It’s July, and it marks a milestone in the life of TradeshowGuy Exhibits and my career in the tradeshow world. This year marks 21 years since I moved from radio into the tradeshow world and sold my first project, a custom 20×20 tradeshow exhibit, to Kettle Foods. At the time, I had just been hired by Interpretive Exhibits in Salem and happened to have a good friend at Kettle, and they just happened to be on the lookout for a new tradeshow booth.
I was off and running. For the next nine years, I brought in numerous corporate, government, and nonprofit entities into the clientele at Interpretive Exhibits. Then in July 2011, the owner shut the company down. At that point, I had a choice: find another job or try to keep going on my own in the tradeshow world. It took a bit of effort, but with a handful of clients from the defunct company, I was able to make a go on my own.
A Diverse Clientele and Noteworthy Achievements:
Since then, TradeshowGuy Exhibits boasts an impressive roster of clients, including distinguished names like Bob’s Red Mill, Schmidt’s Naturals, Meduri Farms, Nancy’s Yogurt, Hyland’s Homeopathic, Wedderspoon Natural Honey, Dave’s Killer Bread, and Alpine Bread, Organixx, Safe Catch, and more. Our involvement with SoYoung, which received the prestigious Exhibitor’s Portable Modular Awards in the 10×10 category, exemplifies our commitment to crafting exceptional exhibits that stand out on the trade show floor.
TradeshowGuy Exhibits owes much of its success to the unwavering support of trusted partners who have played pivotal roles in the company’s journey. Working hand in hand with Classic Exhibits for design and fabrication has allowed TradeshowGuy Exhibits to bring to life captivating and innovative exhibits that leave a lasting impression on attendees.
The partnership with Eagle Management for show labor ensures that each exhibit is flawlessly executed, allowing clients to focus on building connections and leaving a lasting impact on their audience. And with Scan Global Logistics managing shipping logistics, TradeshowGuy Exhibits can rest assured that their exhibits and materials arrive safely and on time, no matter where the event occurs.
I should also mention 3D exhibit designer Greg Garrett, who has provided us with several great designs, including the iconic Bob’s Red Mill 30×30 island booth that gave the company ten years of service before finally being retired last year.
Embracing the Future with Confidence:
As TradeshowGuy Exhibits celebrates 22 years in the trade show business, the future looks brighter than ever. With a proven track record of excellence and a commitment to innovation, the company is ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Their passion for creativity and dedication to client success will continue to be the driving force behind their accomplishments in the future.
A Heartfelt Thank You:
Finally, to our esteemed clients, partners, and all those who have been part of this incredible journey, TradeshowGuy Exhibits extends its heartfelt gratitude.
All right, all right, AI is coming! It’s going to swoop in and change the world. Strike that, it has ALREADY swooped in and changed the world. I’ve been curious about it, and as time marches on, I’ve spent more and more time learning how it can be used and what it can do.
It’s very extensive, but it ain’t the end-all-be-all. Still, with the right approach, AI can be very helpful. It can come up with ideas that you haven’t thought of, and it can help execute those ideas once you firm them up.
Some artist friends hate AI and what it might do (already is doing) to the art world. And I get it. But whether it’s business, art, writing, coding, or investing, AI is yet another tool – if you can learn how to use it correctly. This is what I’ve been trying to figure out, once I got over my initial reservations.
The key, as I see it, is to know WHAT to ask and, perhaps more importantly, HOW to ask it. Details are important, but knowing the broad basis for your beginning inquiry is also important.
This morning, I decided to ask CHAT-GPT“How can a marketer use AI to enhance their trade show marketing efforts?”
Here’s what came back:
Using AI in trade show marketing can offer several advantages for marketers. Here are some ways in which AI can enhance trade show marketing efforts:
Audience targeting: AI can help marketers identify and target the right audience for a trade show. By analyzing vast amounts of data, including demographics, interests, and online behavior, AI algorithms can predict which individuals or companies are most likely to be interested in the products or services showcased at the trade show. This enables marketers to personalize their marketing messages and focus their efforts on reaching the right people.
Lead generation and qualification: AI-powered lead generation tools can automatically collect and analyze data from various sources, such as social media, website interactions, and pre-show registrations. These tools can help marketers identify potential leads and qualify them based on predefined criteria. AI can also assist in lead scoring, prioritizing leads based on their likelihood to convert, enabling marketers to allocate their resources effectively.
Chatbots and virtual assistants: Deploying AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants at trade show booths can improve attendee engagement. These AI systems can answer frequently asked questions, provide information about products or services, and even collect contact information for further follow-up. Chatbots can operate 24/7, ensuring that attendees receive immediate assistance even when booth staff are unavailable.
