take your own carpet sweeper.
These are just thought-starters. What ideas do you have for saving $$ in your tradeshow marketing? We’d love to hear your suggestions.
Are you fully prepared to attend a tradeshow? I mean, really prepared?
HOW you prepare depends on WHY you’re going to the show. Some good reasons for going: scouting out new products; networking with colleagues, clients and prospects; looking for a job; spying on the competition.
If you’re going as strictly an attendee, make sure you scheduled all of the sessions and presentations you’d like to. Take a list of contacts you’d like to meet up with. A laptop or Blackberry is an easy place to keep those, you can keep in contact with many of them as well as your home office.
Book as many meetings with targeted contacts that you can before the show. A tradeshow is no place to be a wilting flower – get out and meet folks, don’t be afraid to meet people you haven’t met before.
You plan to come back from the show with a lot more than you went: names, numbers, information, new impressions of dozens of people and companies.
What company should ship your tradeshow booth? Could be a tough question and a difficult answer. But there are a few steps you can take to make it easier.
First, ask other exhibitors. Find out who they’ve used, what their experience has been and their thoughts about the cost. Then start a few months before your next show so you’ll have time for due diligence on the potential shipper.
Determine if the company handles a lot of tradeshow booths. If so, perhaps they’ve got a truck going to the same show, which could lead to some savings.
Some questions you might ask:
Can you track shipments online? How your shipments are kept secure? Have they worked with the venue before? Do they have any references?
To get an accurate quote, you’ll need a count of the pieces you’re shipping, along with dimensions and accurate weight estimates.
Finally, once you’ve found a good shipper, don’t be afraid to be open to other recommendations – keep your ears open. The industry shifts quickly and keeping your options open is always a good idea.
Michael McCamish, the Manager of e-Commerce Marketing for Gaylord Hotels, discusses his experiences following various sessions at tradeshows by ‘tweeting’ and following other Twitter users. He tells me that he finds Twitter extremely useful in tracking events.
In the old days it seemed a tradeshow was an excuse to party half the night and wake up in the hot tub.
But with an eagle eye on budgets being the norm today, how can you stretch your bucks? Let’s look at five ways:
1. Plan ahead. The sooner you know details of your show set-up and travel plans the better. You can usually save by submitting show paperwork early, and booking flights and hotels months, not weeks, ahead of the show.
2. Buy a nice carpet and take your own trash cans instead of renting.
3. Know the rules. Some shows will enforce codes that can be very costly, or penalize you if you break them. Your trade show manager should have the show books nearly committed to memory.
4. Ship early. Last-minute drayage costs can shoot the moon.
5. Avoid high cleaning fees: take your own carpet sweeper.
These are just thought-starters. With a little brainstorming you come up with your own $$-saving list.
Nothing like catching a few rays in the Central Oregon mountains and grabbing a few ski runs, too! I had a chance to do that this past weekend and had my Flip video camera…and thought I’d share a few thoughts with you:
Business Name: Mountain Rose Herbs
Person responding to questionnaire: Irene Wolansky
Title: Marketing Director
Years in business: 22
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Approx number of employees: 65
Website Address: www.mountainroseherbs.com
Main target market: Our target market is fairly large, and includes almost everyone! We sell retail to the public as well as wholesale to stores, co-ops, manufacturers, resellers, etc.
Most successful marketing strategy/tactic or method: We don’t believe that there has been a single successful marketing strategy for us. Rather, we believe that it is a culmination of everything that we do which has led to our marketing success. This includes print and web advertising, sponsorships of festivals and conferences, postcard and catalog mailings, e-newsletters, and our presence at tradeshows with our beautiful booth made by Interpretive Exhibits.
What is the best thing you get out of tradeshow marketing? We enjoy the opportunity to meet our customers and suppliers in person, make new contacts, and show people who we truly are. For us, tradeshows are not about making sales, they are about strengthening new and existing relationships.
Biggest complaint? Our only complaints are sore feet at the end of the day and greedy attendees who grab everything in sight including our display materials!
Favorite Quote: Attendees often tell us that our booth is one of their favorite at conferences, but our favorite is when they tell us that they “find our booth an oasis in the middle of a hectic show.” People comment that it feels so relaxing and inviting at our booth that they don’t want to leave! We let them stay as long as they would like.
Biggest Lesson Learned: Find a reliable company that you trust to set up your booth. Interpretive Exhibits assisted us with this, and we are forever grateful to them. We will never hire show labor again!
Most extreme thing you ever did? Business or personal?
The most extreme thing that Mountain Rose Herbs has done was eradicating conventional products entirely from our product line. We offer over 3,000 products, so this was no small task!
On a personal level I can’t think of a single most extreme thing that I have done, but it might be backpacking alone throughout Southeast Asia. I spent 6 months in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, and it was one of the most rewarding and amazing things that I have ever done.
All-time favorite movie? I don’t watch too many movies, but “Office Space” is definitely one of my all-time favorites.
What does it take to choose a professional tradeshow presenter?
We talked with just such a person in Emilie Barta, a New York-based independent tradeshow presenter. Some of the topics we covered included: how can you find a good presenter? What kinds of questions should you ask? What results should you expect?
And from the exhibitor’s perspective, why should you even consider bringing in a ‘hired gun’ to demo your products or services?
It all made for a lively and informative interview for our latest installment of the Tradeshow Marketing Podcast from Interpretive Exhibits in Salem.