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Top Trade Show Secrets You Didn't Know

by Kat Shea 9. November 2011 18:22

Susan Friedman, the Trade Show Coach, is our featured guest blogger this week.  She's an industry think tank, author and trainer. Susan helps companies worldwide get the most out of attending trade shows and industry events.  The Trade Show Coach is known in the industry for designing and implementing strategies for show organizers and exhibitors who want to retain and grow their customer base. Enjoy the read!

Trade show attendees look ordinary enough -- but they have TOP secret agendas - if you could hear their deepest thoughts, they might go a little something like this:

Secret #1: We're impatient

“The boss just sent me to Orlando from a blustering Buffalo blizzard.  The last thing I want to do is spend the day on the show floor getting hounded by sales reps.  If you show me what we need, at a reasonable price, I'm going take the necessary information and hit the hotel pool.”

Unraveling the Secret
As an exhibitor you need to get a clear understanding of your visitor's wants and expectations without wasting their time or your own.  It’s especially true for attendees who want to get the “business” part of their trip out of the way as quickly as possible.  Ask questions that will uncover their needs and enable you to target the right solution.  Additional incentives and special savings help to sweeten the pot. While you can offer visitors hard copy information on your products/services to bring back to upper management, you need to be sure it won't be left poolside with the wet towels. Always email visitors a message and attach elit so it’s in their inbox when they return to the office.

Secret #2: We're lazy

“Sure, it sounds like a great deal.  But I don't want to have to jump through any hoops to get a small discount.  For a few dollars more, I'd rather go to your competitor's website where buying isn’t such a walloping headache .”

Unraveling the Secret
If you're going to offer a show special or promotional incentive for online buying, focus on making it an easy and user-friendly experience. Time is valuable, so buyers are willing to pay more to avoid what they perceive as 'too much' work. Consider providing material printed with a unique url or QR code that will take them directly to a product landing page where they can submit their order in a jiffy. Make sure you include the url below the QR code in case your customers don’t have a smart phone on them. Also, don’t forget to provide the name of the QR code reader that you want your customers to use, because there are tons out there!

Secret #3: We're Egotistical

“You might not realize this, but I work for a very influential Fortune 500® company.  In fact, as a top performer at the company I’m also an influential person or key decision maker.”

Unraveling the Secret
With these high profile buyers, mustering extra effort to make them feel like VIPs can go a long way to building a relationship and future sales.  So give them the recognition they desire. Reach out to them before the show via your social media and direct marketing initiatives with a sense of urgency.  Have something special waiting for them at the booth, something exclusive and/or personalized because stroking their ego can’t hurt. 

Secret #4: We HATE math

“Ok, so there's $25 off of product A, 15% off product B, and a $500 rebate if I buy now.  Exactly how much will that save me???”

Unraveling the Secret
When promoting discounts and sale prices at a trade show remember the KISS acronym:.  You want to Keep It Super Simple!  No decimal double talk or complicated discount scales.  Just focus on the total savings.  Have printed price sheets on hand for your booth staff to easily highlight applicable discounts, write in the total savings and even provide competitive price comparisons so visitors walk away knowing your bottom line.

Secret #5: We like to be pushed

“So this price is only good for a limited time.  I read it on the sign.  I heard it during your sales presentation. I see the deadline on the material you gave me. And you know what? Chances are I'm going to forget.  And when I learn that I missed out on some BIG savings, I'm still going to blame YOU.”

Unraveling the Secret
Humans have to encounter the same piece of information an average of six times (YES SIX) before they remember it -- and that's in a normal, everyday environment.  So to help bolster trade show attendees' memories, remind them more often.  Mention the deadline during face-to-face and phone interactions, make note of it in all of your follow-up correspondence, and send out or post reminder alerts to advise them of the impending expiration date.

The moral of these five secrets is to walk in the shoes of your prospects and think about situations from their perspective. Empathize, be authentic and remember to look for ways to deliver value.

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Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Lead Management | Trade Show Promotion

Exhibitors, Boost Your Brand By Raising Your Roof

by Kat Shea 2. November 2011 19:13

Savvy marketers are grabbing attention and building brand awareness by "raising the roof" on their trade show displays. From our design studio through to the factory floor we've seen a dramatic increase in demand for overhead hanging signs in variety of organic and geometric shapes.

