Trade Show Tips

Pro Tips for Exhibitors at NWES

Written by NWES Guest Blogger: Janet McNaughton - President, Lasting Impressions

Trade shows represent 39.2% of all B2B marketing dollars; often the largest line item in the budget. Here are 10 key strategies for innovating your presence and optimizing your ROI.

1) TIE YOUR COMPANY’S GOALS AND OBJECTIVES INTO YOUR TRADE SHOW

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How can the Northwest Event Show become a game changer for your business? What are your trade show objectives and how do they connect to your annual business plan? Do you want to gain new prospects? Influence the marketplace? Enforce your brand message? Are you launching something new?

To optimize your trade show experience, consider not only your goals, but also the objectives of your attendees.

Most of your prospective customers are attending the Northwest Event Show to see new products and technology, participate in hands-on demonstrations, get an idea of trends, improve their skills and expand their professional networks.

WHERE DO YOUR GOALS ALIGN?

Think through how to serve attendees in achieving their goals while fulfilling your own. How do you need to design your exhibit to meet both parties goals? Do you need to add an exclusive event tied to the show? An interactive display? Something else?

2) PROMOTE THE NORTHWEST EVENT SHOW TO YOUR AUDIENCE

Butler Events has massive ambitions for this show and is taking bold steps to make it the most prestigious event in the area and beyond. Be sure to add some dazzle to your pre-show marketing message and invite key clients and prospects to your exhibit. Offer an incentive to meet with you for a 1-1 meeting for a scheduled time slot or to visit in general. If scheduling meetings with customer at the show is not realistic, how about letting attendees know they can receive a special gift for scheduling an appointment with you after the trade show? Tie the incentive to your mutual goals. (Download a Digital Asset to Share on Social!)

3) GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO ENGAGE WITH YOU AT THE SHOW

31% of registered attendees will be coming to the show for the first time. What an opportunity to meet new customers and increase sales over the next 12-18 months! There are at least three areas you want to deliver on better than anyone else exhibiting, especially your competition:

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First, person-to-person: Dress the part, look the part, and stay focused on greeting everyone who approaches. This objective starts by wearing your brand with logoed apparel.

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Second, hand-to-hand: At the end of your conversation give a gift branded with your logo. There are lots of great ways to use a presumptive close. Say “Thanks for visiting the (your company’s name) booth!” while you hand them a promotional product that is tied to your exhibit theme. Two levels of gifts are best: one for all the people you meet and the other a VIP gift for top customers and prospects.

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Third, friend to friend: Always ask what your guests do for a living. Chances are they are eager to tell you, and to make friends. If its appropriate (not forced) ask for their contact information and complete a lead sheet. If they have a business card, staple that to their sheet for follow up after the show. Use set up time and your breaks to meet other exhibitors. Swap cards and war stories if you can; but avoid visiting with them when they are swamped with guests.

4) ENSURE ATTENDEES LEARN WHAT YOU NEED THEM TO KNOW

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Every exhibitor is best prepared when clear talking points are created and the entire exhibit team is trained. Role playing is a best practice for polishing your presentation.

5) ASK THE RIGHT QUALIFYING QUESTIONS TO OPTIMIZE FOLLOW-UP

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Create a lead sheet to capture data, and firm up your plan for post- show follow up. You can execute this concept on paper or digitally. Creating a savvy lead sheet begins by getting leadership, sales and marketing to agree on your ideal customer. The show is anticipating 2500 attendees: 2.5 times more than last year! To optimize your time and qualify the most guests, plan for concise conversations. There will be a lot of people to meet, sort and qualify!

Identify 4-5 open ended questions that will assist in a thoughtful conversation with attendees and inform them of your services. Try it out on at least three people who understand your business to ensure your talking points inform, educate, and convey the message you want attendees to learn about your business.

6) SECURING THE RIGHT LEADS

Here's how the qualifying questions lead to the right decision for your gifts:

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Level 1: gifts are given to your hottest prospects and VIP customers. These are the people who meet your sales lead sheet criteria. These items represent a higher perceived value than a typical trade show promotion. You want people who receive level 1 gifts to know you think they are special and appreciated.

Level 2: gifts are for all the other people who visit your booth.

The appropriate time to extend a gift is AFTER you have completed a sales lead sheet for the attendee.

7) UTILIZE A DATA COLLECTION SYSTEM

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Asking the right qualifying questions, educating customers on your product or service, collecting attendee responses and attaching their contact information is job 1 for every person working in your booth. The most successful exhibitor teams craft talking points, train and role play with their colleagues to ensure success. Identify one team member to gather all the lead sheets at the end of the show and ensure they are entered into your CRM system for long term follow up.

8) EXTEND AND EMBODY YOUR BRAND WITH LOGOED UNIFORMS AND MULTIPLE LEVELS OF PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS

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Remember, you want to stand out. Many exhibitors do a great job. You want to be even better; and you can up your game by showing up as a polished team in uniform, with strong branding and expertise.

