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Last updated on May 23rd, 2022 at 06:53 pm

Episode #54 INFO:

Are you a small business who is looking for better results for your next trade show?  I recently had fun conversation with Jim Cermak, Professor and Host of Trade Show University Podcast.  We discuss different trade show tips and how small businesses can get in front of their dream customers by being at the right show.

In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid Trade Show?

Jim enjoys in-person trade shows because that is where we can really connect with the audience and attendees. Not to mention it is hard to take someone our to dinner virtually! However, almost all of the in-person trade show came to a halt during the pandemic. Many companies pivoted to virtual trade shows and had great momentum and success as well.

A hybrid trade show is a mixed of in-person and virtual experience.  A company can reach a wider audience whom might not be able to attend in person, but would attend virtually.  This new model is popular among B2B events and business networking mixers.

Benefits of Exhibiting at a Trade Show

There are obviously many benefits of exhibiting at a trade show, especially for a small business. First, it put you, the small business, in prime location in front of your target audience. When will do you have the opportunity to get such a large group of target customers in one place? Secondly, when you set up your trade show space to brand with trade show displays and branded trade show giveaway items, your brand becomes the focus, the center of all the trade show attendees! Lastly, with the right engagement tactics, you will get the chance to interact directly with your target customers, showcasing your products and services. 

5 Trade Show Tips for a Positive Outcomes

  1. Research different trade shows and choose the best ones to exhibit
  2. Staff your booth strategically (Hire outside help if needed, Jim suggests brand ambassadors)
  3. Gather the right trade show display, lighting and marketing collaterals
  4. Prepare and rehearse a great presentation about your products and services
  5. Sponsor the event and looking for co-branding opportunity on promotional products


Here are a few more trade show tips from Jim: If you are exhibiting at your first trade show be sure to allow at least 6 month of planning.  Moreover, focus on marketing and invite the key buyers whom you wish to connect during the show. Work on smart questions that will qualify the attendees and get them curious in your offerings.  Last but not least, make sure your trade show displays, marketing materials, and promotional products are inline with your business branding and order your promotional products way in advance.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (00:29):

Hello everyone. Thank you for tuning in my name is Swire. The promo guy. I’m the host for your show. My guest today is Jim Cermack. He is the trade show exhibit or coach and the host of trade show university podcast. I just noted podcast coach, which is in the top 5% globally. Jim brings 30 years of marketing training and events, and he loves sharing success secrets for working and planning for trade shows. He has been a judge for the 20 2021 worship event award and also a partner for virtual events Institute. And he has a collaborate with the Caesar entertainment. If you’re a veterans for attending trade show, or if you’re new to trade show, you got to pay attention to this episode. How are you doing Jim?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (01:13):

Third grade? Thank you so much Swire for having me on it’s a, it’s a great pleasure. Thank you so much.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (01:18):

Would you please tell us a little bit more about what you do and why? You know, companies should hire a coach when they exhibit at a trade show?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (01:30):

Wow, that’s a great question. A great question. So, so what I do is I’ve I started the whole podcast trade show university. I started at several years ago because I would see as an, as an exhibitor and as an attendee. So many companies that leave money on the table that they just don’t know. They, they know their products, they’re they’re experts at what they do, but they don’t know how to work a trade show. And so I wanted to share knowledge with them. I wanted to help them to better understand how to work the show. They’re going to get better results overall, you know, just make the show experience for them better. It’s gonna make the show experience for the attendee better because they’re going to get the information they’re looking for as well. So it just makes everything better. So that’s, that’s why I started it.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (02:15):

And I see that there’s a lot of people that reach out to me and say, this is great content, but we’re not sure if we’re doing it right. We’re not sure. And so that’s why I work with companies one-on-one and help them to make sure that they’ve set the right goals that they have, they have the right training. So they, they know how to work that specific show the right way and get better results. That’s what it’s all about. This was all about. So I think for me, I think it’s very important, especially if anyone who’s been gone to a show and they came and got back, go there. That was okay. Or they’re frustrated because it’s a huge investment. It’s a huge management of money, time, resources to go to. One of these shows, some shows are just a few hours long. Some shows are multiple days long and you have multiple people going to them. So it could be massive expense. And if you come away from that going, we just only got, we only got a couple of leads. That’s those are the kinds of companies that need to reach out and say, I think we need some help because there’s, there’s definitely more we could be doing,

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (03:13):

