Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Trade Shows…. Don’t Bother!

January 12th, 2016 4 COMMENTS

blogheaderMarketing2

It’s January

The trade show season is in full swing, and exhibitors are talking about new graphics, giveaways, and Las Vegas. I love this time of year… and to some extent, loath it. I get to hear exhibitors grumble about the cost of a display, poor leads, drayage, and their ROI. And, no matter how much we coach them, there’s always a few marketing managers who just don’t get it. They buy cheap, basic displays, don’t do any pre-show marketing, bring the wrong staff, and then take a cavalier approach to show leads. Their results suck, and they wonder why.

It’s not an age thing. Baby boomers are no better than Millennials, Gen X’ers or Gen Y’ers. So, let’s draw a comparison to other advertising. Would most marketers make these advertising choices?

Magazine Ad:

1. So… the black and white ad is cheaper? Yes, I realize this is a glossy color publication, but B&W ads are  “artistic,” and I can run two for the price of one.
2. Thanks for the publication’s circulation numbers and demographics. No need to explain. I’ll review it later in my “reading” room.
3. My unemployed second cousin is designing the ad with a pirated copy of Illustrator. I’m paying him in pizza and PBR.
4. The sales team doesn’t need to see the ad. It’s their job to sell whatever we tell them to sell.
5. That B&W ad didn’t work. I’m not going to advertise there again. Stupid magazine!

Television Commercial:

Pasted image at 2016_01_12 01_40 PM1. “Video Production for Commercials” [Google Search]. That first one looks just fine.
2. Concept storyboard? Nah! Creativity should be spontaneous!
3. Those 2-4 am slots are cheap. I can run the spots 6 times an hour.
4. Neilsen ratings? That’s for amateurs who don’t trust their “gut.”
5. That television commercial didn’t work. I’m not advertising with them again. Stupid TV station.

Online Banner Ads and PPC:

1. My admin assistant manages our banner ads and PPC. Ruthie — Don’t you handle that?
2. Of course, we have a Google Analytics account. I have the password around here somewhere.
3. $2.50 a click? No brainer. Here’s my credit card. How much could that possibly cost?
4. You saw my banner ad on what site? For what? Oh that’s bad. That’s really bad.
5. That online advertising and PPC didn’t work. I’ve canceled my accounts. Stupid Internet.

Social Media:

1. Blogging? Love it. I’ll post every day for the next year! Starting tomorrow.
2. Who doesn’t love cats and kittens? Let me share.
3. Aren’t LinkedIn and Facebook basically the same? I post the same stuff on both.
4. 75 Tweets today. Where did the day go?
5. That social media didn’t work. What a colossal waste of time. Stupid Social Media.

You get my point. Trade show marketing should be treated with the same intensity, analysis, and professionalism as every other form of marketing. For many companies, it can represent up to 40% of their annual marketing budget; yet, they often see it as a distraction, not an opportunity. If you don’t have time to become an expert, hire an expert. There are many trade show consultants who have devoted their careers to ensure their clients succeed at face-to-face marketing.

Stupid? Not if trade show marketing is done right.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

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Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.


 

Why are Marketers so Uncomfortable with Trade Show Marketing?

December 28th, 2015 COMMENTS

Classic

Some marketers will hint at it. Others will grumble. Then there are the ones who are honest. They simply don’t understand trade show marketing. That’s not surprising. It’s rarely taught on the undergraduate or graduate level. At best, it’s mentioned in passing in a textbook. I know. After earning an MBA, I went to work for an exhibit builder. On Day 1, I was clueless.

I’d love to say that trade show marketing is marketing… but that’s not entirely true. It’s odder, less compact, and more unpredictable than other forms marketing. And, depending on the company, it can be more difficult to measure results.

3D vs. 2D

Marketing has traditionally been 2D:  print and television, brochures, websites, etc. It’s also been static and somewhat controllable. Trade show marketing or face-to-face marketing is as much about human interaction as the message or the branding. It’s about creating conversations, before, during, and after the show. Then there’s the booth design. That’s outside most marketers comfort zone and the dollars involved make it even scarier. It’s easy to panic when the costs begin to hit triple digits for even a modest island exhibit.

Variable Measurements

Unlike print, television, or web ads, there are no standards or no reliable source for subscriptions, ratings, or clicks. Counting leads works, but it’s a crude measurement. More sophisticated exhibitors track pre-show promotions, leads, and sales through the entire sales channel, but they are the exception.

