Trade Show Trends: Our Top Takeaways from CES and ExhibitorLive

Live presentations draw crowds at Trade Shows

When you spend your days crafting concepts that inspire and engage others, you need a little inspiration yourself. That’s why MPG makes CES and ExhibitorLive must-sees at the start of every new year. We go to the consumer technology megashow and the exhibiting industry’s premier expo to experience new technologies and get a feel for the trends and themes that have the potential to resonate with our audiences.

We saw a lot that excited us this year. We also saw things that underwhelmed. And much of it confirmed our core beliefs about what works in the unique face-to-face marketing environment known as a trade show.

Here are our top takeaways:

Booths Are Going Next Level

Everywhere we looked we saw multi-story booths. Two and even three levels are almost commonplace, providing intimate places for conversation above the hubbub, or even a bird’s eye view of the show floor. This approach definitely helps solve space challenges, but accessibility can be an issue.

People Don’t Always Think With Their Stomachs

Food and beverage themes have been big for several years, with booths featuring bartenders, chefs and other delectables. But at this year’s Exhibitor show, most of these were sparsely attended unless they provided something active and visually appealing, such as an “artist” rolling toppings into slab ice cream. To stand out, today’s F&B-themed experiences need to be extra-clever and eye-catching.

Live Presentations Draw Crowds

We see it every year. Big booths with lots of touchscreens stand empty, while 10X20s with magicians and other performers are crowded with people. Call them cheesy or hucksterish, but they’re getting something right. Using a professional to deliver messages in an engaging way is a surefire strategy to get people to stop, listen and interact.

Timing Is Everything

For maximum crowd-draw, presentations should happen back to back. We saw one exhibitor with a cool fashion week theme, models in amazing outfits, and an empty red carpet. They were only doing their presentation a few times an hour, which meant… you guessed it, no one in the booth. If you’re going live, then double cast so that your booth is always full.

Immersive trade show booth at CES

Technology Is Still Scaling Up

Virtual reality, touchscreen games, and many other new technologies are still either one-person activities or able to engage just a handful of attendees at once. Balance these out with demos and experiences that engage bigger audiences. You’ll vastly increase the number of people who walk away with your full message.

Immersion Works

Some booths almost made us forget we were at a tradeshow. They plunged us into stories and environments that reminded us how powerful a good theme can be. In sessions at Exhibitor, we heard about how younger audiences want experiences that take them outside of themselves. More and more, we think they’ll be demanding exhibits that are truly unique.

Face to Face is Still Best

People attend trade shows so they can connect with real people and experience brand benefits for themselves. So make sure you’re providing something they can’t get online. One quote from an Exhibitor session stood out: “If what you’re considering can be done better with a website, then come up with something else.”

At MPG, we believe meaningful interaction with real people is the key to trade show success. If you want to ensure your booth is packed and your visitors are fully engaged, then drop us a line. We’d love to chat.

Jetting into the New Year with International Business Travel Tips

A few members of our team were lucky to spend some holiday time in Barcelona, helping with an international meeting. The event went well, but required quick thinking and creativity from everyone. That’s because weather snarled airports around the globe, causing canceled flights, delays, missed connections, and lost luggage.

Organizers who had planned to arrive a comfortable couple of days in advance got there the night before. A few key personnel arrived with just hours to spare. Many were without a change of clothes, let alone professional attire.

Luckily, most were able to fit in a quick shopping trip. And our team helped ensure that presentations were formatted, rehearsed and ready to go, even if the speakers were bravely battling jetlag. We learned a few things, that’s for sure!

So here’s our New Year’s gift: Tips for performing at your peak while abroad. Assuming you’ve done the basics, like making photocopies of your passport, securing visas, and getting cash in the proper currency, be sure to…

Store files online. Powerpoints, agendas, spreadsheets… If you’ll need it onsite, don’t let the only copy travel on someone’s laptop. Use Box, Google Drive or another online option to ensure everyone can access their materials from anywhere.

Rehearse at home (or on the plane). Don’t count on a leisurely rehearsal day to make sure you’re ready. Practice your presentation, with slides and any other visuals, well before you leave. If that’s not possible, spend some of your airplane time going over it in your head.

Be healthy before take-off. Travel takes its toll, especially if it’s drawn out with extra flights and long waits in airports. To arrive as fresh as possible at your final destination, start getting plenty of sleep, fluids and healthy food at least a week before you depart. While en route, drink lots of water, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and try to eat light.

