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

May 2011

Why Your Tradeshow Marketing Strategy Deserves Loving Care

The tradeshow exhibit is at least 6 – 8 months away – have you considered your tradeshow marketing strategy? You’d better get started – that’s not that much time!

“Huh? Over half a year and I have to rush things?” you say…

No, I didn’t say RUSH things…I mean you have better get your stuff together because those six months are going to go by pretty quickly. And the last 2 months will go by like an Indy Racer if you haven’t spent the first four months working on it.

Face it: when people visit your tradeshow booth, they expect to see the BEST that your company has to offer. If you’re a manufacturer, your prep time may mean several meetings and coordination with your manufacturing division to make sure you’re showing off the BEST of your BEST.

Why would you want to go to a tradeshow and put anything but the BEST of the BEST you have to offer on display? This is the one time a year that those visitors get a chance to see your goods and services. They’re comparing YOUR BEST with the BEST of several other companies – perhaps dozens of other companies.

So plan to put on your best.

This means your best graphics. Your best exhibit. Your best product. Your best people. Your best lead-capturing system.

When you put your best out there, you’re competing on the same level as the rest of the exhibitors – your competitors. Face it, most of them (but not all) are putting on THEIR best face at the exhibit. So you’d better be putting on YOUR best, too.

The challenge, though, is that we’re all just humans. We all have crazy schedules and incessant demands. And given those demands, when push comes to shove putting on your BEST is often extremely difficult to do. That’s why it takes more effort than you really think it will.

So that gets you back to idea of starting NOW and not waiting another few months on your tradeshow marketing strategy. If you start now and determine WHAT you’ll need to do to put on your best, HOW you’re going to do it, and WHO is going to help you to make sure it’s going to get done, the odds increase that you’ll actually make it happen by the time the show rolls around.

And that gets back to the idea of loving care: if you approach the planning of your next tradeshow with loving care, you’ll cover all the bases you need to cover to ensure that you are putting on your best.

Start now. Give your tradeshow marketing strategy some good old-fashioned love.

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

Be a Most Valuable Tweeter

Are you a valued Tweeter? Do you find and share things on your Twitter account that people like to read and then share with more people? If so, you’ve become a Valued Tweeter.

If not, let’s explore the concept a bit further to see if there is some way to put a box around what it takes to be a Valued Tweeter in the tradeshow world.

First, know your audience. Why are they following you? If you’re Andy Borowitz, your followers just want to get a nice chuckle. If you’re following The Expert, you want to be amused and informed and perhaps even outraged. If you’re Robert Scoble, your followers want to find out the coolest and latest tech news, along with your comments and insight.

So, who is following you? What have you been providing since you first joined Twitter? Are you offering just a few lame pedestrian tweets a week that gives no one a reason to come back or re-tweet? Or are you focusing on a handful of strategies that shows followers you’re really thinking about this Twitter thing?

Secondly, focus on what you want people to know you for. That’s your Twitter Brand. If you’re spending your tweets discussing that falefel sandwich you had for lunch or posting a Twitpic of your cat lazily lying in the sun, that’s WHO YOU ARE. If, on the other hand, you’re putting out a nice balanced mix of business and personal tweets along with links to posts, videos and other things that you find interesting, that’s what you’ll be known for.

What is your Twitter Brand?

Third, pay attention to what your followers are tweeting. If they’re tweeting about it, they’re obviously interested in it. The only caveat here is that if any particular followers tend to send out spammy, promo-laden tweets, chances are they really aren’t interested in your stuff. You’ll have to do some mental filtering of the type of posts here.

Fourth, REALLY pay attention to the type of material that gets responses and gets re-tweeted. And keep looking for similar types of tweets or posts to share. For instance, when I blogged about QR Codes, those posts tended to get re-tweeted and commented on several times. So I look for more QR Code posts and information to share.

Fifth, when you’re getting set to attend a tradeshow, focus on material that revolves around the show. Find the hashtag – it’s usually pretty easy to do if you just ask people that are going to the show. Then include the hashtag in all of your show-related tweets. Regularly search the hashtag to follow any conversation relating to the show – and follow those Twitter accounts of people going to the show. Most of them will eventually follow you back, so you now have more followers that relate in some way to your business world.

Sixth, as you approach a tradeshow that you’re either attending or interested in, the chatter relating to the show gets noisier and quicker. Depending on the size of the show, you’ll have a hard time keeping up! But if you can participate in any of the conversation in a valuable way, you’ll show the attendees that you are a Valued Tweeter. Offer insight into local restaurants, hotels, travel tips; links to blog posts about previous show experiences, etc.

