Trade Show Tips

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 for a little competitive review. We walk the floor with our clients, checking out their rivals so we can counter claims if necessary and best them experience-wise the next time around. (Though often we find that we’re the ones doing the besting – not to brag, but we know how to trade show.)

Of course it’s important to keep up with the competition, but that’s not the main reason we spend so much time looking at 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

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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.

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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.

 

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A+ Tips for Effective Trade Show Exhibits

We love getting great report cards as much as anyone this time of year. And we believe in celebrating success, which is why we’re trumpeting our latest A+ scores like a proud mom on Facebook.

But we also believe in sharing our secrets. Because the effective trade show strategies that earned our client, Crest + Oral-B, such great results at the Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter Meeting are tactics all exhibitors can learn from.

Here’s what the Exhibiting Effectiveness Evaluation, conducted by Competitive Edge and Trade Shows Plus, had to say about the Crest + Oral-B  experience in Chicago, PLUS tips on how you can get similarly great results.

Our booth for Crest + Oral-B included a hands-on science demo area, brushing stations for sampling, and a live presentation theater, where two professional presenters delivered a news-themed message about Crest and Oral-B's latest innovations.

Our booth included a hands-on science demo area, brushing stations for sampling, and a live presentation theater, where two professional presenters delivered a news-themed deep dive into Crest and Oral-B’s latest innovations.

The overall experience scored 100% compared to all other exhibitors at the show.

OverallUseThisExhibit Presentation

This category evaluated the general impression the exhibit made on the show floor, and our scores were nearly perfect. Here’s a sampling of comments: “Theme was effective/creative. Good overall exhibit design. Good graphics. Good lighting. Good use of A/V. Creative/Imaginative approach to exhibit/messaging. Wow. Amazing.”

ExhibitPresentation

 

How can you get similar results?

Invest in good booth design. Create something inviting that brings your brand to life with smart use of equity colors and graphics. But keep it versatile. The goal is to get multiple years of use out of your booth with the ability to switch out themes and change up the experience each year.

Be bold, and be seen. We can’t stress enough the importance of a big, eye-catching overhead banner, along with  branded signage high enough to be seen over other exhibits.

Don’t skimp on lighting. Even the best-lit convention hall won’t make your exhibit look its best. Good lighting not only helps your investment shine, it actually enhances the experience for your guests.

Layer in a theme. Since Crest + Oral-B had so many new innovations last season, we carried a news theme throughout the booth. Theming is an extra step that can help you avoid dry, boring presentations and demos.

 

Product Presentation

Here, our scores were 5s across the board. Comments included: “Theater is Disney-off-the-chart. Product innovation demos are excellent. Staging is incredible.”

ProductPresentation

 

 

How can you get similar results?

Do a presentation or demo – or both! Of course we love live presentations — they work! And for many products, a demo should be a no-brainer. Here are some ideas for doing them right.

– Be entertaining. But don’t feel pressured to do Disney. Our audiences have come to expect nothing but the best from Crest + Oral-B, so we’re constantly raising the bar on our theater experiences. The real lesson is to incorporate some element of entertainment, whether it simply be multiple monitors, a storytelling approach, or that fun theme we mentioned above.

Use professional presenters. Giving a great presentation at a corporate meeting is different from engaging and entertaining crowds four times an hour for three days straight. Professional presenters will deliver your message with flair every single time.

 

Exhibit Staff

Our scores were A+ here, too. Just look at those comments!

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How can you get similar results?

Go pro. Hire seasoned hosts with the energy and know-how to represent your company with class. Or at least provide your internal team with training on how to be as engaging and helpful as possible on the trade show floor.

Create a uniform look. Matching shirts, ties, and other clothing items not only make your team look good, they make it easy for guests to figure out whom to approach when they’re ready for a conversation.

The final lesson? With good planning, great staffing, and a touch of entertainment, you can create a more effective trade show exhibit that earns top grades from your target audience. Interested in seeing how MPG can help? Check out our Work and our Services.

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Great Tradeshow Exhibits

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Photo courtesy of Chiot’s Run, via Flickr

Winter is over, and many of us are wrapping up a successful trade show season. Now is the perfect time to review your exhibits and related events. Could they be fresher, more efficient, and more relevant to your audience?

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to mean an overhaul. Just make sure you’re getting the most out of every piece in your program, starting with clearing out clutter. Keep an eye out for:

Meaningless Jargon – Everyone offers an innovative, cutting-edge solution. And these overused terms are classic examples of “telling” rather than “showing.” We might not be able to trim all of these filler words out of presentations, graphics and related materials, but we can be mindful of falling back on them when a richer, more precise story could be told.