Oh, I think this episode is timely too, because you know, we just came back and then started reopening for trade show after, you know, 15 months long. Wow. Not, not having one. So, and obviously there are a lot of creative activity in the event industry. We have virtual trade show, we have hybrid trade show. And we now going back to in persons ratio, what do you see all three combined? Do you see that they can co-exist or,uwe are you favoring one side to the other?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (03:42):

Well, from my heart is always with the in-person live trade shows because I think that’s where we can really, really connect with with the audience, with the attendees, flicking them right in the eye. And it’s hard to take someone out to dinner when you’re, when you’re virtual, but but I, so I, so that’s where my heart is. And there’s so much activity, so much momentum going towards these shows coming back, which is fantastic to see, because it also impacts the economies of any of the cities that are hosting. These shows impacts is so tremendously, positively. And so we want to see that that happening, but over the last, like you said, over the last 15 months, plus we had a switch from away from live events. There were no live events. So a lot of companies went to doing a virtual trade show and saw a ton of great momentum there as well, where they were able to reach audiences.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (04:36):

They never would have reached in a live event because you have I’ll give you one specific example. Let’s say it was a small regional show where they would get it’s about a half day to a full day show in person where they would get about 500 attendees. Well, because of the the pandemic, it got shut down, they went virtual and they got over 2000 attendees and attendees from all over the world. And that just happened to be in that industry. And they did some research found out about this, this event. So they were able to get so many more attendees that they never would have gotten people eight hours away would not have jumped on an airplane to come to a half day conference. They would have had to take an eight hour flight and all that expense and all that. So you have the, the show organizers that are saying, well, wait a minute.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (05:26):

You know, we’ve, we definitely want to do these live events again, we see the value of it, but how do we not miss out on all those new people that we were able to engage with when we went virtual? So that’s where the, the whole concept of hybrid events is coming up. And that’s where I think we’re going to see a lot of that those are here to stay, but how those are going to come up, come across is a whole, that’s a whole nother topic. Cause we just don’t know. We haven’t done too many of these yet being live and in person is one is one thing you have all sorts of different experiences. However, being on the other side of the screen, like people are right now watching us, that is, that’s a different experience. And so if I’m watching a keynote speaker or I’m at a workshop, or how do I interact with people in both ways? Okay. So if I’m live and I have people virtually, so there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of questions as to how that will all play out, but I think there’s great opportunities to reach new audiences and still have those that audience that’s going to be there in person. But so there’s, there’s a lot of opportunity going forward. I think you’re going to see a lot more hybrid events where they’re offering it both virtual and live.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (06:44):

I like that, you know, because actually bring a good question because you know, we’re focusing more about small businesses here, you know, before, you know, you might need a big budget, right? You put together maybe a conference room or maybe a nice menu at a hotel, but now with the right content, you know, you gotta have the right content, right. The right execution. You can actually, like you said, be able to reach more people out there. Want to bring you into this discussion. I think these are some of the conversations that I’ve had, especially with a digital marketing expert that you don’t need. Trade show, you know, you only need your Facebook campaign. You need your ads, your lead, your Google click. But then what do you think is the most powerful tool is for B2B persistence right now

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (07:26):

For B2B, for me, it’s trade shows. I, I am convinced, I am solely convinced that B2B businesses will benefit from being at an industry focused trade show, better than anything else. Obviously every marketing channel has its benefits. You’ve got your social channels, which are, you can’t ignore them. And you’ve got email and you’ve got traditional marketing. There is nothing that can replace a, a trade show. And here’s the reason why, especially for B2B, because a lot of times when you’re selling to businesses, they have a much different set of criteria for purchasing. And it’s usually much more complex than I like the color, or I like the way this feels. You know, if you’re buying some clothing for B2B, getting in front of that, that customer is much more difficult in other ways. But if they’re already going to be at an industry show and now you have tens to hundreds, to possibly thousands of your potential customers in front of you, literally walking feet in front of you, you have the opportunity to make deals like you have never made before.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (08:43):

And for a small business, you might be able to show that where you had this little tiny booth or you have a tabletop display. And you’re in amongst some giants in the industry that have these huge boots that are two stories. They’ve got a staff of 20 people working their exhibit, and you’re there with your one or two people in your little display, but you know what? You still have the same people walking in front of you. The same people that are going to see those giants are now walking in front of you. And I’ve heard story after story success stories of, of small companies that had the opportunity to get in with a big, a big player, simply because they were there simply because they were there. They learned how to, to work the show, to engage with those people that were walking past and to be able to make that connection and show them, Hey, here’s what we have.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (09:33):