Seventh, keep in mind that if you want to make Twitter valuable you have to show up there on a regular basis. Checking in once or twice a day should be fine. Checking in once or twice a month is not worth it. If that’s all you can do, don’t bother to get involved.

Finally – pick up the phone and call a Twitter follower once a week. What, pick up the phone and make it personal? Sure, why not? Find someone that looks interesting – no doubt you can find someone like that in your dozens, hundreds or thousands of followers. Do a little research, pick up the phone and say HELLO. Find out more about their business. Don’t worry about trying to sell something to them. If you plan to do that, you’ll intimidate them and they won’t want to talk to you. You’ll leave a bad taste in their mouth.

If, on the other hand, you ask how you can help them – if you genuinely would like to find out what they want to succeed in business, you might find a way to give them a hand or refer them to a potential client. Yeah, I know, it’s sort of counter-intuitive. But if you offer to help people, they’ll find ways to reciprocate. Ask them to describe their perfect client. Ask them to tell you about their favorite projects. Learn about them, and you personalize the tweets. Next time they see one of your tweets (and you see one of theirs), you’ll have a greater connection, perhaps even a nice emotional connection to the person.

You’ve just become a Most Valuable Tweeter.


Six Ways to Use Video at your Next Tradeshow

If you’re not used to shooting video, it can be a major mental shift to be able to have your video camera ready to go at all times. A small Flip video (or similar) camera can help alleviate that some, but it’s still a bit of a shift to go from not shooting video at your shows to shooting a LOT of it for present and future use.

One way to be prepared is to simply be prepared: in the booth, keep your video camera out and attached to a tripod. That way it’s only a moment away from being able to turn the switch and shooting testimonials or demos.

Another way to always be prepared is to ensure that you always have enough power. In some cases that means extra AA batteries; in other cases it may mean that you are able to plug your video battery into a USB or AC outlet anytime. A full-power camera is easier to use than one that’s down to it’s last 10%!

Next, have a list of videos that you’d like to shoot – or at least a list of possible ideas. Here’s an incomplete list of things that you might consider at your next tradeshow:

  1. Testimonials: nothing like a satisfied customer telling potential customers how well your product or service works. The more details, the more believable (but make it short!).
  2. Demos: if you’re able to demonstrate how your product works inside your booth, shoot that demo a few times and put the best one up on your YouTube channel.
  3. Guests: if you have a celebrity or other type of guest, have them sit down for a short interview.
  4. The Boss: is the CEO stopping by and can he be counted on to be a good ‘face’ of your company or product? Then make sure you get him on video discussing something cool, new or important about your company or a specific product.
  5. Q&A: if your product makes people curious as to how it works, shoot random visitors asking questions (get their permission) and then show someone from your company explaining the answer.
  6. Other Products: do other exhibitors have products that can be used in conjunction with yours? Get one of reps from that company to your booth (or go to their booth) and get some video showing how that combination might work to benefit potential customers.

Yes, some of these may take more work than others. But if you come back from your tradeshow with a few hours of videos, this gives your marketing staff oodles of ways to use that video and roll it out on your YouTube channel, blog, website and Facebook page over the next several months. Be sure to put a package together to post a few weeks before next year’s show as well to promote the upcoming appearance.

People like to watch video online – the stats that support this keep growing all the time. Find ways to get people to spend a few moments with YOUR video and you may have a new customer.


Event Marketing Summit –Thoughts on a Conference

Just wrapping up the three-day Event Marketing Summit at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency – and so how has it gone?

Tim meets the Sumo wrestling world champ...
Tim meets the Sumo wrestling world champ...

First, the real reason I came was that I was invited to speak – and that I did. Beyond that I had a chance to attend learning sessions with some great presenters from a wide variety of folks in the event marketing world – and network with people from across the country and as it turns out, several countries as well.

On Monday I gave a 40-minute presentation ‘The Tradeshow Four-Pack: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube” on how to use social media to promote tradeshows, events and conferences.

Had a great time doing the presentation and received very positive feedback. I’ve included the slide presentation below. Having put together a lot of webinars and live presentations, I try to use the slides to support the stories I tell and the points I make. So – unlike a lot of slide decks – there aren’t as many statistics and detailed information as you might like to see. But that’s the point: the slides should support and enliven the stories – not tell them for you.

In watching other presentations throughout the past two days, most (but not all) of them went overboard with information on the slides. And most presenters ended up almost reading many of the slides verbatim.

