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

lead generation

The Long Slog Until Tradeshows Return

We don’t know when tradeshows will return, or what “normal” tradeshow schedules will look like.

We don’t know how many attendees will plan on going because we don’t know how they feel about mixing with thousands of other attendees.

We don’t know how many fellow exhibitors will decide to spend the money to exhibit at the show because they don’t know how many people will actually show up. No doubt some will decide to go; others will hold off for another year.

It’s the uncertainty of it all that is probably the hardest. Not knowing. Like restaurants now knowing when they can finally have full capacity. Like sports leagues not knowing when they can invite a full contingent of fans. Like schools across the country having all students back, knowing that they’ll be safe.

Until then, we’re all stuck in the long slog.

A really freakin’ long slog.

S. L. O. G.

A reallly long slog…

What to do in the meantime, especially if a lot of your job or monthly planning includes tradeshows, events and conference?

Find something else to focus on. Marketing is marketing, and in a recent post, I mentioned a number of ways to market. But what else can you do besides marketing?

I suppose you could try and come up with a viral video or promotion, but chances are the more you actually try to make something viral, the more forced it feels and the less likely it’ll happen.

Maybe you can write more blog posts, or read about what other businesses, both competitors and those that are in different industries, are doing. Learn from them, try new things.

Obviously, every person and every company are dealing with the long slog in a different way. But business still has to come in. Marketers still have to market. Salespeople still have to sell.

Let’s go back to learning. What can you learn that will help you in your current position?

Perhaps one of the first things is to gain some perspective and realize that everyone is in the same long slog. Next: realize that, yes, one day you will get back to normal, and so will everyone else.

Then, determine what you can do RIGHT NOW. What skills do you have that can be used, either inside or outside your company, that can be applied to the current situation. Is there any way you can help others find their way through the morass? Maybe, maybe not.

Mark Schaefer, in his short free ebook The Pandemic Business Strategy Playbook, writes, “the long-term relevance of the brand is more important than short-term sales.” He references several big brands that have put their marketing on hold or shifted to finding ways they can help not by doing ads, but by doing things: offering free food to volunteers and first responders, making donations to hospitals or homeless shelters. In other words, taking action.

In fact, taking action that benefits others, no matter how small or large, is probably one of the best things you can do.

For example, I think many of us have a tendency – I know I do – to walk past the dozens of homeless people I see on the streets in my city every day and try and pretend we don’t see them. They’re standing with hand-written cardboard signs at stoplights, or camped in groups under overpasses, or shuffling aimless down the street. It’s easy to keep walking and ignore them and not even think of them as humans. But when you do take a few moments and offer a few dollars and a smile, it counts. Certainly, to them, and hopefully to you.

The COVID-19 Pandemic will permanently change the world. We don’t know how all those changes will affect us, or what the changes will be. Finding a way to be open to helping people through the long slog is one of the most important things we can do to get through it. And we will get through.

No matter how long it takes.

14 Dumb Things Tradeshow Exhibitors Do: Video

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.


How to Find a Whole Lot of Tradeshow Marketing Tips (Video)

With tradeshow marketing on the sidelines, now is as good a time as any to brush up on your tradeshow marketing skill and knowledge. And here’s a great place to find a whole lot of tradeshow marketing tips – all in one place, and all worth their weight in gold. Check out this short under-three-minute video:

Find all of these tips at TradeshowBuy.com!

How Personal is Your Tradeshow Exhibit?

What kind of question is that, anyway? How personal is your tradeshow exhibit? An exhibit should be the best representation of a brand, which is aimed at a broad market. Isn’t that correct? If that’s the case, it has to have the right graphics with the right messaging. Any images should be chosen to reflect the best your product and brand have to offer. And if all that is true – and I suppose it is – how can your exhibit be personal?