How Fabric Displays Can Save You Money…
Fabric displays demand attention on the show floor yet they’re compact, lightweight and easy to assemble so you save on storage, transportation, drayage and labor expenses.

What The Experts Have To Say…
Vince Alberta, VP of The Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Authority, even reports a recent surge in suspended fabric displays from years past, touching on their proven ability to drive brand exposure at trade shows and deliver ROI.

Lights! Camera ! Action!!!...
We’ve even made it easier for our customers to choose fabric graphics for their Nomadic display. Below is our newest step-by-step instructional video for Show Smart fabric installation and dismantle. Let us know what you think!!!




Trade Show Tips | Booth Design | Trade Show Booth Graphics | Trade Show Promotion

Are You SpOOking Your Booth Visitors?

by Kat Shea 26. October 2011 19:40

From creepy crawlies to eerie jack o' lanterns there’s plenty of hocus pocus to go around this week. So, we thought we’d enchant you with a two parter of goulish trade show secrets. That’s not all! We collaborated with industry influential – Susan Freidmann (also known as the Trade Show Coach) to bring you this spooktacular series of posts! So, here are just a few ways your very own sales team (both veterans and newbies) can spook your prospects and customers.

Fright or flight
Ever entered a department store and had an over eager sales person swoop down on you? Then you know how it feels. Attendees feel the same way at trade shows. Although your booth staff should be attentive and responsive, they should be careful not to overwhelm visitors when approaching them for engagement. Smile, make eye contact, extend a handshake and introduce yourself. Make a positive first impression on visitors, give them a rewarding brand experience and you may be treated to a purchase.

“What keeps you up at night”?
This has been rated by the Harvard Business Review as the WORST question a sales person can ask. If your booth staff is guilty of using this one, they need to re evaluate their sales approach. Your sales team should find other probing questions to uncover a prospect's top challenges. Your sales team needs to make a positive impression on visitors by using open ended questions that will enable them to respond with helpful insights that educate them about your products and services.

Take time for a Tic Tac
Nothing can be more frightful than conversations that involve bad breath. No matter what powerful product you’re selling, your efforts are jeopardized if your customer has to endure your staff member’s halitosis. Luckily there is a quick fix and it requires no training at all! Simply keep a stash of breath mints and offer them to your staff after they return from their lunch break. Who can refuse a refreshing breath mint right?

Before you go gallivanting off to Spooktacular fun filled festivities we thought we’d leave you with a hearty recipe straight from our Secret Nomadic Cook Book. Enjoy!

Nomadic’s Goulish Zesty White Chili
2lbs - boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cans - Great northern white beans (16 oz each)
1 tbsp - Olive Oil
2 Onions, medium, chopped
3 cans - Chicken Broth (14.5 oz each)
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 cups - Monterrey Jack Cheese
2 cans - Green Chilies, chopped Salt and pepper to taste
2tsp - Ground Cumin
1 ½ tsp - Oregano, dried
¼ tsp - Cayenne Pepper

1) Cook Chicken in large pan covered with cold water – bring to simmer and cook until tender (15 minutes) Drain and cool on plate
2) Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium to high heat.
3) Add onions and sauté until translucent (sauté 5 minutes).
4) Stir in garlic, green chilies, cumin, oregano and cayenne. (sauté 2-3 minutes).
5) Add undrained white beans and chicken broth. (bring to boil).
6) Cut chicken into cubes. Reduce heat and add chicken and cheese. Stir until cheese has melted.
7) Season with salt and pepper.

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Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Promotion

An Exhibitors Must Have Guide on Social Media

by Kat Shea 19. October 2011 18:11

It’s here! We invite you to be the first to download our newest and most anticipated social media ebook: "Tune in Turn on and Take off with Social Media For Trade Shows and Events". In our information packed ebook you’ll learn how to harness the power of social media to promote live events. Our special ebook educates exhibitors on the tremendous value that social media can bring to the trade show and events space.