Carry on toiletries, and a change of clothes. If possible, bring enough for a day so you can be fresh should your luggage get lost. That includes clean underwear, a toothbrush, make-up and an extra shirt or lightweight dress that looks more professional than your travelwear.

Pack energy food. There’s always a chance you’ll have to skip a meal, or that the local fare won’t appeal to a sensitive stomach. Bring granola bars, trail mix, pretzels—something you can eat on the go that will keep you fueled for the journey.

Let the hotel help. The concierges at our hotel were wonderful at tracking down our luggage and making sure it found its way back to us. Rather than spend time on the phone, struggling with an unfamiliar language, take advantage of the services available where you’re staying.

Save receipts. Most airlines will reimburse for the cost of replacing clothes and toiletries up to a certain amount per day. It might not be much in the long run, but every little bit helps.

Keep calm and soldier on. Travel woes happen—everyone understands that. Focus on what you can control: doing your job as well as possible. And, if you get a free moment or two, make the most of the trip by seizing the opportunity to sightsee. You won’t regret it!

Are you looking for a new experience in the New Year? Give us a call to discuss how MPG can put your message in the spotlight.


Serious Subject? Try a Little Humor

Humor is a great way to get attention and inspire fresh perspectives. It’s also a tool too often overlooked with experiential marketing strategies aimed at professional audiences.

We’re not just talking about a joke or two to warm up a crowd. We’re talking theming that pushes the envelope. Funny takes on traditionally sober topics. Devices and delivery styles that get people laughing, then thinking, then nodding their heads.

The MPG team had tons of fun helping Crest and Oral-B reach out to healthcare professionals who work with pregnant women. Recent research shows a woman’s oral health can have a big impact on her pregnancy and perhaps even the health of her baby.

We could have gone the straight-faced route, which would have been more than appropriate for the venue: The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses Convention (AWHONN). But we’d heard that nurses are a fun-loving crowd, so we used a lighter touch.

Enter the “Dirty Mouth Moms”

Because most pregnant women are prone to gingivitis (gum inflammation caused by plaque build-up) and probably don’t know it, we educated the nurses in our audience that most of their patients have “dirty” mouths. We brought the theme to life with bleeped-out words and images of pregnant women covering their mouths in surprise, then used it as a springboard to share how Crest, Oral-B and the March of Dimes can help.

Nurses loved the approach, and stuck around to learn about how their guidance and recommendations can help create healthier moms and stronger babies.

To see more of our work at AWHONN, check out our website. And if you’re interested in bringing a little humor to your next professional engagement, consider these tips.

Know Your audience. If you’re unexperienced with engaging a certain group, leverage any professional advisory panels your company might have, or even territory managers who interact with them regularly, to find out what kinds of messaging and approaches are likely to resonate.

Dare to be irreverent. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Look at the problem you’re trying to solve through many different lenses. Brainstorm freely—even around topics that may be considered untouchable. You can always reign yourself back in as you refine concepts and content.

Test it out. Run your concept past several representatives of the audience you’re trying to engage. Do they think it will work overall? Are there aspects that should be tweaked in order to avoid offending? If possible, share draft scripts as well to ensure you’re walking the right side of the line.

Commit. Once you’ve decided to go humorous and you’ve done your homework, go whole-heartedly. Your audience will go along if you’re confident in your delivery and committed to your comedy. Win them over, get them chuckling, and they’ll be more receptive to your overall message.

Get Inspired at Your Next Tradeshow

Get tradeshow inspiration by walking the floor at your next trade show

At every trade show we attend, we take time out to walk the floor with our clients and check out what their rivals are up to.

Of course it’s important to keep up with the competition, but that’s not the main reason we spend so much time studying the work of others. We make sure to see everything on the show floor, even—and especially—booths for companies that have nothing to do with our clients’ products or services. Because the best ideas are sometimes found in the most unlikely places.

Inspiration is everywhere if you look with the right eyes. Here’s how to find ideas as you wander the aisles at your next trade show.

Notice what catches your eye.

A good booth captures your attention from a distance. Good branding at a good height is essential, but what else makes you want to approach and enter? Observe the use of color and lighting, the way various architectural pieces are configured. Are there any concepts you could incorporate into your next booth?

Look for great storytelling.

Perhaps it’s a fun theme, or an appeal to the visitor’s emotions. Or maybe it’s a great flow that takes people on a journey through the benefits of a product. Exhibitors vary in their sensitivity to letting other exhibitors tour their booths, so you might not be able to view presentations and other storytelling pieces in-depth, but you can often see a lot from the aisle. You’re not looking to steal an idea outright, you’re learning techniques for telling your own stories in more compelling ways.

