Tradeshows are hectic and chaotic and it’s easy to forget things when you’re in the midst of the maelstrom. Here’s a quick video on ten things that might be easy to forget:
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.
When you put out a new podcast/vlog every week, frankly, it’s hard to keep up. Makes sense. That’s a lot of content to devour, and it’s easy to let things slip by.
But 2019 has given me a lot of great guests, and chances are you may have missed some of the really good ones (and there are many!). So here’s a random list of 10 guests I hosted on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee this year that you might have missed. And even if you didn’t miss them, they could be worth another listen:
January 8: BJ Enright of Tradeshow Logic discusses the groundbreaking NAB Show Cares program that looks to address hefty drayage and material handling fees at the National Association of Broadcasters show.
March 25: Dave Scott, long time Portland on-air radio fixture, gets into the podcast game with his Embrace the Change podcast.
May 13: Phil Gorski discusses 3D Virtual Tour Technology and how it can affect tradeshow marketers.
April 8: Tom Beard of Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays talks sustainability in the exhibit world. This vlog/podcast made more timely by the recent announcement that Classic Exhibits and Eco-Systems are merging.
June 17: Danny Orleans. Magic on the tradeshow floor is always an attractor. Danny, Chief Magic Operator at Corporate Magic Ltd talks about how he works magic into a presentation.
June 3: David Newman of Do It Marketing talks, as you might expect, marketing. I have to admit that I like to read his emails, which come about once a day. Really short, but a good mix of very usable info and pitches.
July 22: Howard Berg. Fascinating, fast-paced learning. Howard was a gas.
July 15: Ken Newman of Magnet Productions. Ken travels the world doing his professional presentations for tradeshow clients. He is also a big presence in the Blanket the Homeless effort in the SF Bay area, and talks about both in this fun interview.
September 16: Jay Gilbert, a long time music industry executive has had his own company for years now. And while this is not much related to the tradeshow world, it’s a fascinating look at what it takes in the world of music promotion.
September 23: Laura Allen, The Pitch Girl, helps distill the essence of your pitch down to a simply formula. Very useful in so many situations!
There are many more of course – just search for TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee – or browse the archives at your leisure.
We’ll be back next week with another episode.
A good piece of fiction is surprisingly like a good tradeshow marketing effort. You don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. What happens when you read a good piece of fiction?
1. Create a unique world.
Fiction allows an author to create a world that exists only in one place: the reader’s mind. A good tradeshow exhibit and marketing plan creates a world that exists only in your booth. Whether it’s a unique display, a professional presentation or a one-of-a-kind activity, creating a unique world for your visitor is a good way to make sure they remember you. Having a great product that no one else offers is also a good way.
2. Create tension.
A good story has tension that pulls the reader further into the story. A good tradeshow exhibit can create a good kind of tension. Maybe it’s a compelling and challenging statement on their graphic, or maybe it’s a challenging question that makes you stop and want to know more. That tension creates a kind of desire to learn more.
3. Know who your story is for.
I like to read detective page-turners and mysteries. I don’t like to read romance novels or fantasy. A good tradeshow marketing plan knows exactly what audience is attracted to their type or product or service and they don’t try to bring in anyone that isn’t interested.
4. The main character in a story has a “super objective.” What’s yours?
I recently heard this concept about a character’s super objective. You may not actually see this super objective detailed in the story, but it drives the main character. Jack Reacher, for example, is compelled to do what he can to right the wrongs that he sees. Harry Bosch believes that ‘if anybody counts, everybody counts,’ when it comes to solving a murder. No one gets more or less attention simply because of their place in society.
5. There’s always an objection (or a hurdle).
Know your prospect’s objections. Any novel where the protagonist has no hardships or obstacles is a boring novel. Expect your potential clients to have tough questions. If they do, it shows they’re interested and want to know more. Identify the most common objectives and make sure your booth staffers know how to answer those questions.
6. Keep the page turning.
Have you ever gotten part way through a book and just decided that you couldn’t finish it? Maybe it was boring. Maybe it wasn’t your type of book. Maybe you bogged down in too many unrelated bunny trails and lost the main story. In a tradeshow booth, show your attendees enough compelling evidence – the storyline, as it were – to stay until they learn enough to know if they’re going to buy from you or not. Depending on your product, this might mean that you’re giving in-booth demonstrations or training sessions, or your professional presenter is sharing enough information in a lively and engaging manner that compels the visitor to want to find out more.