It’s different. We are different. And here’s why we’re different. Here’s why you need to talk to us. And if we’ve ever been in a, a large big box retailer, a Walmart, a target, a best buy, and we see this little, no name, a brand that we’ve never heard of before. And oh my gosh, they’re local there. That’s how they do it. They very rarely can they get on their radar. But when you’re in the same places as the rest of their, as your competitors, your big competitors, you have that opportunity. There’s so many other, so many other reasons. But I think that just the opportunity alone to be in front of those same buyers that are there to see the big guys, you never have another opportunity like that. And you can have from big buyers to little buyers, but they’re walking right in front of you. And you can have that opportunity more opportunities in a short period of time to have deep, meaningful conversations with than anywhere else.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (10:32):

All right. Since you brought that up, I I’m sure that, you know, if you’re a smaller company that you have exhibit before, it’s kind of intimidating, right? Because if you walk into a shoe Trisha for all the big businesses, we have the prime location, they have the two level VIP lounge set up, you know, they have all kinds of Marlo is available. You might not have the resources that as a big space. So how would you recommend a small business able to compete and, you know, also make a good impression amount. There are bigger competitors.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (11:03):

That’s great question. Great question. The first thing is you have to make sure you’re at the right show because there’s so many trade shows out there. So many industry specific. And so you want to make sure you do your homework, that your target audience is actually going to be there at the show. And the decision makers for the, that audience is going to be there. A lot of smaller businesses, don’t have a big trade show budget to be able to go to many trade shows during the year. So they might be picking one, maybe two shows a year that they’re going to go to. So you have to make sure it’s the right show. Don’t just look at this is the highest attended because that might not be your best bet. And you might want to find a smaller show where you have a better opportunity because your target audience, your specific target audience is there versus a more broad audience that where only a small segment of that audience might be your target.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (11:55):

So make sure you’re at the right show and quality beats quantity. So, because if you can’t, if you leave that show and you said, you know what, it, wasn’t a very good show for us. You might be another year before you have that opportunity again. So make sure you’re picking the right show. And then you want to be as efficient as possible at the show because being a small guy, you have, you have very limited opportunities. Not everyone’s going to stop by your show. They’re there to see all the names they know. So they might not know your name. So they’re not just going to stop by. So you have to be as efficient as possible. If it’s just you. If you’re there by yourself, maybe you’re a small business owner, maybe you’re an entrepreneur and you just have your own yourself. Try to not work the show by yourself.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (12:39):

You might want to hire, bring on a colleague or hire a brand ambassador people that you can hire that their whole, their whole focus is to make sure they’re bringing people into your booth for you to talk to. You might want to look into what is a brand ambassador and check into using that. And then also try doing some group presenting, especially if you have a, if you have a large attendance, you have a lot of people walking past your booth and you have, you might have one chance to stopping that one person walking past your booth. So what you want to do is try, like I said, try group presenting and by group presenting, I’m not talking about setting up chairs in your booth and having a big presentation. You can, it might have that have that room or that flexibility. But what you can do is people are walking past.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (13:27):

You can, if you get somebody’s attention, you can say, hold on, before I start my presentation, Hey, why don’t you come on over? And I want to, and then you could tell your presentation to three, four or five people at one time, get them qualified before you go any further. So that you make the most of your time there memorize a script, know the answers to your question, know your products so that you can be quick. You can be efficient because the last thing you want to be doing, and I know it’s, it’s the tendency of all of us. If we start getting into a good conversation is to continue to talk and talk and talk because you’ve made this great connection. And all of a sudden, you’re talking for 20, 30 minutes. And during that time, all these potential people have walked past and have never stopped at your booth.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (14:11):

You want to grab someone in, make sure they’re qualified quickly, get them the information they need and say, Hey, I know it’s a big show. I want to let you go and we’ll connect afterwards. Maybe you set an appointment right then and there, but let them go back into the, into the show so they can go continue to explore the show and you can get that next person into your booth without doing that. You’re going to have just a handful of leads versus being able to get multiples of those kinds of leads. A couple things like that. And again, you know, don’t, don’t just avoid that small talk, make sure you’re not getting into meaningless conversations. You have a very, very limited amount of time. You’re making a huge investment to be at this show. So make sure you’re, you’re, you’re getting into good, meaningful conversations and ask about them, ask about them first.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (14:59):

