How To with Tim Patterson: Tradeshows with TradeshowGuy Exhibits

Do you need tradeshow advice from an expert?

Tim Patterson is the Tradeshow Guy of Tradeshow Guy Exhibits.

TradeshowGuy Exhibits is an exhibit firm focused on helping small businesses gain traction through the strategized placement of tradeshow booths and marketing.

TradeshowGuy Exhibits offers modular and custom tradeshow exhibits and accessories. The design team helps clients craft an exhibit that will best market the company and bring in business.

While they mainly focus on the creation of the booth, they also offer consulting services to prepare the staff for the tradeshow and give advice on how to host the best exhibit possible.

Learn more about how TradeshowGuy Exhibits can help you design the best exhibit booth for your next tradeshow by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on  Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to the thoughtful entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of up my We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go. All right, Tim Patterson, thank you so much for joining us. You are the Tradeshow Guy. thank you so much for for dispensing some wisdom. And I think it's very timely, that we're having this conversation because I've got two shows next week. I'm going to be at fin con and military influencer conference, and I'll have a small booth at each and so really, really love to talk about how-how business owners can kind of up their game when they show show up at their next conference or or trade show.

Tabitha happy to be here, Josh, really appreciate it. Thanks for inviting me.

So is is being successful at a trade show all about your display or is there much more to it?

Well, there's a lot to display as important but I think the the key skill is how to interact with people, you can have a great booth but if you don't have the right skills to approach people and talk to them, the booth will just you know, people just keep walking on by you can have kind of a not a great booth but if you know how to interact with people and ask the right questions that pertain with what you're trying to get them to stop for, then I think that really, really helps and engages the conversation. You want to engage them on a proper level that is important to what you're trying to pitch their what you're trying to sell. I think that's probably the key element.

So aside from being beautiful, what are some other traits that Because I don't know that I'm gonna have much luck there, I'm not going to change my gender and not gonna. But so, you know, because I've walked down, you know, past boosts, and you know, I'll get the guys like, Hey, are you doing? You know, and I've kind of already eyeballed their boots and I'm not really in the market for what they so. So what's, what do you do?

Well, you want to quantify qualify them. First of all, you've got a if you have a, if you have a trade show booth that actually has graphics that does part of that job with the bold statement or a great question, then that will help sort of qualify them already or disqualify them. But if they come up and you need to find out a are they interested in your business? Be are they decision maker, see, can they afford it? and D are they about ready to make a decision? So all that you need to clarify and understand and ask those questions. You know, is this kind of thing you use in your business? Tell me about how this works in your business. Those types of questions are very critical. And you know if personality wants to kind of kind of weave around it and talk a lot, but you still got to get those bits and pieces of information, otherwise you're wasting their time and your time, because it's very chaotic country. Yeah, just nuts, especially in the bigger shows with thousands of people. So

Wow. So um, OK, so my company's up my influence we get in, we get business owners, we get them in the media. We're very, very good at it. You know, we've got some great testimonials. We got some great success with that. And for these two conferences, you know, I'll have some signage. And in particular, I'm going to have a couple of table top signs, they're going to really big and they're going to say immediate media opportunities available. And then I've got a website address said, I really love if I could get them to fill that out. Now, I think it's a good offer. I mean, most business owners want to be recognized for what they do. And so I say Listen, you know whether or not we ever worked together, we're putting together a database where reporters can actually find subject matter experts like yourself and the coach. And like I said, it's completely free of charge it you know, beyond that, what do you think I should try to do in terms of my conversations with them?

Well, gosh, you know, there's so many different ways you can look at that. I think you need to find out specifically what they're interested in what they do, how you can work with them, and then figure out what the next step is. You know, we always try and teach people that. Yeah, it's great to have a conversation. But if there's going to be a next step, both parties really need to agree and understand what that step is. If that's a conversation a week down the line, if you're sending them a PDF of some sort, if they're having them sign up, and and you're going to clarify that with an email. You both sides really need to know what that is. Ok. So once you have that conversation, then you often well just pull out my phone and say, Hey, I got a meeting. Time next Thursday at three, can you book that? And you know, those types of things. So so if you both know exactly what the next step is, I think that's very, very important.

How much Tim, how much coordinating? Do you think you get done on site? versus, hey, you know, I went after this whole thing's done, why don't we get in touch next week and arrange something on the schedule? I find that I don't do well, in terms of making too many plans. Is everybody it's like, every time we're having this conversation, they're talking with 34 the other people about, you know what, what they might be able to work on together. So I'd say listen, let's just, let's get you know, we'll discuss it on email, figure it out.

Yeah. So obviously, you need to get the basics or your contact information, trade business cards, or have them fill out a form. Sometimes, you know, if you have like an iPad or something that has a little a subscription form to fill out, you can invite them yeah, certainly. You know, getting the Their their contact information and making sure they have yours. And then yes, you can write on the back of the card, you know, they're interested in blank, and we need to talk in about the next three weeks. Sometimes if you know, if it's urgent, you know, maybe you're going to talk as soon as you get home from the show. So I think really, a business card is the best way to do it. I still I still collect them by the hundreds, you know, so, yeah, the shows I've been at, and I call them back and you know, find out if they're interested in what I'm looking to pitch them with. So

in terms of ROI return on investment, why are trade shows a good use of time and effort?

Well, really, the big thing is that a trade show has a very, very focused audience. I think the stats are something like if you're doing sales calls, and you're going one to one to this different places, it's three or $400 per call when everything is added up. When you're focused in your audience and you're buying and you your decision makers are there at the show that cost comes down on Lot you've got a lot of people coming to your booth is a very focused thing. Yes, it's expensive to get there but think of how many different people are coming there. And the fact that probably 60 to 80% of them are decision makers, and they're if you have a chance to talk to them, there's a good chance much better chance that you're going to do business or at least start a warm relationship with the next conversation down the line.