7. Deliver the goods: make it a great ending.
Every novel has a wrap up where you find out what happened to the character, the storyline. It’s the payoff. Does your product or service make that same delivery? Are they the great payoff, the great ending that your prospect is looking for?
Yes, I think fiction can be a good inspiration for tradeshow marketing. By using the various elements contained in a good novel, you can create a template for showing your visitors all of the best of your products or services in a compelling and intriguing manner.
You have literally a few seconds to catch a tradeshow attendee’s attention. You’ve been there: walking the show floor, heading across the hall. You see someone you know; you get distracted, you spill your coffee on your pants. There’s always something that keeps you from paying attention to the tradeshow exhibits around you.
Even highway billboards sometimes get more attention than your booth.
Which means that people are ignoring you. Not because you don’t have something good to offer. Not because you are slacking in the ‘look at us’ department. But if you’re doing just the average approach to getting attention, you’ll be, well, average when it comes to having people stop. What are some of the top ways to get attention?
Do something different. Unexpected. Unusual. I often point to the Kashi island exhibit that’s shown up at Natural Products Expo West in at least a couple of iterations the past few years. It’s simple, and it delivers a simple message. It invites people to stop and find out what it is. The design itself is unusual enough that it stops visitors.
Hire a pro. A professional presenter knows how to stop people in their tracks, entertain them and deliver a powerful message in just a few moments.
Have something for them to do. Interactivity means, if the activity appeals to them (chance to win a prize or get a little mental engagement), they’ll stop. And of course a small crowd draws a bigger crowd.
Ask a great question. Take a tip from our pal Andy, who specializes in teaching this to his clients, there’s a lot to be said for knowing how to immediately engage with someone in a positive manner.
Offer a space for people to sit and charge their phones. This usually takes a bigger booth than just a small inline, which means you need a little space to spare. But if you can get random visitors to sit for ten minutes, offer them something valuable: a bottle of water, a chance to view a video about your company or product.
Lots of ways to capture a tradeshow attendee’s attention – it just takes a little planning and execution and you can be drawing them in.
Yes, I love oldies. Spent a lot of time on the radio at an oldies station playing them and shouting over the top of the intro, which was basically required for Oldies radio. Which great oldies of the Sixties might we apply to tradeshow marketing here in the ‘teens of the new century? Let’s go year by year through the Sixties:
1960: Money (That’s What I Want) by Barrett Strong. Yes, it’s all about the money. How much you spend, how much you make from the leads you gather, and most of all about the Return On Investment.
1961: Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles. As tradeshow marketers, we spend a lot of time on the road. We become road warriors. Sing this little tune to stay in the road warrior groove.
1962: The Loco-Motion by Little Eva. Written by Carole King, this tune knows all about the movement. And tradeshows are all about the movement. How many shows a year? How many different cities? How many people do you talk to at each show? You’re always on the move, always in motion.
1963: Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. Grabbing a snack on the road? Why does it always seem to be a donut, or maybe a piece of banana bread, or perhaps a Frappucino? Whatever it is, it’s probably loaded with sugar.
1964: People by Barbra Streisand. Yes, as a song it’s a little downtempo, but tradeshows are all about the people. By the thousands! Ya gotta be able to get along with people when you’re in the tradeshow world!
1965: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. As hard as we try at tradeshow marketing and as successful as we are, most people I speak with feel that they could have done better if only they did something a little different. We’re never satisfied, are we?
1966: Summer in the City by the Lovin’ Spoonful. It seems there’s always at least one tradeshow on the schedule that takes place in a hot city in the middle of summer. This one is a perfect soundtrack for that show.
1967: Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out) by the Hombres. A goofy sort of song, but important when it comes to interacting with visitors. Don’t hold back. Be open, be willing to give plenty of your time and energy. Let it all hang out.
1968: Tighten Up by Archie Bell and the Drells. On the showroom floor, there’s chaos and confusion. There’s pitching and sampling and demos. And it’s easy among all of the activity to just let things go. But pay attention and tighten up in your presentations, your conversations, your booth.
