You Ask, I Answer: Making Trade Shows Worthwhile?

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You Ask, I Answer: Making Trade Shows Worthwhile?

Adam asks, “How do you get more out of exhibiting at trade shows? What’s something you’ve done?”

Making a tradeshow work for you typically requires a three-part strategy: air cover, ground game, and activation. Watch the full video to learn what each strategy is and why you shouldn’t use just one if you can avoid it.

You Ask, I Answer: Making Trade Shows Worthwhile?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s

episode, Adam asks, How

do you get more out of exhibiting at trade shows and conferences, what’s something you’ve done that’s worked making trade shows work for you typically requires a three part strategy in order to get the most out of a show. Now,

trade shows are costly, right, they are not something you can do

to the maximum benefit

at anything less than going all in on a show. So

if you have a choice between doing three conferences or trade shows, you know,

just dipping your toe in the water or doing one show all in

you will get greater returns

typically out of going all in on one show. Rather than going half heartedly into into three or four or five shows

the three part strategy here,

air cover, ground game activation. So air cover means awareness. And this is typically done with sponsorship, lanyard sponsorship, you know, big name on the thing branded, pre conference emails, seat drops, swag bags, you name it, it is about getting attendees to recognize the name of your company on site. And

it is as that sounds, it is air cover. It is about making sure that people have tangible reminders on a frequent basis that you’re there that you support this event that they’ve gone to, and that they should want to talk to you that you’re a big deal. air cover is about creating that impression of you, you’re a big deal. Now, you don’t necessarily always have to

pay, but it sure does help.

You can create air cover through things like earned media, you can create air cover things like digital advertising, you can do location based in app advertising,

for example, have done that in the past. And that has worked well, particularly an event that isn’t yours, or that you don’t have a spot a full sponsorship for.

And again, with influences if you can identify the influencers, who are at the event and develop meaningful relationships with them, and get them to promote you that can create some air cover.

The second thing, of course, is ground game. And this is the physical

presence that you have at the show where people who are aware of you can go and engage with you, it is almost always an exhibition, it is almost always a booth on site

where people can go to, to find out more to talk to a person, hopefully, it’s somebody who actually works at your company. So none of this, this, this, you know brand ambassadorship, we have a salesperson of some kind, who is just a contractor who’s there, basically to only to chat people up, but doesn’t actually know anything about your products. That’s that’s definitely not the way to go.

Typically. And this is especially true in marketing technology,

people go to the shows, because they’re, they’re generally good sales people. They’re not necessarily technical people. So make sure that you have at least one technical person on site if your product or services, a technical one that can answer tough questions. So your ground game the booth, it can be other physical locations, especially if again, if a booth is either out of your reach, or you don’t like the booth atmosphere.


at Social Media Marketing World a couple years ago, I loaned out part of my hotel room, because I was one of the benefits of being a keynote speaker at the event was that you get this like, multi part hotel room, and I had, like, you know, I sitting area and stuff. And so I learned that out to some friends, so they could use it for product demos in a more

more casual environment, certainly a quiet environment. So but yeah, your ground game. And again, this is something that you don’t need to buy a booth for, but it sure does help. I have seen it done successfully, where people just hang out at a specific table, or


breakfast, or lunch round tables, or do specific sponsored events, like a breakfast or coffee or something. But whatever it is, it just has to be a place where people go,

they can physically interact with you. And the third part is activation. This is the tip of the spear, if you will. And this is about creating demand. The third part is

generally ideally having one or more speakers at the event.

Because those are the folks who can get up on stage in front of a crowd,

little crowd, big crowd doesn’t matter and share something of value that

proves your company knows what you’re talking about. And that you have intelligent people working at it. So somebody who can go get up and show like how to solve the top five problems that independent coffee shop owners face, or someone who

can show why agencies are still relevant in the age of self serve digital, whatever the thing is, you need to have that activation that creates the demand

in terms of which order you do things, you do it from the bottom up. So activation comes first. Because you can do okay with a speaker.

Right. And, and that speaker could be an employee and, and they just get some benefit out of it.

If you pair speaker with a ground game, then the speaker can say, hey, and be sure to stop by our booth in the exhibit hall and say, Hi, I’ll be there, you know, answering your questions for the next 45 minutes or whatever. But you want that to pair the activation link ground game. The third step would be the layer on the air cover. And it gets progressively more expensive. Each step you go. So


if you are

if you’ve done a really good job building your brands that you may even get paid to speak at the event, which can save your company. A tremendous amount of money

booths are expensive air cover and big sponsorships are really expensive. So if you are on a limited budget, start with the speaking wrong bill to your ground game. And then as as a revenue and business results come in, build that air cover

that said, any one of these individual strategies

is weaker than the synergies between two or more. And things work best when you have all three.


if you can only afford to have a speaker you do what you can, right that’s, that’s okay. But if you can have a speaker and a booth or speaker and a breakfast or speaker and a and a an activation a ground game activation is on kind you’re going to do better. And if you have the air cover somehow you could do really, really well. Now if you wanted if you’re a small to midsize business and you just don’t have the 50 or 100 grand it’s going to take

you couldn’t do

hack job versions. So you have the speaker that’s kind of non negotiable. But then you can have a sponsor coffee or breakfast and then you can have an influence or maybe it’s maybe it’s your speaker, if you’re lucky enough to have a good speaker within the roster of your company, you can double up have a speaker also being influenced or creepy air cover. So you could do that on a

smaller budget. But at some point you’re going to have to spend some money in order to get the most out of a trade show. So that’s sort of the three parts strategy for making trade shows worthwhile for your company for your business for your for your marketing,

the one thing I found that doesn’t work


and I’ve seen this at a bunch of different companies is just sending someone to a show and having them wander around I’ve not seen that be a successful strategy you have to have something that attracts attention unless that person is an influence of some kind that can

hold court or whatever paying to some have someone just go to a show on wander around has not an all the companies and all the customers that work for generated as good results as this

act ground game air cover strategy. So we’d love to hear your thoughts about what’s worked for you at trade shows. Please leave your thoughts in the comments and of course subscribe to the YouTube channel in the newsletter

and I’ll talk to you soon

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