Use social media to enliven your brand on the show floor, entice your target audience to take immediate action and influence future purchasing decisions. Our all encompassing information packed guide provides a comprehensive look at: how various social media applications can accelerate live event performance, top tips for boosting booth traffic, strategic methods for building your social network and more

Both social media veterans and newbies alike will appreciate this all inclusive ebook that targets traditional marketing efforts and how to streamline them with social media to maximize results. Event Marketers can begin reaping the rewards of increased brand exposure by downloading - Tune, Turn on and Take off With Social Media for Live Events.

So, Claim your copy now!

PS - Use our social sharing buttons to share our powerful ebook with your friends 


Trade Show Tips | Social Media | Trade Show Lead Management | Trade Show Promotion

How To Kick Some Booth With Your Photo Booth

by Kat Shea 21. September 2011 18:07

A printed photo strip with Facebook account information promoting the event: EA Play

Trade show attendees love trade show giveaways.  Your job is to make your giveaway stand apart from the rest, deliver value to the recipient and work as a living PR piece for your brand.  If you need a unique and effective marketing tool on the show floor that’ll create buzz and attract more visitors to your trade show display, consider photo booths.  What makes a photo souvenir special is that your visitor is the star and people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy having their picture taken.

What Does It Do For My Brand?

Photo souvenirs are nifty for a few reasons:
  • A photo booth draws long lines of visitors to your trade show display which gives you an opportunity to promote your products/services while guests are waiting.
  • A photo booth offers your audience a fun souvenir of the event combined with a snap shot of your brand.
  • Photo booths create excitement and buzz around your brand. 

Take their photo against a branded backdrop (below) or a green screen so that a background image may be added. Print them instantly in your trade show booth or post them to a website for visitors to download and share after the trade show.

A branded photo booth and backdrop incorporated into the trade show booth

We interviewed one firm that offers a photo booth service to exhibitors.  Mike Limatola, Founder of Recorded Memories, explains that their digital portraiture machines, aka photo booths, provide a unique and effective way to generate leads, collect email addresses, promote websites and social networking pages that attendees may otherwise be reluctant to share. 

First - We work directly with exhibitors by determining their overall business goals and objectives. 
Second - We implement a photo strategy that will effectively put their product, service, message, and branding in the hands of hundreds or thousands of visitors.
Third - We then provide the equipment at the show and our employees attract guests to the trade show booth. Then we instantly provide visitors with a personal snap shot that creates a long lasting branded impression.
Fourth - We place all of the pictures on a unique landing page which gives attendees’ rapid photo access so they can email and share their pictures with: friends, family and business colleagues.  This provides long lasting marketing benefits because branded photos have the potential to go viral.

How Do I Measure Performance?
Providing measurable results is crucial to gauge the effectiveness of any marketing strategy and is important to provide upper management. Branded photos can be measured in a variety of different ways: 

  • Post your photos to a landing page on your website to measure page activity during and after the event.
  • Add your Facebook or Twitter account information to the photo and measure your additional fans and followers after the event.
  • Incorporate a unique offer code on the photo and measure the corresponding coupons or discounts redeemed after the show to measure sales.
  • Compare booth traffic or leads at events with and without the photo booth to help justify your promotional investment.

No matter what your goals or objectives are for each trade show, souvenir photos can be a great way to attract and engage with booth visitors.  Prospects leave with a positive impression of your company and take home a branded reminder they can enjoy until they're ready to make a purchasing decision which may be long after the event.


Trade Show Tips | Booth Design | Social Media | Trade Show Promotion

Four Trade Show Myths Exhibitors Need To Know About

by Kat Shea 14. September 2011 18:54

Today our featured post is by industry veteran - Bob Milam, aka "Tradeshowbob".  Read on to get his insight on how less can be more.....

