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


Podcast: Mike O’Neil Interview

Author Mike O’Neil recently sat down with me and discussed a wide range of topics, from LinkedIn and Facebook to and Twitter and how those various social media platforms can be used to promote events.

During this excerpt, Mike discussed the differences between using Facebook and LinkedIn to promote events, and talked about how Twitter’s huge ‘people’ stream means you have to be more engaged to get people to respond to your event promotion tweets.

The complete 40-minute conversation is included as a bonus download in the recently-released Social Media – Tradeshow Marketing Bundle now available here:

Mike’s book is great: “Rock the World With Your Online Presence” – a book that specifically shows you how to create a rockin’ LinkedIn profile.

A Keen Tale of Customer Service

I first learned about Keen Shoes in mid-2008. I had just made a new friend Karrie and noticed she was wearing these pretty cool shoe that were half-sandals and half-regular shoes with a protective toe – more than an average sandal but with air circulation like a sandal. She bragged about how comfortable they were, how she could wear them hiking or in the water or for daily wandering around and they were always comfortable and versatile.

In November of that year Karrie and I were bouncing through the aisles and racks at REI in northwest Portland. I saw a pair of Keens on sale and decided to try ’em on. After wearing them around the store for fifteen minutes I was sold. Over the next several months they got a lot of wear. And comments.

I was standing in line at a grocery store and a guy looks at my feet and said “My Keens are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.”

“Mine, too!” I agreed.

His were a different style, one I had never seen before. But damn nice.

Before I get to the Keen customer service tale, let me tell you about my encounter with the Keen crew in person.

In July of 2009 I attended the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. In the prep and run-up to the show I noticed that Keen was exhibiting there. I made a note to try and contact their tradeshow manager Dave. After all, I am in the tradeshow sales end of things and wanted to at least make a connection. Keep in mind that in the tradeshow industry, the sales cycle is very long: 5 – 7 years, as long or longer than the sales cycles for car-buying for most people. Companies don’t buy a new custom tradeshow booth (which is my task to try and sell) every year – maybe every five years, maybe every seven. Some companies I’ve worked with haven’t purchased a new tradeshow booth for almost twenty years. And they buy from people they like and know. So my goal with meeting the tradeshow manager at Keen was just to introduce myself and ask a few questions and see what might eventually unfold.

The show was an illuminating experience and yes I did meet a lot of people. But not Dave. I stopped by the booth several times, but he was in and out. One of the helpful staff pointed him out to me once, so I at least knew what he looked like. But I couldn’t catch up with him.

Keen’s presence at the show was extremely high-level: a creative booth built by Atmosphere of Salt Lake City using lots of recycled or recyclable materials; the promotions were engaging and creative and the staff always helpful.

I was sold on Keen and became a big fan, even if they might never become a customer. I must have told four or five dozen people about my Keen shoes and how much I loved ’em.

After the show and back in Salem (Keen’s HQ is just up the road in Portland, btw), I blogged about the show and mentioned Keen’s Hybrid Life promotion.

Next month – August – I was pulling on my Keens and the loop on my left foot – the one you stick your finger through to pull the shoe on – ripped.

I was aghast! The Keen shoe was not infallible! Here I thought they were perfect.

But no. Since I was a follower of Keen Shoes on Twitter I posted a Tweet about the loop tear:

Having heard of dozens of stories of how companies were using Twitter to respond to customer service request, I somehow assumed that I’d get a nice prompt reply.

Didn’t happen. My tweet vanished into the depths of cyberspace.

I forgot about it. Well, except when I was pulling on my Keens with the ripped loop!

Fast-forward to late December 2009. It finally dawned on me that I might get a response if I actually went to Keen’s website and contacted customer service. One of those palm-to-the-forehead moments. By now I felt there was nothing to lose: if there was any warranty it might cover a small repair, and if not – well, I tried.

In other words, I had pretty low expectations.