What is it that they need? Because if they don’t, if you can’t give them what they need, you’re wasting time and you don’t want to waste your time or their time. So you want to let them go and and then do good effective follow ups afterwards. So, so it’s a lot of very common sense stuff, but when we’re in the excitement of the show, we can tend to get overexcited and, and not make good, common sense decisions. So just the practice at a time and know the process of how to get people into your booth and out of your booth.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (15:31):

I think you touched on a lot of keyboards, you know, especially it, I could relate to it in, you know, as a sales person, right? So the first point that you point out is, you know, knowing your target market, you know, a lot of time when people want to market, they want to market to everyone. You know, I’m selling a merchandise. Everyone can buy it in serious, you know, not everyone will be your client. So I, I like, especially, as you said, you don’t have to pick the biggest treasure. You can actually pick a small one where you can make the better impact. Then if you do everyone, they might have 50,000 people, right. A big mega treasure, but then how can you willingly, you know attract, you know, the target people that you want, you know, what they might be there, but then it’s not as effective, maybe a smaller Trisha, maybe only 200 people.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (16:17):

But then these are industry veterans that will be attending, you know, to get the information that they have to learn for their industry. So you’re making actually a bigger impact. And also I liked your idea for being effective because when I walk into a trade show booth, sometime myself, I know that they have couple of people, there are more friendly that could wave you and come on and check us out. You know, there are more friendly than I’m likely to go in. Then, you know, a couple of guys sitting there cross their arms and, you know, put that in like intimidated. I won’t go in. And then after I went in, they actually have a product specialist to answer specific questions that I might have with their products. So these are people who know the product ends. And now the last thing you want to do is you walk into a brewery to try to ask them a specific question.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (17:04):

They didn’t know the answer or the person who answers is not here. So then what I do, I’m in a booth and you can answer my question. And then I think what you said, the end is, is golden. You know, the key to success for a trade show is not to sell your product right then and there, sometimes you might get lucky. You might be able to close one or two, but it’s to make contacts, you know, make and qualify your leads. And then your sales team can follow up with them afterwards. You know, you actually capturing the leads and you’re qualifying them, you know, are they the right buyer to buy our product and services or are they have the capacity to do what we can offer? So would you recommend that company have a pre luminary questions to, to ask and, you know, maybe check box with all the questions that they might have for their booth?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (17:54):

Absolutely. That’s a great, great suggestion. And definitely, as people are walking past, you want to make sure you have an initial question. That’s going to stop them in their tracks, something that is going to quickly see if this is someone I want to talk to, and it’s not going to be a waste of my time, because so many times I’ll, I’ll hear if I’m an attendee I’m walking past and people are just like, Hey, how you do it today? And, oh, isn’t it a great day. And, and I, I’m not going to stop for that. I mean, those are nice people, but I don’t have time to stop and just talk to nice people. I can do that anytime I want to, I don’t need to be at the trade show, do that. I want to talk to people. They’re going to be bringing a solution to my company.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (18:36):

So you want to ask questions that will quickly qualify them. So for use wire in the, and I know you’re brilliant at this in the, in the promo industry, and you do such a great job of helping companies to figure out what is the best item for them. It’s not just buying the generic pens and, and, and key chains and stuff like that, unless it really makes sense for them and their promotion and their theming. But you, you have those series of questions that you want to ask people, like you said, this is a sales process. It’s the beginning of a sales process. So you have to ask that question, that’s going to quickly stop them and see if, if they qualify. So I’ll give you an example. This is something, a company that I ran into many years ago. And I, I always use this example because it was so brilliant in its simplicity, as I was walking past, and someone said, excuse me, do you use PowerPoint in your business?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (19:31):

And I had to stop. And I thought, yeah, I do. I do. I use PowerPoint. And they said, do you want to see something really cool? I’m like, well, yeah, I do. And so, and they had me, they qualified me because they were, they were a training company that trained on PowerPoint. And so think about your business. You want to get a quick question, that’s going to stop somebody. And it might just be, maybe it’s the name of your product. If you have a specific product or service, and you could say, Hey, have you ever heard of ABC? And they’ll say, no. Can I take a minute and tell you all about the benefits of ABC? Well, sure. Of course, you know there, and you want to qualify them somehow to make sure they’re going to be a purchaser of ABC or whatever it is that you have to offer.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (20:17):

