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

October 2014

Tradeshow Marketing Analysis, Part 10: Social Media Engagement

This is number 10 (and the last) in a series. Check the previous articles here:

  1. Where to Start
  2. Budgeting
  3. Pre-Show Preparation
  4. Which Shows to Attend
  5. The Booth
  6. Booth Staff
  7. Lead Generation
  8. Post-Show Follow Up
  9. Record Keeping

Since I’ve written and blogged about using social media engagement at events, tradeshows and conferences for years at, I would be remiss if I were to not chime in on that broad topic before this tradeshow marketing email course ran its course!

But it’s much too big of a subject to cover in one email. So let’s establish a few things:

  • Social media is used by many, if not most, of your competitors
  • Lots of companies, however, don’t use social media properly, or get lost when trying to navigate the ins and outs and don’t get more than a few feet past the starting gate.
  • Your audience IS engaged in social media.

If you get nothing else from this lesson, remember that there is no one right way to engage in social media. Every company has a different level of knowledge and resources to throw at it. Which means that no matter where you are, your competitors will be doing both a better job and a worse job than you.

And if you’re NOT using social media, may I ask: why not?

52-580x435 CROP

Social media and the inherent connectivity and engagement has changed the world. Why would you NOT get involved in some way? And don’t say your industry is not involved. Every industry is. Don’t say you’re too old. Nope, that’s not the case – there are people older than you who are very adept at it (you’re lazy). And don’t say you don’t have enough time. That may be partly true, but there are people with less time than you that still find time to engage at least some.

To begin, you should have an OBJECTIVE. What do you want to gain out of social media engagement? If all you want are sales, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed, because sales are rarely a direct result of social media engagement.

If you are hoping to find new ways to engage with your market, find out their likes and dislikes, identify complaints, answer questions, solve problems…social media is designed just for you.

When it comes to using social media at events, some obvious ways to use it are to drive traffic to your booth, promote products and services and to make connections with fans, colleagues and your market. The key is FUN and to keep it light. Social media – for companies at least – is not a place to make heavy political statements or to slam competitors. Not that a little levity at your competitors’ expense doesn’t have a place, but it should be done thoughtfully.

Next, you must identify WHO is going to represent your company. Is it your marketing team? Or is it an outside agency, or a combination thereof?

Often, the combination works best. Your employees know your company culture, which is important in striking the right tone in posts and keeping important information at the forefront. An experienced agency, on the other hand, knows the pitfalls of tweeting inappropriately or responding to a sudden social media crisis.

Next, you will have to determine the best PLATFORMS to spend time and energy on. While there are several key platforms that come to mind – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. – it often takes an experienced agency to help identify the most important platforms. You know, the ones where your audience and target market hangs out and engages the most. If you’re currently involved in a handful of platforms, you probably have an intuitive understanding of the platforms your audience spends time and responds best.

Finally, you have to create CONTENT, and it must be created continuously and consistently. How many Twitter or Facebook accounts have you seen that are dormant and whose last post was over a year ago? It happens all the time. This goes back to identifying the resources you have available, either in-house or whether you have the ability to hire an agency to do the work for you.

Content comes in many faces: tweets, blog posts, short Facebook posts, photos, videos and responding to comments and questions on your platforms. When you get involved in social media you must make a commitment, and that commitment extends beyond the next month or year.

Social media is a marketing initiative, but unlike other marketing initiatives, there is no end date. An advertising campaign has a stop and start date. Social media is ongoing and the commitment is ongoing, too.

Knowing that you must be committed before jumping in with both feet shouldn’t keep you from getting involved, though. If nothing else, pick a platform – Facebook is probably the obvious choice if you’re not there – and create an account and start.

That’s all it takes to begin. You can make adjustments and learn as you go. Like all of your competitors!

And when it comes to using social media at tradeshows, there’s a LOT more to discuss. Which is why I’m giving you a PDF copy of my latest book: Super Networking at Events and Tradeshows Using Social Media. Just click the hotlink to download your copy now!


