Sure, you can mess up in a lot of ways with your tradeshow marketing. There are so many moving parts to the process. But follow these seven ways and you’ll really come away with a bad experience.
What happens when you, as a company, take a stand on an issue important to you on the tradeshow floor?
As with pretty much everything, the answer is: it depends.
I don’t see it all the time, but there are a few examples where supporting a cause is a big part of a company’s tradeshow exhibit. A part of their public-facing stance.
The first one that came to mind was a recent update to an exhibit we did for Dave’s Killer Bread. Dave Dahl, the famous Dave of the namesake brand, had a, shall we say, interesting history. As a result, in 2019’s updating of the exhibit for Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, DKB focused a large part of their messaging on an issue important to them: making sure felons have a second chance. Their main counter and backdrop behind it were graced with statistics and images offering their take on the issue.
Another recent project seen at Expo West was Kashi’s spare booth warning of the lack of organic farmland in the U.S. There was no product to taste or see, just a simple 20×20 exhibit that displayed their concerns.
Another client, Bob’s Red Mill, made a change to their overhead banner touting that the company was an employee-owned company.
Once you start looking, it’s not hard to see the causes that companies support in their tradeshow booths. World’s largest B Corp. Zero waste to landfill. 100% organic. Save the Bees. The free-from market. And on and on.
Sure, you could say that especially in the natural products world, showing off your bona fides is just good marketing. And that’s true. But many companies go beyond that and plainly support causes as part of their tradeshow exhibit that a few years ago would be rare.
It’ll be interesting to see how this continues to unfold, and if it’s as obvious in other industries.
Nothing like having everything in one spot, right? With these stands doing yeoman’s work in your booth space, you’ll find a little extra space for other things, like more visitors?
3-in-1 and 4-in-1 stands offer choices of tablet (iPad or Surface) holders, hand sanitizer, and literature holders in one compact, convenient stand. And of course, they can be fully branded, powder-coated, with anti-theft locks, and wire/cord management that gives it a clean look.
Take a gander:
Contact us for more information. Go to our full Exhibit Design Search at TradeshowBuy.com.
Ever have one of those moments when you wish you had a picture of something from the tradeshow appearance you did, oh, six months ago, but you can’t find it? Setting up your exhibit at a tradeshow is a fleeting moment, and the more photos you take and the more records you keep, the better off you’ll be as you prepare for next year’s show. Here’s a quick video on a handful of things you might consider tracking from show to show:
It was March 2, 2020, when things began to fall apart. When things really started to hit home.
I was getting ready to head out to Portland to catch a flight to Southern California to assist a number of exhibiting clients at Natural Products Expo West. It was a Monday, and I’d already heard from a few clients the previous week who’d decided to pull out. By the time Monday morning rolled around there were still some clients hanging on, but as the morning progressed as I alternated between packing and checking email and refilling my coffee, another couple of clients had cancelled.
In the midst of all of that, I managed to set my Hydroflask coffee cup in the microwave to heat another cup. You’re not supposed to microwave it. As I stood in the kitchen with a hundred things bouncing around my head, I didn’t realize what I’d done until it was too late. Oops! Hydroflask coffee cup meltdown!
The AirBnb was already booked, as was the flight and the rental car. I had reached out to a couple of friends that I was planning to drop by to see. I spoke with my wife and we came to the conclusion that since it was all paid for, even though there were only a client or two left on the list who still intended to be there, I might as well head out. What’s the worst that could happen, right?
As I sat on the plane in Portland awaiting takeoff, I got an email from the only client who had so far not cancelled. Now they were withdrawing. No clients left. A moment later, the official email came from New Hope: Expo West was cancelled. Nothing to do now but ride it out.
The next day, I went to the Anaheim Convention Center and found that about half of our clients had exhibit crates sitting in their booth space, but no one from the company had come to the show. So of course, I offered to assist. I spent the day coordinating return shipments, making sure that clients were taken care of.
