Trade Show Trends

Internet Marketing For Trade Shows

Successful exhibitors know that it is important to grab the attention of attendees long before the show begins. If you can generate buzz and excitement about your trade show booth before the show even begins, you are much more likely to have a successful event. The internet is a great way to spread the word about your company and encourage attendees to look for your booth when they arrive at the event. Here are a few ways to get your name out:

  • Submit press releases that announce your plans to exhibit at the event. If you follow established guidelines for press releases, you may be lucky enough to get your story picked up by media giants like Google and Yahoo (who regularly grab articles from press release websites), and users who are searching for news related to the trade show may find your company’s press release.
  • Purchase advertising space on the show’s website. Most modern trade shows use online registration for attendees, and if you can afford to place an advertisement on those web pages, it is likely that many attendees will see your company name when they are signing up to attend the show. This is a great way to reinforce your presence and your branding image.
  • Create a web page that describes the highlights of your company’s exhibit, and use search engine marketing to direct traffic to the page. When attendees search for information about the show they plan to attend on Google or Yahoo, you can have them directed to your web page which outlines your plans for the event. Directing users who are searching for information about the event to your page can be a valuable way to increase exposure.
  • Be sure to update your friends and business associates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites to let them know that you will be exhibiting at a particular trade show. Websites like Twitter are filled with voyeuristic users (called “lurkers”) who are interested in what you have to say, and information spreads very rapidly when lurkers republish information they find from your posts.

The internet is a powerful way to spread information about your company, and successful trade show marketing professionals always use the internet to get the word out about future events. Be creative and come up with your own marketing ideas for the internet.

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Motivating Your Booth Staffers

If your booth staffers are not driven to succeed, even the best trade show marketing strategy in the world cannot save your company from a disastrous exhibiting experience. At business to business trade shows, the people who man your booth will be the single most important factor in determining the overall success of your marketing program. Booth staffers should be outgoing, friendly, and professional, but never pushy or long-winded. They should recognize that everything about their appearance, demeanor, speech, and body language will reflect directly on your company’s image, and that creating a great image is what trade shows are all about. So what can you do to motivate your booth staffers to be top-notch exhibitors?

1-  Take care of their most basic needs. Nothing breeds frustration among employees more quickly than being undercompensated on their trip. If you put your employees in a cheap hotel room and give them a meager stipend for food, they will be less likely to perform at their highest capacity on the trade show floor.

2- Offer incentives for gathering leads and making sales on the trade show floor. It is always much easier for people to work hard for their own benefit than for the benefit of their company, so offering incentives is an easy way to improve the performance of your booth staffers.

3- Take care to pick the right booth staffers in the first place. Although senior members of your sales staff may love to travel and exhibit at trade shows, they may be less motivated to do well than a young, ambitious sales person who works hard to impress. In addition to the fact that younger, more ambitious sales staff usually do better at trade shows, it will cost your company less money to send employees who earn less per hour.

4- Allow your booth staffers to be a part of the exhibiting process from the beginning. They will be much more comfortable working within the confines of your trade show exhibit if they played a role in the planning and development process. Who would want to be a part of a marketing campaign that they don’t believe in?

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Trade Show Marketing Trends for 2009

In light of the current economic crisis, companies are using cost-saving trade show marketing strategies to reduce their expenses. When marketing departments have less money to work with, creativity soars. Exhibitors are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to make the most of their shrinking budgets, which has led to a number of innovative marketing trends.

Social media marketing for trade shows has skyrocketed in 2008, and the future looks more promising than the past. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow exhibitors to quickly and easily communicate with thousands of attendees in a matter of seconds, which means the flow of information at conferences is faster now than ever before. Social media will continue to flourish in the trade show landscape in 2009. Learning to use these valuable tools can drastically improve the return on your investment at your next event.

The sale of modular exhibits is on the rise. Companies are finding that they can save a lot of money by purchasing a single trade show booth that can work in a 10′ x 10′, 10′ x 20′, and 20′ x 20′ space. Although these exhibits limit your company’s ability to exhibit at multiple shows on the same day, it drastically reduces cost for exhibitors who register for fewer than 10 shows per year. Small businesses love modular display systems, because with these systems they have the flexibility to add components to their display system as needed.

Multimedia exhibiting is becoming increasingly popular at trade shows. A trade show booth without a monitor or some audio-visual components is an anomoly in today’s trade show climate. Even in 10′ x 10′ spaces, exhibitors are looking to support large monitors on the back wall of their trade show display booths. Supporting large monitors requires a durable, well-engineered structure. There are many display systems that meet this criteria, but not many can be shipped in a single shipping case that can be transported by UPS or FedEx.

Stay on top of current trade show marketing trends by reading our trade show blog daily. We regularly update our content, so stop by often.

