Five Ideas to Steal from EXHIBITOR 2013

Five Ideas to Steal from EXHIBITOR 2013
Five Ideas to Steal from EXHIBITOR 2013 alt

From digital sketching to wall projection to social media inspiration, finding new and meaningful ways to connect brands with attendees was at the top of the priority list for many at EXHIBITOR 2013, held March 17-21 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.   “Everything that’s here is meant to facilitate face-to-face interaction,” said Brian Baker, creative director at MC2. “That’s what’s precious about a trade show.”   Baker noted that to create the right experience, it’s important to start with the brand’s goals and only then move to strategy and specific tools.   To capture imagination, and future business, of attendees at EXHIBITOR, several brands adopted a winning strategy of focusing on the guests and found innovative ways to do it.

Apps That Work   It’s hard to get attendees to download apps and even harder to get them to use them. EWI Worldwide created an app that attendees were happy to share with their peers, even during educational sessions.   Building on a concept of creative storytelling, EWI asked attendees various fun questions, such “What is your guilty pleasure?” and had an artist sketch out their answer.   Their photo with the drawing was uploaded to an album in the app, which also contained a dream journal, a brag book with case studies and more on the company’s creative process.

Social Media That’s About Them   Lots of brands encourage attendees to follow them on social media, but few offer something that can spark ideas. To help attendees find the right feel for their next exhibit, Hargrove created curated photo boards that track design trends on the visual-minded Pinterest social network.   “The worlds of fashion, art, retail, architecture and interior design are interconnected and can serve as inspiration for exhibit and event design,” said David Solsbery, executive director of design at Hargrove.   Attendees browsed through the boards on interactive screens in the exhibit while discussing what they saw with company reps and walked away with a personalized exhibit mood board.

Personalized Face Time   A captive audience is every trade show marketer’s dream. It might sound like a gimmick, but attendees crowded around the EventToon’s booth, where a digital artist sketched their image on a tablet – that’s at least five minutes of face time.   The caricature portraits were printed out and many attendees sported them in their badge holders as they roamed the aisles, happy to show off their personalized giveaways.

Five Minutes of Fame   Larger-than-life projected imagery may not be a new concept, but what about when it’s your photo on the wall? MG Design brought a 20-foot projection mapping wall that used Pandora’s Box system for traffic-stopping effect.    Attendees loved large dynamic imagery even more when they realized that for their own Times Square moment they could have their photo taken at the booth and in seconds, it would be part of the projection.   “If you’re doing multiple shows, you don’t have to redo the whole exhibit and you can adjust the content for multiple brands or product lines,” said Ben Olson, vp of marketing for MG Design.

Comfort and Joy   After a crazy day on the floor, it’s hard to resist plopping onto a comfortable couch in a cozy lounge environment.   Add to that a meaningful and inspiring conversation with a top creative, not a sales person, who is not following a script but actually knows how to help. Factor in a cup of coffee and an éclair. Priceless.

Confidence Strong at EXHIBITOR 2013

Confidence Strong at EXHIBITOR 2013 altConfidence Strong at EXHIBITOR 2013

Improving expectations of sales and the position of the United States at the top of global market drove increasing exhibitor and attendee confidence at 2013 EXHIBITOR Show, the annual gathering of the trade show industry that took place March 17–21 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Some 296 exhibitors presented everything from motion-activated displays to live sculpting to inflatable chairs, not to mention the latest in creative strategy and social media integration. The show attracted about 5,600 attendees and spanned approximately 67,000 square feet, up 13.5 percent compared with 2012.

“This is our best show since 2006 in terms of square footage and exhibitor count,” said Wayne Dunham, EXHIBITOR public relations consultant. “Exhibitors advisory council said that they’ve had a great show and that people on the floor are serious shoppers.”

Exhibit Surveys recently recognized the EXHIBITOR Show as the No. 1 show in America for Net Buying Influence, with 98 percent of the show’s attendees in 2012 having the power to specify, recommend or to make final purchasing decisions. It was also in the top 10 for Total Buying plans, with 62 percent actually preparing to purchase within 12 months.