Predictive analytics: AI algorithms can analyze historical trade show data, market trends, and other relevant information to provide predictive insights. Marketers can use these insights to anticipate attendee behavior, optimize booth layout and design, determine the most effective marketing strategies, and forecast the potential return on investment (ROI) for participating in a specific trade show.
Real-time data analysis: AI can process real-time data gathered from trade show activities, such as social media interactions, mobile app usage, and attendee feedback. By analyzing this data, marketers can gain valuable insights into attendee preferences, sentiment, and engagement levels. This information can be used to adapt marketing strategies on the fly, tailor messaging, and improve the overall trade show experience.
Personalized recommendations: AI algorithms can analyze attendee data and behavior to provide personalized recommendations for products, sessions, or networking opportunities at the trade show. By leveraging this technology, marketers can enhance the attendee experience by offering tailored suggestions that match individual interests and objectives.
It’s important to note that while AI can significantly enhance trade show marketing efforts, it should be used as a tool to augment human expertise, not replace it. Marketers should combine AI capabilities with their domain knowledge and creativity to create compelling experiences that resonate with trade show attendees.
That’s not a bad start. But here’s the fun part. Now you can take each one of those bullet points and ask AI to break it down even further like I did here:
Tell me more about how AI can assist in audience targeting. Give me ten detailed ways that it might work and can be easily implemented.
Certainly! Here are ten detailed ways in which AI can assist in audience targeting for trade show marketing, along with examples of how they can be implemented:
Demographic analysis: AI algorithms can analyze demographic data such as age, gender, location, and occupation to identify the target audience for a trade show. Marketers can use this information to tailor marketing messages and choose the most relevant channels for promotion.
Social media listening: AI-powered tools can monitor social media conversations and analyze keywords, hashtags, and user profiles to understand the interests, preferences, and sentiments of potential attendees. Marketers can use this information to refine their targeting and create content that resonates with their target audience.
Lookalike modeling: AI algorithms can analyze the characteristics of existing customers or trade show attendees and identify similar individuals or companies. Marketers can then target these “lookalike” audiences with their trade show marketing efforts to maximize the chances of attracting the right attendees.
Behavioral analysis: AI can analyze online behavior, such as browsing history, content consumption, and purchase patterns, to gain insights into individual preferences. Marketers can use this information to deliver personalized marketing messages and recommendations to potential attendees.
Predictive analytics for attendee acquisition: AI algorithms can analyze historical trade show data and external data sources to predict which individuals or companies are most likely to attend a particular trade show. Marketers can leverage these predictions to focus their targeting efforts and allocate resources effectively.
Natural language processing (NLP): AI-powered NLP algorithms can analyze written content, such as blog posts, articles, and social media posts, to understand the interests and intentions of potential attendees. Marketers can use this information to create content that aligns with attendee needs and engage them effectively.
Sentiment analysis: AI can analyze social media posts, reviews, and other forms of feedback to determine the sentiment associated with a trade show or its exhibitors. Marketers can identify positive sentiment to leverage as testimonials and address any negative sentiment to improve attendee perception.
Geo-targeting: AI algorithms can analyze geolocation data to identify individuals or companies located in proximity to the trade show venue. Marketers can use this information to run targeted ads, send location-based notifications, or offer special incentives to attract local attendees.
Contextual targeting: AI can analyze the context in which potential attendees engage with content, such as websites, articles, or online forums. Marketers can use this contextual information to deliver targeted advertisements or content that aligns with the topics or themes relevant to the trade show.
Purchase intent analysis: AI algorithms can analyze online browsing behavior and purchasing signals to identify individuals or companies displaying high purchase intent related to the products or services showcased at the trade show. Marketers can prioritize targeting these prospects to maximize conversion opportunities.
Implementing these AI-driven audience targeting strategies may involve leveraging existing AI tools and platforms, partnering with AI technology providers, or developing custom AI solutions. The specific implementation will depend on the resources, budget, and technological capabilities of the marketing team or organization.
You can see how quickly you can get down into the rabbit hole.
So what’s really happening here? As I understand it, AI has been, and continues to, scrape the web as content, and when you ask a question, it pulls pertinent information and regurgitates it back to you based on the questions you ask and how you ask them. It’s not giving you anything new – it doesn’t think it just responds. But it has millions and millions of data points, articles, expert analysts and more to pull from, so the info it gives you is going to be as deep as you want it to be.
And having read the responses to those questions, I can see how AI can be used to come up with ideas that you may have missed, didn’t know about, or hadn’t paid attention to, and AI can help you implement them.
Now: would you us AI to help in your tradeshow marketing efforts?
Trade show marketing can be a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. By participating in trade shows, businesses have the opportunity to showcase their products or services to a large and targeted audience, build brand awareness, and make valuable connections with potential customers and industry partners.