Selling is Personal

Except…selling today is personal. People want to know that you care about them. The challenge is that people don’t really care about your product or service. When it comes to your products, they care about themselves, and themselves only. How do your products or services affect them – personally? The messaging should relate to what they’re going through. As we slowly move back to the tradeshow world with exhibits and face-to-face meetings and larger gatherings, every person is going to have a slightly – or perhaps significantly – different perception of what they need or want. And they’ll have some level of anxiety or distress or challenge in moving forward.

So how do you help them…now? How does your product or service help them…now? What do they need…now?

Your challenge isn’t that you don’t know how to present your products or services. No, your challenge is that you need to understand what’s going on in the mind of your customers and prospects. And the only way to learn that is to ask. In a sense, your tradeshow exhibit should be an invitation to join them. An invitation to walk into their space. Make them feel safe and wanted. There are a million ways to do that. I’m do designer, but I do know how I feel when I walk into a space that welcomes me. With people around that want to see me, and not just to sell me something, but to understand where I’m coming from. And frankly, that’s kind of rare. Maybe it’s food. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee, or a warm smile. Maybe it’s an image that they can relate to that doesn’t look like it’s been chosen out of a stock photo library. Or if it has, it resonates with them.

What makes people buy?

When they finally get to a place where they feel understood. Where they feel you “get” them. Where they feel comfortable and wanted. It’s a bit like belonging to a tribe, but it’s more than that. And less.

It’s personal. What is it your customer wants?

Be creative in how you interact with people. Be creative in how you uncover what’s important to your clients. Learn from them. Then design your next tradeshow exhibit based on what you learned.

It’s not going to be easy. But it’ll be worth it.


The Five-Day Tradeshow Marketing Challenge

Yes, tradeshow marketing takes more than five days. Of course it does! It’s an ongoing process that keeps tradeshow managers up at night, especially when shows are impending. Some shows last about that long! So, what do I mean by the five day tradeshow marketing challenge?

Instead of trying to handle preparing for a show all at once, take five days. Perhaps in just a few moments a day you can line things up, get them prepared and be ready once tradeshows get back to normal.

Or whatever normal will look like.

Let’s assume the next big show is still several months away. Far enough away to not really worry if you start your Five-Day Tradeshow Marketing Challenge this week or next. But close enough so that you shouldn’t put it off too much longer!

Day One:

Plan.

Actually, every day is planning of some sort, but today, plan the basics:

What shows you’re going to.

What shows you’d love to go to at some point, but maybe not this year or next year.

What kind of presence you’d like at the show: size of booth; number of people. Perhaps what you’d like to spend on sponsorships or advertising at the show itself to help build awareness and move people to your booth.

This is also a good day to review past year tradeshow costs to assemble realistic budgets for the next series of shows. Pull out copies of documents that show actual costs vs. estimates. Build spreadsheets to give you a good sense of what you’ll have to invest to exhibit this time around.

Day Two:

Exhibit Changes / Additions

If you need a new exhibit, and it’s time to have that chat with management, that’s a longer process. But if you have a good exhibit and all you need is to make upgrades, today is a good day to start sketching out those changes. At this point, you don’t have all the information you’ll eventually need such as product launches, what products you’ll be promoting and so on. But it’s a good time to make a list of the number of graphic changes you’ll make, if any; the dimensions of the graphics and any other particulars you’ll want before design and production. Make notes about who you need to talk to to know what those product launches and so on will be. And give a heads up, if appropriate, to the designer who will be making the new graphics.

Day Three:

Promotions

Promotions can take almost any shape, from creating online videos to crafting a social media campaign, to coming up with a clever way to dress up your booth. Here on Day Three, you’ll just want to make lists with broad strokes of the top promotion ideas and concepts that will eventually flower.

Day Four:

Travel Logistics

How many people are going, where are they staying, who’s booking travel, who’s making the schedule for the booth and so on. Getting a firm grasp on this a few months ahead of time will reduce headaches as you get closer.

