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

lead generation

What Signals Are You Sending?

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.

Everything in your booth sends a signal

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?

Will Time Away from Tradeshows Change Our Marketing Approach?

Now that most companies haven’t exhibited at a major show in the US for nine months or so, where does that leave their marketing efforts? I’ve heard some companies badly miss shows because that’s where a large portion of their lead generation came from and without that they’re struggling to generate as many solid leads. Some companies have shifted to other marketing outlets and been at least moderately successful, and I suppose some companies have even determined that they don’t really need tradeshows.

It’s my impression that there’s always been a bit of perception from many management and sales staff that tradeshows are a grind, a big waste of money and time. That they only attend because their competition is there but if they could they’d bail on exhibiting or even attending shows.

Meanwhile, tradeshow managers are buried in details of exhibiting and logistics and new product launches and are-there-enough-samples and so on.

By the time bigger shows return, it’s likely that at least a year will have passed for many exhibitors since their last appearance at a national or international show, and the question is undoubtedly being asked: are tradeshows still even that important?

That question can only be answered by each company individually based on their own goals, budget and personnel.

Photo by Harrison Haines from Pexels

One result might be that companies will exhibit at fewer shows. If that’s the case, the focus on the shows should be to make sure that exhibiting is worth their time. Maybe you’ll have the same budget but with fewer shows, you can concentrate on those select handful of shows and make sure you carefully and completely execute all of the tradeshow marketing steps from A to Z to ensure great results.

Another consequence of the coming post-COVID world may mean smaller budgets, which means downsizing your exhibit, or renting an exhibit save a few dollars. Or taking fewer people to shows.

One other change that I believe will be a result of no tradeshows for a year or so: the psychological effect on both exhibitors and attendees. How will we feel, for instance, about shaking hands with people we meet, or hugging old friends that we haven’t seen for a year or two or three? How will food companies hand out samples so that everyone who is picking up a tasty sample is comfortable with it? Will we really feel okay flying across the country to attend a show, stuck in an airplane for hours with strangers? Some will be okay; others may have high levels of anxiety. It’s likely that aisles will be wider, giving more separation between booths and giving attendees more space to keep people at a distant.

Things will change, things are already changing.

I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Find Improvement at the Edges

Sure, we’d all like to make big changes. Swoop in, push all the old stuff aside, and institute something NEW and DASHING and DAZZLING and TERRIFIC, something that impresses the hell out of customers, the media, and especially your boss. Because if your boss is impressed, he’ll remember you and you might be in line for a promotion, which means a raise and so on and so forth.

Sounds great! Except that making big changes, making that one BIG CHANGE that gets all of that attention, isn’t easy. You have to start from scratch, tear everything down and do something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. And if you change everything, you’d better have a damn good reason. First off, it’ll cost more. Probably a lot more. It has to be a big bold idea. How many of those have you had lately? And you have to get buy-in from the right people, and especially the people who control the purse strings.

There’s a better way, and it doesn’t cost as much. It doesn’t require big bold ideas. It doesn’t change everyone’s job that’s involved in the initiative.

Make improvements at the edges. Opportunity lies in the margins. Find a way to bring ten percent more visitors to your booth. Generate another five or ten percent leads by adding a small interactive element to your booth. Move your booth space closer to the main entrance of a big show once you’ve accumulated enough points and time in the show to warrant it. Take a survey of half of your visitors to uncover what they really think of your new products or services, adding just a little new information to your product development.

There are a lot of little things you can do on the margins to make a notable improvement that doesn’t cost a lot, take much time, or strain the system (and your brain). Yet little changes can still have a strong positive impact on the bottom line.


Tradeshow Tips From Twitter

Every now and then I cruise through Twitter looking for a handful of marketing tips for tradeshow exhibitors. Let’s see if there’s anything there now!

First up, TSNN gives us some planning tips to engage virtual attendees.

Next, Lotus823 links to a SmartBrief post that offers thoughts on pre- and post-show planning.

Then, SourceGroup links to an article with 7 Tips to Hosting a Successful Virtual Networking Event.

Ljubica Maletković tweeted out a link to an article that helps you make the most of your tradeshow marketing budget.

Finally, Exhibit Options linked to a TSNN article on how to embrace the new normal for 2021.

Twitter can be a lot of things, but when it comes to finding useful information for your industry, it’s pretty good most of the time!

Follow me on Twitter.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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