Competitors

SoYoungTrade shows are truly a competitive sport when it comes to marketing. It’s the one time you and your competitors are all in the same room, all vying for attention with the same audience. You see what they’re doing… and vice versa.

Uncontrollable Variables

No one likes unpredictability when it comes to their marketing campaign and implementation. Yet, despite one’s best efforts, trade shows can be chaotic. Freight doesn’t arrive on time. Items are broken. Flights are cancelled. An exhibitor on the far side of the exhibit hall is giving away beer and sandwiches. The exhibitor nearest you has their music so loud you can’t talk to potential clients without shouting.

Unfamiliarity/Knowledge

Most medium-sized companies participate in two to five trade shows per year. Some as few as one. That makes it challenging to become an expert quickly. Plus, each show may not only have a different audience, but also different rules, layout, and resources. Too often, just when the internal “expert” understands how to maximize the company’s trade show efforts that person is assigned to other responsibilities. Then someone new has to start fresh.

Sales and Marketing

PhiladelphiaCommercialBefore, during, and after a trade show, sales and marketing must be partners at dance. You’re a team. Face-to-face marketing requires sales skills and marketing expertise perfectly choreographed. And no matter how much sales and marketing claim to play nice, there’s always a wall at most companies. It’s that wall that dooms most exhibitors from fully benefiting from their trade show program.

So how do you become an expert at trade show marketing? Four tips.

  1. Go to trade shows as often as possible as an attendee. Ask questions and listen to what works and what doesn’t. Plus, be willing to take classes at industry events about trade show marketing, even if you goal isn’t to become a trade show certified manager.
  2. Rely on your local trade show professional. If they only know how to sell you a display, but not how to succeed at trade show marketing, then find someone else.
  3. Tap into industry consultants. These folks know how to avoid the potholes and the meandering paths so often taken by trade show exhibitors. You can find them in LinkedIn, Google, or simply ask your local vendor.
  4. Plan to succeed. Create a comprehensive plan that targets pre-show, show, and post-show marketing and put specific goals in place for each one.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite

**********************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.


 

The Three Rules of Trade Show Marketing

March 31st, 2015 3 COMMENTS

EuroShop_2014 (7)Trade Show Marketing isn’t complicated. It can be reduced to three simple rules. Everything else is a business decision. Here’s the difference: Buying a 10 ft. portable vs. 20 ft. custom island — that’s a business decision. Staying at the Hilton vs. the Quality Inn — that’s a business decision. Getting a professional presenter for the booth — that’s a marketing decision. Confused? Here’s ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW about trade show marketing to be successful.

Rule #1. Problem and Solution.

Your message must state a problem and a solution, either explicitly or implicitly. Attendees are there to find solutions. They may not know they have a problem until you provide the solution. When Chrysler introduced the minivan back in the 80’s, it showed families that the vehicle they were driving was either too big or too small. In an attempt to be clever or creative, we forget that we’re selling something. Selling is all about identifying needs and pains… and then providing the right solution.

Rule #2. Get Noticed.

There’s a reason it’s called a “show.” You spent money to be seen at the show. BE SEEN! Does that mean dressing in a clown suit and standing in a booth made of balloons? No, unless that’s your culture (or you are selling balloons). Most companies approach trade show exhibits and graphics like they’re buying a mid-priced sedan: “I’d like a Honda Accord in silver.” Take a chance. You want to be different. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be practical and contain everything you need to showcase your product or service. Even Melba Toast doesn’t have to be Melba Toast at a trade show.

Does your product lend itself to a professional presenter? That’s one way to get noticed.

Pre-show marketing. There’s no better way of getting seen than by developing a pre-show campaign that drives attendees to your booth. In today’s Internet-driven, social media-focused market, getting someone’s attention before the show is as important, if not more important, than being seen at the show.

Rule #3. The Right People.

If you bring ten people to the show, at least six are the wrong ones. They don’t know the products or services, they don’t have charismatic people skills, they are not personally invested in results, and they did not participate in pre-show planning or post-show implementation. Two out of four doesn’t cut it. A trade show isn’t a vacation. It’s a strategic investment.

You’ll often hear that 80% of trade show leads are wasted. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that bringing the right employees to the show solves that problem. The right employees won’t let a lead sit on someone’s desk or be forgotten on a jump drive. They’re relentless about post-show follow-up because they understand how much time, effort, and money went into planning and participating in the trade show.