Day Five:

Shipping and Exhibit Installation/Dismantle Logistics

If you have worked with the same I&D crews and shipping companies for years, this is usually nothing more than giving them advance notice that you’re on board again this year. If you need to find someone new for these areas, now’s the time to determine who you’re going to work with, and how to find the right people for the tasks.

Now that you’ve spent an hour or two a day for five days, you should have a much better grasp on what’s coming and be more prepared for when you’re thrown a curveball. Which you probably will be!

Top 5 Most-Viewed Podcast Interviews of the Past Year

I thought it might be fun to see what people have gravitated to on this blog when it comes to the weekly vlog/podcast I do under the title TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. The podcast is more or less a diary of my business and more broadly, the event and tradeshow industry, and beyond that, the business world. Or at least what interests me on any given day.

I don’t always have interviews on the show, but they’re always fun. I love speaking with industry colleagues and getting to know them, even though most of them are only “Zoom” friends, and we aren’t sitting down across a table for coffee!

Still, they’re enlightening and fun. Here are the top five most-viewed based on analytics looking back twelve months.

Number Five (we’re counting down to Number One!): Dominic Rubino of BizStratPlan.com talked about an easy formula for difficult business conversations.

Number Four: Phil Gorski of Ava-Nee Productions and his company’s VR approach to tradeshow exhibits (and other fun things).

Number Three: Danny Orleans is a tradeshow entertainer and Chief Magic Officer at Corporate Magic LTD.

Number Two: Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, offered numerous tips on creating publicity at tradeshows. Worth another look. Bring your notepad.

Number One: a long-ranging discussion from March with Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits, Marcus Vahle of Share Experience Company and Andy Saks of Spark Presentations.

Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 11, 2020: Dale Obrochta

What day is it? Are you counting how many days since you’ve been on shelter-at-home protocols? Or are you in a state that has abandoned all attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19 and things are getting back to normal? Which begs the question: what is normal?

This week on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I caught up with Dale Obrochta of PutATwistOnIt.com, who’s been a previous guest on this show. We talked about the challenges his profession is facing in the new normal.

Find Dale here at PutATwistOnIt.com.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING:

Book and Novel writing software: Scrivener.

Five Tried-and-True Ways to Increase Tradeshow Lead Generation

Now, we can certainly agree that a lot of activities can pump up your lead generation numbers. But when it comes to things that are (almost) foolproof, here are the top five that come to mind for me.

  • Professional presenter
  • Interactivity + follow up
  • Hands-on demo
  • Pre-show marketing / appointments
  • Trained booth staff

Let’s agree that on the tradeshow floor, you don’t have total control. You can’t control how many people find your booth, you can’t control the organization that’s promoting the show, you can’t control your attendees and so on. Which means that no matter what you do, you may still fall short.

But.

Having a professional presenter, one that really knows their stuff and how to present your company to your attendees, over and over, several times a day throughout the show, is often seen as one of the surefire solid ways to get more leads. Just make sure your booth staff is ready for the influx of people and know how to handle them before they get away when the presenter is done.

Interactivity + follow up. Interactivity can mean a lot of things, but for the sake of argument, let’s narrow it down to something that relates specifically to your product or service.

Hands-on Demo. Perhaps slightly different than interactivity, this is an actual demonstration where your booth visitor actually, physically, learns a little more about your product. Say, a software demonstration, or a class in the booth space that teaches while they have their hands on the product.

Pre-show marketing / appointments. Setting appointments prior to the show, getting the one-on-one meetings on to a prospect’s calendar, is often the best way to ensure you have an audience of one that is focused on your message.

Trained booth staff. How important is a trained booth staffer? Probably the most important thing you have going for you other than your actual products and services. Worth their weight in gold. Make sure your staffers know how to answer questions, capture contact info, do a demo, put on a smile, and act appropriately in the booth (no phone in their hands, no eating, and so on).

There are dozens of other things you can do, but these are the top five in my book.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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