Cluttered Messaging – Are your presentations too long? Graphics laden with copy? Can a visitor look at your booth and immediately tell what you do or sell? Streamlining, shortening and creating areas of clear focus will create a more enjoyable experience for your guests, not to mention a more successful showing for your company.

Pieces that Aren’t Pulling their Weight – Do you have monitors that have gone ignored? Are there touchscreens no one touches? Consider working neglected technology into a demo. Or, transform dead spaces into a presentation area.

Shows that Aren’t Showing a Return – Most of us have at least one convention or trade show that seems to require more energy than it’s worth. If you trimmed it from your schedule, would it free up time and budget that could go toward shows that really improve your bottom line?

Now that you’ve cleared out some dead weight, it’s time for the next step: sprucing up. How can you give your program a fresh face without re-doing everything?

Fix wear and tear. If your exhibit house hasn’t done this already, have them repair scratched paneling, scuffed corners, dingy carpeting and other damage caused by months on the road.

Update graphics. Strategic re-skinning can give your booth a whole new look. Or focus on a few of your most impactful graphics to make branding more cohesive, freshen your messaging, and better showcase featured products.

Add interactivity. Bring your story to life with a live presentation. Let visitors experience your product with a hands-on demo. Find ways to work human interactions into your booth, vs. passive videos and displays. Even the small step of hiring professional hosts to welcome visitors to your booth will set you apart and set the stage for a better, fresher experience.

For more ideas on updating your booth without breaking the bank, contact us. A live presentation may be the key to breathing new life into an existing exhibit.

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8 Tradeshow Tips to Win Over Anyone

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With Valentine’s Day coming, we’ve been thinking about how live events—especially trade shows—are a lot like speed dating.

Surrounded by primped and primed competition, you have just moments to stand out. You must intrigue your audience, build trust, and make them want to take the relationship to the next level. You’re creating connections with the potential to turn into much more.

Whether your field is serious, technical or more conducive to fun, we’ve got a formula—a love potion, if you will—that can give you an edge over the others:

#1. Be attractive. Great booth design is important. You don’t have to be the biggest on the floor, but do invest in looking your best. That includes staffing. In addition to your most personable team members, consider hiring professional hosts to welcome visitors into your space. From the minute they step onto your footprint, your visitors should feel taken care of and valued.

#2. Offer an experience. Don’t just tell why your solution is best. Let your audience try it for themselves through guided sampling and hands-on demos. If visitors can’t experience your product live, create an activity that demonstrates the benefits in a unique way.

#3. Be emotional. Create a journey connecting your product or solution to your visitors’ everyday needs and desires. Demonstrate how your brand improves lives. Tell a story that tugs at the heartstrings, and help your audience envision a bigger picture.

#4. Make it fun. Or, if you’re striking a more serious tone, be powerful. Impactful. Interactive. All of this adds up to enjoyable, which will make your audience glad they decided to spend time with you.

#5. Be real. Amazing technological advances aside, it’s still hard to fall in love with a touchscreen. So make sure your experience has a healthy amount of human interaction. One-on-one encounters are one of the best reasons to exhibit at tradeshows, so don’t leave your visitors in front of machines. Engage them the old-fashioned way – with a handshake and an offer to share more.

#6. Create an easy traffic flow. Good storytelling has a sequence, and a great experience includes not having to jostle through crowds or guess what to do next. Combine booth design with signage and professional hosts to help visitors make their way smoothly through your space while getting the most from your message.

#7. Be memorable. If you’ve done all of the above, visitors should walk away remembering you. But don’t leave it to chance. A unique, high-quality parting gift can be the spark that reminds someone to seek you out for more in-depth talks.

#8. Make it a snap to follow up. Now that you’ve captivated your prospects, don’t let them leave without a clear invitation and a way to contact you. Nurture the relationship by following up and staying in touch.

For more on the benefits of face-to-face marketing, check out our post on the power of a great live presentation.

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Content Marketing at Conventions: Why You Should Consider a Camera Crew

Camera Crew at ConventionsWith today’s focus on visuals, documenting your company’s convention and trade show presence should be part of your marketing budget. Yet we often are surprised when clients don’t have a plan for showing higher-ups and other stakeholders just how successful their booths, demos and other activities were.

Sure, photos and video can be captured for free with phones and personal cameras. Professionally shot video, on the other hand, communicates the quality of the experience, allowing you to craft a recap that shows off why your company should continue to invest in trade shows and other live events.

But don’t stop there. Quality content can be repurposed to help you market externally as well.  Consider:

  • Filming your featured presentation, then breaking the footage into segments for an online series.
  • Filming demos as stand alones that can be used on your website or by sales reps in the field.
  • Interviewing your experts live for segments that can be included in blog posts or shared via social media.