But I did get a quick response to my e-mail which outlined the Keen warranty. First, the claim had to have been made within a year of purchase.

At that point I didn’t even know the purchase date for sure, but thought it was more than a year back. Since the purchase was made on Karrie’s REI membership, I asked her if she could get that information – which she eventually did. And yes, it had been about 14 months since I purchased the Keens. So any claim at this point was moot.

But again – figuring I had nothing to lose – I tracked down the tweet I had send in August, took a quick screen shot of it (which included the date) and passed that back to Keen.

Shortly I received an e-mail which apologized for the lack of response to my earlier tweet. In fact, they had agreed that if I met the other warranty requirements (send photo, receipt, etc.) they would honor the warranty – because I had in fact contacted them – on Twitter – but they had failed to respond.

So I sent photos, copy of the email receipt from REI, etc. and waited.

No response for 2 – 3 weeks, so I sent another e-mail asking if they had received the photos and other documentation.

‘Yup’ came the reply, ‘your shoes are shipping in five days.’

Wow. Amazing, I thought, for them to go a little above and beyond what most companies would do and send me a replacement pair of shoes, even though my only initial communication was a single tweet.

Now that’s Customer Service.

Dave and I still haven’t met or talked even though I’ve tried a handful of times. But I’m sure we will and the first thing I’ll do is tell him that the company’s shoes are great but the Customer Service is even better.

Podcast: Steve Farnsworth Interview

Here’s a short but worthwhile segment of a much longer in-depth conversation with blogger and social media expert Steve Farnsworth on how to use YouTube to explode your traffic at tradeshows.

The complete 35-minute conversation is included as a bonus download in the recently-released Social Media – Tradeshow Marketing Bundle now available here (for a mighty good price, too!).

Give a listen and get a few cool ideas on how to use video to bring more people to your tradeshow booth. Get the bundle for the whole conversation and many more ideas.


Find Steve Farnsworth online here:

Are Your Potential Customers Online? Duh.

I love these short statistic-packed videos that keep popping up and lay out the latest data on online consumption. And yes, we are a world of ‘net consumers. Watching videos (average of 182 a month!), blogging (53% of all websites are blogs!), sending emails, dealing with spam…it’s incredible how the numbers stack up.

Thought you’d like to take a look:

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from Jesse Thomas on Vimeo.

Slides from “Social Media-Tradeshow” Webinar

Yesterday’s webinar (Feb 17) on “How to Use Social Media to Close More Business at Tradeshows” was fun and well-received.  I thought I’d post the slides so you could get a glimpse of what we went over…of course the audio track and discussion would reveal a lot more – but take a look here:

Building an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Tradeshow Exhibit – A New Download

Note: We’ve just released a short report on ‘Building an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Tradeshow Exhibit’ which you can now pick-up on our free download page.

As more and more companies move to environmental consciousness and responsibility, the desire to exhibit using eco-friendly and sustainable practices increases as well.

Interpretive Exhibits has been an environmentally conscious company since its inception. As more and more materials become available for exhibit fabrication, we discuss them with clients and make them available whenever appropriate.

Some of the materials that we consider during fabrication:

  • Bamboo – produces 35% more oxygen than average trees, matures quickly, and does not require re-planting
  • FSC Certified wood
  • Metals – recycled aluminum when possible
  • Paint – low VOC, organic paint, recycled latex paint
  • Tension Fabric – low weight and small shipping and storage space

Other considerations for creating sustainable exhibits:

Re-use: what possibility does the material have to be re-used in the future? In many cases old exhibit elements can be incorporated by non-profit organizations.

Re-claimed materials and local sourcing: the Northwest is a good source for re-claimed material. Using locally sourced re-claimed materials is environmentally friendly for a number of reasons: if it’s local, it requires less shipping costs. Also, it’s documented that for each dollar spent locally, three dollars stay in the community, so spending locally reduces carbon usage and helps sustain the local economy.