The factors that are most critical to your success as an exhibitor are not always what many folks spend a lot of their time worrying about. Contrary to popular belief, these four "myths"  aren’t "mission critical" to your Show Smart success. Exhibitors have agonized and obsessed over them for years and years AND will continue to do so, but if you take a deeper look, these “myths” have little impact on your trade show performance.
1. Overall trade show attendance
Of course, show attendance has declined since the onset of the recession. But look more closely and you'll notice that the declines are the result of companies shrinking the size of the entourage they send. The actual number of companies who send at least one buying rep to walk the trade show floor is actually increasing. Instead of sending a team of 10, companies now send 2 or 3.  But guess what, these 2 or 3 must uncover the same amount of solutions as 10 did previously, so they need your help to make purchasing decisions more than ever! They’re focused, they’re at your show and they’re buying. Will you be able to find them? Instead of worrying about overall show attendance, focus on targetting your share of the audience.

2. Your trade show booth location
Coupled with the trend above, buyers are now very organized when they hit the exhibit floor. They no longer wander around like kids at a carnival. Having an exhibit in the most prominent spot in the exhibit hall might make your executives feel important, but it really doesn't contribute all that much to your trade show's success. Remember, most buyers now attend trade shows with a pre-set agenda of the companies they need to see. As long as you’re on that list, they’ll find you. The key is -- get on their list. And do it before they arrive to the trade show. A successful trade show marketing campaign needs to incorporate integrated elements of pre-show promotional efforts (email blasts, social media posts, high visibility sponsorships, exclusive offerings etc.) to make sure you get on your key buyers' agendas.

3. A trade show booth must be busy to be successful
This is only true if your key prospects are also the majority of overall attendees at a given trade show. Busy booths tire out your staff, but, that "busy-ness" just makes them feel successful.  As in “we’re tired, therefore, we had a good trade show”. However, at most trade shows, your key buyers will be only a tiny percentage of the overall attendance. Think: quality over quantity here. Did you meet all of your key buyers and convey your messages fully to them? Did you walk away from the trade show with enough actionable leads for your sales force to support your overall business goals?

4. The “800 pound gorillas” are the Fortune 500 exhibitors who have the resources to succeed
Absolutely not true. At an average trade show of 600 exhibitors, about 500 of them are small (just like you), 75 are medium size, and there usually only 25 gorillas. You might look around and see other brands plastered on the lanyards, shuttle buses, bags, taxi cabs and airport billboards. You might think, “I have no chance against that”. But you do. By targeting your efforts and focusing on “the few and the proud” (your prospects), you can invite direct comparison with larger exhibitors and get your key prospects to consider you right along with the 800 pound gorillas. If your story is compelling and can stand up to scrutiny, you’ll be noticed and hopefully remembered. Without a big budget, it does take time. But you can successfully ride the coattails of the big spenders and build momentum, if you think strategically and plan carefully.

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Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Lead Management | Trade Show Promotion

How To Cast Away Common Trade Show Spells

by Kat Shea 31. August 2011 18:55

Susan Friedman, the Trade Show Coach, is our featured guest blogger.  She's an industry think tank, author and trainer. Susan helps companies worldwide get the most out of attending trade shows and industry events.  The Trade Show Coach is known in the industry for designing and implementing strategies for show organizers and exhibitors who want to retain and grow their customer base. Enjoy the read!

Have you ever thought that approaching a trade show is like exploring for hidden treasures? You delve into the marketplace and identify key  prospects to form strong business relationships that have the potential to develop into bountiful sales opportunities. This is the prize every exhibitor looks to uncover.  But beware of the deep, dark danger that threatens your trade show booth staff.  Your normally competent, cheerful exhibit staff may be transformed into frightening creatures afflicted by any one of these four his curses:

The Know It All

The “Know It All” is the most common, especially in your sales force.  Individuals affected by this spell lose their ability to listen.  It’s easy to identify the “Know It All".  They’re compelled to talk NON STOP.  These staffers devote much of their time to booth attendees, showing off how smart they are.  They’ll tell visitors more than they ever wanted to know about the company, products and services, leaving little need for essential post show follow up.  If you notice your valued audience glazing over and making desperate attempts to escape, you have a "Know It All" on your booth staff.

The Cure
Impress on him/her the importance of making visitors feel comfortable and relaxed.  Overloading attendees with random information will only make them feel overwhelmed and reluctant to come back. Trade show booth staff should be helping prospects solve their top challenges. Make sure your booth staff knows the golden rule - - to listen to your prospect 80% of the time and spend the other 20% asking open ended questions to unveil THEIR latest pain points and challenges . Exhibit staff should use attendee responses to questions to guide their sales pitch.

