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

December 2009

Tradeshowguy Blog: A Look Back at ’09

Tradshowguy Blog was launched early in 2009 for several reasons. While it’s been almost a year – but not quite – I thought it might be a good time to turn the spectacles to the past year.

First, I started the blog because I had been itching for an outlet for thoughts, ideas, interviews and other assorted ‘stuff’ on or about the tradeshow industry.

Secondly, I was hoping to do some personal and company branding, for both myself and the company I work for in Salem, Oregon – Interpretive Exhibits.

Third – and more selfishly – I wanted to have some fun with the social media aspects of blogging.

No doubt I accomplished all, to my continuing satisfaction.

What I didn’t expect was that I would meet a ton of great people and start new friendships and relationships with them.

Tradeshowguy Blog has opened up a lot of doors to people and businesses I didn’t know existed.

Take Ken Newman of Magnet Productions. Ken found me through a Twitter search for tradeshow people one night last February. The next morning he sent out a tweet that caught my eye. Flattery! Buttering me up! What the hell?

So I went to his website, found his phone number and rang him up. Ken and I had a great conversation and while getting to know each other found we had much in common. Later in the summer I stopped and had a cup of coffee with him in San Francisco. We’ve struck up a long-distance friendship which will no doubt continue.

Then there’s Steve Farnsworth, also in San Francisco. I found Steve through a Twitter search for PR professionals. Turns out Steve stopped doing PR a couple of years back and now helps IT companies find their way through the Social Media landscape.

Steve helped a lot – he offered to publish one of my articles on his (very well-read) blog; he set up a Twitter chat with me; and he’s been very willing to have a few extended chats to share his thoughts about his Social Media experiences.

From there I can point to many people that I would never have met if not for my interest in hearing from different voices for my blog and podcast: Emilie Barta, tradeshow presenter; Jeffrey Brown of Tradeshow Blues; Karen Silvers, promotional products expert and distributor with Lee Wayne Company; David Schenberg of Busy; David Fugiel of Nimlok; Kenji Haroutunian of Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City; Jay Tokosch of Core-Apps; Mike Morrison of Smart Radio Now; Della Reese of DWA Tradeshow discussing ‘green’ tradeshow graphics; Heidi Thorne of Thorne Communications; and model and event tour organizer Tunisha Hubbard (who turned in the most popular podcast of the year on

There were others, of course. Guest posts included Dennis Salazar of Salazar Packaging, Roger Pike of Communication Steroids, Kevin Ehlers of Event Technologies, Rose Esposito of the Marcomm Group –  and more to come.

Fun videos – some I filmed, some that were done by others but made sense to share on the blog.

I also did a survey towards the end of the year that was intended to give insight into how tradeshow managers and organizers used Social Media in their tradeshow promotions and appearances. Much of that information should find its way into a webinar / teleseminar planned for the first quarter.

All in all, after almost a year of blogging on, I feel like I’m just getting started. Just finding my feet, as it were. Some posts got a lot of attention that surprised me. Some posts I thought would get great readership did not.

If you’ve made it this far – thank you! I appreciate your time and attention – and I don’t take it for granted.

Let’s see what we can get up to on 2010, eh? And, oh by the way – the proper way to say that is ‘Twenty-Ten.’ In case you were wondering.

Social Media Tradeshow Marketing Survey – Final Results

twitter logo vampire goth

Two dozen people responded to my short survey last month on how companies use Social Media in their tradeshow marketing. Admittedly, the results are not scientific. But I feel they are telling. Even with a couple dozen people you start to feel the pulse of how people are incorporating social media into their event marketing efforts.

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photo credit: Catherinette Rings Steampunk

First we asked if your company is involved in Social Media, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube?

  • 95% said YES

Do you use Social Media to promote your tradeshow appearances?

  • 81% said YES

Does your company have an active blog (posting at least 5 – 10 times per month)?

  • 63% said YES

Does your company have a Facebook page?

  • 68% said YES

Does anyone at your company have a Twitter account that represents your company? (could be more than one person)

  • 81% said YES

Does your company have a YouTube channel?

