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

October 2012

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us about Tradeshow Marketing

Thanks to a recent post on tradeshow-exhibiting Zombies published here on the Tradeshow Guy Blog, Mel White, VP of Business Development for Classic Exhibits, was suitably inspired to come up with a Top Ten List on what we can all learn from zombies. Thanks for sharing, Mel!

  1. Single-minded Focus. You may not appreciate their all-consuming desire to eat your flesh, but they are committed to the task. They let nothing get in their way, except an ax to the brain. Your next trade show will be wildly successful, if you make it a priority, not an afterthought.

  2. Teamwork. Zombies travel in packs, like ravenous hyenas. That teamwork ensures them a much higher percentage of kills. There’s a reason “We killed it” signifies success. By working together, those poor doe-eyed attendees don’t stand a chance.
  3. Appearance Matters. You never forget your first impression of a zombie: filthy clothing, rotting flesh, vacuous stare, and rancid halitosis (that alone is enough to make you hurl). It’s sad but true. We judge people by their appearance. Your company spent considerable money to participate so shine your shoes, press your shirt, and dry clean that blazer.
  4. Lights, Motion, and Noise. The undead and the living are both attracted to lights, motion, and noise. As much as we try . . . we can’t resist it. When planning your booth, ask yourself this, “Will my exhibit attract 200% more zombies than my competitors?” If the answer is “No!” then you need to get creative (or consider a ceremonious human sacrifice ever day).
  5. Intelligence. Zombies love brains and so should you. Being smart about your trade show marketing means you understand that trade shows are not the same as print ads, videos, brochures, or traditional sales calls. Trade shows are opportunities to attract new customers and strengthen existing relationships.
  6. Fresh Meat. Ever notice that zombies won’t eat other zombies. They like their meals fresh. Fresh ideas and innovation, particularly during a weak economy, propel one company forward while leaving another one struggling to survive. Trade show attendees go for two reasons:  to find solutions to existing problems and/or discover innovations that will strengthen their operations or bottom line.
  7. Know Your Customer. In zombie-speak, we are customers. Good customers freak-out and get eaten. Bad customers ram a metal rod through a zombie’s skull. You want good customers, just without the “getting eaten” part. Good customers become good customers because we understand them and tailor our product or service to meet their needs.
  8. Preparation Matters. Zombies don’t need a trade show toolkit or an exhibitors handbook or an exhibit designer, they are 100% prepared the moment they go from living to undead. You’re not so lucky. You won’t succeed without thorough pre-show, show, and post-show preparation.
  9. Without Customers, What’s the Point? Wandering aimlessly is pointless, even to a mindless zombie. Zombies crave excitement. When a living, breathing human enters its proximity, it switches from listless to high alert. Serious exhibitors react similarly, albeit without the growling and moaning. We’ve all seen exhibitors who appear annoyed or resentful when an attendee enters their booth, interrupting their game of Angry Birds. What’s the point if it’s not about customers?
  10. There’s No Cure. Once a zombie always a zombie. If you love trade shows and are serious about trade show marketing, there’s no antidote. It’s in your blood. No matter how hard you fight it, once bitten, it’s incurable.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf from Flickr.

4 Ways to Avoid Tradeshow Exhibiting Zombies

As a tradeshow manager, one of the worst things you will ever face is a booth staff that has become, well, zombies part way through the tradeshow. If you leave the booth and come back to find your staff spending time discussing politics or gossiping about business (disengagement), or if you see things disappear (employee theft), ignoring visitors (wtf? – visitors are why they’re there!), you’ve got a Zombie Apocalypse!

Zombies in your tradeshow booth don’t actually walk around chewing on your tradeshow booth or looking to dismember visitors, but with active disengagement your booth staff might as well be zombies for all the good they’re doing your company.


So, here are 4 ways to avoid Tradeshow Exhibiting Zombies.

Make sure your staff is trained. Nothing’s worse than untrained staff, expect perhaps an uninformed staff. If your staff doesn’t have the skills to interact positively with visitors or know how to answer questions, they might as well be the walking dead.

Marketing goal buy-in. If your booth staff has only the bare information on why they’re there (pick up a paycheck!), you’re doing your company a disfavor. Your booth staff, from the lowliest temp employee to the highest ranked engineer or member of management, should know exactly WHY you’re at the show, WHAT the goals are, and HOW to attain those goals. If they SEE the goal and BELIEVE in what you’re doing, chances are very good they’ll have BUY-IN and will participate with energy and enthusiasm. If so, they’re emotionally engaged. In not, they might as well be…you get the point.

Communication. Your Zombie Apocalypse is only a motion or two away if you aren’t able to communicate effectively and in a timely manner. If that means you’re tweeting about a prize giveaway or posting great deals on Facebook that will spur visitors to rush to your booth, but don’t tell all of the staff, those promotions may fall flat on its face.

Show them you appreciate them. Yup, sometimes the hardest thing for some folks is to say THANK YOU for a job well done. If your tradeshow succeeds and your staff did a stellar job, be sure to recognize them for it. Often the recognition can be nothing more than a pat on the back in front of the staff, but it can also mean that you’re buying them a nice dinner on the last night of the show and telling them as a group that you couldn’t do it without them. Whatever form of recognition you choose, you must be sincere and believable.

Follow these guidelines and the Zombie Apocalypse will likely bypass your company and instead devour your competition!

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 photo credit: possan

Re-thinking QR Codes

If you listen to some marketers, QR Codes are the coming thing. The best marketing tool of all time. Others say they’re hard to use and difficult to set up.

Neither may be completely true, but both have a little truth to them.

I’ve been scanning QR codes for a couple of years to see how they work, since I first picked up a smartphone app. And they’ve been, uh, mostly less than successful. In fact, I’d estimate that only about 1 in 4 or 5 QR codes scanned properly, and only 1 in 4 or 5 of those actually took me to a smartphone-optimized landing page.

Which begs the question: why should you use QR codes for your marketing?

Street fashion Rotterdam

I can think of only a few reasons. First, if you want to support your marketing efforts with a secondary channel, a QR code may be a good way to support that. Let’s say you’re offering a handout at your tradeshow booth, but you want to steer those people with smartphone QR code apps to download them as a PDF. You’re making the brochure or document available as a limited paper edition, but unlimited electronic downloads. A QR code should work just fine for this purpose – just make sure you state the purpose of the QR Code in easy-to-understand directions.

Secondly, if you want to share specific information that a smart phone user can put to immediate use, offering a QR code with a URL is a good way to steer people to that landing page. This might be a situation where you offer additional information for those that are looking for it.

As always, the caveats still exist: make sure the QR Code is easily scannable (high contrast black on white and large enough to scan), optimize the landing page so it looks good on a smartphone, and TEST the link right before it goes into action to make sure it works properly.

Yup, QR Codes CAN work. Just make sure that you have a damn good reason to use them.

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 photo credit: van Van Es

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