Study how other exhibitors engage crowds and individuals.

Is there a pre-set flow? Do they have brand ambassadors actively welcoming people into the space? Are there live presentations and demos? What elements of the experience are people interacting with, and which pieces are sitting untouched? Find the booths that are packed and see if you can discover their special sauce. Then build on those ideas to whip up your own winning recipe.

Watch what they’re wearing.

If you suspect your team needs a more cohesive, snappy look, then check out what other exhibitors are doing to put their best folks forward. From matching polos and blazers to themed costumes, you’re sure to find lots of options to repurpose.

Take names.

If there’s a virtual reality game you love, or a presentation that’s especially well done, don’t be shy about asking after the agency/vendor that created it. Assuming the exhibitor isn’t a direct competitor, they will probably be happy to share, and you can explore bringing a bit of that magic to your next exhibiting opportunity.

Want more inspiration for your next trade show exhibit? Then give our team at MPG a call.

2016 Proves Face to Face Marketing is One of Your Most Powerful Tools


History will record many lessons from the 2016 presidential election—and we’ll leave it to history to decide which are good and bad. But one trend struck us as we watched the candidates meeting and rallying with voters over the past several months: Face-to-face marketing is a powerful tool that works.

In the business of event marketing, we see it all the time. A good convention experience with the right strategy for filling the booth can touch hundreds of members of your target audience at once. And while you might argue that ads reach a heck of a lot more, what kind of engagement are those ads really generating?

A professional presentation or hands-on demo can be much more memorable, while providing that human connection people crave.

Which brings us back to the election. Both candidates clearly knew the power of personal connections as they traveled to strategic states for all-important face time with voters. Social media, the cousin of face to face marketing, provided another way for them to engage directly with people. Both candidates spent less than their 2014 predecessors, with some of their most impactful moments happening at live events.

Companies must decide where to spend their marketing dollars, just like campaigns do. If you’re considering whether conventions and other events are a good investment, then consider how valuable it is to share your story with people who have traveled and invested their own resources precisely to connect with people who offer what you do.

Notice the emphasis on the word “people” in that last sentence? It’s often the missing key to success for companies when they do invest in conventions and trade shows. Face-to-face marketing is what these events are all about, yet we see far too many booths lined with touchscreens that no one touches.

People can interact with screens at the bank or the grocery store. No matter how cool your game or touchscreen experience is, it’s unlikely to generate real engagement unless you pair it with people who can draw in visitors and build connections with them.

Clearly, MPG believes in live presentations – it’s in our name, after all. But we see the power of face-to-face marketing at every show we attend.

It’s the difference between a booth packed from opening to close each day and one that sits empty while the reps watch prospective clients walk by.

It’s relationships that are started with a smile, cemented by compelling information paired with conversation that leads to new business or recommendations.

It’s knowing your complete message was delivered to as many attendees as possible in a way that they’ll remember.

This is something both presidential candidates clearly understood. If 2016 taught us nothing else, it’s that face-to-face is still one of the most effective ways to connect with people. As you think about how to spend your marketing dollars in 2017, give face-to-face another look, then call us to chat about how we can help.

Facebook Live at Trade Shows: Tips for Exhibitors

fblive_grabFacebook’s new “Live” feature became widely available this spring, allowing users to host their own live broadcasts. For companies exhibiting at tradeshows, it’s worth exploring. You can take advantage of the visuals and activity around your booth to showcase new technologies or give a glimpse of how you’re engaging with other professionals on the road.

As part of our social media campaign for Crest and Oral-B at the American Dental Association annual meeting, MPG incorporated a Facebook Live broadcast that garnered the highest engagement of our social media activities at that event.

Here are some tips you might find helpful if you’re considering Facebook Live at conventions.

Test First – Convention halls vary in the quality of their wifi, and providing your own within your booth can get pricey. To make sure you’ll be able to do a good-quality broadcast from the show floor, conduct a test the day before around the same time and under the same conditions using a personal Facebook account.

Be Prepared – Decide in advance who’ll be featured in your broadcast and what their talking points will be. If you plan to move around, then map out where you’ll travel. This will help with our next tip, which is…

Watch Your Background – There’s an element of danger to going live: you never know what could happen. A wise guy making rude gestures in the background won’t reflect well on your brand. If you’re concerned there’s even a remote chance of that happening, then choose locations with a backdrop or that limit views of the crowd.