So yes, definitely have that question. And then you want to get down the line and you want to find out about not only are they qualified, are they a decision maker? And it doesn’t matter if the person is a decision maker or not, because you’re not qualifying the person. It’s great. If they are, it’s great. If they are, because you’re going to have a great conversation with, with the decision maker. But if they’re not a decision maker, but the COO the company can be a customer of yours, then you just want to ask who’s the decision maker in your company. They’ll you they’ll tell you. Cause because if you’re a good fit, they will tell you because they want to do business with you. So just get that information, but all, what is the key questions that you want to know? Again, like swear, like you said, put on your sales hat, what questions do you ask in your normal sales calls?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (21:06):

What are the, what is the important information you need to know before you’re able to close a deal? And you want to, those are the questions you want to ask, and you might not ask every single one of them, but make sure you hit the basics so that you’re not keeping someone there asking them 37 different questions. You can there’s time for that. You want the basic ones, so you could do an effective follow-up and then you can get into the others, but you want to quickly qualify them, get the information you need, give them the information you want to present to them, and then let them go.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (21:39):

So let’s talk about keys for getting attention at your booth. We imagined that, you know, being nice, you know, to qualify questions there other elements that you would suggest, you know, to get people attention, because I would go to a booth that has a lot of people. I never go to a booth. I only have person sitting there and no one has been there. I’m kind of intimidated by that. Yeah,

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (22:02):

Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s you make up, I make a great point. You want people are drawn to activity. And so if they see people standing in line or they see a lot of activity at a booth by nature as humans, we’re like, what’s going on over there. I want to know what’s going on over there. They, because all of these people are interested. I might be interested too. So do things that are going to cause activity. And the number one is when nothing’s going on in your booth at the very beginning of a show or things start slowing down, you’re not going to have anybody at your booth. So you need to be in actively engaging, asking those questions, bringing people into your booth, also do things that are going to cause activity. So maybe you do some pre-show marketing, whether that is maybe get a great promo item and you eat and you mail it to someone in a big puffy mailer.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (22:53):

So they open it up and it says, you know, stop by booth number three 17 while you’re at the ABC show. And we’d love to have a discussion about whatever, you know, but do some, some pre-marketing do physical marketing, do some social media marketing emails get on the promo calendar of the show itself when they do their email blasts, some great ways to get people to want to come to your booth at the show, do things that are engaging the senses. So maybe you have some better lighting. Maybe you have some flashing lights or just light up your booth. Somehow. Especially a lot of the smaller booths are dark. They have, they might have a video going on, but that’s about it. They don’t have any overhead lighting. They don’t have any colored lights are flashing lights, anything like that. So if you do that as a smaller booth, you’ll draw people to have games, contests, prizes, people love winning stuff.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (23:51):

And and so, and bake it and make it fun. But not only that, make sure you’re not just giving stuff away, but that while you have people there, you’re starting them in the process of getting them engaged, getting them qualified, because there’s nothing worse than all of a sudden you’re, you’re talking to, you have a hundred people in line and you give away all this stuff, thousands of dollars worth of giveaways and products. And then you find out you really didn’t capture the information you needed, or you gave it to a bunch of people that were qualified to begin with. So make sure you have a purpose for whatever games that you’re doing, but please do. Yeah. Do games, do giveaways make t-shirts there’s so many options of what you can do. Sights sounds and even smells have a popcorn machine. The smells of popcorns, the sounds of freshly popped popcorn are going to draw people by just to get and make sure don’t just give them a bag of popcorn. Make sure you do it in exchange for their business card, a quick discussion, find out if they’re qualified and then let them take their popcorn. People will answer a few basic questions to get that popcorn that they are, have been smelling for the past three aisles as they got over to your booth. So do things that are different that engage those senses in a, in a fun way so that people will be drawn to your booth.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (25:16):

Yeah. Especially, you know, since we touch on promotional product, a lot of people think about if I exhibit at a trade show, I need to buy swag, which send for stuff we all get, you know, but a lot of times, from what I see, I see at Tricia, before they put them out, lay them out at the table, people just went by the table, grab it and gone. You know, you didn’t even get a chance to talk to them. So you really are giving stuff away, whatever, you know, like you said, you know, I have a 10 minute presentation. I’m giving you some nicer calves. So if you sit by and listen to my conversation, now we’ll give you that gift. Or, you know, like you said, with your mailer, I’ve actually seen a company. They actually sent out a drone. They mailed a drone to the recipient, but there’s no controller.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (26:01):