What about being together in person? Why do you think that that's you? I mean you I agree, like I think you know, my stuff that I do in person first I mean, that's it's just you know, even though we're doing so much business over the internet, yeah. I still think that you know, if you begin a relationship of being together physically together in person, there's just so much it's just such a great way to begin a relationship. I

think you hit it on the head. You know, years ago when I first got into this industry. The digital world was slowly coming around to it and and I heard you know, stories about all the virtual trade show is going to take over and trade shows will go away and all of that and but people like face to face meetings, they Like down in touch we are humans we enjoy that touch Yes, it's great you and I are talking here but we'd have a great time in person sharing a beer and telling stories. This is this is different you know even though we're looking at each other and video when you're person to person it is very different and I think it goes back to us being human we like that touch and trade shows are very good at that.

Yeah. What is the something that you see trade zone trade show exhibitors do and it just you shake your head and you'd be like

well, you know, I've made a list one of my best is trade show superheroes and exhibiting zombies. There's a bunch of lyst from my blog, and yeah, you know, these don't do these in the trade show things not to do. Number one thing actually is eating in a booth people will turn away if they see someone eating a sandwich in the back of the booth. Okay. I know the thing is being on your cell phone in the booth because that that tells you as a visitor walking by that someone a long ways away is more important than you who are writing They're sitting in the back on a chair with your arms folded body language is really important at a trade show. So if you're sitting down or you're kind of like get your hands in your pocket to your hand, your arms folded, it just shows that you're not, you know, not really, it's kind of off putting, even though you don't really put words to it. Yeah, body language is important and all those things. Those are the kind of the dumb things that people do that they don't even realize it so we always advise, you know, shows to have their staff trained and there are good trainers out there that helped advise them on how to act and how to ask the right questions. And you know, they'll invest a few thousand dollars in training their staff right before a show so when when the show the doors open, they're ready and that really pays off. That's one of the best things like it goes back to the human interaction.

Yeah, yeah. Tim, I you know, it's kind of funny. I just had a conversation. I was at a conference and I said, you know, it's it's really easy to tell the difference between the business its owner and staff sometimes and you know, people are just like a it's just this is just my nine to five. Yeah, I can feel that energy quite often. You know, I'll tell you one of the things that drives me crazy. It's such a small thing. But when I when someone's I'm talking with someone at a booth, and they'll say, you guys and and I look around, and I'm like me and who else are you talking about? It's like I feel in that moment when they say well, you know, we're just here to help you guys you know, sell more blah, blah, blah, blah blah. And and I that it's like nails on a blackboard when they say you guys but we're having a one on one conversation. I immediately feel like I'm just a you know, a face in a crowd or something like that or a number to them.

I've been in stores where the the guy behind the counter is going Hey, boss, Hey boss, and he you know, he's just a verbal verbal tics. People have sometimes they have these little things and it's meant I supposed to make you feel important, but after about the fourth or fifth time you go Why?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So So Tim, tell me about so you've written a couple of books Tell me what they are and and and how people can find them.

Well, they're both on Amazon. The first one is trade show success, 14 proven steps to take your trade show marketing to the next level. The other one is trade show superheroes and exhibiting zombies 6066 lists making the most of your trade show marketing. They are like I say both on Amazon, they're right around 20 bucks. They're both available on Kindle as well at a much lower cost. And, you know, if you're in the trade show world, and you do that, just reach out to me and I'll make sure you get a copy. Yeah, yeah.

So I wonder what would happen. So let's say you're a business startup, you know, going full bore into the trade show world. I mean, it could really do some good stuff for you, I would imagine.

Yeah, there's I could You know, come up with a number of examples. We did a booth for a company that was less than six months old about five months ago. And they went to a big show down in Anaheim natural products Expo West, they had a little 10 by 10 booth, we built a custom kind of a reclaimed wood barn would look with a bar and have a backdrop and yeah, they're out of Boulder. They they do they do this thing called hot tea, which is interesting, in that it's it's tastes like beer, but it's there's no alcohol in it. And they got a couple of awards, they had great response. And, you know, they want an award, like one of the best new products, and they're often running, you know, and they said that being at that trade show, and having that presence really, really made a difference. Hmm.

Wow, that's very cool. How do you know, a good trade show? Like if you're looking at your calendar, you're like, Who should I go to this one I Know How can you tell if a if a trade show is going to be a good investment?

Yeah, that's it? That's a tricky question. Because you don't want to get there and find out. It's not the audience for you. I think a couple things to look at right off the top is, is are your competitors there? If you've got a lot of competitors there, it's probably a good show for you. That's not the full answer. But I think that if you know that you're competing against all these companies, and they're at the show, and they've been there for years and you're new, then that's probably a good show. To be at. The other thing is, take your time, I think, go to a handful of shows, walk the show floor and ask questions, talk to the attendees, talk to the exhibitors, and that'll give you a much better sense. And of course, the final thing is, you know, make sure you get all the details on the show from the organizers, they probably have a prospectus of sorts about what their audiences and the breakdown of the demographics and then who's, you know, the decision makers and all that sort of thing. So I think that is the those are probably the main three things that you need to look at before you commit to a show.

Fantastic. Well, Tim Patterson, you are the Tradeshow Guy. You're on the web at And of course your books, trade show superheroes and exhibiting zombies. And the other one is trade show success, both available in Amazon. Tim, thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks, Josh. Appreciate it.

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