5 Tips on Using Social Media to Ramp Up Your Trade Show Event

Posted by Vickie Siculiano, ExhibitCraft

So, you’ve made the investment in a fired up trade show
display and you’re ready to ramp up your booth traffic. To do more than just
build your physical presence at a trade show, use the opportunity to ramp up
your virtual presence using social media.

The online conversation can multiply if you use some of these simple tips to get your show started.

1. Tweet before, during and after the show.

You can use a
free online tool such as hootsuite or tweetdeck to schedule a thread of tweets
to run before, during, and after your trade show. You can change one word in
each post, such as “10 days left…” “9 days left…” You can also vary them a bit
based on what kind of message you would like to post. Think of what specific
message you would like to promote, and then schedule it around your event to
maintain your presence even while you’re away.

2. Develop a content development strategy.

Fresh and valuable content takes time to develop.
And like a fine wine, it gets better with age. You should have a strategy, or
some kind of content calendar in place if you plan to have regular fresh content
development moving through the social media funnel. Think of the types of
content you create. Maybe it’s industry-specific news of relevance to your
audience. You should also have an internal content calendar to spread your
organization’s content you want to share – such as photos with clients, photos
at headquarters, blog posts, etc. Take all of this valuable content, and
schedule it to post throughout your event, so you can drive traffic not only to
your valuable online properties (your website, your social media profiles,
etc.), but so that you can have rich properties to drive search engine
traffic.

3. Listen to thc conversation already happening.

Is there
something that is already being discussed around the event? Make sure to pick up
on keyword phrases that are being used over and over again, and align yourself
with the conversation by using those same keyword phrases. Perhaps it is the
name of the event. Find the hashtag that is being used for the event. One
popular event hastag that we were jumping in on recently was #CHAShow. We were
able to learn about videos being shot at the exhibit, and were able to jump
right in the conversation. You can do this, too, if you keep track of the
tweeters that are already having a conversation. Join in.

4. Reach beyond
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Listen to the conversation on different
social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, but don’t ignore
the value and power of Google+. There are industry specific blogs you can follow
(if you don’t know which ones, Google your industry name and the world “blog”
and you’ll not only get a list of currently active blogs, but the first page of
results will have blogs that rank highest in the search engines. You already
have your homework done for you. Now, you just need to align yourself by
commenting or contacting the blog authors to let them know where you’ll
be.

4. Foursquare discounts and prizes.

You can engage your booth
visitors by offering discounts using Foursquare or Gowalla. Maybe you might have
a check-in premium, a special event check-in at the trade show, or a scavenger
hunt. Whatever the offer might be, engage and encourage your exhibitors to do
the same.

5. Post your event photos!

Photos are one of the most
viral pieces of social media content, because they don’t take any time
investment to share – as long as there is an easy way of sharing them, people
will spread the word. Don’t just post them on flickr, but post them using
services like twitpic, and definitely share them on google+, too!

8 Green Marketing Tips for Event Planners

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the importance of sustainability in event planning and marketing. With a little determination and effort, it’s easy to make the promotion of your event more eco-friendly.

So, how exactly do you go green with your marketing? Start out by doing your homework. There are multiple resources available to help you, including the Green Meetings Industry Council, the Convention Industry Council’s Green Meetings Report, and the EPA’s Green Meetings and Events Guide.

Analyze your event, consider your strengths and weaknesses and determine what resources are available within your organization, the meeting venue’s management team and your own event team. Identify who already has the capacity for executing green strategies and engage them in implementing, monitoring and tracking the performance of your sustainability action plans.

When establishing your goals, it’s important to set achievable objectives. Prioritize your efforts so that you put the most energy into green practices that are the least disruptive, least controversial and which yield the greatest return on investment. Here are some ideas that I’ve used with my clients to help them go green in their event marketing:

• Design your materials to reduce their environmental impact. At the design stage, you can reduce paper weight, size and mailing format. You can even choose fonts that reduce the amount of ink used inprinting brochures and flyers. Select graphic designs that use less ink and use white space in place of swaths of color where possible.

