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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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?

Why the Beatles Were the Greatest Marketing Models of Their Time (and what you can learn from them)

The Sixties were an incredible decade. From the beginning to the end of that ten-year span our worldwide culture grew and expanded at an incredible rate that no one standing at the precipice of 1959 could have foreseen.

As a country we saw pop music go from bland to biting, the Vietnam War, political assassinations, the rise of the counterculture, recreational drug use, casual sex, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, civil rights legislation…

You can hyperventilate just trying to talk about it. Thousands of books have been written about the Sixties.

But this is not a book. I just wanted to set a little context for what the Beatles did with marketing their ‘brand’ in the 60s.

Well, maybe not their marketing exactly, but the essence of who they were. It’s what people saw, felt and heard. So in a way they were marketing.

The Beatles came out of working-class Liverpool. There were a lot of other bands out of the Sixties that started in similar circumstances – looking for a way out. Look at The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Yardbirds, the Dave Clark Five, Chad and Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Animals, The Zombies, Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann and other Sixties bands.

On this side of the pond we had Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Righteous Brothers, The Turtles, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Ventures, The Monkees, The Mamas and the Papas, Lovin’ Spoonful, Simon and Garfunkel and more.

But in looking back at the music, the photos and music chart listings from that time, very few bands were able to sustain anything beyond their initial ‘look and sound.’

Not the Beatles.

They evolved, changing from mop-top pop teen idols in ’64 and ’65 to experimental psychedelia in ’66 and ’67 that incorporated worldwide influences, to mature radio rock in ’68 and ’69 to a rootsy farewell in 1970.

From “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Ticket To Ride” to “Paperback Writer” to “Penny Lane” to “All Your Need Is Love” to “Strawberry Fields Forever” to “Rocky Raccoon” and “Back In The USSR” to “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” to “Come Together,” “Something,” “Octopus’s Garden” to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to the final LP ‘Let it Be.’ (Yes, I know that Abbey Road was recorded after Let it Be…don’t quibble…I’m on a roll)…

And that’s just the music.

How about the looks they incorporated?

Quarrymen

Early 60s: skinny ties, identical suits, Beatle Boots, identical mop-top hair cuts that were more than cutting edge.

Mid-60s: casual, relaxed mod clothing, individuality…to the psychedelic look of the Sgt. Pepper album.

Late 60s: more individuality and variety. Paul moved to more conservative clothes, John let his hair grow (until he shaved his head in the early 70s); Ringo was always dapper; George was the uber-upscale hippie.

Few of their contemporary bands can claim that type of evolution in music or looks. Which is probably why they are much more ‘trapped in time’ than the Beatles, who remain timeless in many ways.

When you picture Paul Revere and the Raiders you conjure images of those three-cornered hats and the Revolution outfits. Think of the Dave Clark Five and you picture those black ties and coats. And so on.

By the time the rest of the rock bands of the mid-60s tried to play-catch up it was too late. They were already pigeon-holed to a time and place.

But not the Beatles. They led the way, changing fashion and music by being true themselves, true to their creative spirits and urgings. The ultimate test came in 1970 when, to continue to be true to themselves, they had to disband. They had been together for over ten years. They had changed the world. It was time to move on.

As a company or a personal brand, are you being true to yourself? Or are you jumping in the slipstream looking to catch a ride on someone’s coattails and hope that they eventually fade away and leave you standing alone?

It’s not gonna happen.

Evolve.

photo credit: JMazzolaa


Get our free report: 7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

What Questions Do Your Customers Ask at Your Tradeshow Booth?

Do your customers ask questions at your tradeshow booth?

Are they curious about things like flavor, color, delivery time, production values, technical details or design elements?

Do they want to know MORE?

Who Am I Sam

Of course they do! That’s what customers do. They’re curious. They give feedback. And often it comes in the form of a question.

At your next tradeshow make a point of writing down questions that your booth visitors ask about your product, service or company. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons.

First, you get more insight into what’s important to them. Yes, you may already know a lot of those questions. But pay attention and see if any of those questions are new. Are they bringing up things that you haven’t heard yet? Is there an indication that your customers are shifting desires around your products? Do they want something new? Can you find out now and provide it before your competitors?