Consider the short and long-term impacts of the gifts you will provide and be sure they are exactly on-brand. Audiences love this type of coordination. It’s like telling a great story; your audience can follow it easily and understand how everything fits.

9) CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION AFTER THE SHOW WITH AN EXCLUSIVE OFFER AND/OR A BRANDED FOLLOW-UP PROGRAM

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When the show is over, the real work starts. The most effective follow up campaigns are designed and coordinated with your exhibit theme in advance of the show. Your sales cycle dictates frequency. For products and services that produce rapid sales, execute on a follow up program once a week for the next 3 weeks. If your sales cycle is longer, consider monthly for the next 3 months. If your sales cycle is 12+ months, consider a quarterly follow up campaign for the next 3 quarters.

10) DID YOU INCREASE SALES? WHAT IS YOUR ROI? WHAT IS YOUR ROO?

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Start with the end in mind! As part of your trade show planning identify what you want for an ROI. How much in sales do you need to generate for the trade show to benefit the investment?

For Return on Opportunity (ROO) list out the ways you want to grow exposure and business relationships that don’t necessarily have a sales number attached. Examples are media exposure, speaking opportunities and more. Plan for what you want and work to achieve it. At the end of the trade show, measure results against plan to calculate whether your efforts were successful. With every evaluation a smart final step is to have an honesty check up and ask yourself if the results achieved were the best possible outcome. Identify and document what was learned – both good and bad for the next exhibit.

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How can we serve you? we’re glad to answer questions about your trade show plan, walk you through a strategic follow-up campaign or meet with you to assist with your post-event analysis. Visit our website Lasting impressions, email at Janet@LastingImpressionsGifts.net or call 425.822.6651.

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A Look at Authentically Incorporating Virtual Reality at Events

Written by NWES Guest Blogger: Olivia Sundstrom of National Event Pros

Why Virtual Reality

The question of whether or not to incorporate virtual reality into an event is a question that also asks a lot about the event itself. What is the purpose behind the event in question? Is it an event aimed at bringing people together? Is it a marketing or brand activation? Is this event a chance or an opportunity to make a first impression like a conference or expo appearance? Virtual reality has quickly become not just a new phenomenon in the entertainment sphere, but a medium with limitless applications.

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Virtual Reality has the ability when used strategically, to be a highly engaging medium for storytelling, marketing, entertainment, and more.

Assessing the rise of virtual reality technology across various industries throughout time, and within the last year alone, it is clear that big brands and industry leaders are quickly adopting virtual reality as a highly versatile tool to draw engagement within an organization, within a consumer base, or even with a potential consumer base.

Knowing that virtual reality can be an incredibly efficient tool, this article will break down the many ways one can utilize virtual reality at their next event in a way that is engaging, impactful, and authentic.

Know the Audience 

With any endeavor, it is always crucial to understand the audience. A successful event is one that is tailored to its audience authentically and is centered around building organic connections. Whether it be a launch where the audience is made up of potential investors and consumers, a company event, a school fundraiser, or a networking event, there is always an opportunity to create organic connections between the attendees and the event host.

There are many routes one can take with events. When using an event as a means to make a first impression, draw in an audience for a particular product, or to engage with a brand like a trade show or exposition appearance, the strategy behind the event should focus elements like storytelling.

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Many brands across all industries have used virtual reality in this way, and for some of the biggest examples of this check out our break down of 18 Inspiring Uses of Virtual Reality Marketing as well as our bread down on How to Improve Trade Show Engagement with VR for an in-depth look on how virtual reality can be used at marketing centered events.

If the event is aimed at sparking engagement internally at an organization such as a corporate holiday party, team outing, networking event, or fundraiser, then the focus will be on building immersive experiences that all attendees can relate to and engage with, adding storytelling elements is also a powerful addition in these cases as well but the primary focus is on creating an environment that welcomes connections between attendees.

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Building the Event 

There are unlimited routes to take when building an event with virtual reality elements. If the event has a particular theme in mind find virtual reality elements that compliment the theme or take the theme to a new engaging and immersive level for attendees.

If the event theme is one that resonates with the attendees because of its relevancy or proximity such as a winter-themed event for a winter sporting event, then the ability to include guests through virtual reality entertainment like hosting a VR station where guests can enter immersive skiing or snowboarding simulation is one solution.

Finding VR games to match themes like outer space, a murder mystery dinner party, or even zombie apocalypse-themed, are all great and specific ways to use VR games to play on the theme of any particular event.

When it comes to hosting events that are not pertaining to one specific theme, utilize VR experiences that are just as versatile as they are engaging.

The Google Tilt Brush is one of the only pieces of virtual reality entertainment that can be used in such a diverse range of ways from allowing guests to create room scale drawings and animations to using the Tilt Brush to play traditional and familiar party games such as Pictionary, by using the device in scenarios where a traditional pen and paper would be used.

Taking virtual reality and applying it to enhance familiar party games, or using a VR version of a traditional party game or board game, is an easy way to give attendees or team members a more approachable introduction to virtual reality as well as a more universal experience compared to a specific gaming experience.

