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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Are You Genuinely Green?

Guest Post by Marcia Yudkin

Are you enthusiastic about preserving Earth?  If you want to highlight this commitment as part of your business pitch, be aware that cynicism lurks in the minds of many customers.

To show that you’re not just pretending to jump on today’s green wagon, incorporate as many as possible of these factors into your marketing copy, suggested in the new book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green by Shel Horowitz and Jay Conrad Levinson.

1. Hard facts (what you’ve done), not commitments (what you say you’ll do).

2. Substantiation for your claims – for example, back up the statement that your operations are carbon-neutral.

3. Third-party green certifications, with links that show what they mean.

4. Non-promotional material that helps readers understand the issues on which you’re taking action.

5. Advice for readers on how they too can follow suit.

6. Transparency and truthfulness. Don’t attempt to hide elements that go against your overall stance.

Your reward: The trust of those who share your convictions, respect from those who haven’t yet seen the light, and joyfulness in your conscience.

Reprinted with permission from the Marketing Minute http://www.yudkin.com/markmin.htm

Five Things to Teach Your Staff Before the Tradeshow

Tradeshow staff training is often seen as the ‘missing gap’ between coming away from a tradeshow with an assortment of grungy leads and a stack of well-defined leads.

But experience has shown that most companies spent little to no money actually training their staff to do the right things at a show to accomplish those goal-gathering leads.

So I thought it might be a good thing to jot down a list of five – just five, that’s all – things that you should teach your tradeshow staff before the next show.

1. Teach your staff which products and services will be highlighted at the show. If you have a larger booth, note on a floor map where the products/services will be handled or discussed with the visitors, along with who the subject matter experts might be for those items. In this way your staff can handle inquires and direct the visitor to the right area or find the right answer to those questions.

2. Teach your staff to quickly and efficiently qualify and disqualify visitors. If the visitor is NOT a prospect, the sooner your staff member disengages with them and moves on to the next visitor, the more efficient they’ll be at gathering leads. This means asking the right questions, noting the answers, and asking correct follow-up questions that determine the level of interest and who and how to follow up with that visitors.

3. Teach your staff how to properly process a lead. If you have a lead form, have them practice filling it out. If you are using a badge scanner at the show, practice on it before the show starts. If there are specific questions that need to be asked, have them rehearse the questions.

4. Inform your staff the overall objective(s), goals and reasons for being at the show. If they understand the ‘30,000 foot view’ of why the company is at this show, they’ll have a better grasp of why those goals are important.

5. Let your staff know how important they are to the success of the tradeshow. Explain why they were chosen to represent the company, that they are the ‘front lines’ and the face of the company. Anything they do will reflect on visitors’ impressions of the company. Little things go a long way. Small things like smiles and politeness standard for many companies…but when you remind your staff how important those things really are (and how noticeable if you forget), it’s more likely they’ll remember to wear a smile and be polite all the time.

Is there anything you teach your staff that is missing in this list?

Book Review: “Rock the World (With Your Online Presence)” – What it means to connect with a ‘super-connector’

When I connected with author Mike O’Neil a few weeks back he asked me to connect with him on LinkedIn. I soon learned that he does this with everybody.

“All right,” said Mike, “before you accept the inviation, go to your home page on LinkedIn. Now, click on ‘Contacts’ and then ‘Network Statistics.’ Look at what you’ve got in your connections list.”

I did. It looked like this:

“Now, go ahead and accept my invitation. Then wait a few moments and refresh your page.”

So I did. It looked like this:

Given that Mike has 27,000+ connections on LinkedIn, it was easy to see why my network statistics took a huge jump. Shortly after, I connected with Lori Ruff, Mike’s co-author on ‘Rock The World with Your Online Presence,’ a book dedicated solely to, uh, pimping out your LinkedIn profile.

Later that day I added a connection to Lori Ruff, co-author of the ‘Rock the World’ book:

I mean, really jazzing it up so that you can be FOUND and recognized for what you do and what you’re best at.

So now that I’ve read the book and am starting to implement a few of the ideas for the profile, I am seeing the network grow and seeing more people finding me. I get responses and e-mails to responses on questions posted at discussions, for instance.

In a sense, the book is too good. It has so much usable ideas in it geared directly toward improving your LinkedIn profile that it can be overwhelming. That was my first sense while reading the book. My second sense is that the amount of things I can do and people I can connect with just by making a knockout LinkedIn profile is amazing.

When you read the book, use it. Go over your profile with a fine-tooth comb and make the adjustments and revisions in your profile that Mike and Lori suggest. See what happens. My guess is you’ll start to see how LinkedIn can powerfully impact your online networking, whether for new business leads, job leads, or other networking connections.