  • 45% said YES

If you have a YouTube channel, how frequently do you post videos?

  • less than once a month – 81%
  • 2 – 3 times a month – 9%
  • twice a week of more – 9%

How important is it to your company to drive tradeshow sales using Social Media?

  • not important at all – 4%
  • we’re thinking about it, but uncommitted – 9%
  • looking at it closely and experimenting – 45%
  • we’re heavily involved and looking for more ways to use SM – 36%
  • none of the above – 4%

Are you interested in attending a webinar or teleseminar on using Social Media to clost more Biz at your Tradeshow?

  • 64% – YES
  • 36% – NO

If YES, what is the most important thing you’d like to have covered?

Comments included:

  • I would like content to go beyond the basics of what these social media platforms are and how to start an account and post, and focus specifically on fun, creative ways for the experiences user to drive traffic to the booth that will convice the company’s tradeshow manager of its value!
  • Case studies
  • Even though it’s really hard for me to do teleseminars/webinars since I’m on the road a lot, I’m always looking for ways to build show traffic and would do my best to participate. My main difficulty with using social media for shows, at the moment at least, is that my core client base is not even involved with social media. Many are on LinkedIn. But with that being a more stagnant social network, they set it and forget it. Some are on Facebook, but primarily for family, friends and to hook up with their high school buds. Twitter? Of my core “in person” network, I can name only 3 people — yes, 3 of my 230+ followers — that are even remotely active on Twitter and that’s not daily activity either. I don’t have a “blog” per se, but do have a weekly email newsletter that has an intensely loyal following of 50 or so from my in-person network. So that’s about as social as they get. What Twitter offers me is a new universe of social media aware people to network with. Many are in my home Chicago area, but it will be a while before we tweet up or start attending the same events. Always love your tweets. Thanks for being part of my social media network!
  • Real life case studies of how people are monetizing social media in events
  • Getting people to the booth
  • Facilitating inbound marketing using SM How will tools like foursquare affect 2010-11 event marketing? best practices in the showscape with SM?

The goal of the survey was to give me some food for thought and look to create a webinar that focuses on the needs of those who responded. Right now I’m working on the content and depending on the rest of my workload plan to roll out the webinar in late January or early February. If you’re subscribed to our newsletter you’ll be notified with plenty of time to sign up!

What’s Important in 2010?


I am amazed that we are already ten years into the new century. Not such a new century any more, is it? But every day brings new and exciting things. 2009 was the year of Exploding Social Media. Everybody seems to be getting into it big time.

Companies are jumping on board before the train pulls out of the station. They don’t want to be left behind.

Technology keeps leap-frogging itself. iPhones, Google phones, Droid phones; 3D movies, downloadable movies, marketplace changes…

So what does 2010 and beyond bring?

Maybe the question should be: what matters now?

Blogger, author and thinker Seth Godin asked that question of a lot of his friends and acquaintances. He’s assembled a new free e-book called “What Matters Now.”

In it, some 70 people share one-page chapters (essays?) with a one-word title. It’s funny, endearing, inspiring and a gas to read. Pick up your free copy now. And let a friend know. Seth is hoping to get the book into the hands of five million people!


When It Comes to Sustainable Packaging – There’s no business like show business!

Here’s a guest post by Dennis Salazar of Salazar Packaging of Plainfield, Il. Dennis caught my attention with a couple of tweets that steered me to his blog, which discusses sustainable packaging. Given that every tradeshow exhibitor has to deal with packaging in one way or another – shipping, product packaging, etc. – I asked if he’d be interested in contributing a guest column. Here’s Dennis’s contribution:


No, not the Ethel Merman variety of show business; I’m talking about the exhibit hall, hard floors and long hours type of show business. The type of show where the only thing more outrageously priced than a square foot of booth space is the five minute lunch you gulped down which consisted of a cold hot dog, served on a stale bun with a once carbonated soft drink that hasn’t been bubbly since the 2005 Auto Show.

