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


Schmoozapalooza Update: Using Social Media to Invigorate an Event

In January of this year we took a look at an event in Oklahoma City called Schmoozapalooza.

According to Jill Harrison, the previous incarnation of their twice-yearly business networking event was slowly dying.

“This was a free tradeshow with no music and no games. There was some food and a cash bar. It was a much more professional event. We had no problem attracting exhibitors, but attendance was declining year after year,” said Harrison.

The event was rebranded as ‘Schmoozapalooza’ with more of a party atmosphere, a live band, games, food and more – and instead of making it a free show they charged $10 admission. It was still a tradeshow with dozens of exhibits (109 this year), and the event was promoted heavily through social media.

The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce used LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook to build buzz before the event. They promoted a contest leading up to the event, asking people to send out a tweet with the event hashtag and one good reason why you should be at the event. Random winnder were picked out from the tweets with the hashtag.

During Schmoozapalooza, more contests were held:

  1. First person to tweet about a new friend
  2. Post a pic of something at the show
  3. First to tweet about a new product or service you found

During the event, Twitter screens were up that pulled all tweets with the #Schmoozapalooza hashtag, which further engaged attendees.

Jill says the recent event, just before Halloween, had lots of folks in costume and proved to be a great event with more exhibitors and attendees than the previous one. With two such events each, they’ve had a number of events to track over the past two years.

This year’s numbers:

  • 109 exhibitors
  • 700-800 attendees
  • 5000 FB friends (limit)
  • Twitter 3467 followers @okcchamber
  • MySpace 286 followers
  • LinkedIn 384 Chamber page followers
  • Plaxo 427 connections

Harrison says there is now quite a buzz around the event, much of it due to social media, as well as the re-casting of the shape of the event. “Guests get one drink ticket with admission and can purchase additional drinks. We really encourage our exhibitors to be creative and think outside the box. The change in atmosphere and reaching out to our audience through social media made all the difference.”

Taking Your Event to a Virtual World with Social27

I’ve seen virtual tradeshow platforms before and have been mildly impressed. But after spending twenty minutes getting a tour of Social27’s new virtual tradeshow / event platform, it appears to be a substantial entry in to the virtual tradeshow world.

Want to bring your LinkedIn profile in so that you don’t have to re-create a new profile? Done.

Want to send a quick tweet out or post to Facebook while attending the virtual event? Easy to do.

Want to watch a keynote speech on video? Check the theatre, sit back and watch.

Want to connect instantly with other attendees via instant chat, or send a quick email to a speaker or event exhibitor? Not a problem.

While attending virtual events rarely comes up on my calendar, it’s not an uncommon thing to hear about in today’s economically-challenged event world. With companies looking for ways to cuts costs – and event organizers looking for a way to engage people that may choose not to attend, a platform such as the one offered by Social27 deserves a close look.

The company was formed in 2007 by two former Microsoft employees, Ike & Bally Singh Kehal, so it only seems natural that Microsoft would be among the first clients for Social27. Along with the Redmond software giant, Social27 has also worked with the University of Washington. The virtual tradeshow event product is a mere six months old as of this writing, so it’s to be expected that the company may want to iron out a few bugs before a major launch.

Still, they’re making a splash: recently Social27 was winner of the Northwest MIT Enterprise Forum’s Start-up Demo in Spring of this year. The gathering is sponsored by six regional angel investment organizations, looking to highlight entrepreneurs and the next big ideas.

Social27’s event platform is aimed at a variety of virtual events, including tradeshows, conferences, training seminars and the like.

A user, once logged in, is treated with an array of tools including message walls, links to Twitter or Facebook posting areas, conversations, videos and more.

Each individual tradeshow booth is skinned with logos and links to content such as PDFs or videos, which can be from YouTube or hosted privately if needed.

Theatre offerings include the opportunity to ask questions of the presenter, post comments to a forum and meet up in a lounge to discuss the presentation.

Other items include the ability to offer incentives to greater participation by offering an ongoing point tally for various activities in the show; an event organizer has the ability to offer prizes or rewards for the highest point tallies. The system is also API-enable, giving organizers the ability to include outside applications such as wikis or blogs.