First-time Canadian Exhibitor Matt Obst with Rhoddy was banking on this trend to continue. “We’ve had a fantastic time so far,” he said. “We’re growing fast and doing a lot of business in the States. We’ll be definitely back next year.”

Improving economic conditions in the U.S. also have attracted a growing international contingent that included attendees from 43 countries and exhibitors from nine. Dunham noted that for the first time the show had to arrange interpreting services for groups from Brazil and Japan.

Back after several years, the German Pavilion had a prominent presence with a gleaming exhibit and über popular “Made in Germany” bags.

Several exhibitors noted that the U.S. is among the fastest-growing global markets, along with China and India. They were looking for local partners to execute the trade show programs of their European clients in the U.S.

There also was a lot happening off the floor. The event offered a robust educational program with more than 200 sessions, 75 of which were new. Many exhibitors opted to share expertise and invest resources in the roundtables, receptions and other events where they could be face-to-face with attendees.

“People don’t want to be sold to, and there’re a lot of products here,” said Simon Fairweather, chief creative officer with EEI Global that had scaled back their booth this year but went heavy in other forms of engagement. “We do want to make a statement with our sho floor presence, but at the same time, we want to listen to what attendees have to say so we can help them address their problems better.”

Sherry Howell, corporate event manager for Texas Instruments, was one of the coveted decision-makers roaming the floor. She said she was impressed with the quality of exhibits and was excited to share ideas of technology use with her team.

“Exhibitors here are very cutting edge,” Howell added. “I love it how they use technology to demo products and to connect with customers. It’s a much deeper integration of touch technology and it’s very cool.” She said the budget for her is staying steady, but she’s hoping to see an increase next year.

The Best in Show Awards went to: Derse for best large exhibit, Armadilo Display Solutions for best small exhibit, Exhibitus for best staff and Blair Inc. for best new exhibitor.

EXHIBITOR is coming back March 16-20, 2014, to Mandalay Bay.

Bustling EXHIBITOR show floor suggests good year ahead

WRITTEN BY EXHIBIT CITY NEWS
Three days of face-to-face engagement and accelerated sales cycles during a record-setting EXHIBITOR2013 show bodes well for the tradeshow industry this year.

EXHIBITOR has been ranked the top tradeshow in the United States for net-buying influence among attendees, according to research conducted by Exhibit Surveys. About 98 percent of those who attended the EXHIBITOR show last had the power to specify, recommend or make final purchasing decisions within their organizations, according to Exhibit Surveys. And some 61 percent indicated they would make a purchase within 12 months of the 2012 show.

“These percentages are well ahead of the averages for all tradeshows,” said Lee Knight, CEO, EXHIBITOR Media Group. “Over the last 10 years, the profile of EXHIBITOR attendees has consistently ranked us among the top shows who have qualified decision-makers with buying power.”

More than 275 exhibitors occupied about 65,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Mandalay bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, making the 2013 show the event’s largest during its 25-year history.  Some 219 exhibitors took up more than 52,000 square feet of exhibit space last year. And educational programs topped 200 this year, making EXHIBITOR as critical for career success as it is sales success.

“It’s a great show to be in. I’m impressed by the amount of people who have stopped by and shown interest,” said Brandon Watson, owner and president, Streamline Show Services. “We hope to be back next year.”

Watson’s company is new to the tradeshow industry and was nominated for the new product showcase for its unique “Show, Stack, Ship” display system that doubles as a crate system for product transportation. The system eliminates the need to store crates and other moving materials while a tradeshow is in progress and enables quicker exit times after a show ends, saving on labor and drayage costs.

Although not new to EXHIBITOR, Reality Engineering made its return several years after going on a tradeshow hiatus at the start of the recent economic meltdown that crippled many industries. But with economic conditions improved at least slightly, a return to the tradeshow floor was in order to promote its new products for lead retrieval, business card capture technology and other services.

“We have so many new products to offer our industry,” said Shayna Metzner, account executive, Reality Engineering. “People more than ever need to measure their events – especially tradeshows. You need to qualify the leads you are getting.”

Participating in EXHIBITOR was the best way for Reality Engineering to introduce its new products and accelerate the sales cycle.