Next, you can compile those questions and put them on your website or blog. By creating an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page or post on your site, you’re reaching out to those visitors who are interested in learning more. While a specific visitor may not have that particular question, by browsing your page or blog post they get a chance to learn more about your products – and especially to find out what’s important to other customers. They may find out a new way to use your product or service that they hadn’t thought of before – which makes your product more valuable to them.

You can also use questions as market research. If your customer are asking questions about something that your company DOESN’T provide, it gives you some insight into what the marketplace is interested in. Maybe it’s time to look at developing solutions to those problems they’re bringing you. Which gives your company a wider reach in the market.

So many businesses look at questions as a nuisance – something to be avoided.

Not you – you welcome them, right? You welcome them because it gives you more opportunities to learn about your market, and gives you a leg up on the competition (who are trying to avoid those questions).

Make a point to keep track of as many of those questions that come up at tradeshows. Take them back and share them with your sales and marketing team, management, designers, product gurus…whoever can benefit from having front-line questions that are burning in the mind of those clients and potential customers. And you know those questions are burning because they took time to stop at your booth and ask them!

Treat questions as valuable bits and pieces of information. Tradeshows are a great place to field questions – make sure you’re doing it on a regular basis.

Creative Commons License

photo credit: ϟnapshot 19

Documenting Your Tradeshow Booth With Photos

Yashica reflections

It may seem like a no-brainer…but did you get photos of your last tradeshow booth set-up? I mean, did you really get enough photos so that you can answer any questions that may come up before you have to set it up again?

Since the advent of digital photography over a decade ago, taking dozens of photos of any business event is much easier and cheaper than the old days of film. And it can be extremely useful.

Let’s say you are a couple of months away from your next booth set-up and a question comes up…

“Did we set the booth up with the widget graphics on the right side and the service graphics on the left? Or was it the other way around?”

“What difference does it make?”

“Well, the boss wants to know because he needs to make a recommendation to management on how we’re going to set it up this year. Plus he needs to know how much room we had behind the back wall for storage. And he wants to decide if we’re going to have to get another table for the literature or if what we had last time worked.”

“We can either set it all up and take half a day to figure it out – and bug the guys down in the warehouse to get everything out and clear a space…OR…we could just pull the photos out of my computer…”

Which would you rather do?

Chances are at some point you’ll be glad that you took a lot of photos. Whenever I’m at a show where our booth clients are set up I make sure to get several photos, including close-ups that reveal how things were set up. And no matter how many photos I take it seems that a question comes up that makes me wish I’d take just a couple more!

Plus, photos give you a good excuse to post the best ones on Picasa or Flickr and invite your clients or potential clients to come by and see your cool booth.

Photos can come in handy other ways, too:

  • sharing with management so they can see what the booth looked like
  • helping the graphic team design upgrades
  • showing the repair team what needs fixing
  • documenting where things went (did that layout work? Or do you need to do it differently next time?)
  • showing which clients came by and posed (handy for blog posts)
  • put on the cover or inside a show wrap-up report
  • to prove damages if necessary
  • general archive purposes

No doubt you can think of other reasons to have several photos of your booth on hand. Take pictures from all angles – you never know when someone might ask how much storage room you have behidn the back wall.

All you have to do is pull out a photo and show them!

Creative Commons License

photo credit: dichohecho

Your Emotions On the Tradeshow Floor

Just like the sales situation of a tradeshow floor is magnified by the intensity and chaos of the situation, so are the emotions of exhibitors and attendees.

If you’ve been to a lot of tradeshows like I have, and you pay attention to how people are (and take a few moments to talk one-on-on with them), you realize that people are holding emotions in. Not all of them, of course. We are human and those emotions come out. But many are buzzed, giddy, exhausted and likely stressed out to the max. Or not.

Constant interaction with people pushes stress higher. Standing on your feet all day makes you tired and exhausted, giving way to heightened emotions.

(click to enlarge)

In 1980 Robert Plutchik created the Wheel of Emotion (at left), showing eight basic emotions and eight advanced emotions each composed of two basic ones.