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CES 2009 Comes to a Close

Exhibitors and attendees both noticed that CES had a much smaller and more relaxed feeling this year compared to 2008, but many show-stopping products were unveiled this year. According to Engadget’s CES Article, Palm stole the show, but HDTV-related gadgets were also a big draw at CES 2009.

One of the most interesting products I saw was the 50-inch multitouch TV from Samsung. Although I couldn’t think of any practical uses for this device, it was definitely a lot of fun watching people play with images and use the built in chalkboard. Like almost every product at the Consumer Electronics Show, the TV was outlandish and impractical, but isn’t that what defines CES after all?

Although CES was smaller than usual this year, it wasn’t near as small or under-attended as many experts predicted. The trade show industry still appears to be going strong despite the downturn in the American economy. With the prospect of Apple exhibiting at CES in 2010, the biggest of all trade shows should get even bigger next year.

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Top 5 Trade Show Marketing Mistakes

Despite what industry professionals would have you believe, trade show marketing is not rocket science. If you apply common sense to your exhibiting program, you can avoid some common mistakes and pitfalls that plague exhibitors and cost companies money. If you are looking to improve the return on your investment at your next event, you can start by avoiding the following mistakes:

Mistake #1 – Failing to follow up with potential clients after the event.

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, almost 90% of the leads generated at trade shows are never followed up. This number is absolutely astounding when you consider the massive revenue that trade shows generate. You can immediately multiply the results of your marketing efforts by 9 simply by following up with potential clients after the show. For this reason, failing to follow up with clients is the single biggest and most common mistake in trade show marketing.

Mistake #2 – Failure to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors.

It’s important for your company to stand out and make a memorable impact upon visitors and attendees. Unwilling to take a risk, many companies simply blend into the background and make no effort to positively impact attendees. This is a huge mistake. Before you can differentiate yourself from your competition, you need to understand what makes your company special. What makes your customers purchase from you instead of your competitors? Where exactly does your company fit into the market? What advantages do you have over your competition? If you can answer these questions, you already have all the tools you’ll need to set yourself apart at your next event.

Mistake #3 – Failure to offer incentives to lure potential clients to your trade show booth.

Trade shows are entirely different today than they were 10 years ago. Although you are likely to get some serious foot traffic even without incentives, every visitor counts. Incentives are a great way to garner extra foot traffic without much additional cost. High quality trade show giveaways and other trade show attractions will bring visitors into your exhibit space, but you need to be careful to avoid gimmicky or deceptive incentives, or you may ruin your marketing efforts.

Mistake #4 -Failure to choose the best possible trade show to exhibit at.

If you exhibit at a trade show and you generate very little interest in your products and/or services, chances are good that you chose your event poorly. The ideal place to exhibit is an event that is swarming with people from your target market and free of your competitors. Successful trade show marketing specialists look for these types of events by thinking creatively about their target market and the best way to reach them.

Mistake #5 – Failure to design a high-impact trade show display.

Designing trade show display graphics can be a daunting task, even for an experienced and qualified graphic designer. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of passing visitors and attendees, and a properly designed trade show exhibit can make a huge impact on potential clients. Your trade show display should serve as a jumping off point for your booth staffers to begin the discussion about your products/services and what makes you different from your competitors. If your exhibit does not stand out in the fast-paced trade show environment, you may be sacrificing valuable foot traffic and losing touch with potential customers.

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Attendees Using Twitter

Posted by Andy Keeler on August 27, 2008
Multimedia Exhibiting, Trade Show Marketing, Trade Show Trends / No Comments

If you have ever attended a trade show, chances are good that you have found yourself stuck listening to a boring sales pitch from an unqualified sponsored trade show speaker. At conferences across the country, more and more attendees have been using Twitter to quickly and quietly communicate with other attendees during speeches and panels. When a discussion panel gets off track and ventures onto topics that are not interesting for the majority of listeners, attendees working together can redirect the course of the discussion by collaborative “tweeting” to get things back on track.

According to a Fortune article, attendees have taken drastic steps to redirect boring discussion panels and speakers. In one specific case, conversation in a chat room (during the conference) caused a revolution against the discussion panel. “One person finally stood and requested permission to ask a question. They said ‘No’, and he said, ‘The whole room is behind me. I’m going to ask it anyway’.” When attendees are able to take control of the topics of discussion at conferences, both sides win. The goal (at least in part) of discussion panels and speakers is to relay valuable information to attendees, and when attendees can choose what they want to hear, this only gets easier.

