One of the lesser seen but more important parts of your exhibiting experience is the help provided by labor that sets up your exhibit, work with audio and video setup, transportation, carpet/flooring and furniture. And you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that there’s an industry association that works on behalf of the more than 200 member companies that represent more than 12,500 fulltime tradeshow professionals and more than 50,000 part-time workers.
As with all companies in the events, tradeshows and conference industry, the EACA members have been dramatically affected by the pandemic, which cancelled or postponed hundreds if not thousands of tradeshows. The EACA, to work their way through the pandemic, has continued to hold regular virtual meetings and webinars for members, which are available on their website.
Executive Director Jim Wurm was on a recent industry call that I attended, and he mentioned that several webinars on their website might be worth a look. I took a look and found several that might be of interest to those in the tradeshow world.
Webinars about cash flow, internet advertising, the PPP program and lobbying efforts on behalf of the industry, scaling your business, employee engagement, and more. You can search for “webinar” on any page and you get something like this.
If you’re an exhibitor, several of these archived webinars may be of interest to you – check them out!
Zoom fatigue hit you hard enough yet? Tired of waiting for people to join you in your Zoom room and then wondering about all of the books on people’s shelves or what’s new in their background since the last time you talked to them on Zoom?
Hey, I get it. We are all kind of tired of the ways that the pandemic has impacted us. But buckle up, because it’s not going to change much in the near future. As a recent meme said, “Omg, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do when YOU get the vaccine shot?? You’re gonna go back home, wait a month, get your second shot, go back home, wait 14 days for antibodies, then keep wearing a mask and social distancing until community transmission reduction. That’s what.”
So there’s that. But as humans, we still crave connection and contact. Here are a handful of ways to stay connected in spite of the fact that we won’t be going to tradeshows any time soon.
Pick up the phone. Yeah, not much different than a Zoom call, but it’s a little less formal (as if Zoom is formal in any sense); it’s a little more casual and your concentration is on the voice of the person you’re talking to much more than it is on the background in the call.
Video call: Zoom, Google, Skype, Facetime, etc. But take it off the business side of your life. My family and I have a Zoom call every couple of weeks on a Sunday afternoon. I have three brothers in the northwest. My mom, who is turning 93 in a few months, is up Santiam Canyon. Last year we got her a MacBook Air and she’s learned the basics: email, creating and printing documents, listening to music, surfing the web. And Zoom calls. She loves them, and so do my three brothers (two younger, one older). The conversations are goofy, free-flowing and valuable.
Send a postcard. Since last summer when I started cleaning out my closet and found a small box of postcards that have been around for decades, I’ve been randomly sending postcards to friends, near and far. Postcards are cool. They’re different. And if you have a photo you took of someone, it’s pretty cool to send that to them as well (check out my SendOutCards account for more info on that).
Send a letter. When’s the last time you sent a letter – not an email – to someone in your circle? Like a prospect or a client? Letters are different than an email. They’re oddly more personal and professional at the same time, because, hey, who takes time to print a letter and stuff it in an envelope, anyway? I did this a few weeks back. It was cool. And I found out that several people had moved, so there’s that.
Send a gift. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe a $10 coffee card, or some brownies (again, SendOutCards is great for sending gifts). When it comes to gift-giving, even on a small budget, the options are endless. While your inclination might be to send branded swag, I don’t think that part really matters. It’s such a rare thing to send someone a small “just thinking of you” gift that you’ll probably do better with something that doesn’t have your company logo on it. Sending a coffee card is a good way to schedule a virtual coffee with employees, clients or prospects.
Virtual Classes. On a wider scale, you might consider teaching what you know. If it’s not something you’re used to doing, you might start with a short five-minute tutorial on something simple.
Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.
The simple act of being aware of what’s going on can transform an average exhibiting experience into a successful one. Here’s a quick video on what you things you might want to be more aware of next time you’re exhibiting.
One of the first clients I managed to snare in my early days in the tradeshow world came when I cold-called a Portland-based company called gDiapers. It took awhile, maybe a few months, but we ended up designing and fabricating two tradeshow exhibits for them. At one point five or six years ago, they decided to stop exhibiting at tradeshows and focus on other marketing efforts.
I wanted to catch up with gDiapers CEO Jason Graham-Nye to see what he and the company have been up to lately. I know Jason moved his family back home to Australia five years ago from Portland, which meant changes for the company as well.
Little did I know what kind of adventures he and his team got up do, especially once the coronavirus hit. I hope you enjoy the conversation – I sure did:
Year ago, I wrote a brief article on doing a tradeshow marketing SWOT Analysis, which would be a bit different from a more general SWOT Analysis.
But now that we’re in a pandemic created by the COVID-19, how would you approach doing a SWOT Analysis and is it worth doing?
I would argue that while a formal SWOT is probably unnecessary, it’s not a bad idea to at least examine some of the changes the pandemic has wrought, to see what obvious and perhaps significant changes your company is facing.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
How are you positioned in the marketplace? Do you have new products about to launch? How are you perceived by your customers and clientele? Are you doing things to keep relationships going? Are sales strong or flat? Just knowing these and other related things will help you understand your position in the marketplace compared to your competition and compared to how you might have been with no pandemic.
With no tradeshow marketing coming for at least another quarter or two, can you put the budget towards something else? Is a virtual event worth the investment? Can you do another kind of outreach for a fraction of the cost of exhibiting at a big tradeshow? Take a look at your options and see if there are missed opportunities that you may have overlooked.
