1.  We spend money on ads, money on direct mail, money sending our reps into the field…all in the hope that we can get face time with the people who matter.  At a trade show, all of our best prospects are in one place at one time.

2.  At a trade show, we get to see all of our existing clients in one place, at one time.  We can use the opportunity to ascertain their future needs and their current satisfaction with our products and services.

3.  At a trade show, the industry press comes to us.  They are actively seeking what’s new.  We can easily make you and the rest of the senior management team available for quotes.  And we can add to your stature by having you present a paper, participate in a panel, or play golf with our three biggest customers all in one foursome.

4.  Whether it’s the trade press, a current customer, a future prospect or even some company that may be interested in a strategic partnership, we get to control the environment in which they evaluate us.  We get to position our messages in their minds.

5.  Also, Mr. Boss, you are always concerned the staff doesn’t keep abreast of the latest developments in our industry and is too self-focused.  At a trade show we can spy on the competition, we can attend seminars by thought leaders and industry titans, we can get a pulse of what is on our customers minds just by hanging out at the hotel bar.

6.  Mr. Boss, do you remember that great idea you thought you had a few years back?  We spent low-six figures pitching the thing in half the country only to find out our ‘whatchamacallit’ was being offered when the industry was clamoring for a ‘thigamajig.’  Had we only used the time at the annual trade show to survey the marketplace we’d have saved face, saved six figures and saved a season’s worth of product development time!

And when the boss says, “But all these expenses add up…” That’s when you agree they add up — to a very efficient use of valuable company resources.

Also, see this blog featured on Skyline Trade Show Tips– the blog of Skyline Exhibits, our corporate office in Minnesota!


You budget time, money, blood, sweat, and tears to a tradeshow.  In the eyes of some co-workers, you are a ‘glorified party planner.’  How many times have you heard that one?  Well, now that you have planned your party, cleaned house, set out decorations, don’t forget the most important thing – be the hostess with the mostest!

Yes, staffing your booth is a critical piece of ensuring tradeshow success.  Some people relish the idea of being out of the office on a ‘company-paid vacation.’  Tradeshow venues are in vacation cities for a reason – to attract attendees to bring the family and stay longer.  This shouldn’t be the mindset of the booth staff.

There are 4 key things for Booth Success:  Engage, Qualify, Present, Close

1.        Engage – There is a lot of noise at a tradeshow.  It’s like walking through the tv section at an electronics warehouse where every display is set on a different channel at 2 minutes before the hour – commercial after commercial.  Your booth staffer has a tiny window of opportunity to engage that passerby.  Think of a question or statement that sounds comfortable in the words of the staffer and not like a used car ad.  This may take some time, but it is very important.

2.       Qualify – Sometimes those who stop to talk have none of the critical elements you’re looking for in a client – Money, Authority, Need.  They are simply passersby who are looking for someone to talk to.  After that attendee stops, it’s important to have 2 -3 qualifying items to be sure that the person you are talking to – while 10 more walk by – are worth that precious time.

3.       Present – Highlight the key benefits of the product.  Save the advantages for the handout that they can read in the hotel room.  It’s usually helpful to have a repertoire of 3-4 real world stories to share with the prospect.

4.       Close – How we all wish this meant close the sale!  Sadly, usually it doesn’t.  This close refers to a mutually agreed-upon next step.  Agree to talk next week, set up a face-to-face meeting or online demonstration.  Be sure to agree upon (and document for future reference) the what’s, where’s, and when’s.

If you take time to fully prepare your booth staff, as you spent time preparing the booth & giveaways, you’ll realize greater success with shows – more qualified leads and higher results.

If you’re not online, you might as well live in a cave. No, seriously, everyone who is anyone is online. Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn, WordPress: the internet is where it’s at!

Now, whether or not the above statement is completely true, it does have some merit to it. The internet has become an increasingly vital tool for everyone from the bored college student in class to the networking business professional trying to get his company a higher SEO. The internet gives us the ability to put our voices and ideas out there for the world to see and comment on.  With the increased technology, we’re able to boost our online presence at a growing rate and benefit ourselves as well as others with information and ideas to share!