The fact is that I have seen very few companies work within the guidelines of sustainable packaging, the way people do when they are preparing for a show.

At the show exhibitors do green packaging right!

Here is what I have noticed about show exhibitors:

  • Most of the packaging for booth displays is wooden crates and wood is still considered the greenest packaging material because it is natural and renewable.
  • A booth display will be used over and over again for years with perhaps only minor changes to graphics. This means the wood used to ship it is also reused many times.
  • Even when a display is replaced, the company making the new display is very likely to re-crate the new model with the same wood.
  • Booth displays are painstakingly “right sized” so there is little wasted space or excess packaging material to be found. This saves money on everything from construction to the multiple shipments it is certain to experience.

Motive versus Results in Sustainable Packaging

There is a very small segment of green minded people who are more interested in the condition of the heart rather than the end result. For them it is not enough to do the right thing, you also have to do it for the right reasons.

Of course I care about the motivation behind a company’s green actions but I am equally concerned about what they are able to accomplish. I would rather see a company with strict financial motivation and great end results than a company with a sincere eco heart and mind, who talks the talk beautifully but has little green success.

If you closely examine most show packaging, you will agree it typically does an excellent job of satisfying critical sustainability requirements because it is renewable, minimal and reusable.

sustainable cartoon

With more than 30 years of industry experience, Dennis Salazar is founder and president of Salazar Packaging, Inc. He is a prolific writer and popular speaker on the topic of sustainable packaging. His blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging, has been acclaimed by both the green and packaging communities.

Dennis offers custom eco friendly packaging solutions at Salazar Packaging, Inc. and in-stock green packaging products at Globe Guard – the first internet store featuring all eco friendly packaging supplies.

Follow Dennis on Twitter.

Is Your Company on Facebook?

More and more companies are realizing the value and power of having a presence on Facebook. While many people see it as a duplication of their online efforts, I believe that’s the wrong way to look at it. With 350 million worldwide Facebook users, a significant part of your market is spending time – in some cases, a lot of time – on Facebook.

Yes, it’s another way to ‘touch’ your market. But look it this way: you have a website, you’re on Twitter (hopefully) and wondering what to do with your Facebook page. Being on Facebook allows people to become fans, and encourages feedback. The more fans, the more feedback. The more feedback, the more that is shared throughout those peoples’ networks. And you keep adding fans.

But what about B2B? Yes, there are active Facebook company B2B pages. Here’s a brief slide show that shows 10 examples of Facebook B2B pages, and looks into why your company should have a presence on Facebook:

If your company is B2C, you should definitely have a page on Facebook. It’s a great way to reach more people and spread more information and gather more feedback.

One example, gDiapers (disclosure: a client of ours at Interpretive Exhibits) has a very active Facebook page. They’re also on YouTube and Twitter, too. But when I first noticed their Facebook page just two short months ago, or less, they had right around 2900 fans. When I just looked a few moments ago, they’re just a few shy of 4000 fans. Which means they’re picking up about 500 a month. The conversation on the blog revolves around customer issues, new products, the occasional free coupon, ecstatic users and more.

Face it, Facebook is a great place to build on your brand and strengthen customer connections.

Shameless Plug Dept: We do a LOT here, man…


Sometime last year our shop foreman told me “We can do anything….they just gotta bring us an idea and we’ll figure it out.”

And yes, I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s true. The designers and fabricators at Interpretive Exhibits CAN and DO do amazing stuff all the time. Of course, much of it doesn’t relate directly to tradeshow exhibits. We do outdoor interpretive signage, museum and visitor center exhibits, custom built-in cabinetry for businesses and residences, large-scale digital graphics…the list really DOES go on and on.

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photo credit: Adam Swank

So I thought I would sidle up to the guy at the Shameless Plug Department and ask if it was all right to toss out a free PDF listing of the stuff we do. Sure, why not.

So here ’tis: a one-sheet, easily downloadable and printable, of what we can help you with here at Interpretive Exhibits. Yes, it is a shameless plug. But every now and then you gotta blow your own horn.