To contact Social27 for a demo, check out their website here or contact Pryscilla here.

Social Media Marketing Tips from AntiSocialGuy

When a request is posted on HARO* you never know exactly who’s going to chime in.

So my interest was a piqued when I got a nice list of tips from a guy who bills himself as AntiSocialGuy. Hmmm…TradeshowGuy and AntiSocialGuy. Wonder if we could do a two-man stand-up act?


A sit-down act?

Here are AntiSocialGuy’s collection of tips on using social media at your tradeshow.

  • Create a page on your site that is dedicated to your show. Start to build up hype before the show even begins. Promote your giveaways, contests etc…
  • Do the same thing on all your social pages. If you want to track the effectiveness of each social site, make sure you have different offers or giveaways on each site.
  • Offer a live stream from your booth for those who couldn’t make the actual event.
  • Create a contest that will give people a reason to come to your booth. I seen a great example of this at a recent tradeshow that I attended. Kodak offered up their new waterproof camera at various times throughout the day on twitter. There booth was constantly packed and the retweets of people letting their friends know about the free camera’s was through the roof.
  • Offer your product to any media or bloggers that are covering the event. It’s a great way to get write-ups on their blogs and other social properties.
  • If you’re speaking at the show, have a custom #hashtag during your talk. Allow the people in the audience to ask question during the presentation via Twitter.

All of those are great ideas. My fave is to offer bloggers and writers a free product/sample to get them to write about it. Unless you’re selling an expensive item such as a car, plane, tank or expensive piece of technical gear it makes sense to get your product into the hands of someone who is able to write about it.

Check the ‘about’ page and you’ll see that is Robert Richardson.

HARO, by the way, is a terrific source for anyone who’s interested in connecting with reporters or sources (if you’re a blogger or reporter, for example). I’ve used HARO a few times in the past and have always been amazed and pleased at the great responses I get.

Twisplays Brings Twitter Streams to Your Tradeshow Booth

Going to be involved with social media at your next tradeshow? Will you be tweeting about your event, trying to draw people to your booth?

Joshua Persky thinks you might like to put one of his ‘Twisplays’ into your booth. Not only will the streaming text on the LED sign attract eyeballs, you’ll have the latest tweets about the event appearing in your booth.

Persky spent ten years in the banking industry until the recession hit. Recently he brainstormed an idea to combine a typical streaming display with text from a twitter account. He admits that the product could use some refining: “my developers are taking a little longer than I thought.” Some of his ideas have yet to be implemented but are coming soon, he says.

When did the company launch?

“Basically, yesterday!” said Persky, who added that a recent article on the Mashable website has created a lot of attention. “I’ve met a lot of great people because of that.”

While the Twisplay application can be used for a lot of different things, the idea of incorporating it into an event, tradeshow or convention seems natural.

Of course, seeing a shortened link on an LED display won’t really do you any good – it goes by so fast it’ll be virtually impossible to remember the link if you wanted to ‘click through’ – but it at least might draw you to Twitter to find the actual tweet.

The 26″ x 4″ displays sell for $299. The Twisplay website still is fairly bare-bones, but Joshua was easy to reach and willing to answer questions.

Connecting, Following, Sharing and Buying

guest post by Derek Leftridge of Optima Graphics

Console Radio Receiver

When I was younger I remember my grandparents always had the radio on in their car playing old radio shows that had big casts and sound effects and it was an experience. This caused me to have an addiction to radio.

That life long addiction to radio spilled over to a new addiction to Podcasts about two years ago. I tried a lot of them then settled on a handful that I still listen to today. I feel a connection with those individuals since I listen to them on a daily or weekly basis. And it is enjoyable and informative.

One in particular announced about 6 months ago that they were on Twitter. I began following them there. I started to get cool info and announcements I would not have anywhere else.

Then a contest was announced on there Twitter feed. You enter through a link in the post and agree to follow two other people on Twitter. Those two other people had a connection to the person I was already following so it was a type of bonus. And once you entered, a post from you on your own Twitter feed was created so you could begin sharing the contest with those following you. Then they could also register. Sadly, I did not win.