Google Hangout: Tradeshow Marketing with Rooibee Red Tea

One way to find out how tradeshow marketing works for a particular company is to sit down with them and talk about it. That’s exactly what happened recently with Zachary Anderson, Creative Director of Rooibee Red Tea, based in Kentucky. Zach discussed everything from using tradeshows to connect with influencers, pursuing a differentiation strategy to stand out from the crowd, sampling their delicious products and more – all from a 10×10 booth at most shows.

Enjoy – and keep watch for more Google Hangouts on tradeshow marketing with folks out there doing it year after year, sharing lessons learned.

Tradeshow Marketing Analysis, Part 9: Record Keeping

This is number 9 in a series. Check the previous articles here:

  1. Where to Start
  2. Budgeting
  3. Pre-Show Preparation
  4. Which Shows to Attend
  5. The Booth
  6. Booth Staff
  7. Lead Generation
  8. Post-Show Follow Up

What records should you keep from your tradeshow appearances?

Short answer: EVERYTHING.


And since you can store records digitally, anyone can access them from anywhere at anytime its necessary.

This means photos, videos, booth layouts, drayage and set-up/dismantle orders, staff debriefing, visitor comments, lead generation – really, all of it should be captured and kept in an obvious place. Maybe you create a 3-ring binder for every show that sits on your shelf. Maybe it’s a folder in a cloud that is easily accessible to every one that matters in your tradeshow marketing world.

Here’s the thing: if you keep it all, you’ll be surprised at how those bits and pieces will come in handy at some point in the future. Some sales person will come to you in six months and will ask if you know what that guy from Company B was interested in when he visited the booth. If you kept a copy of that lead sheet, you can pull it out (because he lost his copy) you are now a hero.

If the marketing team comes to you and says “by the way, do you know what graphics we used at the show in January?” you can pull out a photo and show them exactly what the booth looked like and what products were on display.

If the tradeshow booth management assistant asks to see last year’s electrical grid, you can pull it out in a few seconds.

While a lot of companies keep much of that information, the challenge is often trying to put their hands on it in short order. But if you create an easy system, by dating and labeling everything in a specific folder, such as “2104 Expo West” and then sub-folders with photos, videos, booth layouts, set-up and dismantle invoices, etc., it becomes ten times easier the next time around to manage the process.

So your challenge is this: archive EVERYTHING and ORGANIZE it in such a way that you and your team can access it easily.

You do that, and you’ll be ahead of virtually all of your competitors.

Six Tips To Create A Top Custom Modular Exhibition Stand

The following is a guest post by Reno Macri.

A custom modular exhibition stand is an option to make the most of your investment, providing the chance to not only adapt and modify your stand for a program of shows, but also to re-use components from your stand in other events in between exhibitions. Modular design provides a uniquely adaptable framework for your exhibition, and can have greatly reduced shipping costs. The unique custom elements can provide high impact branding, whereas the durability of materials and efficient storage ensures your exhibition stand will look amazing every time you use it.

Create a Sense of Intrigue

Virgin media Exhibition stand design

Some of the best custom modular exhibition stands’ success lies in their creation of a sense of mystery that helps convert passive passers-by into active potential customers.  Intrigue is one of the most powerfully effective ways of increasing interest in your brand, and a custom exhibition stand is a perfect canvas upon which to create it.  Carefully plan what you want to achieve with your design, and ensure that the pay-off to potential customers hooked by the sense of intrigue created by your exhibition stand is worth their time and is relevant to your brand identity. 

The Bigger the Better?

Vodafone Custom Stand Design

When choosing the size of modular exhibition stands, a larger space will obviously create more of a visual appeal to potential customers.  If space permits, a large exhibition stand accurately portraying your brand identity, with a range of interactive technological aspects and friendly, knowledgeable personnel will combine to create the perfect exhibition.

Memorable Live Presentations

Philips Custom Stand

A lot of research has indicated that exhibits that provide interactive live presentations are amongst the most memorable to consumers.  The opportunity to be equally entertained and engaged in a presentation presents an opportunity to be far more active in the event, and will also set you aside from your competition.  Any exhibition is about standing out, and not simply blending in with the number of other stands there.  It is things like live presentations and demonstrations that will help you achieve this, particularly with the flexibility provided with a custom modular exhibition stand, which will allow you to incorporate all of your design features. 

