A sit-down with Jamie Young of Uptown Screen Printing where we delve into ways to plan goal-setting for tradeshow marketing, and how to find a good promotional product that resonates. Hope you enjoy this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:
It doesn’t take that much to exhibit at a tradeshow. Just rent a booth space, bring an exhibit, a handful of staffers and do your thing.
Uh, what’s your thing, though? That’s the big question. Are you there to increase brand awareness? Show that you have a bigger or cooler exhibit than your main competitor? Take a client out for dinner and drinks?
It’s better to have a plan. To know what you want. More leads? Sales? Giving away a specific number of samples? Getting more social media followers? Certainly, you want to pick goals that are important to growing your business. But one step beyond that is to not only pick good goals, but to make them concrete goals, such as:
We want 150 good leads, 50 of which are new.
We want 300 new Instagram followers.
We want to hand out 1000 product samples.
We want to do 100 in-person demos of our product or service.
We want to meet with CEO’s of three major prospects.
Once you delineate those goals, create a plan to get there. Create the roadmap. If you want to meet with specific people, set appointments. If you want to line up new social media followers, make it easy. If you want new leads, have a method for uncovering the right prospects.
Tradeshow marketing can be expensive, but since you are at a place where thousands of prospects are all gathered in the same place, it’s also the ideal setting to generate leads at the lowest cost-per-lead you’ll ever manage.
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)?
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.
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.
No, things don’t always go wrong when exhibiting at a tradeshow, but when they do, it can throw you and your team for a loop. The best way to deal with what happens when things go wrong is plan for them to go wrong.
Obviously, you can’t game out every scenario. But you can at least anticipate a few things, right?
One way to see what things might possibly go wrong is to read Exhibitor Magazine’s Plan B column, a monthly ‘you-are-there’ description of actual events where things went wrong. Sometimes terribly. But you get to see the creative ways in which people dealt with an unexpected circumstance.
What are some of the things that can go wrong? How about a missing shipment, where only part of your exhibit shows up? Or new graphics are printed but you haven’t had a chance to review them or test them on the exhibit frame because, you know, timing? Or finding out that your booth space wasn’t where it was supposed to be and wasn’t as big as planned.
Frankly, a million things can go wrong and the hardest part of dealing with something unexpected is that you’re in an unfamiliar place. And you may be setting up on a weekend, or in a different time zone and you can’t reach the people you normally would rely on.
And of course, the time crunch of making things happen in short order because the show will open on time whether you’re ready or not.
A few things that I believe can make a difference: knowing who to call. Knowing your vendors or shippers on a first name basis. Having cell phone numbers of critical people who can make things happen quickly, like printers, exhibit makers and more.
Another common denominator is that most of the problems take place early on during setup, which means making sure all of your vendors are on alert for anything from late night phone calls to early morning emails to deal with situations that arise.
One way to head off potential problems is to get ahead of the game as much as possible. Get graphics designed sooner than you might normally plan. Get them produced and fitted ahead of time. Set up the exhibit prior to packing it for shipping to make sure all pieces are there and still fit; we all know that exhibits are packed away quickly and that some things get broken or bent or torn and no one will notice until it’s too late. Which means that one of the best things you can do is go through your exhibit crates on a slow day shortly after they return from the show. It’ll give you a chance to take the time to confirm that all is as it should be or uncover potential issues way before you’re under a time crunch.
Bottom line: be as prepared as possible before things ship and have contact info for all of the players at your disposal (and have a full-charged phone or a portable power pack!). And if all of those plans don’t head off a problem, work with the creative people in your setup crew and booth staff. Putting heads together instead of trying to solve everything on your own is probably the best way to work your way through a difficult and stressful unexpected problem.
Building software to host a virtual event poses a million questions, many of them hoping to address the user experience. And the exhibitor experience. How to keep people engaged, how to keep them from being bored, how to have conversations, how to connect, how to give keynotes. And so on. I recently caught up with Sandy Hammer, co-founder of AllSeated, which has recently launched virtual event software that looks, well, impressive. She and I sat down to talk about it, and to give her a chance to show us a little bit about how it works:
When I first speak with a new client about what they want in a new tradeshow exhibit, it usually comes down to one of two approaches. Either they want to start from scratch, in a sense, and have a good idea of the potential layout and scope of the exhibit, and they have a budget number in mind. Or, and this is the other extreme, they want to pick out a kit from our catalog and make do, mainly to save budget dollars.
There’s nothing wrong with either approach. Every company has a different agenda when it comes to a new exhibit.
The former approach means everything is custom from the git-go. A designer is brought in, conversations are had about brand attributes and guidelines, and the designer is basically turned loose. These are typically the bigger budget projects where, from the start, the designer is encouraged to cut loose, to try several approaches and show a number of structures with different traffic flow patterns, demo areas, meeting areas and so on. From that, the client decides on one (or two) that work best for them, and the design is refined until it’s ready.
The other approach, where the client is typically working with a more limited budget, starts with a kit from our Exhibit Design Search at TradeshowBuy.com. More often than not, the client believes that the kit as shown in the renderings is the final design.
That rarely happens. Once the conversation starts, the questions begin. Can we add a counter? What about shelves? We need shelves. And something to sit at. And that panel isn’t big enough, what if we made it bigger.
The answers are yes, yes, and yes. Kits get customized, almost all the time. With new clients, there is a bit of a learning curve, but once they realize that even if they start with a kit, that doesn’t mean they’re stuck with everything that’s show. Kits are good starting points to get what clients really want, which is most often a customized version.
A good thing to keep in mind when starting from scratch, especially if your budget is pointing you in the direction of a kit. That kit can be revised, reduced or enlarged in size, configured to fit in more than one final setup (10×10, 10×20, 10×30 for example). Accessories can be added, freestanding graphics or tables can become a part. And those additions don’t have to be out of the catalog, either. Often a client will have custom-built tables that include their logo and additional lighting effects to make them stand out.
If you’re shopping for a new exhibit in 2021 and your budget is pointing you towards something out of a catalog, starting with a kit makes sense. But you don’t have to (and probably won’t) stay there.
Once you return from a tradeshow, it’s easy to want to kick up your feet and relax. After all, you’ve been working hard for months to make the show the best it can be. But before you take a break, do these seven things:
The tradeshow and event industry has been gasping for air for months and months. Exhibitors are putting off investing in new exhibits while wondering if they’re even going to appear at any shows in 2021.
In steps Classic Exhibits, our main exhibit manufacturer, with a little help: a price drop on safety dividers and rental! Not to mention, a trio of eco-friendly sustainable exhibits: a 10×10, a 10×20 and a 2020 island. Let’s take a look. Click to enlarge. Find the links below to download the PDFs.