Want to be a tradeshow star? Focus on these three rules. Everything else, while important to your bottom line, your ego, or your HR Department, is just a business decision.

Displays

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

**********************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com


 

Eddie Haskell, Eddie Murphy, or Eddie Award?: Word on the Street — December 1st thru December 5th

December 6th, 2014 9 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Classic Exhibits Honored with the 2014 EDPA EDDIE Award

The 2014 EDPA ACCESS Event wrapped up in Florida on Friday December 5. But it was, as always, Thursday night that served as the BIG Night for the Exhibit Industry. Thursday night was the Gala Event, The EDPA Foundation Silent Auction, and the Annual Award Presentations.

The Awards, such as The Ambassador Award, The Hazel Hayes Award, and Designer of the Year Award are given to individuals in the exhibit industry. But there is another category of awards called the EDDIE Awards. The EDDIE is given to companies for their Marketing Excellence over the past year.

We Won

eddie_1This year, Classic Exhibits Inc. won an EDDIE. And to say we are proud and unbelievably honored is an understatement. We won specifically for Exhibit Design Search or EDS as so many of you have come to call it.

The award is presented as a “company” award, but let me tell you who this is really for… Mel White! Mel is the VP of Marketing and Business Development at Classic Exhibits. And while many of you know this already, he is the visionary behind EDS.

Now, as Mel would say, Exhibit Design Search is a collective effort. Tony Bennett, the Classic Exhibits Web Developer, is critical to the success of EDS. He is the genius that makes it all work seamlessly on the web and your “Go To” guy for every distributor-branded website. And then there is Glenna Martin, our Graphic Designer. Glenna plays a key role in the overall branding. There are the Classic Exhibit Designers who create all the beautiful designs that populate EDS with fresh new ideas, and the Customer Service Team who sweat over the Setup Instructions and Graphic Dim Sheets. And of course, every distributor who has offered suggestions, and our wonderful strategic partners in EDS — Optima, DS&L, Brumark, and Eco-Systems Sustainable.

Mel will be humble and say that everyone at the company has a part in the acceptance of this award, and while we appreciate that, as his partner at work and as a representative of the company as whole, I know better. EDS is Mel’s baby, his Brain Child, His Vision. And that Vision has helped transform Classic in so many ways over the past nine years.

This past Thursday night, my cell phone blew up when we won the award — from Reid, Jen, and Jim who were on site at ACCESS, and from so many partners and customers who were in attendance at ACCESS. There was one common thread in all the texts, emails, and phone calls. That common thread was “I/We are so happy for Mel.” That says it all to be frank.

So, as your friend and as your partner day in and day out Mel — CONGRATS! I, too, was beaming with pride and joy when I heard the news, proud of you and joyful that you were recognized for all your dedication and hard work.

BTW — Mel serves as my editor for this blog each week, not changing anything per say, rather editing my runoff sentences, adding commas, etc. And he is gonna REALLY REALLY hate that I did this.  :)

Congrats my friend!

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us About Tradeshow Marketing

October 30th, 2012 COMMENTS

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us about Tradeshow MarketingSeveral weeks ago, Tim Patterson at Tradeshow Guy Blog wrote the blog post, 4 Ways to Avoid Tradeshow Exhibiting Zombies. His excellent article inspired me to write a companion post, which Tim generously posted on his website. Below are the first three, then a link to the rest. Or simply go directly to the article on his website.

10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us About Tradeshow Marketing

1. Single-minded Focus. You may not appreciate their all-consuming desire to eat your flesh, but they are committed to the task. They let nothing get in their way, except an ax to the brain. Your next trade show will be wildly successful, if you make it a priority, not an afterthought.

2. Teamwork. Zombies travel in packs, like ravenous hyenas. That teamwork ensures them a much higher percentage of kills. There’s a reason “We killed it” signifies success. By working together, those poor doe-eyed attendees don’t stand a chance.

3. Appearance Matters. You never forget your first encounter with a zombie: filthy clothing, rotting flesh, vacuous stare, and rancid halitosis (that alone is enough to make you hurl). It’s sad but true. We judge people by their appearance. Your company spent considerable money to participate so shine your shoes, press your shirt, and dry clean that blazer.

Continue to “10 Things Zombies Can Teach Us . . . .”

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

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Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.