If you see, we have the bruv, I will give you the rest of it, but then let’s have a conversation. So these are obviously costs more to do. But then while if they sign on a client, what have you, your dream client, you know, like you enough and they come visit your booth, you know, how much value would you put that instead of you putting all the pans out for people to just grab it? You know? So we about that in exchange, you don’t really have to give it to everyone. And it’s just like, you don’t really need to market to everyone, be picking me and be specific if you know that these 10 companies are your goals for the trade show, you know, make your effort before the show, during the show and after the shows to connect with them. Yeah. I

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (26:42):

Love that. And one, one tool, I was just talking to a colleague this morning about this use LinkedIn use LinkedIn. If you know that there is a specific company or a specific people that are going to be attending the show and you want to reach out to them and you want to make sure you connect with them, do some research on LinkedIn about that company, about who might be coming to that show, try to connect with them up in front and say, Hey, we’re going to be exhibiting at this show that you’re, I know your company is attending, or maybe you’re also, they’re also exhibiting. I would love to, to connect with you and start that connection even before you get to the show. So when you get to the show, you have someone who’s excited to, to meet with you already. That’s just a great, great suggestion, Swire to make those connections as early as possible.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (27:31):

Yeah. I think, you know, these are all no cost, right? You know, doing research on LinkedIn, we’re on LinkedIn every day and you probably know you better know who your dream clients are and then maybe their position maker. So reach out to them, you know, invite them. We’re going to be at a trade show next week. And I know that you guys will probably be attending, you know, so you can actually ask, you know, who will be there. Your colleague who’ll be attending, you know? And then we have some information that we would like to show them. I think it will be a lot easier than you have to walk into their facility to give a presentation while they’re there might as well just, you know, check, check this out and see if it’s worth considering further. So I think these are easy connection that you can, you can do every day, you know, online.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (28:17):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And like you said, a lot of this stuff, that’s going to make the difference of whether you have a successful show or just an okay. Show doesn’t cost any money. It just takes some time. It takes some planning. And then of course, when you’re at the show, it takes some execution.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (28:34):

Yeah, no, we, we throw a lot of ideas out there. So I want to see, you know, what would be your key recommendation for entrepreneurs and small businesses who want to make a big impact at a, at a trade show? You know, are there, how much planning would they need or can we, how far in advance, you know, they plan for it because you know, you got plan for it. You know, I’ve worked with some clients who are planning six months ahead. I also have client who plan two days ahead. So, you know, you go like, you know, saving money, people like planning. So which one do you think can execute better?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (29:09):

Well, I have the further out you can plan the better off you are. That’s the, the plain and simple rule, especially now, if you’ve never done trade shows before and you have to purchase a banners or trade show backdrop, or you need to order those promo items or whatever it is, if you don’t have any of that already, you’ve got to make sure you give yourself plenty of time, because right now I want you to think about this as we’re coming out of the pandemic. There’s two basic times a year to basic seasons for trade shows that is spring and that’s fall. And there’s a few that go on in the winter and in the, in the summer. But typically most of the shows are bunched up in the spring and in the fall. Well, we last spring, there were no live shows going on this spring.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (29:58):

All those live shows got pushed to the fall. So we have a year’s worth of shows that are going to be happening this fall. They’re starting now. But what that means is that people like Swire and, and companies that build displays and banners and all that they’re backed up. They have orders coming in left and right. And they don’t have, and the companies that they’re, or are ordering from the raw materials are on back order or they’re taking a long time. So everything’s taking a bit longer if you need to order those items. If you have all that stuff, great, you have it leftover from last year because you had them ordered before last year’s shows and all those shows got canceled. Then at least you have that. You have a good headstart still plan on starting as early as you can. Number one, if you go to reserve your show, your booth at the show, a lot of times they’ll have early bird specials.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (30:55):

So if you get your show, your booth booked in advance, you could save, you know, 10, 20, 30% over over the deadlines as they approach closer to the show, then the price starts going up. So you have that. You also have other sponsorship opportunities. They may have some very limited sponsorship opportunities available to sponsor a lunch or to sponsor the the show bag where everyone gets their, their program and all the other marketing materials in it. You can get your, your name on that. Well, there’s only one of those sponsors. So if some, if you’re in early, you have an opportunity to do that. But if you miss out, you miss out. So the earlier we can do that, the better plus it also gives you the opportunity to then get a a list of the exhibitors that are going to be there. And possibly even the pre attendees that you could start doing that advanced marketing, the longer you wait, every opera, all the opportunities, just start to get smaller and smaller. So definitely plan out as far as possible when you’re doing a show.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (31:53):

Yeah, those are great, great advice. You know, planning. That’s how, you know, especially like you said, you know, you can actually pre research through your research now, knowing who will be attending, who, what competition are going to be there, or what, what are the study research? And if it, if it’s a good trade show, they show you that what type of people, what type of title they actually are attending. So you can actually do a resource now and you know what we’re doing on LinkedIn. So conduct connecting with the buyer, the more planning that you have will actually save you a lot of money. You know, if you know that, especially you’re going to attend Trisha in the spring, in the fall, get all the things in that is relevant for the show. Now, you know, instead of getting it, like you said, you, you, you stole my line, you know, with all the backed up, you know, right now it with, you know, what we have going on at the port of long beach.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (32:42):

And it does take longer. So, you know, how are you going to react to that? You don’t want to have nothing, no display, no light, no promotional product when you got on the show. So yeah, definitely plan lingual help. So, Jim, I know that, you know, we have talk about a lot of ideas. So would you mind to let us know if I still want more, this, I want to learn more about, you know, being better and exhibiting a trade show, where should I go? And you know, how should people contact you to find out more information about accepts?

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (33:14):

Absolutely. Thank you so much for that opportunity as well. And first of all, check out the trade show university podcast, we are on all the major podcast platforms. So apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, all of them. And we have listeners around the world, which is very, very exciting. The whole podcast episode by episode is a different topic and Swire, you were on, on Trisha university not too long ago and did a great job of telling people how to select those right promo items, but say, you’re trying to figure out how do I staff my booth? How do I train my staff? How do I set set goals? How do I eat? Right? So I have the best energy throughout the show, all of these topics. And we talk about virtual events. We talk about webinars. There’s so many different topics. So if you go over there, we have a, I think a hundred plus topics right now, a hundred plus episodes go in there.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (34:09):

If you go to my website, which is trade show you that business trade show the letter, U dot B I Z, go there. And right on the on the search bar, you could type in whatever topic you’re looking for. And it’ll bring up the episodes that mentioned that topic. So that’s the first thing, and that is absolutely free. Check out trade show. University. Second thing is absolutely free. Call it, get on my web, my email newsletter, which is at trade show,, just right there on the homepage, sign up for the email newsletter. And I’ll give you a free gift, which is my top 52 trade show tips. It’s going to make a difference. You’re going to get better results. I guarantee it. And that’s absolutely free just for signing up for the newsletter. And the last thing is, if you say you’re like, you’re one of those companies that’s been frustrated, or maybe you’re like, I want to do trade shows, but I’ve never done it before.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (34:59):

And you want some help then reach out to me. I’ve got a, a program that I’m just launching, which is called your show success roadmap. So it’s going to be a roadmap and specifically for small businesses, small businesses and entrepreneurs that are looking to do trade shows and you will get a customized roadmap. Step-By-Step on what you need to do for your show. Cause we, we sit down and we talk for a couple hours and we go through one-on-one your goals. And then you get a roadmap for everything you need to do to have a successful show. And just for listeners, just for sweaters listeners, I’m offering 25% off. So if you send me an email, Jim at trade show,, that’s Jim at trade show, the letter U dot Bizz and mentioned that you heard it here, that roadmap, you get 25% off. And I throw a lot of stuff at you there, but I want to make sure you have all the resources that you need to do the next show, the best show ever.

Swire Ho #thepromoguy (36:02):

Peggy I’ll put all the information and link on the on the show notes and no shame sell promotion. You got to listen to episode 99 on Trisha in university. That’s when Jim and I have now finding the right promotional product. And with that, thank you so much, Jim, you know, love to have you on again, talk about, you know, how you see the industry going on, especially very excited about the hybrid model for virtual and in-person events combined. Thank you again for coming on to the show today.

Jim Cermak, Trade Show University (36:32):

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.

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About the Author

Shirley Ho

Shirley is the co-founder of Garuda Promo and Branding Solutions. With a background in print production and graphic design, she specializes in promotional products marketing, creating end-products that aligns with her client's marketing goals and brand strategy.

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