“It’s an excellent show and a really good turnout. We are seeing a lot of traffic, even on the last day,” said Metzner. “We got a booth right up front next year.”

Among other returning exhibitors was Expand International, which has been at EXHIBITOR for more than a decade and found the business pace to be brisk this year.

“The quality of leads seems to be better this year. There are fewer tire-kickers,” said Ed Fedorowich, marketing manager, Expand International. “We are seeing way more qualified leads, and the people coming to our booth know who we are. We’re going to be here again next year in the same spot.”

Another returning exhibitor was New York-based ExpoLinc, which was participating in its eighth EXHIBITOR event and was featuring its new panel base and magnet frame for banners and signage.

“This has been an exciting show for us. We’re seeing a lot of new people this year,” said Jan Firszt, national sales manager, ExpoLinc.

Exhibitors from all 50 states as well as Canada participated, but the international presence reflected the increasingly global nature of the tradeshow industry with exhibitors and attendess coming from 40 nations.

“We are especially pleased with the international contingent,” said Carol Fojtik, senior vice president, Hall-Erickson, the event’s management company. “The international exhibitors are telling us they are coming to connect with U.S. exhibitors both to find outlets in America and to help U.S. companies expand their overseas business.”

EXHIBITOR2013 ran from March 17 through March 21 and is slated to return to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center again next year. Its apparent success bodes well for the tradeshow industry, which generally matches the pace and tone of the EXHIBITOR show throughout the year. And that means lots of qualified business leads and shortened sales cycles likely are in store for exhibitors.

February tradeshows announce increased participation

Posted by Exhibit City News

Several tradeshows that took place in February recently reported increased numbers over the 2012 versions for attendees, exhibitors and net square feet of exhibit space. From Las Vegas to New York, these shows delivered positive results for exhibitors and the industries they serve.

concrete

The WOC 2013 show covered more than 605,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

World of Concrete (WOC) 2013, which took place Feb. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, surpassed all expectations in square footage and attendance. WOC is the only annual, international commercial-construction tradeshow for the concrete and masonry industries. The 2013 version attracted 54,869 professional registrants and showcased more than 1,300 indoor and outdoor exhibits in more than 605,000 net square feet of exhibit space, an increase of more than 53,000 net square feet over the 2012 show.

“Optimism was evident throughout World of Concrete 2013 with positive results from exhibitors as well as attendees,” said Jackie James, show director, WOC. “Exhibitors were so pleased with WOC 2013 that we have already booked more than 60 percent of the 2013 exhibit space for the 2014 show.”

Many exhibitors, including a significant number of new exhibitors, at WOC 2013 reported positive results from the show in 2014.

“We used to do other shows, but for the last 10 years this has been the only show that we do, and this year’s show is probably the best one I’ve been at in the last six years,” said Ron Turley of Ron Turley Associates Inc.

ireshow

Attendees at the IRE show stop to take in a show floor demonstration.

Professionals in the roofing industry also came out in full force at San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for the 2013 International Roofing Expo (IRE).

Held Feb. 5-7, total attendance for the 2013 IRE expo and conference was 8,491 – a 1.3 percent increase over the 2012 show, marking the third year in a row the show has seen an increase in attendance.

“There was a noticeable energy on the show floor among the attendees and exhibitors,” said Lindsay Roberts, group director, IRE. “The energy was evident throughout the show.”

In attendance were representatives from the industry’s leading roofing and construction companies, including commercial and residential contractors, builders, remodelers, architects and engineers.

“I attended the show for the great sessions as well as gaining better insight into new and existing products,” said Christopher Knott, sales manager, Cherry and Clark Roofing in Mississauga, Ontario.

Attendees represented all 50 states. The largest number of international attendees came from Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Australia and Brazil.

Switching from the construction industry, the 110th American International Toy Fair welcomed a surge in international attendees as visitors from 92 countries descended upon New York City to preview 150,000 innovative toys, games and youth entertainment products.

Owned and operated by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), Toy Fair 2013 was held from Feb. 10-13 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The fair saw a 4 percent increase in international attendees, a 9 percent rise in licensors, a 6 percent increase in international manufacturer’s reps, and an 18 percent surge in foreign press. Total attendance during the four-day show was more than 24,000.

A blizzard that hit the New York City-area on the Friday before Toy Fair 2013 resulted in just six cancellations from the 1,066 pre-registered exhibitors, who filled a record-breaking 375,000 net square feet of exhibit space. The Toy Fair also welcomed 239 first-time exhibitors.

“Despite airport closures, flight cancellations, train disruptions and the closing of major roads due to the snowstorm, Toy Fair 2013 had a terrific turn-out, and the atmosphere on the floor was upbeat and energetic right up until the very end,” said Carter Keithley, president, TIA.

Toy Fair 2013 welcomed nearly 9,500 buyers from 5,000 retail outlets, including buyer delegations from 22 of the nation’s top 25 toy sellers.

“Our initial concerns that the show would be off due to the snow storm were quickly allayed by Sunday afternoon when our booth was filled to near-capacity with both familiar and new faces,” said Jason Schneider, director of product development and marketing, Ceaco/Gamewright. “Overall traffic was up and sales were stronger than ever.”

The Rental Show 2013, held from Feb. 10-13 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, also reported an extremely active show floor with its fourth straight year of increased attendance. The number of rental businesses represented also increased this year and reached the highest total since 2006, which was the 50th anniversary of The Rental Show.

Attendees came from throughout the U.S., Canada and more than 40 other countries.

“Overall, The Rental Show reflects where this industry is headed,” said Christine Wehrman, CEO, American Rental Association, organizer of The Rental Show. “Everyone anticipated a great show because of the attitude, tone and urgency we’ve seen from attendees on buying equipment. Everything about the show was positive this year.”

The show also saw an increase in buyers versus browsers.

“Subaru had a very good show. We were really happy with the increased attendance and the overall energy and excitement level of the attendees,” said Pam Meyer, equipment sales manager, Subaru Industrial Power Products. “Many attendees were armed with purchase orders in hand or a long list of items they needed to purchase when they came to the booth. That has not happened for several years.”

If February is any indication, the tradeshow industry is off to another good start in 2013.

Tradeshow graphic design trends boost productivity

Posted by Exhibit City News 
The U.S. economy just posted its first period of contraction since 2007, and many exhibitors are looking for ways to reduce costs while improving their performance at tradeshows and other events. Fortunately, more print shops offer graphic design services with a greater ability to provide eye-popping custom graphics.“People are starting to really trust and value design services offered in a print shop. With the continuous upgrades in programs, such as the Adobe Creative Suite, stock photo-purchasing options and different design styles based on the general subject matter, designs are being taken to new levels in the tradeshow industry,” said Lauren Spreitzer, online graphic designer, Nimlok. “The tools at our fingertips allow us to createtradeshow graphics quickly and efficiently to meet our customers’ deadlines.”

With an increased ability to produce quality graphics in-house, customers can get their products faster and at reduced cost. And that means a greater ability to produce high-quality custom graphics for less money.

orbus-booth

Companies like Orbus are offering more graphic design services to its customers.

“Designing the artwork in-house gives us the flexibility to build files according to our guidelines and reduces the preflight file checks required on most jobs,” said Jaime Herand, director of graphic operations, Orbus. “This can help us get the customer’s final product out the door faster with less shipping expenses for them.”

As might be expected, Adobe products continue setting the industry standard for graphic design software tools and make it possible to ensure an exact match for customer needs.

“The Adobe Creative Suite is constantly upgrading its software along with creating different plug-ins and program tools to make graphic design more diverse among the 3D world of design,” said Chris Prince, art services supervisor, Orbus. “With the addition of the Solid Works CAD drawing program, we are able to give graphic designers the ability to work directly off exported templates from the actual booth design. This will ensure that when setting up and designing the files, the artwork is 100 percent to the correct dimensions needed.”

While total confidence can be placed in dimensional needs, understanding and communicating design limitations does help ensure customer satisfaction in the final product. Color, in particular, can be a subjective element where opinions might differ on final outcomes. But when customers can see beforehand exactly what the final product will look like, it is easier to reach a consensus.