The basic emotions: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Distrust, Anger and Anticipation.

The advanced emotions are Optimism (Anticipation and Joy), Love (Joy and Trust), Submission (Trust and Fear), Awe (Fear and Surprise), Disappointment (Surprise and Sadness), Remorse (Sadness and Disgust), Contempt (Disgust and Anger), and Aggressiveness (Anger and Anticipation).

No matter what emotions you feel while attending or working a tradeshow, it’s easy to get caught up. Have you ever felt yourself feeling heightened instances of Joy, Anger, Anticipation or Sadness?

You feel JOY when you make a big sale. You feel ANGER or DISAPPOINTMENT when you’re told you have to work an extra two hours after having already spent the day on your feet. You may feel REMORSE when you said the wrong thing to a potential client or let slip some inside information to a competitor.

And you could be feeling more AGGRESSIVE than you might normally in the OPTIMISM of heading into a show where you want to knock ’em dead with a great presentation, a great booth and a terrific product backed up by a great marketing effort.

Other researchers have pointed to other emotions such as Doubt, Envy, Frustration, Guilt, Shame; Boredom, Despair, Disappointment, Hurt, Shock, Agitation, Amusement, Delight, Elation, Excitement, Affection, Empathy, Friendliness and Love.

Part of the challenge of attending tradeshows is to know that the intense activity of the tradeshow floor, the after-hours parties, break-out sessions or client meetings is to be expected: mentally prepare for them, and plan on some ‘down time’ in your hotel room before hitting your pillow.

If you’re prepared for the heightened emotions, you’ll be able to take them more in stride.

But of course…you gotta be YOU! And if that means getting carried away by the situation, so be it.

What does a tradeshow do to your emotions? Does it put you on a roller-coaster or do you take it all in and enjoy it for what it is?

graphic copyright Ivan Akira – used under Creative Commons usage guidelines

Who’s in Charge at This Tradeshow Booth?

Have you been to a tradeshow and seen an empty booth? Or staff talking on a cell phone? Playing games?

Watching TV? Ignoring attendees? Doesn’t it make you wonder WHO’S IN CHARGE, ANYWAY?

Naturally, when you see that kind of behavior at a tradeshow, you’re NOT inclined to go into the booth.

So the question ‘who’s in charge?’ is a good one! And not only does it matter that there is someone responsible for booth operations, but that person should be well trained and aware of the team’s mission objectives – and how best to bring about success in that endeavor!

When it comes to tradeshow success, 88% of a visitor’s overall first impression is based on the booth staffer. And that staffer also accounts for 80% of the final decision on whether or not they’ll do business with your company, according to various industry surveys (and quoted from Marlys K. Arnold’s “Build a Better Trade Show Image”).

APPROACHABILITY

The ‘Name Tag Guy’ Scott Ginsberg has made a career out of teaching and preaching ‘approachability.’ Simply put, it’s the attitude that you’re always open to starting a conversation with someone you don’t know. This is even more important at a tradeshow where it’s your JOB to do just that. Shy people probably won’t do well at a tradeshow, but even shy people can be trained and become effective.

One important item is your name tag. Put it up high on the right side of your chest so that when you’re shaking some one’s hand they have easy access to read your name. While having your name tag around your neck on a lanyard may open the doors to ‘approachability,’ you can add immensely to it by being friendly, offering a smile, and asking an engaging question.

Being informed adds to your approachability. If you are knowledgeable about your product or service, it will show within a few seconds of the start of a conversation.

If your booth visitor is wearing a nametag (and who doesn’t at a tradeshow), take a moment to get their name and use it in your greeting. “Hi, Deborah, how are you doing today?” means a lot more to Deborah than “Howdy, what brings you here?”

Bottom Line: make your guest feel welcome. They’ll only be there for a short time – and it’s easy to leave and never return. Every show attendee that turns away because your booth isn’t ‘welcoming’ is a missed opportunity.

Panning for Gold in Your Inbox: 5 Best Inbox Links of the Week

I admit it. I subscribe to waaay too many e-mail newsletters. Most I don’t get a chance to read. So if you’re going to get my attention on a regular basis in my inbox your stuff had better be damn good.