Where the internet used to be referred to as the “information highway”, I now think of it as the “information Autobahn.” With the use of devices like Tweet Deck and Google Reader , viewers are able to receive information at speeds quicker than we ever could have imagined back in the early days of AOL. Just as quickly as we receive information, we’re able to forward it on to everyone we know with just the click of a button. Pictures, videos, blogs, and links to websites are constantly flying in and out of our screens and inboxes with the help of Twitter, Facebook, Google, and various blogging sites.

BUT with great power comes great responsibility. Information found on the internet is becoming more and more influential whether it is valid or not. For example, Shirley Sherrod lost her job with the USDA based on a video of her posted on a blog. A blogger, Andrew Breitbart manipulated a video of this woman’s speech to make her appear racist. Once the video was posted and gained enough attention, the woman was forced to resign from her job. There were so many other places that her boss could have looked to find a version of her speech but because of all the recognition the blog was getting, he jumped to conclusions without doing a thorough investigation.

Things posted on the internet have much more power than we realize. Now if only people would use their powers for good and not evil. The internet gives the Average Joe the potential for high recognition. A smart blog or funny video can receive thousands of views a day. However, a false statement or negative image can also receive just as many views and be damaging for a person’s (or company’s) reputation.

As quickly as good news travels down the information autobahn, it seems like bad news travels double-time. Choose your words wisely when posting something online. You never know who might see it. Try to regularly monitor what’s being said about your company as well. If you’re able to follow up with a positive fix to a problem or negative comment almost as quickly as it’s posted, the effects could be significantly less damaging.

The Internet isn’t going anywhere. It’s constantly changing and growing, so as long as we continue to grow with it, there will be ways to benefit ourselves. A conscientious mind is necessary when posting something online. Next time you go on a rant on Twitter or your blog, think about who will read it and how that will impact their view of you or someone else.

There’s an app for that…The weather, name-that-tune, restaurant locator, meal recipes, current sports scores, latest news headlines…There’s an app for that.  Whether it is Facebook, the Droid, your Blackberry or Apple’s I-phone, there’s an app for that.  Yes, there is an app for just about everything.

Why?  Because technology is ever evolving, thus increasing our everyday reliance on what technology has to offer.  People want information at their fingertips the second they need it, and technology has made this a possibility.  Why?  Because our world has become a non-stop, fast paced environment.  Our daily lives have become consumed by emails, texts, and tweets.  We have lost touch of the personal face-to-face interactions that were once so common.  Therefore the act of forming personal relationships without the aid of technology has become a lost phenomenon.

Or has it?

Tradeshows are an existing environment where face-to-face marketing is still a reality. When you are on the tradeshow floor, either as an attendee or an exhibitor, you have the potential to form personal relationships with those around you.  Many marketers today face the challenge of getting their message through the “clutter.”  Clutter is ultimately formed from the various communication outlets that technology has so vastly created.  Therefore, in a tradeshow environment you have the ability to connect with individuals on a personal level without placing a heavy reliance on technology.

Technology can be a great tool to help enhance and maintain the relationships we have already built through our face-to-face interactions.  However, technology can never replace the value of the personal relationships you form with your clients as well as others!

Contrary to popular belief, the entire state of Ohio is not here at the Carolina beaches all summer.  I just met a salesperson from Ohio who has figured out a great approach to meeting many challenges we marketers face:  gaining attention; establishing a memorable and sustainable rapport, and making her personal ‘brand’ somewhat unique.

Her Secret?  Dogs.

The door to her office is covered with photos of dogs all owned by clients.  As the proud owner of a Maltese, I know many of us humans that are slaves to our pets would be honored for our four legged friends to earn a place of honor on her door.  So in the course a conversation with this “salesperson” if she learned I was a dog lover would it give us something to discuss?  Would it make me curious to both learn and like more about her – and ultimately her company, products and services.

So frequently we concentrate our marketing efforts on high tech and innovative wizardry.  Lets not forget human touch – or even the canine effect!

Carolina Marketer is pleased to introduce the following post from this month’s guest blogger, Mike Bell.

Many of our clients are exhibitors at trade shows and they often ask us for trade show giveaway ideas and strategy. Our initial discussion with them is along the lines of what is the show’s focus, how many attendees are expected, what level in an organization are the attendees, budgets, etc.