• Print graphics, flyers, handouts and banners on recycled materials. More and more, recycled paper, fiberboard, cardstock and fabrics are being offered by printers in place of those made with virgin materials, and recycled materials often cost less these days. When using recycled papers, look for brands that list a minimum of 30% post-consumer content that is processed chlorine free. Most legitimately recycled papers and papers that use sustainable fibers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Reducing the size and weight of your mailings can save you money and help your green marketing efforts in several different ways.

• Reduce the total weight of your mass mailings and marketing materials. Self-mailers eliminate extra envelopes. Double-sided printing cuts paper costs in half. Additionally, this reduced weight can also generate secondary benefits like reducing emissions of the trucks delivering your materials. Check out the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) website for more tips.

• Choose Energy Star printers, copiers and other equipment for use by your team. Look for eco-friendly inks and other solvents when you buy supplies. The Forest Stewardship Council provides a chain-of-custody certification for printers that meet their environmental standards.

• Clean up your mailing lists. Millions of advertisements and direct mailings go out to bad addresses each year. Use available tools provided by software and mailing services to clean up bad addresses, missing fields, incorrect zip codes, retired attendees and those who have moved or switched positions without leaving a forwarding address. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees to opt out of your traditional mailing list in favor of receiving notices by email. Email is far cheaper and impacts the environment less than traditional letters.

• Go with LED lighting for advertising displays, banners and billboards. LED lights deliver all the lumens you’ll need at a fraction of the power consumption of tungsten or halogen lights. Bonus tip: Be sure to point out the power savings you achieve in your marketing materials for the event.

• Add a substantial electronic media strategy to your overall marketing efforts. The Internet’s capacity to micro-target customers through websites, mobile apps, email, traditional outbound and inbound online advertising, blogs, social media, and newsletters dramatically reduces the environmental impact of your marketing campaign and at a fraction of the cost.

• Use Online PR distribution resources like PR Web and PR Newswire to get your message directly to attendees. Electronic press releases can include a direct call to action that most print news media won’t tolerate. By optimizing your release for search engines with keyword-rich copy, you can move your news to the top of the electronic heap, again taking advantage of the Internet’s cost savings and energy efficiency.

Survey says women want online meetings

Posted by Exhibit City News

TeamViewer, one of the world’s most popular providers of remote control and online meetings software, has announced the findings of its survey of over 2,500 American adults age 18 and older, conducted online by Harris Interactive in January. The survey, which was drafted based on TeamViewer’s experience hosting online meetings in the workplace, highlights that women are at the forefront of technology in the American workplace.

The results showed that, in general, women were more likely than men to see the benefits of taking their meetings online, with a majority of U.S. adults (77 percent) saying that online meetings are on the rise.

Specifically, women were statistically more likely than men to say:

  • They could save money in transportation costs – (78 percent vs. 71 percent)
  • You don’t have to waste time traveling to meetings – (77 percent vs. 71 percent)
  • Online meetings are less nerve-wracking – (37 percent vs. 26 percent)
  • People are less distracted – (22 percent vs. 16 percent)

Surprisingly, Generation X/Baby Boomers (ages 45-54) were more likely than young people (ages 18-34) to say they think online meetings save money in transportation costs (80 percent vs. 71 percent) and don’t waste their time traveling to meetings (80 percent vs. 68 percent). When asked about the characteristics most important for an online meeting host to have, women proved much more demanding than men in almost every category, including:

  • Organization (81 percent vs. 68 percent)
  • Fast-paced (64 percent vs. 52 percent)
  • Respectfulness (60 percent vs. 50 percent)
  • Fair (57 percent vs. 51 percent)
  • Decisive (40 percent vs. 34 percent)
  • Clever (17 percent vs. 12 percent)

Some women even said they thought online meetings hosts should be passionate (15 percent), attractive (5 percent) and blunt (6 percent).

“These findings demonstrate that women are on the cutting edge of technology and are having a big impact on the way the modern office is evolving,” said Holger Felgner, general manager at TeamViewer. “TeamViewer 7 gives them the freedom to do just that, providing a platform for online meetings at any time and on any device.”