Time It Right – Think about what time of day your audience is most likely to be on Facebook and schedule your live broadcast accordingly. Make sure you broadcast for a good length of time—at least 10 minutes—to give people time to discover and tune in. Don’t forget to give periodic reminders who you are and where you’re broadcasting from to bring those new viewers up to speed.

Enjoy the Interaction –  Facebook Live allows you to see comments and questions in real time, so don’t be afraid to engage with them. Try doing a Q&A with the viewers at home, or give a shout-out to specific fans. The live format is supposed to be fresh and spontaneous, so have fun with it — as much as your brand equity will allow.

For more ideas on how to amplify your trade show activities using social media, check out our article on how to execute a fun and successful Facebook video campaign.



Public Speaking 101: Help Your Team Shine at Your Next Meeting

With these public speaking tips, you can hold the audience's attention like this MPG presenter.

We can’t all be naturally great public speakers. Many people have specialized knowledge that others want to hear about, but it doesn’t mean they know how to communicate their expertise to a live audience.

So what do you do when a major meeting turns the spotlight on team members who are experts in their field but not experts at presenting? Your best minds are on tap to impress with killer content. Their delivery can be just as killer with these tips to bring out the dynamic speaker in almost anyone.

Finalize scripts well in advance. Busy people may balk at an early deadline. Many assume they can rely on Powerpoint to guide them. And some simply prefer to wing it. But requesting that presentations be finished at least three weeks before a meeting allows plenty of time to memorize and practice. It also minimizes the chances of last-minute changes that can throw speakers off.

Consider a professional moderator. A pro can take some pressure off by winning over the audience, adding a fresh voice, and giving speakers a way into their content, rather than making them go it alone. What might have been a dry presentation becomes an engaging Q&A.

Team up. Dual presenters can break up what might otherwise have been a monotonous talk. They can play off each other, give each other confidence, and offer prompts to move on if one starts to ramble.

These public speaking tips can help you hold your audience's attention like this MPG presenter.

As soon as you’ve identified who’s speaking and what they’ll say, start planting the seeds for successful presenting. It’s never too early to get people thinking about how they’ll handle themselves onstage—and often, it helps to further shape the content of their presentations.

Here are some basics all presenters should know:

Less is more. Try using fewer, more powerful words when you speak, and even fewer in your visuals. Slides should back up your script with impactful images and data, not repeat it word-for-word.

“Serve” your audience. Think about the presentation from their point of view. Why do they care? Why should they?

Incorporate anecdotes and personal experiences. It helps put the audience on your side when you can share a real-world example they can relate to.

Own the stage. Use deliberate, purposeful movements and resist the urge to aimlessly “wander.” Try blocking out where you’ll stand, and how and when you’ll move.

Vary your pace and delivery. Don’t be afraid of a little silence at one or two points in the presentation.  Pausing for effect, repeating a key phrase, changing your pitch, planting your feet and squarely facing the audience before emphasizing a key point, can all generate drama, interest and energy.

Don’t forget to smile! Enthusiasm can make even the driest content interesting. If you’re excited about the topic and it shows, then you can get others excited, too.

Presentations don’t have to be perfectly polished in every possible way. But they’re most powerful when they’re well-practiced and delivered with the right mix of energy and pacing. An agency like Moening Presentation Group can add value by helping craft presentations, coaching speakers, and working as onsite producers so everything runs smoothly. To find out how we can help take your team’s presentations to the next level, contact us.







To Glimpse the True Magic of Teamwork, Look Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes with MPG at AAD 2016

At the end of every project, we spend several hours sifting through photos. For our clients, we pull the ones that best document the experience. The best of the best go to our website and other marketing materials. And then there are the photos no one else gets to see: behind-the-scenes shots of our teammates in rehearsal, setting up, and having fun with one another.

These images are a testament to the intense preparation that happens before “show time.” Our professional presenters and brand ambassadors are the best in the industry, so they make delivering messages and first-class hospitality look easy. But every day on the show floor represents hours of rehearsal and thought, from the way our talent moves during a presentation to the cut of their jackets and the color of their ties.

Behind the Scenes with MPG at AAD 2016

Browse through these pre-show photos, and you’ll see people running their lines over and over, testing and re-testing demos, tweaking the emphasis of key messages, and collaborating to make sure every team member knows where to be and what to do, even when the unexpected occurs.

Our exhibit designers and technical crew are busy, too. They’re obsessing over lighting, wrapping walls in beautiful printed fabric, tweaking sound levels to perfection in our theater, and setting up displays with the eye of an expert retailer.