The Power of Touch

Vodafone Custom Stand Design

Interactive digital technology has emerged as one of the most successful aspects of any exhibition stand in the last ten years.  From the early days of simply having a computer present on which you could register your interest through social media sites, to the fully-immersive world of countless iPads and interactivity that continues to grow in popularity with the public.  Again, it is all about ensuring your potential customers aren’t simply passive in their experience of your brand: integrate them into the experience, make them a part of it and let them feel what you product or service is all about.

The Power of Smell

Aviva Custom Design Build

Of all five senses, it is the power of smell that is the strongest in triggering memories or an association.  Some aromas remind you of specific holiday destinations, of childhood memories, and can instantly transport you to another time and place within your mind.  Drastically under-used in exhibition design, the power of smell as a memory trigger has the potential to be incredibly powerful with creating brand association through your exhibit.

The Power of Sound

Philips Exhibition Stand

Although you will need to research what regulations exist with the exhibition space, a good use of sound can be the perfect way to attract visitors to your stand.  Music, or a presentation will help draw attention to your stand for those who cannot immediately see it.

Reno Macri is a managing director of Enigma Visual Solutions, a leading exhibition design company in Berkshire, UK. It specializes in providing exhibition services like custom stands design and build, signage system, conference set design, event branding, graphic productions and much more. He has been working in exhibition & the event industry for more than 2 decades. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on experiential marketing and design trends. You can follow him on twitter.

Tradeshow Marketing Analysis, Part 8: Post Show Follow-Up

This is number 8 in a series. Check the previous articles here:

  1. Where to Start
  2. Budgeting
  3. Pre-Show Preparation
  4. Which Shows to Attend
  5. The Booth
  6. Booth Staff
  7. Lead Generation

Now you’re back at the office. The booth has been buttoned up and shipped, the staff are back at their desks, and you have a stack of leads that need to be follow up with, and perhaps other tasks, such as going through multi-media (photos/videos) to be used in a variety of ways.

Let’s break them down:

  • Sales leads
  • Staff debriefing
  • Logistical notes
  • Photos/videos and other content creation

Sales leads would of course be handled directly by your sales follow up team. Each company’s methods are their own, so as long as you know how that works, it’s not my job to make that over. Just make sure it DOES work for you!


Staff Debriefing: While it’s not always ideal to make it work on the show floor, you can gain a lot of insight into how your booth works, how visitors perceive your company and more by holding daily debriefings on the show floor. Even if it’s only a quick 15 minute wrap, by allowing all staffers to share perspectives, offer ideas and feedback, your company will benefit.

Back at the office, another way to benefit is to spend a little more time debriefing each staffer individually. This allows you to offer more intimate feedback and encouragement, and to identify any specific areas that need improvement. It’s also helpful because in a one-on-one conversation they’re likely to be more candid than they might in a group on the show room floor.

Make notes on the feedback for your tradeshow file.

Logistical Notes: Any notes you have made before, during, and after the show should be reviewed. Did the set-up crew have any problems? What questions came up from visitors that you didn’t expect? Did the electrical grid plan work effectively? What was missing? What surprised you at this show?

What about competitors? Did you or any of your staff get around to review your competitors booths and see what their staff and products were all about? Were any of your competitors there in bigger or smaller booths? What could you sense or what did you learn from seeing the booths and products? Were any of your competitors missing? Gather all of these notes as well, and be sure to ask your staffers and management staff what they thought.

Finally, what photos and videos did you bring back from the show? If you have an active content-creation group, you may have dozens or hundreds of photos, and perhaps a dozen or more short videos. These may be photos of visitors, other booths (competitors as well as partners), video testimonials or demonstrations. These can all be used for research, and many can be used on social media platforms to share with your audience what you were doing at the show. Without getting too deep into the use of social media for your event marketing (more on that in the next few days), by capturing multi-media content for research and future use, you can extend your visibility at tradeshows by weeks, months or longer, and use the content to tease your audience in another 11 months when you are prepping for the show again.

Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

Tradeshow Marketing Analysis, Part 7: Lead Generation

This is number 7 in a series. Check the previous articles here:

  1. Where to Start
  2. Budgeting
  3. Pre-Show Preparation
  4. Which Shows to Attend
  5. The Booth
  6. Booth Staff

First, let’s define lead generation before we get too deep into this section.

All marketing is the activity of looking for either a new lead, or a way to bring current clients or customers to new products or services. Generating leads is a must to keep your business moving forward. No leads, no business.

When it comes to tradeshows, lead generation is the specific act of capturing contact information and related follow up information from your visitors so that you can connect with them again at a not-too-distant-in-the-future date.

Lead generation is NOT the act of having a fishbowl where you invite attendees to throw their business card in for a chance to win an iPad. Nope, in this case your lead must be someone who’s qualified to a) need or want your products or services and b) in the position to purchase soon.

All of your lead generation activity should spring from these two determinations. When a visitor enters your booth, they’re expressing at least a modest active desire to learn more about your product. At this point, you have an opportunity to quickly learn a few things: who they are, what their interest is in your offerings, and if they are in a position to purchase soon.


If you search Google for “lead generation” you’ll get hundreds of ideas for drawing a crowd at your booth and capturing their contact information.

Many of them will work well, and you’ll walk away from the show with lots of potential leads. I say ‘potential’ leads because you’ll often find that many of those business cards are from people that just stopped by to try and win an iPad or they spun a wheel, or some other fun thing. But that doesn’t make them prospects.

Instead, focus on capturing the contact information from people who are in a position to buy from you, and leave all the rest to the side.

This means that you must focus on your efforts to attract those potential clients and disqualify the others.

By asking one or two questions you will determine if the visitor is qualified. If they are, you dig a little deeper. If they are not qualified, you politely disengage so that you are not wasting their time or yours.

To start, your graphic messaging can help to qualify those visitors by being laser-focused on the benefits your company offers. This might mean a specific statement or a bold claim or bold question that gets that market thinking “hey, I need to know more!”

Look at lead generation activities as just another investment – and that it should be measured just like other investments. Are you getting good results from your investment? If not, change it up based on becoming more focused on what works and what is important to your audience.

Help them.

If you’re selling a product or service, you must know what it is that keeps them up at night. What are they thinking about at 3 am that is keeping them from sleeping soundly? Dangle the bait in such a way that you address that problem. Perhaps that means a free white paper that they can get if they fill in a brief form on an iPad stationed at the front of the booth. Perhaps that means conducting proprietary research directed at that market designed to uncover exactly what bugs them.

There are hundreds of ways to catch a prospect, but they all boil down to this: are your products designed to solve their problem or satisfy a need? If so, you’re on the right track and your questions will spring from those platforms.

Next, you must have a proper method of capturing the information. You can go high or low tech, it doesn’t matter as long as the information is processed and passed on to the right people who are prepared to follow up in a timely manner in the way that your prospect expects.

At best, your information will include contact info (name, address, email, phone number) and will gauge their interest in your products or services. It will optimally have specific information on when they want to be contacted and their current stage of interest in your products. Beyond that, you’re probably wasting their time and yours. But for a valid and proper follow up, your sales person will benefit greatly from knowing all of that information.

Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re using an iPad, scanning badges or a filling in a form on a clipboard, as long as it works effectively.

Finally, you must have a foolproof method of getting the leads back to the office! I’ve heard too many stories of companies who have spent thousands of dollars exhibiting, sending people to the show and then sending the leads back in the crates with the booth – and they weren’t able to track them down for weeks. At which point the value of prompt follow up was lost, along with thousands of dollars in potential sales.

Ideally, each day’s leads should be sent back that night to the main office and put into the follow up system. At worst, they should accompany the tradeshow manager or other designated person back to the office at the end of the show. Digital leads have the advantage of being able to be sent back quickly, but even paper forms can be scanned or photographed or turned into PDFs using smartphone apps and sent digitally, as well.

While your booth staff’s engagement is important (see part 5), bringing back the leads is critical to your show’s success.

When you remember that nearly 80% of all tradeshow leads are NOT FOLLOWED UP ON, if you can fix this simple step you’ll be ahead of 4 out of 5 of your competitors. So where would that put you?

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