One of the main advantages of trade show marketing is the ability to reach a large and targeted audience. Trade shows attract individuals and businesses from a specific industry or market, so businesses can be sure that they are reaching the right people. This can be especially beneficial for smaller businesses that may not have the budget for more expensive forms of marketing, such as television or print advertising.
Tradeshow marketing draws a focused audience
Another advantage of trade show marketing is the opportunity to build brand awareness and establish credibility. By participating in a trade show, businesses can showcase their products or services to a large audience and demonstrate their expertise in their field. This can help businesses establish themselves as leaders in their industry and build trust with potential customers.
In addition to building brand awareness and credibility, trade show marketing can also be an effective way for businesses to make valuable connections with potential customers and industry partners. Trade shows provide a unique opportunity for businesses to network and build relationships with people who may be interested in their products or services. These connections can lead to increased sales and partnerships that can help businesses grow and succeed.
Overall, trade show marketing can be a powerful tool for businesses looking to reach a large and targeted audience, build brand awareness, and make valuable connections. While it can be costly to participate in trade shows, the potential benefits make it a worthwhile investment for many businesses.
Podcast promoters like to flaunt the number of downloads and listeners they have. The bigger the number the better, the more successful, right!
But what does the number of downloads really tell you? I have a podcast app on my phone. I subscribe to 20 or 30 or 40 podcasts. Actually, I don’t know how many I subscribe to because I rarely listen to any of them. There are two, maybe three podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis, and depending on my schedule, I may or may not get to every one of them. And if they’re longer than twenty minutes or so, my attention span wanes. Or if the discussion veers into some weird minutiae that no longer interests me, I’ll find something else to listen to. Or if I get to the end of my drive and turn off the podcast, when I get back in the car, I may no longer have any interest in hearing any more of it.
Yes, I realize that I may not be a normal podcast listener. I don’t listen at home, or in the office. Only in my car. Not when I’m working out or riding my bike. Doesn’t work for me. Might work for others.
All of which brings up the question: how accurate are those metrics, anyway?
I don’t have an answer. I have questions.
When someone visits your website, analytics can tell you a whole bunch of things how long they stayed, what pages they looked at, what page they came in on, and what page they left on. You can see trends in how many people visit the site day after day, week after week, and month after month. Trends are good, I think. Mostly.
But those analytics won’t tell you what the visitor really thinks. Maybe they bought something. Maybe they read something. Maybe they were interrupted by someone in their office and never read anything on the page even though the browser tab was left open for an hour.
On this blog and in my books, I’ve discussed important metrics to keep at tradeshows: number of visitors, leads, sales, and so on. And those are all important. But only to a point.
Metrics are just a part of the bigger picture, but I don’t think you can use them to know exactly what’s going on in your prospect’s or client’s mind.
For that, you must have a real conversation. Find out what they’re really thinking. Learn what questions are really on their mind. Ask what problems they are really facing. Find out how your products or services are really helping them – or how those solutions are coming up short.
It’s all-important stuff to improve your business and serve your customers better.
Metrics are important, but dig deeper and see what the numbers are really telling you, and what CAN they actually tell you? Like podcast downloads, the number can’t tell you how many people actually listened all the way through. And if they did tell you that, they can’t tell you how close the listener actually was paying attention.
Maybe we can start a podcast about all of that. Do you think anyone would listen?
Despite what many people think, offline advertising is not dead. Traditional marketing methods still have their place in the digital age! At the Tradeshow Guy Blog, we know that long-forgotten advertising strategies can be just as effective as their online counterparts, particularly for local businesses with a community presence. Used in combination with digital marketing strategies like email and social media, you can create a powerful marketing plan with the help of old-school advertising methods.
Phone calls are great both for promoting your business and learning about your target audience. It’s important to understand what your customer wants before you spend good money on advertising and calling up members of your target audience is a great way to extract this information. Call up your customers—or cold call potential leads—and ask them what they think of your product or service. Their answers will help you determine the best approach for your marketing, including what content will resonate best and on which marketing channels you should focus your efforts.
Tradeshows and Events
Events are fantastic opportunities to promote your local business. For example, Retail Insider explains that you can use trade shows to raise brand awareness, educate your customers, and expand your sales channels. Trade shows are also great for keeping an eye on your competitors! There’s a good chance that your top competitors will attend the same trade shows as you, so take advantage of the opportunity to see what they’re doing and learn from them.
If you want to get the most out of each trade show, you must plan ahead. Reach out to industry experts and vendors who will be attending and schedule quick meetings with them during the show. Make it easy for potential customers to provide their contact information so you can get in touch after the show. You could even print a poster with a QR code linking interested guests to your website!
Flyers and Brochures
Printed flyers and brochures are another cost-effective traditional advertising strategy. Because brochures hold a lot of information, they’re great for educating people about your product or service and spreading awareness about your business. Brochures can also give your business a sense of credibility and authority. You don’t need to limit yourself to mailing lists—remember to hand out your brochures at events and trade shows as well!
