Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Golf Show

I walked the North Texas Golf Show on Saturday. While this isn't IBS or CES, it is an example of trade show marketing in action. In addition to the few random observations I'll record here, I couldn't resist relating my friend Melinda's question when I mentioned I'd be walking the show:

"What does one do at a Golf Show? Watch the exhibits quietly and then clap politely for the vendors?"

Well, maybe, MG, but it was a lot of people gathered in one place to talk face to face about something they all had in common. The definition of trade show marketing.

At any rate, I was there because my friend from the NDCC, Kimberly Van Buren of Synthetic Grass Pros, was exhibiting.
Kimberly was doing all of the things that exhibitors of whatever size at whatever show, do and doing it right. She was gathering leads in a systematic way, she had and was taking advantage of a prime spot, her exhibit featured her product and services (but not in an overbearing way), and she had a consistent and memorable brand presentation.

Gathering leads. SGP was either collecting business cards or having contacts fill out a small card with their basic contact info. Kim and her staff were making notes as they collected leads (on the backs of cards) and qualifying and segregating leads as the day progressed. At the end of the show Kim and her team will go over all of the leads, add them to the data base and follow up accordingly.

Prime spot. They had a corner booth and engaged clients both in the aisle and in the booth.

Product was shown on the floor of the booth space (it is fake grass, after all) and in a passive video featured in the backwall of the exhibit. Visitors were offered brochures and giveways during or after an engagement conversation.

By clothing the staff in matching logo-bearing shirts and complimentary slacks and featuring the logo and brand colors prominently on the booth, in the video and on the literature, the SGP brand was visible and memorable.

Simple rules followed and the basic goal was met: qualified leads and a reasonable ROI.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sharpening the pencil

At this point in our business history, we are really all being asked to do more with less. We have to know when to draw the line, but it all about saving and not spending to excess in these tight time.

I had a client ask me, for example, if I had to charge for the middle day of a three-day show on-site because the $600 was valuable to them. When I explained to them that that was cheaper than sending me home from Vegas for one day, the got that being cheap is not the same as being cost effective or efficient.

However, most requests are reasonable. If you can save a few hundred pounds to reduce the CWT of material handling and freight, that translates to hundreds of dollars. Be sure to make the mke-buy on rentals versus shipping/drayage on everything from chairs and tables to carpet. Depending on the location, it might be worth a few hundred bucks.

Keep in mind, too, if your exhibit house is amenable to it, that a firm-fixed price for a show (or series of shows) will not only save you money, it will make your budget predictable. However, don't get greedy: your exhibit company has earned the right to make a profit over the life of your show program. If they go under on a few shows and over on others, that means they are really breaking even. Don't expect FFPs and actuals in the same show year--it really isn't fair to the supplier.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Why is it that most shows, large or small, are being held in Las Vegas these days?

I'll be off to Vegas in a couple of weeks for the AWMA--a wholesaler's show--at the Las Vegas Hilton. Right after that show the next week is GlobalShop and the Exhibitor's Show. Earlier this year, Home Builder's (IBS), Surfaces, National Grocers and the huge CES show all opened and called Vegas home for a few days. Some are there every year, others rotate in annually or every two years, but always seem to make it to Sin City.

Why is this? Well, accessibility of one: direct flights from just about anywhere. Cabs are plentiful as are rental cars and free parking.

Weather, particularly in January--where would you rather be in the Dead of Winter--heating the floor so tape will stick in Chicago or in a place where you might just go to the pool when your shift is finished?

Labor? Well, there are labor limits, but the pool is large and well trained.

Entertainment? Absolutely! Gaming, music, shows, natural wonders all close by.

Food? Lots to choose from and in a broad area.

Whatever the reason, commerce is alive and well in Vegas. Chances are you have at least one show there this year.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finding remote work places

When you are on the road, we all have to find the right place to light and work at times. Do you all have favorites?

Starbucks is a natural. So is Kinko's (or is it FedEx Kinko's or FedEx Office?). Here is a list of my favorite places to stop between tasks at a show and work on my laptop or return calls:

  • Starbucks, across from Mosconi Center in San Francisco.
  • Kinko's on Paradise Road, Las Vegas (has a Starbucks attached)
  • The sports bar in the Gaylord Opryland.
  • The Kinko's inside the Orange County (Orlando) CC.
  • Cadillac Ranch, West End, Dallas.
  • Coffee Shop/bar in the Chicago Hyatt-McCormick lobby.
  • The food court in the basement of Javits Center, New York City.

There are probably criteria for why you choose these places:
  • Proximity to where you are stationed
  • Wi-Fi service
  • What they serve
  • Quiet or atmosphere
  • Meeting space

While it isn't always fun to be on the road, finding a short-term, workable temp offices is a haven for your time away.


Monday, February 2, 2009


While it may seem like a pain, getting, managing and controlling badges for a show is really a critical and important task (duh!).

All of your staffers need credentials. You need to remember things from this list as you prepare for and hit the show floor:

  • Know the allotment given you by the promoter of the show. At the NACStech show, it's 2 badges per 10x10; so our 20x30 yields 12 badges. Beyond that, there is a charge.
  • Know how to get the badges assigned. On line? By fax to the organizer? And have a complete, correct list.
  • Make sure you are the one who can make changes and are the assigned administrator. That is, if you are the one going to the show. Otherwise, you need to designate someone who is at the show to do this.
  • Get your badges to your staffers in advance, if at all possible.
  • Treat your exec's badges like gold. Hand them to them in person, if at all possible.
  • Take all of your allotment. Assign names to every badge, even if you won't use them all.
  • Keep track of all badges. If someone leaves the show early, snag their badge and use it to get in a late comer or guest.
  • Be sure and not forget your media and other support vendors.


Extending the brand, part II

Here's an update on the Aviall trade show booth branding exercise.

The latest is the addition of a formerly blank booth backwall being treated with a new graphic. This tone-on-tone vinyl image reinforces the Aviall "box" image and graphic look.

This image is used in trade adverting, on the website, in collateral material, on smaller exhibits and on their company trucks.

Aviall, to its suppliers and end users, is know as the "box the parts come in." As we have discussed before, this multi-billion dollar unit of The Boeing Company does not manufacture anything. Rather they warehouse and distribute parts to airlines, manufacturers and repair depots around the globe. The box is really their image and their logo is simple and very recognizeable in the various industries they serve.

To put this image into perspective, this is the back wall of a metric 20x20 conference room that sits on a 30x30 space. Here are some images from last year's show.

This is the front of the same booth (shown here in Houston) that will be used in Anaheim in 2009.

Note the blank back wall which will now feature the graphic shown above.

The best thing you can do for your brand is to use it across the spectrum of your marketing program and consistently.