Grab the list of Interpretive Exhibits’ capabilities here. (opens in a new window)

And go here for a larger list of free downloads to help you in your tradeshow marketing efforts.

Take a look at just a few of our projects:


It Ain’t Your Grandfathers Marketing Strategy

The following is a guest post by Roger Pike, VP of Corporate Training for Communication Steroids, a public speaking/media training company. Roger is a long time public speaker, radio news director, and currently Communications Director for the Marion County (Oregon) Democratic Party.

Public relations professionals, marketers, ad executives and visionary business leaders see it coming.  Every day consumers become more dependent on information they get on-line.  A lot of that information, and soon most of it, comes through social media.  People are asking their friends what they should buy.  And folks are blogging, tweeting, and posting to their Facebook page their reactions to products, and the service they get when they go to buy.  It’s adapt or get left behind, for, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-changing.”

Great challenges lie ahead, though, because, even those who recognize the growing relevance of the interactive internet often approach it’s idiosyncrasies with a traditional mind-set. Unfortunately, the new game will be played by new rules.  It’s time to leave some of our preconceptions behind.  Social media marketing is different, and companies and entrepreneurs must think differently to use social media effectively.  Here are some of my thoughts regarding the brave new social media world.

1)   It’s personal. Traditionally, it’s about brand…and creating the link in peoples minds between that brand and good results.  But in the new interactive world it’s more about relationships. Social media is about reaching out and touching someone, personally.  People won’t pay as much attention to your company logo in your social media effort, they’ll see YOU.  Yes, branding still matters, even in the social media.  But not as much as in the past…and certainly not as much as the personal touch.

2)   Everybody tweets. Social media marketing is different than traditional efforts because EVERYBODY represents your company.  The guy in the back you hired for exceptional accounting skills is just as much part of the company image as that fresh scrubbed young marketing rep you hired for their people skills.  EVERYBODY tweets, or at least, can tweet, so, in a sense, your marketing department just got a whole lot bigger…for better or worse.

3)   Pay Attention at all times. Traditional campaigns did their market research, chose the strategies to reach their demo, designed the campaign, launched…then sat back and waited for the metrics.  Now the response from your clients is ongoing.  You can tweak based on the reaction you get instantly through the social media.  So, LISTEN, really listen.  Don’t just say your going to listen.  Do it.  Really.

4)   Start now, begin anywhere. The old strategy relied on the “tried and true.”  But it’s a brave new world.  You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines on this one.  You’ve got to get into the game.  Big, small, young, or old the social media is the town square of the future.  It’s where people talk, it’s where a huge and growing number get advice.  It’s where they decide.  Conversations about your brand and products are happening all over the web.  You need to go hard or go home.

Learn a new meaning for ROI.  Everyone knows ROI means “return on investment” and the suits make traditional ROI the centerpiece of their decision to refuse a commitment to social media.  Let’s adopt a new definition for the acronym.  Let’s call it “risk of ignorance.”  Ignore the social media at your peril.

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photo credit: Ed Yourdon

Podcast: Tunisha Hubbard Interview

Tunisha Hubbard

Tunisha Hubbard is a tour manager and brand spokesperson for various live corporate and ‘guerrilla’ events. We met on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and I asked if she would do a brief podcast interview to discuss how she works tradeshows and other promotional events.

Her website bio describes her as ‘engaging, friendly, and enthusiastic, she loves that her job lets her interact with people, whether it is one person or fifty.’ Her enthusiasm is evidend in the interview as she discusses her various appearances and corporate promotions she’s been involved with.


Tunisha Hubbard website

Follow Tunisha on Twitter

Developing Your Social Media Tradeshow Strategy for 2010

108 High Resolution Dark Denim Social Media Icons

With social media becoming a hub of connection in both business and personal worlds, it’s a good time to look at how you’re planning and implementing your online social media strategy to connect with your customers and potential customers, whether you’re a B2C or B2B entity.