“There are various color tools to help our customers understand color and the limitations of large-format digital printers,” said Prince. “With tools like the Pantone matching system, our clients have a better handle on what to expect regarding color.”

While print shops have an enhanced ability to provide custom graphic designs for tradeshow booths and exhibits, those designs and graphic elements must complement the overall presentation.

“Graphic design for custom booths tends to be very clean and streamlined. As booths continue to incorporate more technology, lighting and fabric architecture, it is critical that the graphics blend with the overall booth,” said Herand. “The message on the display needs to be simple and clearly understood. There will always be new trends regarding font styles and color. As a designer, it is important to stay current on what is popular in the industry.”

Products requiring short production runs have also proven to be very popular. And tradeshows make great use of products designed to not only inform attendees but to provide easy solutions to last-minute problems.

“We are typically seeing requests for step-and-repeat backwalls, informational banner stands and table throws,” said Jenny Prado, art services supervisor, Orbus. “These products generally have a quick turnaround time, and the customer will need a last-minute solution.”

Although last-minute solutions often are necessary, allowing enough lead time to complete projects helps ensure a job is done well and on time.

“The lead time for graphic design can be anywhere from one to two days on commodity products, such as banner stands, backwalls or table throws, and four to five days on a custom booth design,” said Herand. “We will always try to work with a customer, even if the project is under lead time.”

With reduced costs and enhanced design and production capabilities, graphical elements are becoming a much more cost-effective marketing tool for tradeshow exhibitors.

Going Beyond Price: 10 Key Buying Criteria For Trade Show Displays

Posted by Mike Thimmesch, TSNN

When you’re shopping for your next trade show display, it’s all too easy to focus just on the price.  After all, price is easy to judge – whoever costs the least, wins.

And yet, price is not the same as value.  When you buy based on value, you find that spending a little more money may get you a lot more value in return.

So here are 10 other criteria beyond price that experienced exhibit buyers know to look for.

Let’s start with the display:

1.  Quality:  Be careful about buying a disposable display online, only to last for a show or two.  A high-quality display will look great at your first show with its better fit and finish, plus look great longer with more durable materials and smarter engineering.

2.  Total Cost of Ownership:   Look beyond just the initial purchasing price.  Over the course of the life of the exhibit, you will spend – and potentially save – much more on exhibit shipping, drayage, I&D, storage, and refurbishing.  Get an estimate for the life of your exhibit, about 3 to 5 years.  You will be surprised how much an innovative modular exhibit can save you.  Your exhibit house should know when to offer exhibit rental to further stretch your budget.

3.  Flexibility:  How stuck are you with that exhibit shape you see in the rendering?  Will you be able to easily change your booth size up or down, and change your graphics to fit your evolving marketing messages?   If your initial display is not flexible, it may force you to buy another.

4.  Functionality:  Your trade show booth is more than a billboard; it’s also a work space.  Therefore, your exhibit needs to work for your trade show objectives and support your staff.  So if you need product demo spaces, storage, monitor mounts, meeting areas, wire management, leads slots, and the like, make sure that’s included in the designs you are considering.

Now, consider the factors relating to who you buy your exhibit from:

5.  Customer Service:  With your hectic schedule, buyers require a supportive exhibit house that returns your calls promptly.  Their responsiveness saves you time.  The best vendors genuinely want to help you long-term, because they have your best interests at heart.  A service-oriented exhibit house will even travel with you to your biggest shows to ensure your success, and has team members everywhere to help you away from home.

6.  Design For Marketing Results:  While anyone can “make it pretty,” you need an exhibit house that has shown it knows how to help you build your brand, generate sales leads, and boosts your trade show ROI.  They know how to translate your marketing objectives into a creative exhibit that gets attention and supports your booth staff.  They help your company win more business at trade shows.

7.  Trade Show Marketing Expertise:  While not brain surgery, trade shows are harder than they appear at first.  Find a vendor who freely shares their knowledge about what works in trade show marketing, and gives you expert guidance all along the way.

8.  Industry Knowledge:  An exhibit house that is more than just a builder, but also has demonstrated success for exhibitors in your own industry.  They know your show, your vertical market, and even what appeals to your buyer.