Take advantage of digital tools to make your brochure design appear sharp and professional. For example, Canva is a popular tool for designing graphics for websites, social media, and print materials. And if you really want to give your brochure a professional edge, don’t hesitate to hire a graphic designer!
Billboards and Banners
According to HubSpot, billboard advertising can be a powerful way to build brand awareness. When you rent space on a billboard, you get to broadcast your business to as many people as possible. The best billboards tell a story, which can be tough with a single image and one or two lines of text. Consider hiring a professional copywriter to ensure your content is captivating and engaging!
Similar to billboards, banners are great for advertising your business at local events. Consider sponsoring an event, like a sports game, festival, or fair, and printing banners to promote your company. This is a great chance to showcase your logo and build awareness around your brand. Don’t overlook traditional advertising methods! When done right, offline advertising methods can be great for getting the word out about your business and directing interested consumers to your website. Look for ways to bridge your online and offline marketing strategies, boost your conversions, and grow your business!
Emma Grace Brown lives her life by her rules, and it works! When she’s not snuggling puppies, Emma promotes female empowerment through her website. Her mission is to help those who live with self-doubt to realize they don’t have to mold themselves to conventionality.
Safety is about more than protecting attendees from COVID-19. Visitors to your booth should feel comfortable being in the space you set up to showcase your business—and you should be able to focus on the task at hand without worry Read more
When was the last time you saw a card trick? I mean, a good card trick where you were left scratching your head about how the heck the magician did that? You immediately want to know how it was done, right? But no, you never see that. Not really. A good magician works his magic and all you see is the result: the reveal.
If someone showed you how it was done, the magic of it sort of vanishes – poof! – right? One of the emails I get is from a site called Penguin Magic. It seems like nearly every day they send out a video of a trick of some sort, and they’re offering to sell you the trick so that you can practice it and show it off to your friends and family.
I don’t have a big desire to be a magician and learn card tricks well enough to show them off (maybe I’m too busy writing novels and songs and other stuff in my limited spare time), but the concept of lifting the curtain to see how a trick is done is intriguing. But not enough to spend the time to practice card tricks.
When it comes to tradeshow marketing, there’s no magic involved, except to the visitor, and perhaps to only a few of them. First-time tradeshow visitors (and every tradeshow has its share of first-timers) might not fully understand what’s going on. They don’t know exactly how the exhibits get set up, although they can surmise that if they want. They don’t see all of the planning and organization and rushing and graphic layout and production and teeth-gnashing when deadlines get pushed and rush fees are instituted.
All they see is your booth, in all its glory (or not). They only see your staff. They don’t see what training, if any, that staff did prior to the show to know how to greet visitors, how to ask the right questions, how to discern between the prospects and the tire-kickers.
Yes, we’ve heard it a hundred time: perfect is the enemy of good. But what would a perfect tradeshow experience really look like – if you could make it happen?
From your perspective – the exhibit tradeshow manager or staff member – it might look like something like this:
Fair prices for booth space rental, material handling, shipping and other show services such as installation/dismantle, cleaning, etc.
Getting a nearby hotel, within walking distance, at a good price.
Twice as many leads as you had planned for and/or more sales than you anticipated.
Tradeshow exhibit getting plenty of compliments from visitors, maybe even recognition from the show itself with some sort of award. Graphics looked terrific, booth was always clean and presentable.
All of that would be great, right? Maybe not perfect, but as close as you can get.
But let’s flip the script and ask the question: what would be a perfect tradeshow experience for your visitors? Yeah, the people that come to the show – and to your booth – to learn about new products and services and hopefully find the right one that suits them to a T.
Immediate recognition by a booth staffer when you walk into the booth: a smile and a good opening question that engages them on a topic that is relatable to their specific situation regarding your product or service.
The visitor would feel like a welcome guest in your booth. After all, you’ve hired the best people and trained them well, so they know how to properly welcome visitors.
Good follow-up questions from the staffer. Perhaps even a product sample if appropriate.
Collection of contact information: no more and no less than what is needed for a timely follow-up.
Their visit to your booth was useful to them but didn’t end up being cut off or taking too long. After all, they have other booths they want to visit.
The follow-up was exactly as promised: on the day and time it was planned, and it happened like it was intended, whether an in-person visit, a phone call, an email, or a follow-up piece of mail with a sample or brochure or another promised piece.
Based on their visit, the prospect decided that your company was indeed exactly what they were looking for and feel that the business relationship is just starting and, assuming all continues to go well, will continue for years.
Now that you know what a perfect tradeshow experience might feel like from the attendees walking into your booth, what will it take to pull that off, again and again?