To get the most out of your investment in a professional camera crew, follow these tips.

  • Create a content plan. Map out what you want to capture and where it will be showcased. This helps ensure you don’t return from an event missing the one piece of content your managers and marketing team want to see.
  • Compare crews and costs. It may seem like a money saver to hire in the convention city, but money is wasted if the crew doesn’t deliver what you need. Our clients often use our video directors, who understand their needs and equity — and who we trust to do quality work — then allow them to vet and hire other crew members on the ground.
  • Clear it with the venue. Make sure you understand and follow any restrictions on filming at the event.
  • Get releases. If you’re planning to use footage of attendees publicly, you’ll want signed permission forms. We use a boilerplate release and work with our clients’ legal teams, if necessary, to make sure everyone is covered.
  • Be efficient on-site. Time is money, so designate a point person to help the crew get what they need as quickly as possible.

For more information on our video services and capabilities, check out MPG’s video production page.

Your Convention Season Survival Guide

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Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you have kids, you’re probably getting ready for back-to-school. And if your exhibiting season kicks into high gear in the fall, like ours does, then you also are preparing to get back on the road.

Here’s our back-to-show supply list: a compilation of must-haves for professionals who travel to conventions. The more you attend, the more you need these items, so be sure to stock up on…

checkmarkBright Smiles. You’ll need plenty of positivity to survive long hours working with the public, vendors, thought leaders and colleagues.

checkmarkVitamin C. Air travel, time zone differences, sketchy on-the-road nutrition and those aforementioned long hours can bring your body down. Pack the immunity boosters that work best for you.

checkmarkProblem Solving Skills. Seasoned exhibitors know not to be surprised when something goes wrong. Don your Thinking-On-Your-Feet Cap, and you can creatively handle any challenge.

checkmarkSleep Aids. Hotels offer varying degrees of comfort, but you can’t let it keep you from getting your zzzzzzz’s. Pack a white noise machine, sleep mask, herbal tea… whatever helps send you to dream land.

checkmarkCameras. You’ll want to show your bosses back home how well your booth is doing, and what better way than with photos and video? Don’t just rely on your smartphone, pack a good lightweight camera with video capabilities, too.

checkmark Batteries and Chargers. Enough said.

 

checkmarkChargers for Your Own Batteries. Take a break from people pleasing and problem solving with a good book. Or pack your running shoes for a jog after the show floor closes. Can’t take a week off to visit the beach? Schedule a spa weekend between conventions.

Now it’s your turn. What items are on your personal convention survival guide list? Let us know, and we’ll update with any we might have missed.

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Discover the Power of a Great Trade Show Presentation

An interactive trade show presentation created by MPG for P&G skin care brands reached thousands of dermatologists at AAD.

Last month, our team went to the Exhibitor Show in Las Vegas to explore some of the latest trade show and event marketing trends and technologies. We always enjoy walking the show floor at Exhibitor, because it’s a sampler of what various vendors can do for their clients.

But this year, we felt like something was missing. During the times we visited the trade show, few booths appeared to have big numbers of highly engaged visitors. The ones that did have crowds weren’t a surprise to us at all. The vendors that had the most engagement were magicians and those that put on some sort of show.

In other words, those that had some sort of live presentation.

Over cocktails later, an attendee told us she was surprised to find the magicians her favorite experience at the trade show. “They kept my attention, and I remembered their message because they delivered it in a way that made me laugh. They were the only ones that had people really gathered around and getting involved.”

MPG brings a full arsenal of options to the table as we craft experiences that help our clients meet their unique objectives. But it’s no secret we believe in the power of great trade show presentations. It’s in our company name.

A great trade show presentation builds a crowd because it creates an event in your booth. Crowds draw more crowds. And because we run presentations back to back, expertly maneuvering traffic in and out of our presentation space, we’re able to help ensure that your booth operates as much to capacity as possible. Your space becomes the place to be.

Trade show presentations allow you to communicate your key messages to large groups of people before they filter out for more intimate encounters with your sales staff. And with the right creative approach (Magicians not your thing? Don’t worry, we’ll come up with an angle that fits you perfectly), you can help guarantee that people walk away remembering what you had to say.

Want to know more about how a trade show presentation can help you build booth traffic, increase engagement and maximize message retention? Check out these recent posts for tips and ideas.

6 Presentation Ideas for Your Next Trade Show

Must Haves for Successful Trade Show Presentations 

Finding Top Talent for Your Trade Show Presentations and Corporate Events 

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