1969: I Can’t Get Next to You by the Temptations. In every show there’s that one client that you’d like to catch. But for some reason they remain elusive. Keep trying. The Temptations are doing their best to urge you on!
Now that the Sixties are over as far as the top ten oldies to help with your tradeshow marketing, are there any songs we missed? Or should we move on to the Seventies?
On this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, a lively interview with Ken Newman of Magnet Productions, a professional tradeshow presentation company based in San Francisco. I’ve had Ken on the show before, although it’s been awhile, and I wanted to catch up and talk about three things: what’s up with Magnet Productions; his involvement in music and how that music involvement led to his involvement with Blanket the Homeless, a SF non-profit.
Find Ken’s Magnet Productions.
Blanket the Homeless in San Francisco.
And this week’s ONE GOOD THING: summer bicycling!
A professional tradeshow presenter can bring crowds of people to your tradeshow booth over and over again during the course of a tradeshow. Many use a combination of entertainment and product information to entice people. This week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee takes a look at tradeshow presentations from the vantage point of Danny Orleans, Chief Magic Officer at Corporate Magic LTD. Take a look:
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Paul McCartney’s most recent solo album, Egypt Station.
Magician and professional tradeshow presenter Robert Strong discusses how to draw a crowd, how he works with clients, and what makes a good opening line – and a lot more – in this enlightening interview.
Find Robert Strong here.
Robert was kind enough to share some great material including the following posts:
Robert also shared a list of Best Booth Behaviors:
1. Remove bad behaviors: No eating, drinking, cell phones, sitting, booth huddles, etc.
2. Add good behaviors: Stand, face the aisles, smile, make eye contact, initiate conversation, etc.
3. If you are not getting rejected a hundred times an hour, you are not initiating enough conversations.
4. Have a strong opener: What do you do at your company? What is the most interesting thing you have seen at this show? What is your (companies) biggest pain point?
5. Make the current attendee you are talking with the most popular person at the show.
6. Be able to do the overview (elevator pitch) in 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 90 seconds.
7. Understand and communicate concisely the giveaways and raffles.
8. Be able to scan badges and do it quickly.
9. Qualify leads quickly, make introductions, and end conversations quickly.
10.Have three case studies (success stories) rehearsed and ready to go.
11.When doing a demo, scale. When you see someone else starting a demo, help them scale.
12.You are on stage. High five each other, fist bump each other, enthusiastically cheer for your fellow booth staff, and let the attendees see that you really like each other and are having fun.
13.Treat the attendees exactly how you would want to be treated if you were in someone else’s booth.
14.Make a follow-up plan and take notes.
And finally, this week’s ONE GOOD THING: the Bag Man Podcast about Vice President Spiro Agnew.
When I first got into the exhibit industry in the early ‘00s, the company I was hired by, Interpretive Exhibits in Salem, was heavily involved in an exhibit for the Army Corps of Engineers. It was a permanent installation (still there) at The Dalles Dam in The Dalles, Oregon. The theme of the exhibit was “Tradeoffs” and it addresses the various parties involved in the needs and desires of the Columbia River. For every group that had in interest in utilizing the Columbia River as a resource, there was a tradeoff
of sorts. Sports fishermen, Native Americans and their fishing rights, shipping and transportation, recreation and so on – there were all sorts of groups that wanted something out of the river. The exhibit went into detail to explain each group’s interests and how they had to compromise, in a sense, to get a lot (but not all) of what they wanted.
That concept – the tradeoff – comes up in my mind frequently, and it can be applied to virtually anything that you are involved in.
Apply it to the tradeshow world: if you are willing to spend the money on a larger exhibit, the tradeoff is often that you must also be willing to hire a crew to setup and dismantle the exhibit, and you must be willing to pay more for shipping.
If you want an exhibit that can quickly be setup by one or two people, the tradeoff is that you must be willing to settle for a very simple design with limited bells and whistles and perhaps a lesser impact than something more complex.
If you want to have a professional presenter in your booth space pitching attendees several times an hour, the tradeoff is that not only do you need to invest in hiring that presenter, but you’ll need to make sure you have enough staff on hand to engage as many of those attendees as possible before they slip away.
It seems like we’re always giving up one thing to get another. We don’t live in a world where we have it all. Or a world where we have nothing at all.
We live in a world where we’re always calculating a tradeoff that works best for us.