Are there marketplace threats you sense but perhaps haven’t put your finger on? Are your supplier lines still open and working well, or are there kinks that may signal something worse down the line? Do you have any competitors that are taking this time to move aggressively into an area that you thought you dominated? Threats are often overlooked because, unless you actively think about them and look for them, they can sneak up on you without you knowing until it’s too late.
All in all, doing a brief SWOT check-in may help you understand how the company is doing and give you insight and context in how you’ll handle the rest of the year and move into 2021.
When is a branded promotional product a good idea? You’ve seen them all, right? Pens, letter openers, tins of mints. But choosing the right promotional product for a company or product is as much an art as science. Rama Beerfas of Lev Promotions joins me to talk about the promotional products industry – and getting the right branded product for the right situation.
The social distancing guidelines put forth due to the COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut off a majority of the economy, like turning off a spigot. It would be easier to line-item the businesses that are open than those that are closed: grocery stores, drive-through coffee shops and some business offices. Ten million in the US have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks.
The impact of this on the nation, on the world, is unfathomable.
I know many people who are sitting at home most of the day, binging TV shows or reading books or even playing board games or sharing music online. Others are making use of the time to learn a new skill, to tackle that novel, to write music, to create.
Others don’t know what to do.
If you’re still working, whether from home or in the office, and you have to sell to keep things going in the company, what do you do? What approach do you take?
I subscribe to several sales newsletters and thought I’d share a few thoughts. Some came from the newsletters, others from just my own experience. But here we are in a time where it’s difficult to even find someone to talk to.
First, when you call, it makes sense to ask your contact what approach their company is making. Are they putting everything on hold for the time being, awaiting the end of the social distancing and figuring they’ll kick back into action when the pandemic is over? Or are they moving forward with business as usual, as much as they can?
If it’s the former, tell them, that, ‘yeah, it’s a crazy time, I get it,’ and ask if you can send a quick email with your contact information so that when we do get back to normal they can reach back out to you. If it’s the latter, move into your typical sales questions to uncover any needs they may currently have for what you’re offering.
Another part of the equation is what you’re selling. If you’re in the restaurant supply business, chances are that your potential buyers are not even open, unless they’re doing take-out or drive-thru only. If you’re selling Personal Protective Equipment for health workers, you probably can’t keep up with the demand. It all depends on the specific products or services you’re selling.
Most people probably fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Which means you’re going to have to find a strategy that keeps at least some business coming in.
With millions stuck at home, that means people are going online to shop, they’re connecting via video meetings (Zoom is being mentioned dozens of times a day in the mainstream press!), telephone and email.
Questions to ask yourself:
What shape is the company website it? Does it need upgrading? Can you add new products, new services and new ways for people to connect?
Are your social media platforms being updated frequently? With so much time on their hands, everybody is on social media.
Can you offer a digital version of your services? Lots of people are taking this time to create online learning classes or other ways of sharing their information.
Can you connect with others regularly? Sure! Some people are starting up regular Zoom meetings just to have a face-to-face connection with others outside of their home.
Bottom line: be there for clients and prospects. Don’t stop doing outreach, however that looks for you. Don’t be pushy but if you continue to think you can offer something of value, something that your clients and prospects can really use, keep doing it.
Share Experience is a new company formed late last year by Marcus Vahle and John Pugh, both with long experience in the event and tradeshow world. Given what looks to be a unique approach to carving out their niche in the event world, I thought it might be fun to catch up with them for a conversation on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:
They say you only get one chance
to make a first impression. That’s true. But you can make a first impression in
any number of ways. Let’s go over seven ways that might work for you.
Show your visitors an impressive tradeshow exhibit. Certainly, having a 3D visual representation of your brand is going to make an impression. The challenge is to make sure it’s not a negative impression. A new exhibit will go a long way, but you don’t have to buy something new to make a positive impression. You can dress it up with new graphics, has all of the functional needs required, and make sure it’s spotless. And keep it as clean as possible throughout the day.
Greet people with a smile. Smiles translate good will in every culture and language.
Ask a good question as you’re using that smile. Knowing what to ask and how to ask it will go a long way to demonstrate the seriousness of your marketing attempt.
Don’t be distracted. You know the usual distractions: phones, food and lack of energy. The phones thing is easy: don’t pull it out of your pocket unless you have a specific work-related reason to use it at that moment. No Facebook, Twitter or Instagram unless you’re doing work. Food is easy, too: don’t eat in the booth. Gotta eat? Go elsewhere. Lack of energy is also very distracting. That is more challenging: get better sleep (not always possible), don’t eat food that puts you on a sugar or caffeine high, which leads to an energy crash. Which leads to distraction from having a lack of energy.
Have something engaging for your visitors to do. A challenging proposition, but if done correctly, your visitors will be impressed when they can DO something in your booth that is: 1) fun, 2) engaging/interesting and 3) allows them to learn something about your product or service.
Don’t be negative. While a first impression can be formed in an instant, don’t forget that you’re also forming that first impression while you’re in that first conversation. You may be talking about products and services and the topic of a competitor’s products and services come up. You may be tempted to diss the competitor’s stuff, but I think the better move is to take the high road: “yeah, they do good work, but it depends on what you’re looking for.” And then ask questions that uncover the prospect’s needs, giving you a chance to play up the elements of your products or services that can address that need better than your competitor can.
First impressions count for a lot.
What other ways can you think of to make a great first impression at your next