Thankfully, a number of marketing and sales folks manage to do that. I thought I’d put a short list together of the top __ blog post links that arrived in my e-mail the past week or so.

In no particular order:

5 Ways to Love Your Customer! from Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook

Paul consistently grabs my attention with his cool, fun, wacky bull-in-a-china-shop approach to blogging. Check some of the titles to his other blog posts, such as How My Death Taught Me To Live!, 247 Billion Emails – 6 Ways To Rethink Them!, How are you wasting your 2.1 hours today?, and Fire The Gatekeepers!

Yes, he uses a lot of exclamation points. But that’s okay…I think they’re pretty cheap when you get them in bulk.

4 Reasons PR Agencies Are Failing in Social Media from Valeria Maltoni’s Conversation Agent

Valeria digs deep into the marketing, sales and social media aspects of stuff that frankly I hardly ever think of. It’s like of like driving through a car wash with the windows down. Much of Valeria’s stuff is useful, thoughtful and a slap in the face at times.

21 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fanbase from Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner

The Social Media Examiner blew onto the web out of nowhere last year and is now one of the premier stopping points for useful posts for anyone looking to improve their social media skills. If you’re got a Facebook page, this is a great post.

Prepare for the mobile gold rush with your new mobile site from Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound

Joan celebrated her 500th newsletter with a look ahead. Not surprising. She had a blog post with some useful links to how she set up her mobile website http://publicityhound.mobi/.

If you’ve ever thought of getting your website onto the mobile phone platform, this is a good introduction.

Finally, from Marcia Yudkin “The Marketing Minute” comes some great tips on How to Perk Up Your Bio:

On your “About” page, in conference materials, in media kits or elsewhere, a business bio should not be a cold, dry résumé, with every fact in its appropriate slot.

Nor should it be a chronology of your career.

Instead, in your bio, provide an overview of your achievements and distinctive work approach. Through what you say or how you say it, also impart a sense of you as a person.

To warm up your bio with sparks of life, include one or more of these:

* A quote from you or your personal motto
* A phrase clients or an authority figure use about you (clients call him “the uncoach” because his advice is so laid back and subtle)
* Fanciful or unexpected language (paints the scenes that beckon to her)
* Concrete details (trained his first dog, a Schnauzer, at age 10)
* Vivid extremes or contrasts (has taught everyone from CEOs to imprisoned drug dealers)
* Tantalizing numbers (the third most quoted Canadian chartered accountant)
* A fact that humbles you (Alan Weiss once appeared on Jeopardy, where he lost to a dancing waiter)

Find Marcia’s newsletter and blog here.

To my mind all of these newsletters are worth opening and at least scanning. A quick scan lets me know if I should dig deeper – and more often than not, I do.

What’s in your inbox that’s worth sharing?

Tradeshow & Event Folks to Follow on Twitter

Since my Twitter handle is @tradeshowguy, you’d think I follow a fair amount of people in the tradeshow and event industry on Twitter. And you’d be right.

And if you want to find out who they are, the easy way would be to just go to my Twitter page, click on ‘following’ and you’ll see the list.

But if you want to follow some of the #tradeshow and #eventprofs I follow you’ll find yourself wading through a few thousand folks – not all of whom are in the event industry. In fact many are probably not in the industry, and many more are only peripherally related.

But I ran across a cool tool thanks to Rob McGuire here in Salem. He had posted a list of Salem, Oregon tweeps, which intrigued me enough to see how he had created it.

Turns out to be a tool created by TweepML which allows you to create a list and then encourage your readers and followers to easily pick and choose which one of those on the list you want to follow.

Pretty nifty…so check out the list of event folks that I follow: lots of industry people, publications, exhibitors, consultants, presenters and other folks – hopefully all of them related in some way to the event industry:

Or click here: http://tweepml.org/Tradeshow-and-Event-Folks/

9 Tips to Put a Social Spin on Your Trade Show Marketing

The following is a guest post by Dennis Nixon, Sales Manager at Smash Hit Displays

In the days leading up to an exciting trade show attendees are likely tweeting about it, Facebooking about it, and blogging about it too. You’re likely doing the same as a trade show marketer, right? So take advantage of it! Integrating social media marketing into your trade show marketing before, during and after the main event can be the difference between having a successful trade show booth, and an unsuccessful one.