The Flirt

The “Flirt” curse is a powerful one that can transform even timid individuals into wild and crazy guys or gals.  Little attention is paid to the business of trade show exhibiting. Instead, victims of the "Flirt” curse devote themselves to approaching good-looking individuals in an effort to find romance. They believe that their attentions are welcome, and that no one notices their innocent behavior.  Neither is necessarily true. While "Flirts" may be extremely charismatic and engaging, attendees may feel uncomfortable which could result in an “unprofessional” perception of your brand and company.

The Cure
You can help stop their suffering.  Emphasize the importance of professionalism and their responsibility as a brand ambassador that represents your company.  Remind them of your company's behavior policy which should also be published in their booth staff handbook.

The Party Animal

The “Party Animal" is easy to spot.  Look for bloodshot eyes, fatigue, headache pain, slow pace, sweating, thirst....all evidence of a hangover.  Trade shows cultivate the “Party Animal” curse. Far from home, temptation to indulge in the nightlife is strong. This indulgence can have huge consequences.  “Party Animals” can suffer from impaired judgment. They might make a little comment that they consider harmless while out partying, that could have huge ramifications for your business. “Loose lips sink ships” as the old saying goes!.  They may be ill prepared to identify and fend off the competitors gathering intelligence. And finally, feeling poorly often translates into lackluster booth staff performance at the trade show.

The Cure
It's unfair for booth staff to let themselves, their peers or the company down.  So point out to the "Party Animal" that your booth is the shop window of your business at a trade show.  In fact, meet with your team prior to the opening of the show each day and be very clear about what is acceptable (on and off of the show floor) and what the consequences will be if the guidelines expressed are not followed. Keep everyone focused on their goal of leads to collect. Offer a small incentive to the person who collects the most qualified leads.

The Rat

The most difficult to identify and combat, is the curse of the "Rat”.  The "Rat” is not happy with your company.  He or she is ready to jump ship, to find employment somewhere else, and is more than happy to do their job search on the company's dime.  After all, they're in a location where the major players in your industry gather.  What better place to network and attempt to find a new position with one of your competitors?  “Rats” may be eager to provide competitors with intelligence information about your organization. 

The Cure
If you spot a "Rat" on your team, limit your exposure by limiting their interactions.  Assign them to cover a different attendee badge color. Or keep them occupied with logistical tasks such as scanning badges, stocking literature and event giveaways.

Protect your company and staff.  Selecting booth staffers is important to driving business development and brand recognition.  But appointing them is only the first step.  Make booth staff training a priority in your pre-show planning.  Remember, booth staffers are your dedicated brand ambassadors and if they start showing any of the above characteristics you risk your brand being tarnished based on your staffers behavior.  Training, clear communication of goals, objectives, and expectations, and an element of accountability can help minimize, or even eliminate the most pervasive tradeshow curses!

Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, internationally recognized expert working with companies to increase their profitability at tradeshows.
Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market” and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies.”

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Trade Show Tips | Trade Show Lead Management | Trade Show Promotion

10 Ways To Cause A Speed Bump At Your Trade Show Booth Part 2

by Kat Shea 24. August 2011 18:08

Back by popular demand is Part II of our post, 10 Ways To Cause a Speed Bump At Your Trade Show Booth. We’ve gathered essential “intel” and have listed the latest tactics your colleagues are using to AMPLIFY their booth traffic and get the results they want. So, kick your promotional efforts into overdrive with these Show Smart tips:

1) Enliven Your Booth Staff
Video badges were all the hype at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.  Now savvy Exhibit Marketers everywhere are using them in their face-to-face initiatives because they make a perfect conversation starter. This nifty novelty catches the attention of visitors just long enough for your booth staff to engage them. Video badges are also pixilated powerhouses that will cost you a pretty penny or two – some average out around 178.00 each and require pre programming! So, if you think these are as cool as we do, make sure to include them in your budget for next year!