Get the book. You’ll be glad you did:

Rock The World with your Online Presence: Your Ticket to a Multi-Platinum LinkedIn Profile (Volume 1)

Are You Using Twitter to Drive Traffic to Your Blog and Event?

Now that the first quarter of 2010 is officially in the books, I was curious how the viewership on this blog went. And since I can sometimes be a stats geek, I thought I’d post a few numbers.

With Google Analytics and a WordPress stats plug-in, I can access just about anything I want. But all I want to share is an insight (not a big one) that if a post link gets re-tweeted a few times, it’ll end up in my ‘top views.’

For starters, the two most re-tweeted posts came in as the most viewed (as you might expect):

23 Pre-Show Marketing Promotions, Tactics and Ideas and Twittering at #ExpoWest. They were each viewed around 100 times in the past three months. Maybe not much if you’re Google, but for a li’l ol’ niche-oriented B2B blog, I’m pretty happy with those numbers (the three listing above the two most-viewed posts are pages, not posts).

top posts on TradeshowGuy Blog first Q 2010

In the past seven days, two other highly re-tweeted posts have been moving up the viewership list:

27 Un-Boring Things to do At Your Next Tradeshow and How to Find the Right Tradeshow for Your Company. Both were posted this week and thanks to the Twitterverse re-tweeting them a number of times, the readership climbed quickly. I suspect the ‘list’ approach for the ’27’ post had a lot to do with getting the re-tweets; that the the subject of ‘un-boring’…both of which serve to create interest and draw listeners, both done by design.

top posts on TradeshowGuy Blog last 7 days

If you’re a blogger, you should be using these tools to drive traffic. After all, if you write a post, you want people to read it, don’t you?

One thing I do is use HootSuite.com so that I can schedule tweets ahead of time; this gives me a chance to post the link 6 – 8 times. Each time it picks up another tweeter who re-tweets it, sending more readers to the post.

I think there is a limit to scheduling tweets though, and I’m not sure where to draw the line. I’ve seen people post links and have them scheduled to go out hourly for several days. Yeah, spammy, I know. But with what I feel is a good post I would like to maximize readership. And the great thing about Twitter is that your community will tell you what’s good – what hits their buttons – and what is not.

One more item: back in February I did an online webinar on ‘Using Social Media to Close More Biz at Tradeshows’ and used nothing but social media and e-mail to drive traffic to the sign-up page. When all was said and done I had a lot of support from the tradeshow community (see screenshot of a handful of re-tweets below), and over the nearly three weeks leading up to the webinar it was interesting to see the numbers:

  • 880 click-throughs to the sign-up page
  • 125 sign-ups for the free webinar
  • 58 attendees

Given that my budget was literally zero – just an investment of time and the ability to use the social media tools – I was more than pleased with the outcome.

Social Media-Tradeshow Webinar RT's

If I wanted to use traditional media to drive traffic (direct mail, postcards, radio, print, etc.) it would have been a huge undertaking and would have taken months to get everthing set up and implemented. And it would have cost thousands of dollars. With social media all it took was a YouTube and Twitter account, a Facebook page and the ability to create video promos and write posts about it….and the time to make it happen.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m sold on social media for its cost-effectiveness and ability to spread useful information to a lot of interested people quickly. And get them to take action.

How to Find the Right Tradeshow for Your Company

If you’re new to tradeshow marketing, how do you find a tradeshow that’s appropriate for your company? After all, you don’t want to invest a wheelbarrow full of cash and find out that your target market doesn’t come to the show.

Not that you’d do that…but you’d be surprised what decisions are made in the world of business based on hearsay or minimal information.

Best bet is to ask a lot of questions.

Start with your clients. Find out what shows they attend. Then go online and check your competitors. Most businesses these days have an ‘event’ section in their website which usually lists the tradeshows they exhibit at. Also check also with manufacturers and distributors in your industry.

Next, search online. One good resource I have always steered people to is tsnn.com (‘The Ultimate Event Resource). You can search shows by state, country, industry and date. Go to the show’s website and review the information with an eye to determining if this is a show that your target market is likely to attend.

The next thing to ask yourself is: ‘what is my objective for this show?’ Your goal of launching a product may indicate a different show than your goal of creating a great media buzz for your company. Determine your

Topo Wall

Once you’ve compiled a list, target the top 2 – 3 shows and make plans to visit them as an attendee in the coming year. By attending before you invest in exhibiting, you’ll get a good feel for which show(s) make the most sense for you. Besides, attending a show as a guest is a lot cheaper way to find out if it’s the right show than to show up with a booth, your staff and thousands of dollars of product – and wonder why your target market isn’t there.