The world of social media and blogging can be quite an overwhelming one, but never fear. I’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you put a social media spin on your trade show marketing efforts.

Twitter Search

Did you know: every single conversation on Twitter (except those from people who have private Twitter streams) can be searched via Twitter search?  Simply type in the name of the trade show you’ll have a booth at and you’ll quickly see others talking about the same event. Make sure to vary your keywords, and soon you’ll find a plethora of data to start prospecting prior to the event.

Twitter Lists

If you’re an avid tweeter than you likely know about Twitter lists. These can be a great way to compile a list of potential attendees, whom you can follow during the trade show. What will they be saying at the event? Where will they be having dinner or after-trade show events? Stay up to date. You don’t even have to actually ‘follow’ the users to put them in a list. AND you can keep the list private if you don’t want your competition finding all the users you spent time finding. In addition, don’t forget about the value of using Twitter for traffic, discussed in the recent post: “Are You using Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Blog and Event?” on this blog.

Facebook Search

When you’re logged into Facebook you have access to their huge internal (and external for that matter) search engine. View all results for a specific term, people associated with that term, page associated with that term, groups, posts by everyone, posts by friends, etc… This can give you back results for many users going to the trade show, thinking about going, or just associated with it.

Facebook Groups and Pages

Using the search function detailed above, you can find groups and pages of prospects interested in the trade show you’re attending. This can be extremely helpful to start a conversation with prospects and tell them about your booth, where you’ll be located, and the fun stuff you’ll be giving away/doing at the event.

Use Flowtown

Have a prospects e-mail address but not sure if they are using social media? You HAVE to check out FlowTown. With this website you can upload your prospects e-mail addresses (before, during or after the event) and get information such as name, age, gender, occupation, location AND all the social networks that person is on.

Contests on Social Networks

Some trade show marketers suggest utilizing contests on social networks to help you spread the word about the trade show you’ll be at, in addition to getting a bit of notoriety and branding your business. Tell your fans and followers that you’ll be at the next big event, and the first five people to retweet or repost about it will get a prize when they show up to the event. There are so many ways you can spin a simple contest before and during the trade show, the possibilities are endless.

LinkedIn

You’re likely using LinkedIn, heck millions are. But are you utilizing it to help with your trade show marketing? Tell your connections about your upcoming event, ask them to help you spread the word, or even connect with prospects after the event takes place. There’s so much you can do with LinkedIn, you just need to think outside the box.

LinkedIn Groups

If the event planner for the trade show you’re is good they’ll have set up a LinkedIn group. Use this opportunity to start connecting with prospects and chatting them up. Connect with others, help spread the word about the event, and afterward discuss what was learned or how it can apply to their future endeavors.

Blogger Outreach

Connecting with bloggers that are going to events is extremely important. They’re already tapping into the vein of your industry, so why not utilize their current reader base? Try securing a guest blogging spot, schmoozing them when they’re at the event, and staying in contact afterwards. You never know the types of connections you’ll be able to make over a few drinks.

If you still aren’t convinced that social media can work for you (or that others are using it), check out Tradeshow Insights post “Social Media and Tradeshow Marketing Results”, where respondents to a poll stated that a whopping 31% have already incorporated social media into their exhibit marketing!

Have you used social media in your trade show marketing before, during and after the event? What successes have you had with it?

About the Author: Dennis Nixon is the Sales Manager at Smash Hit Displays, a company providing trade show displays and booths to vendors throughout the United States.

Podcast: Matthew Selbie Interview

Matt Selbie of Oberon3 in Portland, Oregon is a recent Oregon transplant. The company’s business-enhancement product The Opiniator is less than a year old. After finding my blog, Matt reached out to introduce himself (great networking) and after a conversation or two I thought I should get him on the blog with a podcast. What is the Opiniator? How can you use it in your business? What can you do with it at tradeshows? Matt addresses all of these questions and more…including the origin of that decidedly non-Oregonian accent.

Check out The Opiniator website

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