How Restaurants Are Using Technology to Deliver Better Customer Service

GLENDALE, CA - JUNE 21:  A Domino's Pizza deli...Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife

The next frontier for social media and smartphones may well be the restaurant table.

Consumers want to see the new technology they use integrated into their dining experience, a new study from Technomic on consumer-facing technologyshows, especially if it will speed up the process of getting their meal or paying their bill.

Just over half of respondents to the survey said it’s important for restaurants to start using these technologies, and that they expect to use technology more often in the coming year to order food.

Sounds like the first restaurant that lets you order dinner from their mobile-enabled tweetstream wins.

So far, restaurants have been slow to take to technology, but a few chains are breaking new ground. Here’s a look at some of the recent innovations:

  • Mobile ordering. This is one area where fast-food chains are in the forefront. Domino’s Pizza is so far along with it, they recently introduced their Spanish-language mobile-ordering app.
  • iPad order kiosks. Why wait in line if you can file your order at a kiosk immediately, and then sit down and relax? Blazing Onion Burger Company is testing this system out in a new restaurant opened last month in Seattle. Expect more of this, since it could help prevent walk-aways and result in more orders.
  • Facebook ordering. This may be the biggest technology leap coming in the next year, as nearly 100 percent of restaurant owners say they plan to have a Facebook presence by next year. Companies specializing in Facebook-payment integration for restaurants such as ChowNow and NetWaiter are helping chains to get their ordering onto the popular platform. This is a fairly low-cost add-on to make, and it has the potential to grow sales, which always gets a restaurauteur’s attention. For instance, the Taco Spot in Charleston, SC saw a 10 percent sales bump after implementing Facebook-based ordering, trade magazine Fast Casual recently reported.
  • Tabletop e-waiter & checkout. Diners hate it when waiters take their credit card away and run it up at the register — it’s a common point for credit-card fraud. Hand them a restaurant iPad they can self-checkout on where their card doesn’t leave their sight, and they’re happy. That often-endless wait for the card and bill to return doesn’t win fans, either. E la Carte’s Presto tablet is one solution that offers tableside self-checkout and more — it even suggests additional items to order, and the company reports it cuts 7 minutes off the average diner’s stay. Customers are happy with the faster service, and restaurants can serve more diners per night. Airport-restaurant chain HMSHost is among the operators using Presto.
  • Digital menu boards + smartphones. Watch for fast-food restaurants to change menus more often, because digital menu boards make it so much easier than manually changing prices and items. Digital signage also allows quick-serve restaurants to provide entertainment and interactivity while you wait in line — for example, Boston-based burrito chain Boloco’s digital signboard allows patrons to play tic-tac-toe against friends or the computer while they wait.
  • Games while-u-wait. Gaming industry sources report McDonald’s is projecting gesture-enabled games onto restaurant floors for kids to play while they wait for Happy Meals, in 150 of the chain’s higher-profile locations. Now that’ll keep kids busy — and we all know happy kids mean happy parents who come back to your restaurant.
  • Online coupons. More restaurants are using digital coupons, and diners gobble them up — in the Technomic survey, 58 percent of diners said they’ve already used them.

Tech-savvy diners expect elegant solutions that work, as McDonald’s clunky test of bolted-to-the-table iPads showed. But for restaurants that can get it right, integrating technology that makes customers happy and turns tables faster will be a no-brainer.

The five G’s of tradeshow success

Posted by Linda Musgrove, The TradeShow Teacher

Welcome back, class. In school, there are many techniques and tools – such as acronyms and mnemonic devices – designed to help students learn and memorize crucial information. In this column, we will cover much of the information that we have in past columns, but this time, we are going to use the literary device known as alliteration to teach the five G’s of tradeshow success.

The following are the five G’s critical to effective exhibiting:

Groundwork

If ever there were an area of marketing/business that needed keen preparation and groundwork, tradeshows would be it. Laying the groundwork involves reading the exhibitor package from cover to cover. This includes educating yourself as to deadlines for registration, deliveries, setup, speaking and award opportunities. Being fully versed in the location of your booth will help you visually lay out booth materials, furnishings and demonstrations ahead of time. Ample booth staff training and on-call backups, shipping and handling of materials and hotel and travel coordination all speak to good preparation. Coordinating raffles, promotionalgiveaways and literature/collateral all fall under the “groundwork” umbrella as well. Anticipate and troubleshoot problems before they happen.

