YP Talk interview with Larry Zar
How to maximize your presence at these or any other trade shows/conferences. If you add up the costs for travel, hotels, registrations and more, it can be a pretty significant effort for even the largest of companies. So we talked with Larry Zar of Zar Marketing for his comments, suggestions, and opinions.
Larry brings an impressive record to these marketing efforts having won numerous industry awards for tradeshow marketing programs and memorable tradeshow exhibits. The company was established in 1995, and has provided tradeshow consulting services to Quebecor World
& Worldcolor – now Quad Graphics) for over 15 years. He was worked with yellow pages industry clients such as Ross Gage, Data Link Solutions, the Association of Directory Publishers, the Yellow Pages Association now Local Search Association and others..
Q: How do you market your presence at a tradeshow?
The old model of just showing up and hoping for good results is long dead. You need
to start promoting your company and your products or services months before the show. Take advantage of any and all free listings and promotional opportunities offered by the show organizer, trade publications and on-line newsletters. Consider a sponsorship to boost your visibility and a print advertising program in the show directory, show daily or key publications and banner ads with links to your website, wherever it makes sense and as budget permits.
If you have a new or improved product, or service, an installation story or testimonial or something newsworthy, send a press release, with a photo to the appropriate publications and on-line industry newsletters. Create a memorable pre-show mailer, or a series of email blasts, booth invitations or a focused newsletter and to show attendees, customers, suppliers and prospects. Promote your participation on your company website and use a mailing list sign up feature to build your contacts and their areas of interest as another marketing tool. You need to embrace social media to help boost your visibility and promote your participation to increase attendance by customers and prospects alike.
I’m a firm believer in creating a theme to add personality and life to your efforts, which should carry forward through your marketing materials, takeaways, demos as well as your physical exhibit and booth staff attire. Consider carrying the theme further with a companion event to your tradeshow.
Q: How do you recommend dialing down a tradeshow budget with the economy the way it is?
Do more with less floor space. Replace large, space consuming and clunky exhibits with lightweight materials such as stretched, silk screened fabrics or colorful, lightweight graphics which saves on shipping, drayage and I & D costs. Use large monitors or even a laptop to convey your marketing messages. Bring less stuff as attendees don’t seem to want to carry anything. If you have marketing materials or heavier giveaways, offer to ship them to your prospect so they are on his or her desk when they return form the show. Depending on the size of your booth, show services can get out of hand and destroy your budget. You need to monitor and manage the costs of show services: electrical, material handling, Installation & dismantling labor even shipping as these items can put you way over budget. Lastly, use more local staff when possible and consider bringing fewer out of town staff members to reduce overall travel expenses
Q: Post show, what needs to be done?
If you have another show coming up, ship your exhibit on to the advance warehouse for the next show to avoid shipping all they way back to your office or exhibit company to avoid double handling. Create a plan for following up on your leads in advance of the show. You should prioritize to identify the most promising prospects and follow up immediately with an email or a phone call or if possible while you’re still at the show. Ideally when your booth visitor returns to his/her office after the show, the information or proposal they requested, or at least an acknowledgement and thanks for visiting your exhibit, along with that nice mug or whatever they didn’t want to carry. And you can add all of your new leads to your database to send the next newsletter or email blast.
Q: Funniest thing that ever happened at a tradeshow?
I was Advertising & Tradeshow Manager for MAN Roland, the press manufacturer and we had built a new exhibit for our 6,000+ sq.ft. of space at the Graph Expo in New York. During the show some guys from Pittsburgh were in our new conference room when they realized that the door had jammed and they were locked in. They banged on the door and the plastic block walls, yelled, screamed, everything they could think of, but it was so noisy with presses running and the crowds, no one heard them. As no one in the room knew the phone number for our reception desk in the booth, one of the guys called their office in Pittsburgh, who had the telephone number in the booth. So the Pittsburg office called the receptionist in NY to tell they were four guys locked in the conference room. They found someone to track me down at the show which took awhile. I grabbed a carpenter with a tall ladder and a screwdriver and gave him $20 to climb over our 16’ high wall to spring these guys loose. What an event.
Q : Why should a company engage ZAR Marketing?
With all of the corporate downsizing and staffs stretched thin, planning a tradeshow or event either falls to an inexperienced, person, or a seasoned VP who should be out there selling and meeting with clients instead of worrying about the multitude of details require to plan and stage a successful tradeshow. Zar Marketing had produced and managed hundreds of successful tradeshow projects working small companies to large corporate clients utilizing everything from table tops, pop-ups, theme exhibits, custom designed and custom rental exhibits. We can take you from show and space selection and budgeting and marketing to installation, booth management and lead fulfillment. It’s never too early to starting planning and marketing your next tradeshow or special event. That’s where Zar Marketing comes in. We can be the one to help you make the event a success, everything from start-to-finish!