Creative Commons License

photo credit: Incase Designs

27 Un-Boring Things to do At Your Next Tradeshow

Bored at the tradeshow? Here’s a list of things to do that will lively up your experience!

I remember in my early days in radio a record promoter once told me that she loved my enthusiasm and willingness to drive 50 miles to see an unknown band that she was promoting. “So many of the other music directors I talk to are getting jaded…”

Whether you’re an exhibit or an attendee and you’ve been doing it for a long time, you might ask yourself: Am I Getting JADED?

Next time you’re at a tradeshow, take this list with you. Maybe by doing a few of these things it’ll help break you out of a rut (okay…some of these will take a little more preparation and execution before the show…but use ’em as inspirational thought-starters if nothing else).

  1. Before leaving your office spend some time on Twitter compiling a list of people at the show that are Tweeters. Make a list of who they are and what booth they’re at. Stop by the booth and tell them you found ‘em on Twitter.
  2. Draw attention to yourself and your company. If appropriate, wear a goofy hat, a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, Homer Simpson slippers. Anything unusual is a conversation starter.
  3. Pick up literature from as many booths as possible. Read it that night in your hotel. Make notes about questions you’d like to ask. Go back to the booth and ask.
  4. Take a Flip video camera and ask visitors to explain why they stopped by your booth. Or take it around the floor on your break and get a few comments from other exhibitors about the show and what their experience is at the show.
  5. Take a camera. Take lots of photos. If you see a cool booth, ask permission for a photo first. If you connect with someone via Facebook or Twitter, be sure to take their photo and post it online.
  6. Bring chocolates and instead of putting them in a bowl at your booth, hand them out as you go from booth to booth to other exhibitors. Tape your business card onto the chocolates.
  7. Buy a half-dozen thumb drives and put your company information – brochures, current press releases, catalogs, website, etc. – on it and have it ready to hand out to a few well-qualified media contacts or potential clients.
  8. Sit down with a professional radio person (!), have them interview you about your company. Create an audio CD with a nice label and title such as “All You Ever Wanted to Know About XYZ Company” or “The Inner Secrets of the XYZ Company Widget” and make a couple of dozen copies. Put a label on them that says “limited edition” and make sure that you qualify anyone you give them to.
  9. If you typically don’t go to seminars, pick at least two and go to them. If you typically attend seminars, find one with an unusual title that you might not attend and go to it.
  10. Make a note immediately on any business card you collect from a person (not a card you just picked up from a table). Write down a pertinent part of the conversation, a future follow-up or an item that will make you remember them. By the time you get back to your hotel, you’ll have forgotten what they even look like.
  11. Are you typically a bit shy? Break that habit. Talk to people in buffet lines, restaurants, elevators. Come up with a few questions you can ask to break the ice. Have fun: these people don’t know you’re shy!
  12. If you typically spend the day working the booth and greeting visitors, arrange your schedule so you get at least an hour or two to walk the show floor and schmooze with other exhibitors, especially those that might be potential partners and those that you would consider competitors.
  13. Talk to a show organizer and ask her how this show compares to previous years…or find some other topic of conversation.
  14. Bring three times as many business cards as you think you might need.
  15. Go to the city’s visitor center and see what kinds of fun things you can do in your off-hours.
  16. See how many booths you can walk by before a booth staffer invites you in.
  17. Look up old friends in the event city using Facebook or Twitter and connect with them.
  18. Smile at everyone. Even if they aren’t smiling at you.
  19. Have a contest with fellow staffers to see if you can get visitors to say the magic word of the day. Those of us old enough might even remember this came from Groucho Marx’s ‘You Bet Your Life.’
  20. Take notes about how much food costs. Hot dog and coke – $14!? Compare notes with fellow staffers. Boo and hiss the high prices.
  21. Ask other exhibitors what they paid for drayage and shipping. Compare notes.
  22. See if you can set up your booth before your neighbor.
  23. Go a whole day without eating restaurant food by taking food snacks such as energy bars, fruit, trail mix, etc.
  24. Bring a small white board. Write a Haiku poem about your company or product on it. Invite your visitors to add their Haiku.
  25. Practice Extreme Customer Service. As if you were a Disney employee.
  26. If the speaker at your seminar or breakout session is boring, create a game where you write down every word he says that begins with the letter M. Or T. Or draw a cartoon of the speaker. Post it on Twitter.
  27. Ask other visitors what they do for fun. Take notes and incorporate their ideas into yours.