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Sponsored Speakers at Corporate Events

How many times have you found yourself bored out of your mind listening to a speaker at a conference? If so, you’re not alone. Over the past 5 – 10 years, more and more speaking positions at conferences have been given to “sponsors” (exhibitors who pay a premium to have time in front of visitors and attendees to the show). This is a great way for trade show organizers to make an extra buck, but it detracts from the overall experience for attendees. In the long run, I would argue that this practice will drastically decrease attendance and devalue the primary focus of any trade show, which is the marketing efforts of exhibitors put into their trade show booths and literature.

Event sponsors may pay $1,000 – $10,000 for the opportunity to speak to attendees, and they will certainly be looking for a return on that investment. As a result, speeches look more and more like live commercials. Attendees are interested in hearing informative speeches that relay information about the health of the industry, current industry trends, and what to expect in the near future. If you subject attendees to sponsor after sponsor who are relentlessly pushing their own products and/or services, they will quickly become bored and annoyed.

In order to solve this problem and keep attendees interested in hearing the speeches at conferences, it will take a concerted, collective effort on the part of show organizers to prohibit exhibitors from buying their way up to the podium. Speakers should be chosen on the basis of merit alone, not on the basis of how much money they are willing to shell out for a 10 minute long commercial. When speakers are chosen in this way, trade shows will be much more interesting for attendees. This may upset a few exhibitors out there who were used to buying an audience for their company, but they’ll get over it.

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The Definition of Lead Management

Reports suggest that almost 90% of leads generated at trade shows are never followed up. This astounding statistic makes it clear that lead management should be a priority in your trade show marketing program. Many exhibitors focus heavily on their trade show display system and their promotional products, leaving little or no capital or energy to be spend on lead management training and tools.

According to Dave Bailey at TechTarget, the definition of lead management is “to increase the likelihood that a lead will convert into a new, satisfied customer”. This definition highlights an important idea about lead management, which is that every lead must be managed individually. There is no cookie cutter way to manage every lead that will come your way, your company needs to take a personal interest in every qualified lead you receive.

Lead management on the trade show floor should amount to more than business card swapping. Business cards contain contact information, not lead information. In order to collect leads, you need to know what the potential client is interested in, the nature of their business, their timeframe for purchasing, their budget, and some objective measure of the likelihood that they will make a purchase from your company. Without this information, your sales staff back at the office will be starting cold, which appears unprofessional to potential clients. When you have recorded all the information in an accessable way, your sales staff will have no trouble prioritizing which leads they follow up on and picking up where you left off at the conference.

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Using a Loss Leader at Conferences

The goal of every exhibitor is to initiate contact with potential clients and continue to build relationships with existing clients. Offering a few of your non-core products at or below cost will attract the interest of potential clients who may not have otherwise been interested in your company. The concept of selling a product at or below cost to attract more new customers is foreign to many business-owners, and it certainly won’t work for everyone, but using a loss leader can be a great trade show marketing strategy.

When you sell a non-core product at cost, you leave your client with the impression that your company is price competitive in every area of business. When they suddenly find themselves in need of your core products, they will assume that you are the cheapest because your loss leader was so cheap. This perception needs to be reinforced in reality (i.e. you need to actually sell your core products at competitive prices) in order to keep the client happy with your company.

Here are some things to consider when selling products as a loss leader:

  • Your products should be related to what your business actually does. If you primarily sell office furniture, you could offer a few office accessories at or below cost. You want to avoid selling your core products at or below cost so that you do not confuse your customers and devalue your brand.
  • Your loss leader product should require little or no customer support after the sale. If you’re already selling a product below cost, the last thing you want is a customer service nightmare when the products break or become damaged weeks after the sale.
  • If your company does not keep detailed financial records, you will never be able to make an educated decision about when and if you can use a loss leader in your trade show marketing program.

If you choose to integrate a loss leader into your program, make sure it is well advertised at your event both on your trade show display and in your exhibit literature. If you forget to let people know about your special, you cannot properly evaluate its effectiveness on your target market.

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Power Requirements at Trade Shows

Posted by Andy Keeler on August 16, 2008
Exhibiting Strategy, Multimedia Exhibiting / 1 Comment

Electricity at trade shows is billed based on your actual usage. Many exhibitors are shocked to learn the cost of electricity, even if it was advertised in the exhibiting agreement. Personally, I don’t know the difference between a watt and a volt, but typically exhibit electricity is billed by wattage, and here is the wattage used for a number of common power consuming appliances (thank you Exhibitor Magazine):

  • TV: ~50 watts
  • Sound System: ~75 watts
  • Computer: ~400 watts
  • Fax Machine: ~60 watts
  • LCD Projector: ~300 watts
  • DVD Player: ~50 watts
  • 50-inch Plasma: ~500 watts

If you have to pre-order your electricity, always order more than you need. It would be disastrous if you ran out in the middle of your event.

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