There was one presentation – a keynote by author Scott Belsky (“Making Things Happen”) – which to my mind was extraordinary for a couple of reasons. First, Scott is obviously an accomplished presenter. He knows his topic inside and out – he’s lived it. Second, the slides were there to support his presentation – not to BE the presentation. The visuals he used to help illustrate the stories were well designed, easy-to-understand and were enhanced but not overwhelmed with animated elements.

One of the best reasons to attend an event like the Event Marketing Summit is for the networking. This event it set up with numerous networking opportunities and even for a hesitant networker such as myself it’s a lot easier to reach out to people and find out who they are and what they do and to see if there are opportunities to help them out.

The event is bigger and broader than I thought it would be. At the opening luncheon it was announced there are about 1000 people attending, including many from other countries.  It seemed like half the people I met, though, are from Texas! I did encounter Carol Abade of EXP, who came with a group of eight from South Africa.  Her company puts on a conference every October and may bring some speakers over from the states. She asked if I’d ever been to South Africa. No, but it would be quite an experience – so, yeah, I’m game!

Mozes provided text message survey results and updates throughout the conference. In fact, at the beginning of most presentations (but not mine!), the moderator asked everyone to respond via text to a survey question, with results being shown in real time.  The survey results were interesting, but it seemed at times that they felt like because they had the service, they had to use it – some of the questions seemed contrived. Nonetheless it was a good tool and it got people engaged at the outset of the sessions.

I used a service called Opiniator to ask three separate questions during my presentation. I liked the display of results in Opiniator better than Mozes, simply because they were shown in graphical form and to my mind easier to read (see screen shots of the results as they were displayed in the attached slide deck).

As far as the actual presentations, my overall judgment is that they were generally of a higher quality than I’ve come to expect at events like this. Speakers seemed more prepared. They handled questions adeptly. Slide decks – for the most part – were appropriately balanced between offering too much information and being too bare. There were some presentations, however that fell short in at least one respect. I tweeted after one presentation that whoever designed the slides should have kept in mind that slides are free. Instead of putting ten slides’ worth of information on one slide, they could have broken it up into ten slides. Putting too much info on one slide does a couple of things: first, they’re harder to read and second, if you are able to read all of the information, it’s natural to jump ahead, read the entire contents of the slide and make the presenter superfluous. As a presenter, it’s not in your best interests to do that!

From an organizational standpoint, the Event Marketing Summit is exceptional. The Hyatt Regency facility is set up to handle all of this. Everything went off without a hitch (from my perspective – who knows what happened behind the scenes!), so the attendees all seemed pleased with the event overall.

Dan Hanover, the General Manager with Red7 Media Division of Access Intelligence, was my main contact. Red 7 is the publisher of a number of magazines in the event and media industry, including Event Marketing, EXPO and Event Design, and produces numerous events nationwide tied to the magazine audiences, along with smaller regional events. Red 7 Media was acquired this year by Access Intelligence.

Kudos to Red 7 and all the speakers for a fabulous and engaging event.


Speed is Sexy

As you’re sitting in your tradeshow booth waiting for people to arrive and buy something from you, it’s possible you might have a few spare moments to yourself (okay, I realize this is an unlikely scenario, but play along with me)…

You log onto Twitter or Facebook and send out a post “here at booth XYZ at the Expo Extravaganza – got a new widget you HAVE To see! First person to mention this tweet wins one! #showhashtag”

I’ve seen several similar tweets at shows I’ve attended, and made a point of trying to be the first to respond. Not because I necessarily wanted the goodie, but to see the reaction of the tweeter when I showed up within a few minutes.

“Oh my Gosh, it works!”

“I can’t believe you showed up so quick!”

“People really read those tweets!”

Yeah, I’ve had those types of responses. Put something out there that’s attractive and valuable and people will show up at your booth. Fast. Speed is sexy because it gets your attention.

You can do the same when you respond to a tweet or a Facebook post that relates to something you do, whether at a tradeshow or not.

If you’re at a show and see a tweet from someone else at the show that you can respond to with something helpful or valuable, don’t wait. Respond. Now.

I recently heard the story of a guy who had been hanging out on Twitter for several months, trying to figure it out. He’d tweet, listen, respond. One day he saw a tweet from someone who had apparently been waiting for a salesman to show up and give him an estimate for a phone system. But the guy was a no show.

So our intrepid hero twitter responded – ‘can I help?’ Within moments he had set up an appointment to discuss that new phone system. In the end, responding to the tweet netted him a $250,000 sale.

Yeah. Speed is sexy.


Social Media is Connectivity

What is Social Media?