What ideas do you have to break those long days into more fun? Share!

The Big Picture vs. The Details

You may have a good grasp about your overall BIG PICTURE tradeshow marketing plan. But what about the DETAILS?

Blurred vision

Overall execution of your plan at the show may be great, but if you slip on details, someone – a potential customer, perhaps – is bound to notice.

Some of the details to track: Is the booth clean and tidy? Are all your marketing materials in synch? Do all the colors match or complement your brand? Are your staffers greeting people with a smile? Do they fill out lead cards with all the information you require? Do the garbage cans get emptied when they start to spill over?

Details are important because they help complete the picture. If the carpet hasn’t been attacked with a carpet-sweeper and there are crumbs or bits of paper or junk, people will notice. If your graphics are peeling at the edges, people will notice. If personal belongings are not stowed out of site, people will notice. They’ll also notice if your staffers are talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking or sitting with their arms crossed.

So cross the T’s and dot the I’s – take care of details and the overall perception of your booth will be more positive.

Creative Commons License

photo credit: Stefano Mazzone

Natural Products Expo West: Photo Collection

Just back from the Natural Products Expo West show, where some 3025 exhibitors had their wares on display. Interpretive Exhibits, where I’m the VP of Sales and Marketing, had eight various custom client booths on display, including Bob’s Red Mill, Nancy’s Yogurt, Natracare, Mountain Rose Herbs, Bi-O-Kleen, Hyland’s, gDiapers and Earth Mama Angel Baby.

Here are a few photos of those booths, as well as others and a few Twitterers I ran into:

Natural Products Expo West 2010

Skiing and Social Media Tradeshow Marketing (Seminar Coming!)

What does skiing have to do with using social media to market your tradeshow booth? Very little. Okay, it’s a biiiiig stretch! But nonetheless, earlier this week I managed to get up to Hoodoo Ski Bowl in central Oregon to do a little skiing…and daydreaming about using social media, Twitter and…well, you’ll just have to watch the video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HshK8roKLrU

And yes, I am planning a live/local seminar (wow, I sound just like a local TV newscaster –Live, Local!) coming up on April 8 here in Salem, Oregon. Are you in the area? Can you come? Find out more by clicking here.

Early bird registration is still underway, which means you save $10. And IF you manage to read the fine print, you’ll see that you are actually getting my whole Social Media Tradeshow Marketing Bundle AND the live seminar…for ten bucks less than the current price of the bundle. Hmmm…is this a clever marketing ploy, or just plain stupidity?

Twittering at #ExpoWest

Follow Tradeshowguy on Twitter

A few quick observations on using Twitter at Expo West, the huge Natural Products show in Anaheim this past weekend:

1. A handful of companies are drawing people to their booths through Twitter. Many of them seemed to be amazed that it worked – but almost all that were using it were seeing results.

2. It seemed to me (again, anecdotal evidence) that the companies having the most success were small to medium-sized companies. I did talk to a few larger companies – those with at least 8 or 10 booth staffers and a larger island booth – but the response was, shall we say, a little less enthusiastic? “Yeah, I think we are – ask Jason over there, he’s doing some social media…I think.” When I talked with the Jason (not his real name): “Yeah, we’re using it. I mean, I’m doing some stuff online. Now and then…but it’s…uh…”

3. Before the show I gathered a list of just under 50 exhibitors who had posted their booth numbers and used the #expowest hashtag. I was able to meet ‘n’ greet most of them the first morning of the show. If there were other Tweeters they didn’t show up on Twitter with either their booth number or the #expowest hashtag. Without those, I couldn’t find them. Which meant most other people probably couldn’t either.

4. Some – but not all – were offering goodies for people that mentioned that they came to the booth because of a tweet. A free imprinted shopping bag, a larger product sample, etc.

5. Everyone that was actively involved with Tweeting among the smaller companies were absolutely enthusiastic when I mentioned I saw their booth number on Twitter. That enthusiasm for social media ran to other platforms: many had YouTube and/or Facebook pages as well.

Summing up: small companies can create consistent buzz using Twitter and other social media platforms if they have a dedicated social media staffer who ‘gets it’. Larger companies seem to struggle with what social media can do for them (although there certainly are exceptions – I’m just passing on observations from one tradeshow). It’s as if there are more layers of management and marketing and strategy and other roadbumps that appear to damper any enthusiasm that people within the company may have for using social media. For a larger company to succeed with social media, it’s my feeling they need to dedicate either a full-time person or – depending on their size – a small department to the task. Smaller companies can get away with using one person on a part or full-time basis for social media.

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