 Generally, our advice is:

1)      If you want to give something to every attendee, buy a big fishbowl, fill it with some sort of candy and put it out so everyone that wants some can have some. This helps you avoid the “dreaded tradeshow promotional product thieves”, those attendees only interested in collecting promotional products. (Heidi Thorne)

2)      Consider inviting potential clients to your booth by mailing them an invitation prior to the show that promises a “reward” if they stop to see you.

3)      Qualify, qualify and qualify. In an earlier life, we used to get on a plane and visit anyone that was even remotely interested in our software and services. After we wore ourselves out traveling, we defined who our potential clients were and developed a set of questions or talking points to qualify them as viable prospects.

4)      Offer a firm handshake and request a business card from everyone you meet. This provides you with an opening to ask questions and qualify the person and/or the company represented. Throw away the cards that are thrown, literally, into the booth. These cards will have something like this printed on the back: “Please send me 3 catalogs and free samples to the address on the front of this card at your expense.”

5)      Trade show giveaways should be easily moved to and from the trade show and since most attendees are from out-of-town, the item should fit smoothly in their luggage for the trip home.

6)      Have a little something extra special for existing clients that stop by to see you. 

7)      And most of all, be just as sharp during the last hour of the last day as you were during the first hour of the first day. Because you never know when the “ONE” attendee you were hoping to meet, will walk up to you and say, “Hello, my name is…”

Mike Bell resides in Greenville, SC and is a partner at PROforma AdMark Solutions Group, PROforma-Events.com, Golflocker.net, BallyhooBands.com and TheEmployeeMall.com. He can be reached by email at mike.bell@proforma.com and by phone at 864-239-0050. He can be followed on Twitter @proformaguy.

Exactly, what is logistics? According to Wikipedia, it is the management of the flow of goods, information, and other resources, including people between the point of consumption in order to meet the requirements of consumers. There are several types of logistics. Military, management, third party, warehouse, and business. So, logistics can be as simple as ordering dinner at a drive-thru window or it could be as complex as getting freight from three locations in to the U.S. to arrive in Dubai. All in time for your tradeshow display to be installed at the show.

In the trade show world, logistics integrates warehousing inventory, packaging, material, drayage handling, shipping, and even security. All of these areas create a trade show supply chain, ensuring your companies display arrives on time and in one piece. When dealing with trade show logistics, always plan ahead, know the details of what is shipping, and have a timeline. Equally important, have a backup plan for any  last minute surprises.

A small pop-up type display, weighing only 120 pounds, may ship on an overnight/air carrier. This shipment, while small, is as important to understand as a large one and must be planned.  A larger shipment may require a tractor trailer and advanced scheduling. These crates and packages may require measurements, specific weights, and careful handling. Remember, all shipments are time sensitive and require kid-gloves.

When planning your company’s trade show booth shipment, it is a good idea to ship to advanced warehouse storage. This ensures that your exhibit is there and ready to go on the first installation day. Shipping direct to the show can cost more and lead to delays on move-in day.

Another trade show element of logistics is drayage. Have you ever heard of drayage? That is the cost per pound of cubic weight to move your company’s trade show freight from the dock to the booth space. There may be a minimal charge for each separate show shipment. The more you ship, the more it costs.

Now that you have some understanding of trade show logistics, you are ready to move your display to its next convention. Remember to plan ahead, know the shipment, and have a successful trade show event!

Trade shows are attended annually by hundreds of thousands of people, some are huge lavish events catering to various industry leaders while others may have a pot luck feel. It is a unique targeted opportunity to promote a brand, sell your wares directly to the consumer or launch a new product.  Whatever the show may be, knowing your target audience and what is their focus is the key to a successful show.  In this carnival like setting, getting noticed is the biggest challenge.  How can you catch peoples’ attention in this atmosphere?  DESIGN!  A great design needs to stand out.  Does it need to scream? Maybe, but that depends on your message.  A company promoting inexpensive cleaning products may need to scream in an overcrowded market, where as someone selling specialized medical data entry software may want to evoke a more corporate, reliable feel.

One major difference between trade show graphics and “traditional” magazine and brochure graphics is scale.  The human factor and how people view Trade shows gives a third dimension to the Graphic design process.  Obviously good composition is always a must, but something that works in a brochure may not work in your exhibit. People standing in front of a graphic blocking the lower section can defeat the purpose.