The next few days were mostly a nice little vacation. I visited a handful of friends in the area, visited both the Nixon and Reagan Presidential libraries, which were fascinating, then spent a day at Joshua Tree National Park. Got a tour of the Entercom radio building on Wilshire, thanks to my cousin who worked there. Good memories. Hard to believe it’s been a year.
Since then, Expo West was initially postponed for a couple of months. Then cancelled. Then Expo East was cancelled. Then Expo West for 2021 was pushed back to the end of May. Then it was turned into a virtual event.
Shows keep getting pushed back, postponed and cancelled. Yes, a few are going on here and there, but industry vets seem to agree that tradeshows and conferences won’t return in full until early 2022. Sure, there might be an uptick in shows in Q3 and Q4, but not like it used to be. In fact, 2022 is still kind of up in the air.
Closer to home, TradeshowGuy Exhibits is still operational. We’re not going anywhere, and are looking to when clients are ready to upgrade exhibits for shows in 2022 and beyond. In the meantime, we’ve found a way to keep moving ahead – like most everyone we know – and keep after it day by day.
You can still benefit from tradeshows without having to invest in a big booth and booth space. Let’s take a look at a handful of ways you might do this:
It doesn’t take that much to exhibit at a tradeshow. Just rent a booth space, bring an exhibit, a handful of staffers and do your thing.
Uh, what’s your thing, though? That’s the big question. Are you there to increase brand awareness? Show that you have a bigger or cooler exhibit than your main competitor? Take a client out for dinner and drinks?
As George Harrison once sang, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
It’s better to have a plan. To know what you want. More leads? Sales? Giving away a specific number of samples? Getting more social media followers? Certainly, you want to pick goals that are important to growing your business. But one step beyond that is to not only pick good goals, but to make them concrete goals, such as:
- We want 150 good leads, 50 of which are new.
- We want 300 new Instagram followers.
- We want to hand out 1000 product samples.
- We want to do 100 in-person demos of our product or service.
- We want to meet with CEO’s of three major prospects.
Once you delineate those goals, create a plan to get there. Create the roadmap. If you want to meet with specific people, set appointments. If you want to line up new social media followers, make it easy. If you want new leads, have a method for uncovering the right prospects.
Tradeshow marketing can be expensive, but since you are at a place where thousands of prospects are all gathered in the same place, it’s also the ideal setting to generate leads at the lowest cost-per-lead you’ll ever manage.
Create a plan. Follow the plan.
Everything you do, everything you say, how you say it, what you wear, what you drive…they all send signals to other people. A Rolex sends a different signal than a Swatch watch. A Tesla sends a different signal than a Ford 150 pickup. A pair of shorts sends a different signal than a tuxedo.
We all choose the signals we send out, whether consciously or unconsciously. What kind of car we buy, clothes we wear, people we hang out with, how we speak, what we read?
When someone visits your place of business, what signals do you send? How clean is the floor, what kind of bathrooms do you have (and how clean are they)?
Every interaction a prospect or client has with you or your company is an opportunity for them to form an impression.
It’s the same thing at tradeshows. Do you ever think about the signals you send with your tradeshow presence? No doubt a lot of thought goes into how you’ll present your image and brand down to the right colors, the type of packaging, the types of products you design, create and market.
But I wonder if that consideration goes all the way to the people in your booth. Do you decide if Jesse is a better choice than Aaron to represent the company in the booth? Do you choose branded clothing, such as t-shirts, for all of your booth staffers to wear from day to day? Do you train them on how talk to visitors, how to ask questions, how to stand, how to understand and control their body language?
What about the state of your booth and exhibit? Is the carpet clean? Is the garbage can overflowing? Does your exhibit have cracks and signs of wear and tear or is it in tip-top shape with new graphics and clean countertops?
Everything you do, wear, and speak sends a signal.
What signals are you sending to your visitors?
Every tradeshow visitor is looking for something. And a majority of those visitors are decision makers at their company or can influence buying decisions. Make sure you’re giving them what they want: