Four Tips for a Successful Trade Show (Hint: Use Social Media)

Awesome Trade ShowIt is a social media world out there, but it’s also important to make connections IRL (In Real Life). For many, handshakes and eye contact are necessary for building trust and creating a strong client base. Trade Shows are one of the best ways to network and create relationships in person, and are still a critical part of a successful B2B or B2C marketing campaign. Trade shows give you the chance to market your products to the vendors and consumers who can truly make a difference to your bottom line. Trade shows that include a social media plan can spread that relationship building from real life to digital. If you’re planning to attend a trade show, here are four things to keep in mind.

Network

Most exhibitors focus on marketing to the attendees of a trade show, but don’t forget to network with the other vendors as well. Does the business owner in the booth next to you have shelf space in his shop that you can use at a discount? Does the person behind you have a complimentary product? Can you partner together for referrals? Arrive early, set up your booth quickly, and network with the other exhibitors before the crowds arrive.

Pay Attention to the Booth Experience

Forbes narrows down a successful performance at a trade show to one thing: the booth. You will be surrounded by booths that are full of interactive, multimedia equipment and expensive furnishings. However, you don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to compete with these flashy displays. A portable banner stand displays your logo and a business description to anyone who walks by your booth. These stands are an effective and professional alternative to more expensive designs.

Entice attendees to cross the threshold with giveaways or fun activities in your booth. Once you have them, make sure that you keep them. You need your most articulate sales team on hand, as they are just as critical as having the right decorations. Your sales team needs to simultaneously convince every single person who enters your booth that they need your product while also appearing low key and not pushy.

Find the Right Show

Virtually anyone can put on a trade show. Before handing your hard earned money over to a random show producer, investigate the options. Is the show affiliated with a professional organization? What was last year’s attendance? How will the show benefit you? If the show producer can’t answer those questions satisfactorily, you shouldn’t buy a booth.

Use Social Media Strategically

Trade shows may be as old school as an ancient marketplace, but there’s no reason to ignore modern technology while you are there. Business marketing analyst Scott Monty explains that social media should be an integral part of your trade show plan. Use your social media accounts to build awareness and excitement around the show. Plug giveaways and convince your followers that they need to visit your booth. Before the show, find out if there is an official hashtag and begin participating. Also, create your own hashtag to promote your contest or your conversations and include it as well.

If you have a strong following on these networks, you may even be able to trade some marketing in exchange for a reduced booth fee or a complimentary sponsorship. Partnering with the show producer in mutually beneficial ways can be a critical part of trade show success.

What are your tips for a successful trade show? Let me know in the comments.

Contributed by Terrance Perez

Terrance is a motivational speaker and community activist. He loves to blog about local issues.

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Start-Up to Super Fund: Learning From 3 Inspiring Kickstarters

Money Jar

Image courtesy of Tax Credits on Flickr

From a few hundred dollars to cover medical expenses to millions of dollars to launch a rocket, people throughout the world are using Kickstarter to fund personal, professional, and philanthropic projects. Perusing Kickstarter campaigns can do more than convince you to take out your wallet. If you take a look at the right campaigns, you can learn how to achieve your own success.

The Oatmeal’s Indiegogo Tesla Campaign

Internet-king Matthew Inman posted a comic on his infamous Oatmeal page in 2012. He wanted to help raise $850,000 for a Nikola Tesla museum. Fundraising would be done through Indiegogo, a Kickstarter-style site. Inman offered goodies for individuals who donated at various levels, and within a few days, the campaign soared past the goalpost. The campaign ended up bringing in over $1.3 million for the museum effort.

Here’s what you can learn from the Tesla campaign:

  • While Kickstarter is popular, it’s not the only game in town. Do your research and select a fundraising site that works for your needs.
  • It helps to tie your effort to someone with big Internet influence. Inman was able to bring millions of viewers to the campaign through his blog. If you can collaborate with a blogger that has even a few thousand followers, you may be able to increase visibility for your campaign.
  • Fun perks for donors can increase the amount each person is willing to give. Inman offered stickers, shirts, and other Oatmeal-related swag for donors.

The Pebble Watch Makes Kickstarter History

Pebble is a wristwatch with app functionality. You can sync it to your smartphone or other device to get text messages, email notifications, and other information right on your wrist. The start-up launched a Kickstarter campaign in April 2012 to fund the idea. Within hours, the $100,000 goal was met. In total, over 68,000 people donated to the campaign, which raised an astounding $10,266,845, according to the page. Reports in the year following the successful campaign were less positive—some bloggers and reviewers seem to feel like the company and product didn’t come out nearly as strong as was expected.

Some takeaways from the Pebble story include:

  • A timely idea can launch a thousand donations. It’s clear that the idea of a linked wristwatch was something the market was interested in.
  • Providing value for donations is important. Pebble promised a free product for all donations of $99 or more.
  • You need a strong plan following an investment campaign. Have a business plan, a financial plan and proper financial tools and software like Quickbooks. If your campaign takes off, you need to be ready to run a business. You want to follow a strong campaign with an equally strong business launch. Opening an account with a leading provider of company credit cards can give you the buying power you need to make daily purchases, allowing your Kickstarter funding to pay for large expenses. Some small business cards also offer perks like travel points, which can make it easier to meet with investors or potential clients.

The Queen Bee Bag: A Campaign in Motion

Not every idea calls for a large sum of money. Mompreneurers Jill Koziol and Katie Stewart want to bring a unique diaper bag product to market. The Queen Bee Bag converts a mom’s favorite fashionable handbag into a diaper bag with the help of an easy-to-use insert. The Kickstarter campaign for the bag has made $475 of a $5,000 goal within the first ten days.

What can small businesses learn from the Queen Bee Bag campaign?

  • Bigger isn’t always better. Set a reasonable goal that will cover basic start-up expenses.
  • Offer your product as part of a donation perk. Within the first ten days, the Queen Bee Bag attracted five donors. Four of those donors opted to donate $100, which is the level at which the perk includes a bag.
  • Be personable and informative in your Kickstarter write up. Koziol and Stewart included pictures, fun facts about the product, and a lot of business information.

Contributed by guest blogger Robert Carr. Robert writes full-time for small business, finance and car repair how-to sites.

Social Media Branding and Photo Size Roundup

Maintaining consistent branding across your social media and web marketing presences is important to your overall brand strategy. Here’s the first in a series of articles on each social media platform and how to make the best use of the tools there to maintain a solid, consistent brand. Let’s begin with a roundup of photo sizes, rules and updates you’ll need to keep your accounts looking sharp and up-to-date.

Facebook Timeline Cover and Profile Photos

Facebook Profile Picture Size

For Facebook brand page profile pictures upload a square image of your brand’s logo or use another square image that represents your brand. The display size for the profile picture on a Facebook Timeline brand page is 160 x 160 pixels. Uploaded images must be at least 180 x 180 pixels and will be cropped to fit.   On your Page’s cover photo the profile picture displays 23 pixels from the left side and 210 pixels from the top. Read Facebook’s full detailed post on cover photos here for more details.

Facebook Timeline Cover Photo Size

Facebook Timeline cover photos are 851 wide by 315 pixels tall. Images smaller than this will be stretched to fit, which could affect the quality. Use a high quality image in this space to welcome your fans, but make sure you follow the rules and regulations for Timeline cover photos. Cover photos can not contain references to discounts, contact information or calls to action such as “get it now” or “become a fan.”

To add a cover photo to your Facebook Timeline, hover over the cover photo area and click “choose cover.” From there you can upload a photo from your computer or choose a photo from your Facebook photo albums. Either way, choose an image that represents your brand and your personality.

Facebook gives you the details on cover photo sizes here.

Here’s how both the cover photo and the Timeline photo are placed on the page:

Facebook Timeline photo placement

From Facebook.com/help

Google + Profile Settings

Google Plus profile pictures should be 250 pixels x 250 pixels. Google will ask you to crop images larger than that to fit upon upload. Cover images should be 940 x 180 pixels or you can use the thumbnail images as an option, which are each 112 x 112 pixels. Unlike Facebook, Google (currently) doesn’t have the same restrictions for branding and CTAs in cover photos so brand away!

YouTube Brand Channel

Unless you have an official  brand channel, your YouTube profile photo is the same as your Google profile. The current wisdom for a YouTube background image is 970 pixels wide; however, YouTube offers a lot more options through it’s official brand channels. Brand channels have a 970 pixels wide x 150-pixel-high banner which supports an image map so you can add links to your image. There is a 640-pixel-wide video player in the main content area and a 310-pixel-wide sidebar for displaying stats about your channel and links to your other social media accounts. On YouTube brand channels your image avatar should be 1600px by 1600px and should be a JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG. For a complete guide to setting up an official YouTube branded channel visit their how-to page here. 

Twitter Profile Branding

Twitter background images should be no more than 90 pixels maximum on the left and must be in PNG, GIF, or JPG format, smaller than 800k. For your Twitter header image, use an image 1252×626 pixels (with a maximum file size of 5MB). Upload this image in the “design” section of your profile.

LinkedIn Branding

If you’ve made a company page for your business on LinkedIn, there are more options for branding available. Minimum size for the header image is 646 x 220 pixels but LinkedIn will allow you to crop a larger image once you’ve uploaded it. Logo images should be 100 x 60 pixels. If you’re adding banner images under the products and services pages, those images should be 640 x 220. LinkedIn allows company pages up to three banner images. Use this space to highlight your most important products. 

I’ll continue this series with in-depth instructions for each platform, but for now let this serve as a cheat sheet of sorts. Do you have any suggestions for branding your pages? Leave them here in the comments or on my Facebook page.

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