I like to think in terms of hierarchy.  As someone walks the show floor, you need to get your company name or brand up high.  This is your beacon.  As they approach you want to typically have a positioning statement which lets them know why they should bother coming into your exhibit space.  Once they are in, then the next level should be bulleted statements explaining benefits, services, products etc.   At this point, your booth staffers can further qualify these potential clients.

Great graphic design can enhance your show experience, but it needs to be thought out.  Keeping this hierarchy in mind during the design process will make the task more structured and therefore more enjoyable.  Graphics should be appropriate for the message and evoke the right “personality” for your company.  If you are confident in your exhibit’s effectiveness, this will translate to a successful at-show experience.


Allen Sandy

Public relations twins, Nicole and Suzie DeFosset, were recently duped or hoaxed in Sasha Baron Cohen’s new movie Bruno with a not so astute performance making public relations professionals cringe across the country. This come back to the age old question, is any and all publicity good for a company? The twins run their own PR firm in LA, do you think their appearance will hurt or grow their business? How do the twins make the public relations industry as a whole look? I know I certainly would not be jumping to hire them to represent and promote my company.

Fortunately at our Bruno and PR twin-less company meeting a few weeks ago, a major reoccurring theme that we repeatedly found ourselves coming back to was the importance of having the right people working for the company. It is no joke that with tighter budgets this year due to sales down, companies are relying more than ever on the integrity and strength of their corporate image. The right people working at your company and their interactions with the public promoting a strong company image should be your most prized assets and the lifeblood of your business in these tough economic times.

Jim Collins introduces the idea of “the right people” in his earlier book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Take the Leap…And Others Never Do and also returns to it in his later book How the Mighty Fall: And How Some Companies Never Give In that primarily guided our discussions in our meeting.

Collins uses these six characteristics to describe the right people who should be working at your company to further drive business and enhance the reputation of the company…

  • Fit the company’s core values: Do you hire employees hoping that they will change and adhere to the company values, or do they already possess these values? Netflix exemplifies this stating “real company values are the behaviors and skills we particularly value in fellow employees”
  • Do not need to be tightly managed
  • Understand that they do not have jobs but rather responsibilities
  • Fulfill their commitments
  • Are passionate about the company and its work
  • Display window and mirror maturity: they can reflect on their past accomplishments and setbacks, and learn from their successes and mistakes

Do you have the right people radiating positive PR for your company, rather than dull and unprofessional individuals that are hindering or ‘duping’ your company image?

As a Marketing Intern at Skyline Exhibits & Design, one of my main and on-going responsibilities is to clean up our database. “Grunt work” as my boss calls it; this task consists of going through our database and calling all of its contacts to update their information. This task definitely isn’t the most exciting but it is the most necessary.

Many companies see callers like myself as a telemarketer and aren’t always too eager to answer the call. It’s completely understandable to think that the purpose of the call is to sell something; I really am just trying to update contact information. If I happen to gain a lead or spark some interest in our products from one of these calls that is just a bonus because ultimately the company I’ve called would gain access to needed products or services.

After a few weeks of making calls and getting some negative feedback, I started to think about how these calls can relate to networking. Rejecting all unsolicited phone contact is not uncommon; however, it could be a possible oversight on the part of the business. Businesses don’t answer calls from people who they do not know or who they presume to be telemarketers.  

It could be in the best interest of these companies for this approach to be reevaluated. Incoming unexpected calls could be great networking opportunities that companies are missing out on. Calls received from barely audible, overseas “boiler room” call centers are very different (and more of a nuisance) than professional b-to-b organizations seeking to maintain proper contact information.

Networking is about building relationships and using these relationships to benefit your company and vice versa. With these types of calls, you may not know how much this person calling could help you and you them. Companies that ignore these types of calls are missing the opportunity to gain helpful information that could ultimately benefit their business.

 Also, that unexpected person calling could turn into a potential client. Ignoring these types of calls causes companies to miss out on a chance to sell and position their product to a new prospective customer. Networking can also be about using other company’s resources to benefit your own. The company calling you could have access to resources that could be helpful for you and your company.  Once you realize the possibilities that these types of calls could have for your company, it may be beneficial to reevaluate your approach to taking calls and reacting to “telemarketers.” It may end up having successful results for you.

What’s New? Live from Twitter-

July 2018
« Apr