Behind the Scenes with MPG at AAD 2016

All of these are represented in photos from the P&G skin care booth at last month’s American Academy of Dermatology Meeting. Our team and brand partners set a new bar for excellence with a freshly updated environment, a science-focused main presentation, and demos that brought brand science and benefits to life. More than 4,100 dermatologists spent an average of 15 minutes in our exhibit space. 95% reported that the content they received was relevant to them and their patients. And on average, 90% said they were more likely to recommend the featured products after visiting our demo stations.


But something else comes to life when you look at behind-the-scenes photos from this show and others. You see the friendships that allow us to trust and help one another be our best—which means our clients are represented at their best. You see the fun, which not only propels us through long days but keeps us coming back show after show. Those unguarded, even silly, moments form the foundation of a team that is completely and joyfully committed to delivering memorable experiences for our clients.

This is why we look forward to post-show photo reviews. The polished and posed images capture the excellence. But those backstage moments are often where the real magic happens.


Social Media at Events: Try These Tips for a Fun and Successful Video Campaign

We created a series of Facebook videos for Crest + Oral-B's convention experience.

Making the most of social media at events is critical for today’s marketers. Posting content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other channels lets you extend the experience to a broader audience while giving attendees additional ways to engage.

For convention clients, we craft social media campaigns that invite participation beyond the trade show floor. One of our favorites is a video series for Crest + Oral-B’s professional Facebook page. Titled “On the Road with Crest + Oral-B”, the series capitalizes on the travel theme the oral care brands have been utilizing this season, along with the fact that the brands visit several conventions within one year.

The videos are a natural for dental professionals. They want to feel appreciated, they like to share their wisdom, and they’re always up for a laugh. So we developed a schedule of topics that would let them be funny, wise and inspirational—sometimes all at once! (Check out a few examples: Your Best Oral Health Advice in 3 Words… Go! What song gives you a big healthy smile? and Reasons Why I Love Being a Dental Professional)

The videos are simply made: A brand ambassador with a GoPro roams the Crest + Oral-B booth, inviting attendees to answer a question. The videos are quickly edited, with at least one posted per convention day. Each is accompanied by a post that invites viewers at home to contribute their own responses. Three-quarters of the way through this convention season, our videos are averaging around 3,000 views each with dental professionals liking, sharing and commenting on their favorites.

Are you interested in a Facebook videos for your next event? Here are some tips.

Create a theme. It should tie to your event but be interesting and relevant to people at home. Use the event as a springboard: What’s going on that viewers might like to see no matter where they are, and how can that spark a broader conversation?

Make it shareable. People share content that is funny, tugs their heartstrings, or offers information they find useful. Approach video on social media as a way to provide something people want vs. a way to get your message out. For example, capture attendees with their guards down, ask for touching anecdotes, or have company experts provide byte-sized tips and insights.

Get permission. Ensure that everyone who appears on camera is OK with it by having them sign a release form.

Keep it short. According to a Socialbakers study, videos on Facebook have decent completion rates (meaning people watched them until—or almost until—the end) when they’re under 115 seconds. 61 seconds garners a good completion rate, with the best completion rate occurring for videos with a length of 21 seconds.

Invite participation. Post topics that inspire people at home to contribute questions, stories or advice. Make sure to include a call to action inviting comments.

Post within the platform. A BuzzSumo analysis of Facebook posts found videos get much better engagement when they’re uploaded directly to Facebook vs. embedded from YouTube.

Tell them how to find it.  People who’ve appeared in an event video are your best prospects for sharing, liking, tagging, etc. We hand out business cards with the name of our Facebook page and other social media channels where our content can be found. A hashtag can also help people find themselves, in addition to gathering all related content in one spot.

Test and tweak. Facebook provides detailed insight into how your content is performing, including how long people view a video before dropping off. Use this data to help refine future videos for maximum view time and engagement.

For more ideas on how to amplify your events with social media, check out our tips on using Facebook Live at conventions.



Happy Holidays from MPG!

At Moening Presentation Group we believe in trying new things, and we’re always stretching ourselves to discover new skills.

This year our senior writer Sara decided she could either try her hand at baking holiday cookies, or making a video to wish our team and clients a joyful season. Believe it or not, baking sounded like the more daunting prospect. So she put together this little gem, exercising a video production muscle she never knew she had. We think it turned out great — warm and sweet, just like a homemade cookie.

To our clients and all our amazing team members, thank you for a wonderful 2015. We’re looking forward to more new adventures in the new year!

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