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

lead generation

Leveraging AI for Pre-Show Marketing in Tradeshows

If nothing else, I’m a forward-looking guy. Yes, yes, I know; I visit the past a lot in my mind and in my music selection. After all, I’m fast approaching 70. Still, I embrace the digital age in most, if not all, of its many forms. I recently thought it would be worthwhile to check in with ChatGPT for some help on using ChatGPT in the tradeshow world. A few months ago, I set up my own GPT based on my own writing. Yes, that’s a thing. I suppose the goal is to have GPT write in my own style so that I don’t have to edit its output that much. Maybe. We’ll see. I think the jury is out. Meanwhile, here’s a recent article that GPT and I came up with on using AI in the tradeshow world. Can you tell the difference between its writing and mine? And yes, I have edited it from the original output.

The digital age has ushered in a new era of marketing strategies, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) sitting at the forefront of this revolution. As someone who’s waded through the evolving landscape of tradeshow marketing, I’ve seen firsthand how AI, particularly tools like ChatGPT, can transform pre-show marketing efforts.

Understanding the AI Revolution in Tradeshow Marketing

Let’s dip our toes into the vast ocean of AI capabilities. Picture this: AI algorithms sifting through heaps of data to identify potential tradeshow attendees. This isn’t just a list of names; it’s a finely-tuned selection of individuals, curated based on their interests, past tradeshow behaviors, and likelihood to engage with your brand. This level of targeted marketing was a pipe dream a decade ago, but AI makes it a present-day reality.

Personalized Email Campaigns: A ChatGPT Specialty

Now, enter ChatGPT, an AI-driven chatbot that can whip up personalized email campaigns faster than you can say “tradeshow.” Imagine crafting emails that speak directly to each recipient, addressing their specific needs and interests. ChatGPT can analyze past interactions and tailor messages that resonate on a personal level. This isn’t just shooting arrows in the dark; it’s a laser-focused approach to capturing attention.

Social Media Strategies: AI’s Realm of Influence

Social media is a battleground for attention, and AI is your secret weapon. By analyzing trends and user engagement, AI can suggest the best times to post, the type of content that will generate buzz, and even the tone that resonates with your audience. It’s like having a digital marketing guru at your fingertips, constantly tweaking your strategy for optimum engagement.

Predictive Analytics: Crafting a Target Audience

Predictive analytics is where AI flexes its muscles. By analyzing data patterns, AI can predict which tradeshow attendees are most likely to be interested in your products or services. This helps in crafting a marketing strategy that’s not just a scattergun approach but a sniper’s aim – direct, precise, and effective.

Conclusion: The AI Edge in Pre-Show Engagement

In conclusion, the integration of AI in pre-show marketing is not just an option; it’s a necessity for those looking to stay ahead in the ever-competitive tradeshow arena. From personalized emails to predictive analytics, AI offers tools that are transforming the way we approach tradeshow marketing. As we continue to navigate this digital era, one thing is clear – AI is not just the future; it’s the present, and it’s reshaping the tradeshow landscape in ways we are just beginning to understand.

But Let’s Go a Little Further…

For fun, I asked ChatGPT to expand on the first idea presented: “Leveraging AI for Pre-Show Marketing in Tradeshows.” Here’s what it came up with:

Let’s delve deeper into how AI sifts through heaps of data to identify potential tradeshow attendees and provide two concrete examples of this in action:

Expanded Section: Utilizing AI to Identify Potential Tradeshow Attendees

Imagine a world where you’re not just guessing who might be interested in your tradeshow booth but actually knowing it. AI makes this a reality. By analyzing extensive datasets, AI can pinpoint potential attendees with a penchant for your products or services. But how does it work in real life? Let’s consider two scenarios:

1. Example 1: Targeting Based on Past Behavior and Preferences

   Scenario: A company specializing in eco-friendly building materials is preparing for an upcoming green technology tradeshow.

   AI Application: They utilize AI to scan through past tradeshow databases, social media activity, and online forums discussing sustainable building practices. The AI identifies patterns and preferences among individuals who have shown a consistent interest in green building materials, actively engaged in relevant online discussions, or attended similar tradeshows in the past.