Just being on Facebook, Twitter and your own online website, whether a blog or a static site, is not enough. Writing blog posts and tweeting about them is not enough. Sure, all of that is good – but if you’re just putting a few random online tactics into action your overall strategy will likely suffer. (

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photo credit: webtreats)

Depending on the situation and the size of your company, you may be the only person that handles the company’s online presence and social media activity. Or there may be a concentrated group that works together.

Among the main areas to focus on:

  • Overall editorial/marketing social media strategy
  • Website/blog
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • How to tie those and other social media entities into your tradeshow schedule

Once your tradeshow schedule for the year is confirmed, or at least penciled in, get together with your team and come up with several ways you can create buzz or interest for your show appearance.

Create a brief plan for the year, which might look like this:

Show 1:
Objectives: a) sales, b) connecting with current customers

Show 2:
Objectives: a) lead gathering, b) adding to our e-mail list

Show 3:
Objectives: a) new product launch, b) new branding/look (new booth or graphics)

Show 4:
Objectives: a) sales of new product, b) introduce company to new area of country
and so on.

Once your plan is outlined, start filling in the holes, and answering several questions that relate to your Social Media efforts:

  • Who’s going to lead the charge?
  • Who’s on the front lines Tweeting, updating the blog and Facebook pages? What will the tweets consist of? What will you do online to draw booth visitors?
  • If you are going to put up videos on YouTube and your blog, who’s going to write, shoot and produce (and upload)?
  • Once the plan is finalized, who will need to sign off on it? Who is required to implement the plan?
@nst021 in action... AMAZING presentation on iPhone security and privacy!

Moving your messaging for the company across all of those various platforms, online and offline, in a unified manner is not simple or easy. In fact, there are very few companies that get it right and consistent across all platforms, so don’t feel bad if you are missing some components.

Internal coordination and communication will be essential to carry off the plan – a hard enough challenge even when all hands are on deck and aiming for the same objective. This is where double-checking and back-tracking will pay off in ensuring the appropriate messages are going out on the right channels.

Another important aspect of your social media is listening. What is the marketplace saying about your products, or similar products from your competitors?

In a recent Twitter exchange and recaptured in a blog post, Steve Farnsworth of Digital Marketing Mercenary asked that question of his followers:

@Steveology: What are some of your favorite social media listening tools?

* @IanBragg: Twhirl, and For Facebook, I use my own profile, not a 3rd party.
* @chadhorenfeldt: addictomatic, tweetdeck, Google Reader
* @kkmett: We have been using Filtrbox, not as fancy as Radian6, but easier on the budget.
* @SashaHalima: I like Twitter…a lot. Treat it like an RSS/wire thing sometimes. It’s what I use the most, followed by FB.
* @DannyBrown: Social Mention (, Google Alerts, Twitter 🙂
* @Aerocles: Tweetbeep for brand mentions & Hootsuite’s for link tracking and stats…those are the 2 that i use the most
* @ginidietrich: My fave social media monitoring tools are here! (Click To Read Her Post)*

Listening to your market’s conversation about your products and services should be a continuous process because the conversation is always changing. Sifting through the various conversations using keywords will take some getting used to. Could be this is one area where you might really considering bringing in a pro.

Being hesitant to be proactive about social media strategy is what holds many companies back. After all, it’s new. Fitting it in with the hundred other things you do daily can take away from your current focus.

But there’s always going to be something new. It’s just that this is a ‘new’ thing that your current and potential clients are engaging in and embracing with a passion.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Or ask for help from other people in the company, or if appropriate, outside the company such as consultant or adviser.

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photo credit: akosma

What’s your social media ROI?

Are you spending time or money on social media? Are you seeing a return on that investment? My guess is that it’s hard to tell. It could be that you’re not looking at it the right way or doing the right things in your company’s social media world. Some companies get it. Others don’t. The rest of us are flapping our wings in between, trying to get some loft out of this new entity…or…whatever it is.

Whether you’re putting resources into your marketing (tradeshow or otherwise), you should find this short (about 4 minutes) video fun, enlightening and perhaps even a bit intimidating when you consider what some of your competitors are already doing with social media…


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