Create the Environment

When creating the environment at an event with virtual reality there is a multitude of ways to do so. It can be done by creating a dedicated gaming section or gaming lounge at an event where guests can explore and enjoy the juxtaposition of classic arcade games and new virtual reality experiences. Or by creating various stations throughout the event where a different element of virtual reality is used.

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One of the best ways of utilizing virtual reality gaming at an event is the use of multiplayer gaming experiences. For a look at a diverse range of multiplayer VR experiences for group outings, team building activities, and events check out a break down of the Top 19 Virtual Reality Games for Events.

Have one section of the event dedicated to showcasing a storytelling element through virtual reality. Let this be a way for members of an organization to interact with a story or timeline by showcasing the history of the organization, a recap, a timeline, or engage with a new campaign through virtual reality.

Have various sections of the event dedicated to being inclusive of family-friendly and younger attendees, as well as allowing a beer garden, gaming lounge, or sports bar experience with VR games meant for adults.

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National Event Pros is a full-service event planning, production, and rental company headquartered in Seattle with accomplished partners worldwide.

For over 30 years, our network of event professionals and extensive equipment inventory have provided our clients with services for more than 50,000 private parties, public gatherings, school picnics, and corporate special events.

Building Your Network:  It’s Just Good Business.

Written by guest blogger: Janet McNaughton - President, Lasting Impressions

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Last Spring, Janet presented at a workshop for exhibitors of the Northwest Event Show. In her introductory story was an idea that can radically expand your business prospects in a matter of months.

“What do Paul Revere and William Dawes have in common, and what is the business lesson?” she asked.

Paul Revere and William Dawes both rode the night of April 18, 1775 to sound the alarm that the “red coats” were coming. However, Paul Revere is the only one who raised a militia and is famous for his effort. What could possibly account for the difference?

The answer:  Paul Revere was an “information broker.” (Read the article in The Harvard Business Review.)

One of the more interesting details of the legendary midnight ride is Revere knew whom to alert. He had helped organize the intelligence and alarm system. When the British launched their boats in the Charles River, two lanterns were lit in the Old North Church, and over thirty additional riders covered the territory along the route.

An information broker is a “connector,” one of the three types of influencers mentioned by Malcolm Gladwell in his first book, Tipping Point.  

Connectors influence by their associations. They are “natural hubs.” They are, in other words, great networkers.  

Fortunately, networking is a powerful business advantage anyone can learn. It’s just good business for all professionals regardless of professional expertise. The three key advantages are:

  • Private Information:  Networkers trust each other and share key market information that is not accessible publicly.

  • Access to Diverse Skillsets:  The smartest thing you can do to achieve the next level of success, is to get help from somebody who has a skill you lack.

  • Power. Our natural “tribes” are clustered. A networker can link these clusters, creating exponential connection growth for everyone in the system. This concept is core to the Lasting Impressions Face2FaceX for driving business. 

Are you an Information Broker? To diagnose your network, fill in the attached grid.

Networking Styles

If over 65% of your brokers are “me,” you are falling prey to a couple of common tendencies:

Self Similarity

We all tend to start there. We are drawn to people like ourselves, who make everything easier. We already understand each other and the environment we share. It’s efficient to rely on this group. Unfortunately, we’re likely to keep getting the same results by limiting ourselves to the same comfortable resources.

Proximity Principle

Similarly, most of us associate with the people we bump into in the course of our day.  They are our coworkers, neighbors, family, old school friends, and a few others we know because of our kids. They are on our normal route through life.

To ramp up your ability to become an information broker, cultivate powerful brokers and reciprocate by becoming an influencer yourself. The secret:

Shared Activity Principle

Stated simply, get involved. A networking activity should be something that matters to the participants. They will already be committed to the activity and eager to join you as you work toward a common goal. You will build trust by being sincere, reliable, and effective. You will meet people outside your cluster of associates and find ways to link people with others in increasingly widening circles, who share their goals. By associating closely with people outside your “self similarity” circle, you will absorb diverse perspectives that will inform great business decisions and accelerate your networking capacity.  

To bring the proximity principle home to your next team meeting, consider giving everyone a useful double-sided business card holder or a notepad.

Double Sided Business Card Case, 1-Color & 4-Color TucNotes, 2-Sleeve Business Card Case

Even better, how about hosting an event to draw a wide range of guests from a shared activity you become involved with? Sporting events and tailgating are a great way to mix business with fun!

BBQ Cooler Kit and Portable Charcoal Kit

At Lasting Impressions, we believe in the business partnership philosophy “better together.“ Networking is at the heart and soul of “Face2FaceX”, the concept of expanding your personal, or “face to face” impact exponentially.  

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How can we serve you? we’re glad to answer questions about your trade show plan, walk you through a strategic follow-up campaign or meet with you to assist with your post-event analysis. Visit our website Lasting impressions, email at Janet@LastingImpressionsGifts.net or call 425.822.6651.

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