Graphics

Graphics and messaging should be cutting-edge, progressive and aesthetically pleasing – but effective over all else. The graphics on your booth should be consistent with graphics on the other materials you are distributing and consistent and cohesive with your brand. It is noteworthy to remind exhibitors to make sure graphics and messaging on booth displays are large and colorful enough to be seen from a distance but not so large that it is tacky and unintelligible from up close. Always be sure that the messaging on the booth display is not conflicting or being concealed by standing booth staffers, booth furnishings or other extraneous materials. A common mistake is booth displays designed with messaging copy below knee level. Make sure the graphics and eye-level messaging are designed to speak to your target audience and that they are meaningful above all else. A common mistake is overloading a booth display with too many messages and graphics. Remember – often, less is more.

Giveaways

Promotional giveaways always are popular and necessary for exhibitors to remain competitive. The most basic function of promotional giveaways is as awareness and goodwill builders and brand re-enforcers. Promotional giveaways have grown up from their original and popular roots as pens, notepads, key rings, desk accessories and rulers. These days, there are many more creative and more mainstream options including cell-phone desk chairs, mini first-aid kits, hand sanitizers, rubber jar grip openers, and tote bags. Of course logo-cloaked bottled waters and sweets always go over well, but be sure they do not conflict with catering rules in your tradeshow manual. Remember – it is not always necessary to include the show info on the promotional items but rather your company’s logo and contact information. This is an economical way to have widespread use of these often costly investments.

Gimmicks

There are a number of creative gimmicks that exhibitors are utilizing to create and generate that highly coveted booth buzz. On top of the list are QR codes – which are used as a way to enter/link participants in some kind of prize giveaway via their smart phones leading them to a specific promotional landing page. QR Codes are also used as a way of exchanging information between exhibitor and attendee as well as a tracking and lead gathering technique. Create your QR Codes in advance of an event and make sure they are tested, tried and true. Other booth gimmicks involve the use of celeb/model spokesperson representation at a booth, a mascot or even some kind of costumed character representing the brand. Bubbles have been used to garner attention, but prove to be most effective if there is a tie-in to the product/service – such as a launch of a new soda or cleaning product. Other gimmicks include the use of a photo booth – which generates booth buzz and dispenses the promotional giveaway with a personal photo strip show memento. When allowed – a cotton candy or popcorn machine can create a nice synergy if the booth is showcasing cloud-based technologies or anything relating to 3-D movies or hi-tech entertainment, respectively. Any kind of raffle prize or scavenger hunt giveaway is a creative gimmick to get attendees back to your booth multiple times.

Gadgets

To be sure to convey that your company is in tune with the marketplace at large, it is imperative that you show some cutting-edge technology in your exhibit – even if you are not a hi-tech exhibitor. A charging station for multiple smart devices (phone, tablets, laptops) has double duty in that it guarantees attendees stop by your booth multiple times as well as extending their visit and exposure to your brand’s products and/or services. Other impressive gadgets to consider would be interactive demonstrations on tablets or 3-D Presentations in a booth set up as media viewing room (here’s where the popcorn comes in). If you are a hi-tech exhibitor, there is nothing an attendee wants more than to push your buttons. When it comes to electronic or hi-tech gadgets, hands-on is the way to go.

Homework:

1. When delegating responsibilities for an upcoming show, consider using the G’s as a basic framework or breakdown.
2. Remember that there are many factors that add up to trade show success; if you follow the five basic G’s – you’ll be off to a GREAT start.

About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher:

Linda Musgrove is founder and president of TradeShow Teacher, an award-winning trade show management and marketing firm. Linda, along with her team of specialists, focuses on assisting companies increase trade show ROI through a comprehensive results driven formula. As the author of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing; Linda is also a regular, expert contributor to several industry publications and sites. Learn more online at www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly Trade Show Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/tsteacher or e-mail atinfo@tsteacher.com .