Weight: many materials such as plastic recycled faux wood are denser and therefore heavier than typical fabrication materials, which will impact the cost of shipping. In many instances, this is a trade-off between heavier construction and shipping costs vs. a more environmentally friendly fabrication approach.

Read the rest of the report by downloading it from our Tradeshow Exhibit Free Download page.

A Social Playbook for Marketing Events – David Berkowitz Keynote

If you’ve discovered one thing about this blog, it’s that I like to share cool articles, videos and information from other folks that are of a like mind or offering info that is in the same vein.

With that said, I ran across a terrific presentation from David Berkowitz, a guy I’ve followed for years. Great writer, fun thinker…he’s billed as a ‘social media and mobile marketing strategist for i360, blogger at, author of weekly Social Media Insider with Media Post; speaker, columnist on media, marketing and technology.’

David was the keynote speaker at ‘Event Camp 2010 conference in New York City, it covers social media marketing for event planners, including lessons organizers can learn from other marketers. It focuses on developing a strategy for social media, along with top trends such as mobile social networking, social metrics, augmented reality, and Facebook connect.’

Informative and thoughtful slide show from that presentation:

Upcoming Webinar: “How to Close More Biz at Tradeshows Using Social Media”

In just two weeks – Feb 17th at 1 pm Pac / 4 pm Est to be precise – I’ll be doing a one-hour webinar on what strategies and techniques you can use to close more business at tradeshows by drawing more people to your booth via your online social media activity. This means looking closely at how you can use Twitter, blogging, YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites to get people engaged with your upcoming show and ultimately with your brand and company. Here’s a quick look at one thing that we’ll be going over.

What do you want to learn about using social media to market at tradeshows? Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to cover that in the webinar!


To sign up, go to this link:

Marketing a Local Event with Social Media: A Case Study

Need to lift declining attendance at a regional or local tradeshow? You might take a tip or two from what Jill Harrison, the Manager of Public Relations and Image Development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce did.

When I asked for stories in a HARO request last year, Jill chimed in with a great story on how they brought more people to the show – and kept the buzz going during the event for attendees and those that couldn’t be there in person. Let’s let her tell it:

Here at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, we use social media heavily for our twice annual tradeshow called SchmoozaPalooza. There are two main ways we use it: 1) to drive event attendance and 2) to update followers during the actual event.

Our event, called “Business After Hours”, had declining attendance. We decided to re-brand it (and call it SchmoozaPalooza) and spread the word in a new way – through social media. We set up profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace and Facebook. We started by attracting “friends” before we tried to sell or promote anything. We figured out what our followers were interested in, and informed them on a variety of events, not just about SchmoozaPalooza. This helped us build credibility. After a period of time, we began to promote SchmoozaPalooza. The closer to the event we got, the more we promoted it. By the time the event drew near, we had 102 followers on Twitter, 441 friends on Linkedin, 209 friends on Plaxo, 117 friends on MySpace, and 568 friends on Facebook.

During the actual event, we encouraged our attendees to “tweet” what they were doing, what was happening and what they thought. A large TV screen in the front and back of the event showed the scrolling “tweets” to passersby.

After the event when we did our evaluation, we saw that attendance had nearly quadrupled – from 200 to 725. Our revenue doubled. The best part is that we can utilize these friend groups in the future. Social media helped us reach a whole new audience.

Certainly using Social Media to draw more visitors to an event can be done – but it doesn’t happen over night and it does take planning and execution.

I like that Jill and her team had a plan and spent some time building credibility before they started to promote SchmoozaPalooza, then built on the promotions as they got closer. I disagree with Seth Godin’s take that putting up a tradeshow booth is an event and not a process. Getting people to your show or to your booth is an ongoing process that goes from show to show and builds on past experiences and promotions.

For your next tradeshow (whether you’re organizing the show or just putting up a booth at the show), take a hard look at Social Media and see what it can do for you. Learn from other experiences and look to create your own experiences. Then build on them.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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