I’ve seen several answers to that question. Admittedly, it’s a broad, generic question. If MySpace is social media, and Facebook is social media and Twitter is social media, what about YouTube and Wikipedia?

Those are just websites, or outposts for interaction. broke it down like this: “The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.”

Elsewhere, I’ve heard that Social Media is a conversation. But when you have several thousand followers on Twitter, or hundred and hundreds of fans on Facebook, how can those tiny snippets of back-and-forth actually be called a conversation? To me, that’s a bit of a stretch.

Yet another comment came from a recent blog post: social media is “…the most overrated development on the internet.” The same person called it “simply a facility to get people talking” which seems to make sense to me as I regularly pick up the phone and call people I’ve met through social media interaction.

Social Media is nothing if you don’t make a connection.

The connection can start weak and be strengthened through effort.

So perhaps the best description of social media is that it’s a way to connect. It’s CONNECTION in real time with people around the world with some common interest(s).

With the countless ways with which we share the various aspects of our lives or even the fleeting things that catch our attention even for a moment or two, it’s hard to know where to draw borders. And I think we do have to draw borders or we’ll go crazy and spend waay too much time trying to connect on all platforms.

Some people connect easiest with Facebook. Others like to post tweets. Others say that LinkedIn is a great business connectivity tool.

Try them all and see what fits your approach and personality best. You may find that one platform is great for personal connectivity and another is good for business. Some may be useful for both.

When you do make the connection, take a few moments to respond and strengthen that connection just a bit. Those that respond in kind deserve a little more attention. Those that don’t may not – perhaps you really don’t know yet.

It’s all an experiment, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. What works for you may not work for your friends or colleagues and vice versa.

Social Media History

Here’s a great look at the History of Social Media complete with a photo of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak phone phreaking. Even before the term ‘Social Media’ became widespread, it was clear that people were using all means available to connect with other like-minded people. With today’s online tools and the mobile smart phone platform, connecting and sharing is more rampant than ever.



Getting Started on Twitter

As a tradeshow marketer, you may be wondering how you can use Twitter to your advantage in your marketing scheme. After all, Twitter is the bomb, right? It’s at the top of everybody’s list of cool social media toys, right?

According to the latest stats, an average of 460,000 people start a new Twitter account each day. That’s about 167 million per year if the trend holds. With a current usage of just over 200 million, Twitter stands to double the number of accounts in less than 18 months.

So don’t tell me Twitter is for kids. These are adults and businesses getting involved.

But you’re still waiting to get started.

I understand. You don’t know exactly where to start. Or maybe you have a small following on your Twitter account and it’s just too much time and too confusing to try and get any traction out of Twitter.

First things first. If you don’t have an account get one.

Next, to get people to follow you, you have to do two things: 1) follow people and 2) advertise the fact that you’re on Twitter.

As to the first – follow people – you have to decide who to follow and why. If you start following people at random, and they’re unrelated to your industry or to your overall goals, you’ll dilute your Twitter stream with a bunch of unnecessary tweets. Now sure, a little of that’s okay. If you want to follow Charlie Sheen, help yourself! But Charlie probably won’t be of much help when it comes to finding valuable information about your industry.

Go to Google’s keyword tool and put in a few terms that relate to your industry. Search for those terms using Twitter. Follow those Twitter accounts that appear to be in your industry or realm.

Now make a list of companies that are either your direct competitors or are in your industry. Don’t limit yourself to the large and most obvious companies. Be sure to include those smaller and medium-sized companies, too.

Next, make a list of the most prominent people in your industry. Writers, authors, CEOs, marketers, advertisers, designers, creative people…the list can go on as long as you want it.

If you can’t easily find these people on Twitter, you may find them through LinkedIn. Often people will list their Twitter handles on LinkedIn.

These are all people and companies you should start following.

In my experience, about 75 – 80% of people that you follow will follow you back.

Now that you’ve gotten involved in Twitter, start to participate!

But…what to tweet? That sometimes is a hard choice. After all, you don’t want to be known for inane and useless tweets about what you had for breakfast (unless you’re eating a stunning b-fast in Maui or someplace unusual!).

So look to other tweets for ideas. Think about what you are interested in. Think about what your industry might be interested in. If you find a link to an interesting story of blog post, share it on Twitter.

If you see a fun or clever or useful post, re-tweet it. Reply to the author and thank them for sharing.

Find ways to interact. That’s what it’s all about.

The more time you spend there, the more comfortable you’ll be, the more you’ll understand how to interact and ultimately Twitter can and will become an extremely useful communication tool.


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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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