2) Arrest Your Audience
A visually arresting trade show display features graphics that POP.  Your trade show graphics need to grab attendee attention and then IMMEDIATELY communicate who you are, what you do and how your product/service can help them. Whether it's your brand that will draw audiences from all directions to be consumed by one individual at time, you need to understand how your trade show booth graphics should all work together. Not sure that your display is realizing its full potential? Download our whitepaper on Graphics That Work for more…

3) Create a Snap Shot of Your Brand
Photo booths featuring your branded back drop are fun show stoppers. While attendees enjoy “glaming” it up for silly candid photos, they bring back your branded "kodak moment" to share with friends, family and business colleagues. So, it's a great PR opportunity.

4) Extra, Extra READ All About It
Broadcast your Twitter buzz on a large LCD monitor in your exhibit using the official show hash tag. As attendees are dismissed from information packed seminars and pass by your trade show booth, they’ll see what they’ve missed out on while they were away and be encouraged to follow you on Twitter.

5) Be Intelligent
Part of driving quality booth traffic to your trade show display is knowing your particular audience and tailoring your message to them so that they feel like they are an exclusive customer. Lygase RFID Solutions has developed a product that allows exhibitors to communicate surround sound marketing messages that can be displayed on a big screen or kiosk based on recognition of an attendee's presence. The attendee wearing a lanyard with a UHF RFID tag will be shown a targeted message once detected by an RFID reader and that message will invite that person to a particular booth.

This targeted approach will impress booth attendees and will ensure that your brand is remembered. Fish (a software solution offered by our distribution partner, The Tradeshow Group) and Capture technologies are also leading vendors for RFID solutions. So, make sure to research your vendors before signing the “dotted line”. 

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10 Ways To Cause A Speed Bump At Your Trade Show Booth Part 1

by Kat Shea 10. August 2011 18:07

Our client, Louisiana Seafood uses Gourmet cooking demonstrations to drive booth traffic

Several of your peers recently chimed in on LinkedIn’s Trade Show Exhibitors Association group (TSEA) about innovative ways to drive booth traffic.  Whether you have an island or inline display, here are some unique tips to send your promotional efforts into overdrive:

1) Let Them Eat Cake
A client of ours took an oven to an event and baked branded (yes branded) cookies in their booth.  Smell is the strongest of our 6 senses. The aroma of freshly baked cookies soon permeated the show floor that lured a line of visitors to the booth wanting their delectable offerings. Other smells produce similar results, so think: fresh popped corn, coffee, chocolate, roasted nuts or other scents that trigger positive reactions.

2) Relax, Refresh, Revive
For a trade show in Colorado one exhibitor hosted an oxygen bar to generate traffic. Extra oxygen improves concentration and alertness while reducing stress.  Visitors were invited to choose their favorite scent and relax in a comfortable atmosphere in which they could network with other attendees. Nothing better than a happy customer in your booth!

3) Play Hide and Go Seek
Another exhibitor promoted an interactive scavenger hunt via social media.  Last stop - their display stand - where visitors could celebrate their journey.

4) The "WOW" Factor
Exhibitors around the world integrating technology to enliven their brand and draw audiences in from the aisles. Videos, animations, computer demos, and even virtual games can be used to enhance your value proposition, impact and memorability.

5) Take Charge
Trade shows and events are often held in conjunction with information packed seminars and conferences. Offer attendees relief from dead batteries with a cellphone charging station.  Cell phones are a lifeline to many and your hospitality will be remembered long after the event. 

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Trade Show Tips | Booth Design | Trade Show Promotion

Exhibitors, Take Our Quick Survey And Your Next Trip To Starbucks is on Us

by Kat Shea 2. August 2011 20:42


The use of social media marketing in conjunction with face-to-face events continues to rise. According to the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, 70% of exhibit and event marketers are using social media as a real time promotional tool; this explosive growth rate has prompted us to  prepare another in our series of Special Reports and we'd like to get your input on this hot topic.

Please take our quick 10 question survey.  The first 10 survey contributors will receive a gift card to enjoy a FREE Starbucks beverage of your choice.  Additionally you'll be one of the few to receive our report before its made available to the general public.


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Social Media | Trade Show Promotion