   Outcome: The company receives a curated list of potential attendees who have a demonstrated interest in eco-friendly construction. This enables them to tailor their pre-show marketing efforts, like personalized emails or targeted social media ads, directly to these individuals, significantly increasing the chances of engagement at the tradeshow.

2. Example 2: Predictive Analytics for New Market Penetration

   Scenario: A new tech startup is launching a groundbreaking virtual reality tool aimed at educational institutions and is exhibiting at an educational technology tradeshow.

   AI Application: The startup employs AI to analyze educational trends, subscription data from educational technology publications, and participation in online educational tech forums. The AI assesses which educational institutions are adopting new technologies at a faster rate and predicts their potential interest in virtual reality tools.

   Outcome: The startup receives a list of educational institutions, categorized by their likelihood of adopting new technology. This helps in focusing their marketing efforts and customizing their tradeshow presentation to appeal to these specific institutions, ensuring a more effective and targeted attendee engagement.

In both examples, AI transcends traditional marketing boundaries, allowing for a more focused, data-driven approach that targets those most likely to engage with your booth, ultimately maximizing your tradeshow ROI.

This expansion offers a deeper understanding of the practical applications of AI in identifying and targeting potential tradeshow attendees, making it clear that AI is not just a futuristic concept but a present-day tool driving efficient and effective pre-show marketing strategies.

How AI Can Assist You in Tradeshow Marketing

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?

50 Essential Tradeshow Tips in 50 Minutes or Less (video replay)

Not a bad way to kick off June! I sat down with Mel White of Classic Exhibits, along with a few dozen viewers, for a presentation on tradeshow tips for newbies and wannabes. He invited me as part of their ongoing “Fast and Furious” webinar series, and I was grateful to be asked and glad to join. We nicknamed the presentation ‘From Tradeshow Stupid to Tradeshow Smart in 50 Minutes,’ but whatever you want to call it, I jammed a lot of stuff into the presentation. Take a look – hope you get something out of it, and thanks to Classic Exhibits for inviting me!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, November 1, 2021: Ed Vining

Lead capture is, arguably, the most important part of tradeshow marketing and function. Don’t capture a lead that you should, or fail to follow up, and you’ve let one slip away.

On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sit and chat with Ed Vining of about the state of lead capture. Lots of things to consider when you get to that part of your tradeshow journey.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Wyze Buds, a solid alternative to more expensive Bluetooth earbuds.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, October 11, 2021: Kevin Carty

Kevin Carty, EVP of Classic Exhibits in Portland, Oregon, shares thoughts on the upcoming ExhibitorLive, the tradeshow world, supply chains, price increases, staffing challenges, and more.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The return of the National Basketball Association. Season starts soon!

Tradeshows Aren’t Magic

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.

All they see is the result. They see the reveal.

Stranger in a Strange Land: the New World of Tradeshows

If you’re a fan of Robert Heinlein’s classic science fiction book “Stranger in a Strange Land,” you know the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who was born on Mars, raised by Martians, and comes to Earth in early adulthood. He ends up in a political power struggle and as the title suggests, he’s a little lost in the whole thing.

I sense that many people are feeling a similar way when it comes to returning to the tradeshow floor. Exhibit designers, builders and exhibitors are looking to the future when things will return to normal and they can get back to the action of exhibiting and all that entails.


This morning I see a post in a tradeshow group on Facebook that a client has canceled an appearance in an upcoming show in early August. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the resurgence of the delta variant of the virus and the continued resistance by a significant portion of the population to getting vaccinated.

Another commented that they also had a cancellation at the same show, and a second cancellation by another client at another show in October. Also due to uncertainty of the virus numbers.

But for some exhibitors who are looking at shows in late October, the assumption is that everything will be fine and they’re proceeding with plans for new exhibits. So they’re forging ahead on designs and are getting ready to put significant money down on new exhibits.

I get the sense that with all the players involved – organizers, exhibitors, attendees, designers, fabricators, labor and support services – no one is sure of which way to jump, and unfortunately we’ll all have to jump several times before we learn where we’re going to land.

In the TV show “Billions,” one of the questions that come up now and then is: “Are you certain?” And the response is meant to be “I am not uncertain.”

But I don’t think anyone has much certainty right now about the tradeshow world and when it might return to normal. Or even settle into a “new normal,” which will be different but at least predictable.

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