To recap I listen to multiple podcasts daily, I follow many important and funny people all the time and get access to things and people I could not otherwise. I pay nothing for this ability. That sounds great for me but a big waste of time and money for those who produce the podcasts, take time to post on Twitter and those paying for products then giving them away.

Or is it?

That particular person I mentioned above whose podcast I listen to, follow on Twitter and had a contest has written a book and it comes out in November. I will be buying that book thank you very much.

Yep. That is the sound of money changing hands. The ROI if you will. This relationship has taken a while but we have finally arrived at the serious part of all relationships – the spending of money part. Social Media / Social Networking is like building up to that first kiss; except it is not guaranteed on the third date.

This is an example, maybe small but true, of how offering valuable content and experiences over the Social Media / Social Networks, in time, can have a monetary result. However, I do believe the relationship I discussed that finally paid off took longer than it has to. You have to decide how much time you want to put into this type of marketing. That time, along with the content you provide, will determine how quickly someone starts buying from you.

Derek Leftridge has been in the Tradeshow industry, with Optima Graphics, for 17 years and Marketing Coordinator for the past 5 years.

With his experience and drive he is helping Optima enter into new avenues of Marketing. E: dcleftridge (at) / P:636-680-9262

Creative Commons License

photo credit: ellenm1

Green Meetings With MeetGreen®

All face-to-face meetings bring their baggage with them – including the trash and recyclables that are generated. Does the amount of cups, paper, water bottles, and more that are generated during the meetings put the meetings and events industry in a bad light? Can anything be done to substantially reduce meetings waste?

MeetGreen®, a meetings coordination company in Portland, Oregon dedicated to environmental sustainability, recently released a comprehensive report on how their work is impacting sustainability in events they are involved in. MeetGreen® works with the UN Global Compact, a global policy initiative that promotes the adoption of strategic sustainability principles into the activities of organizations. As a result, they’re required to generate an annual report that focuses on sustainable business practices within the meetings attended or organized by their clients.

I spoke with MeetGreen®’s Nancy J. Zavada, CMP about the report and their work with companies. She said one of the more interesting things to come out of the report is the realization that there is a big ripple effect – “what changes can you make in the world?” Nancy says that while MeetGreen® is a small company, by helping events become greener, it can have a bigger impact on the industry and the world.

According to the report, MeetGreen says that ‘as an independent sustainable event management company we are hired to assist others to manage their events, reduce their impact and improve their event-related business. As an outside consultant our role is one of manager, advisor and influencer in these projects, but not often final decision maker.’

So how well did MeetGreen® do with the year’s events? Among other stats, these came to the fore:

  • Eliminated 774,000 water bottles from the waste stream
  • Saved 1653 trees
  • Avoided emissions equivalent to taking 300 cars off the road for a year

There are more, but I don’t want to steal their thunder.

After tracking the results and compiling the report, Nancy told me that the big aha to her was ‘the importance of transparency.’ By showing people what you’re doing and how you’re doing, it creates more trust and helps the ripple effect to make more changes in the world.

The report breaks down the objectives and targets set up before the year started (which ran from August 2009 – July 2010). Goals included giving back to the community,       being accountable for their carbon footprint, ensuring the supply chain has responsible social and environmental practices and more.  Most were met or exceeded.

While the report is in essence a report on how one company’s efforts are unfolding to reduce, reuse and recycle using sustainable practices, the effect is far-reaching. A list of clients and organizations that MeetGreen® worked with in 2009-2010 includes Cisco, Jack Morton, Oracle, Wallace Fund, Unitarian Universalist Association, Cascadia Group, IMEX America and many more.  The report looks at results from 48 events with over 130,000 participants in 19 destinations.

Download the report for free here.

7 Essential Tradeshow Marketing Skills

In a perfect world, all tradeshow managers would have these skills – and more. But we know that a perfect world doesn’t exist, right? So if you have most of these you’ll probably do okay!