9.  Wide Selection:   Save some more time and get a better fit for you with a vendor that can be a one-stop shop for all your needs – from tabletops and portable inlines, to island exhibits of varying sizes.  So with just one call you get it all.

10.  Online Asset Management:   Because you don’t have time to wrestle with your exhibit assets anymore, innovative exhibit houses provide an online tool to manage your assets, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So you can say where you want your exhibit to go without the stress and hassle of phone tag and voice mail.

Buying a trade show exhibit is a big decision for a trade show marketer.  You are committing to a look that will define your company at its key industry shows, you are investing in a tool to help grow your business, and you are choosing a vendor who will make or break your success.

So when you are shopping for your next trade show display, consider value instead of price.  You may just find that it’s not how much it costs that matters, but how much it’s worth.

Those Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Posted by Linda Musgrove, The Tradeshow Teacher

It’s January and I know everyone is just recovering from the holidays, but TradeShow Teacher is energized and ready to start 2013 with a bang. This is the time of year when everyone is trying to make good on those New Year’s resolutions. We all go into each New Year with plans to make this coming year the best yet. Maybe you planned to start exercising or spend more time with the family.

Whatever it is you want to achieve in day-to-day life or when it comes to tradeshows, it all starts with a great plan.

Today’s lesson is all about planning. You know what they say about good planning: “To be prepared is half the victory.” “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” And, of course, you’ve heard: “Bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

What it all boils down to is thinking ahead so that you’re ready for whatever comes your way. It works in life and it definitely works for tradeshows. Since I know everyone has a lot on their plate with the new year just starting, I’m going to highlight some quick and easy ways to help you plan before you get anywhere near the show floor.
Review the show website
Sorry, students. I didn’t mean to raise my voice, but I can’t stress enough how important this is. The show’s website contains valuable information, such as exhibitor lists and networking events. The website is your best friend, and it is truly the essential tool in helping you make the most of your show.

Take a calendar and mark the timeframe you will be in the show’s city. Now, mark off the actual show hours and then start filling in the time around it. Enter the items that have fixed schedules first, which will make it possible to get the most out of the time you still have available. Even if last minute things come up, you’ll have a good part of your day planned out and you won’t waste valuable time trying to make appointments or track people down while you’re there.

Create a show folder that you’ll keep attached to you the whole time. This folder should have all your show documentation, your travel information, your calendar, your specific booth information, purchase orders, invoices, etc. Anything and everything connected to the show should be kept in one easy-to-reach place. If you want to be really prepared, you can scan all this information into a folder on your laptop so you can easily access from anywhere and guaranteed never to lose it.

Here’s a tip that may seem obvious, but it’s frequently overlooked. Before the show, make sure you have a ton of business cards. If you’re low, get more printed. I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who run out of business cards during a show. Make sure you bring at least three times as many as you think you’ll need.

Have you utilized MapYourShow.com? If not, you should check it out. MYS offers an entire suite of showmanagement software solutions. From online, onsite and mobile support, MYS features everything show managers need to successfully execute their shows. If you haven’t had occasion to check it out yet, you probably will soon since they currently provide services to over 200 tradeshows, such as IMTS, CES and other popular and very well-attended shows. I’ve used their service a number of times now, and I find that they make planning very easy, both for me and my exhibiting clients.

Create paper forms and have them available to capture leads. Even if you have an electronic lead-capturing system, it’s a good idea to have paper forms available as backup. Maybe your booth becomes too busy for the device to handle the traffic, or maybe you experience technical difficulty with the electronic system. The last thing you ever want to happen at a show is to miss capturing valuable leads. Just knowing you have a backup plan in place will ease your mind – believe me.

Again, this was just a few items from my ever-growing arsenal of pre-planning tips. For more tips for improved planning and exhibiting results, visit www.tsteacher.com/resources/tradeshow_teacher_trade_show_tips.php.

Okay, class it’s time for your homework. We’ll meet again in February. Class is dismissed.

Homework:
Dennis Waitley (an American motivational speaker and author of self-help books) once said “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”
• What unwelcome surprises have you encountered on the show floor?
• What planning steps have you taken since that have better prepared you to not stumble upon these types of surprises?

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.

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 .