  1. People (read: sales) skills. There’s a lot to be said for having the power to get along with people and being able to kindly persuade people to do things for you. In a chaotic tradeshow world, the one leadership skill that stands out above all others is the ability to ‘get along with others.’ Just like in kindergarten.
  2. Social media skills. If you’re still wondering how to tweet or post to Facebook, you’re probably not right for the job. Beyond simple social media skills, are you able to shoot a Flip video and upload it within a few moments? Can you grab a photo of a client with your product and get it out on Facebook before they get on Facebook on their iPhone? Can you figure out how to promote special deals via Twitter, FB and YouTube before you head for the show? Do you know how to listen to the chatter on social media about your product, company and industry?
  3. Number-crunching ability. Budgeting in today’s economy is more important than ever. Being able to determine a show’s budget based on last year’s numbers (or no comparable numbers at all), getting a realistic look at the show’s ROI and putting together a final show budgetary report and analysis for the CFO will go a long way to keeping you in your position.
  4. Organization. There are so many moving parts in a tradeshow manager’s job that your organizational skills have to be top notch. Showing good time management skills, for instance, is a big plus.
  5. Understanding your product and market. A familiarity with your company’s culture, products, competitors, clients and customers is a must to executing a great tradeshow experience.
  6. Being flexible and resourceful. Things go wrong. In a tradeshow when things go wrong, you’re not only in a chaotic environment of a show floor, but you’re away from home and you’re under a time crunch. Not to mention the microscope of clients and management. If you can come up with rapid workable (not necessarily perfect) solutions under those conditions, you’re golden.
  7. Jack of all trades. As a tradeshow marketer, you are called on to wear so many hats your head will spin. ‘Nuff said.

photo credit: Meindert Arnold Jacob

Podcast: Interview with Cliff Pollan of VisibleGains

After seeing the video tool from VisibleGains in action recently at David Meerman Scott’s blog, I discovered that it’s being used as a tradeshow marketing tool. So I looking up the CEO and co-founder, Cliff Pollan, and we sat down and chatted about how the video tool works – and how it might be used to capture leads and bring more people to your tradeshow, event or conference.

Check out VisibleGains here.

Are You a Tradeshow Ninja?

The word "ninja" in kanji script

Ninja: – noun, a member of a feudal Japanese society of mercenary agents, highly trained in martial arts and stealth (ninjutsu), who were hired for covert purposes ranging from espionage to sabotage and assassination.

While the term ‘ninja’ seems to hold reverence for a lot of people due to the clever and stealthy way in which he practiced his arts, in most tradeshow marketing cases you DON’T want to be hidden. You want to be right out there in plain sight for all to see and engage with.

And never mind the sabotage and assassination aspects of the ninja. Those blatant acts would probably get you headlines of the unfriendly type (and should it be capitalized – Ninja? – I’m a little stumped here…)

As for espionage, in a tradeshow marketing situation I’m all for it. As long as you’re not breaking and entering or hacking a competitor’s website, you should try to find out as much information about your competition as you’re legally able to.

When it comes to promotion and marketing, perhaps you want to be ‘anti-Ninja’ as much as possible:

Get out in front of people. Wave the flag. Do a dance. Shine a light. Bang the drum.

Ninjas would do none of that in the course of their jobs. But you should.

“A Ninja causes confusion among the enemy.”

Is your tradeshow exhibit is able to confuse your competitor? Are you a large company with a small presence? Or maybe a small company able to create a large presence at a show through partnerships, sponsorships or guerrilla tactics?

“A Ninja is able to camouflage themselves from their enemy.”

Can you find a way to present your tradeshow presence in such a way that your competition is unable to find out what you’re really about? Or by doing that do you obfuscate your intent to your potential customers?

“Superhuman or supernatural powers were often associated with the Ninja.” Invisibility, flight, shape-shifting, appearing as animals…

Do your products do things that are able to surprise and astonish your potential customers? Or are they everyday, run-of-the-mill widgets? Perhaps a little creativity can bring out the ‘supernatural’ or ‘superhuman’ elements and show them off in your booth. A good presenter can astonish the audience at a tradeshow, and as long as the astonishment is directed back to the product it’s effective marketing.

You can borrow Ninja tactics in many tradeshow marketing circumstances….leaving out the arson, killing and sabotage, of course.

But in many cases, being a Ninja could be a good thing.

Are you a Ninja tradeshow marketer?

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