Hey Newman – Blog

Capture Every Lead on The Trade Show Floor – Automatically!

“HEY.  Tired of going back to your office with only 400 leads from your last trade show? Are you looking to REALLY impress your Sales Team.  How about 4,000? How about 40,000?! That’s right, the SCAN-EM-ALL 685 is the answer to your prayers!

Just find the center of the trade show floor.  Hold the Scan-Em-All over your head.  And press the blue button.  In thirty seconds you’ll have captured every badge on the trade show floor.  That’s right.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  And then?  Well, you can just pack up and go home …. your work here is done!!

The SCAN-EM-ALL 685. If it has a pulse, we’ll capture it!”

Believe it or not, by some companies’ current metrics, the Scan-Em-All 685 would guarantee you the most successful trade show ever: 45,245 attendees?   Relax.  YOU’LL come home with 45,245 leads.

Many exhibitors are already doing whatever they can to leave the show with thousands of leads.   We’ve all seen the army of booth staffers offering a chance to win an iPad while  scanning as many people as possible.  Sure it’s an effective way to rack up numbers, but are these “leads?”  And what will happen when they’re distributed to your sales team?

“Hi.  WHO is this?  Oh RIGHT!!  That trade show …. Yeah.  Sorry, I just stopped by to get one of those screaming flying monkeys you were giving away.”

I can assure you, THIS kind of response is not going to endear you to any sales reps.

So the question then becomes:  What really DOES define a lead?   And the larger question;  Do more leads mean a more successful trade show?

So, I’m asking you, the Exhibitor Community: What is your metric for a successful trade show?   Do you try to accumulate as many badge scans as possible?  Do you use a system to categorize your leads as “hot,” “warm” and “cold”? Should your booth staff have a tiered system and be directing traffic based on perceived quality of the lead?  What are some of your ‘best practices’ when it comes to lead acquisition?

Unless we come together on a clear definition of a successful trade show, before too long, we may ALL be waving SCAN-EM-ALL 685s.

Wage PEACE at Your Next Trade Show

The Volume Wars

wage-peaceThe situation: Day One of the Trade Show.  Your neighbor’s first presentation of the morning begins.  And …. it’s loud.  VERY loud. You wince. You grimace.  You launch the Noise Meter app on your iPhone.

110dB and rising fast.

The sales reps in your booth can’t have a conversation.  Their temperature is rising faster than the sound level.  They’re staring at YOU.  And the look in their eyes is saying ….


Your response: Those jerks are too damn loud. I’m going straight to Show Management. They’ll come over with their own dB meter and get those clowns to TURN IT DOWN.  If they don’t, I’ll just turn our volume UP!!

Their response: Oh yeah!? Well, TWO can play at that game. I’m going to keep my dBs right at the legal limit all day long. We’re going to do four … no SIX, 10 minute presentations an hour.  Yeah,  That’ll show ‘em.  Maybe throw in a little feedback to REALLY make their day.  By the end of this show, they’ll wish they never messed with me.  Bwa ha haaaaa…

Conclusion: OK, this approach isn’t going to do anyone any good.   It’s kind of like making the decision to call the police at 2 in the morning to get your neighbor to turn down his Metallica Retrospective.  Instead of just calling him up.

The Alternative:  Wage Peace

The situation: You’re at the Convention Center on the set-in day.  You’re rehearsing.  Running through your presentation.  Checking your sound system.  The guy at the next booth is doing the same.  And he’s got MUCH bigger speakers than you do.  So in the “volume knob wars,” you’re gonna go down.  What do you do?

Your response: Hey!  How’s it going?  Looks like we’re both going to be doing live shows here.  What kind of presentation are you doing? (Really listen.) Well, I’d like to introduce myself to see if we can coordinate our schedules so we’re not fighting each other for three days.  Are you presenting on the hour and the half hour?  Great.  What if I go at 15 and 45?  Just know that when I do my presentations, there may be pretty big crowds and it could get kind of loud.  But if it does get TOO loud, you can give me a signal and I’ll turn it down.

In fact, since it looks like we’re not competitors, how about if I mention you guys at the end of the presentation and see if I can send some of that traffic your way?

Their response: Hmm.  Nice guy.  I should try to stay on schedule and make sure my volume doesn’t go to “11.”  I wonder … if I send some of my crowds to their booth, maybe I can score one of those screaming monkeys they’re giving away … or two …

Conclusion: Compromise. Wage Peace. Establish a relationship. BE NICE!  I guarantee you, you’ll have a better show.  You’ll have more fun.  And you might just pick up some business.

** Got any trade show war stories that ended up all ‘warm and fuzzy?’  I’d love to hear them.

Ken Newman is Guest Blogging (Again) for Nimlok

ken-newman-is-blogging-again I’m pleased to report that I am once again guest blogging for Nimlok, a trade show display solutions company.  You can also find them here:

This month’s entry is:  “Ending Death by Powerpoint”  It’s about why Powerpoint can be the LEAST effective way to tell your story at a trade show.  It offers up some GREAT alternative technologies, and some simple “Low-tech” approaches.

It also tells you what NOT to do if you are going to use Powerpoint.

Please give it a read:


Ken Newman is Guest Blogging for Nimlok…

I’m proud to say that I have been asked to do some guest blogging for Nimlok, a trade show display solutions company.  You can also find them here:

This month’s entry is:  “Beat Up Your Booth.”  It’s about taking a cold, hard look at your current booth, with an eye towards making it better.  A LOT better.

It’s about tough love.

Please give it a read:


“Hey Newman” will be back soon….

Rethinking Trade Show Swag

I ran into a guy at an airport recently who was hauling two large company-branded shopping bags.  It was clear that he was on his way home from a trade show.

Well … it was made even clearer by the fact that he was still wearing his Attendee badge.

“Pretty good score, huh?”rethinking-tradeshow-swag

“Yeah, lotta crap.  Not even sure why I’m bringing it home.  But hey, it was free, y’know?  ”Kids’ll like it.  And the rest I’ll probably just dump.”

I found myself wondering about the hours of discussion, the meetings, the phone calls, the RFPs … the debate by the marketing team over what the “perfect” giveaway for this show would be.  And here was a bag full of the stuff on a fast track to the trash heap.

I think many of us agree that promotional giveaway items are an essential part of trade shows.  And I know from many years of  experience, that people will queue up for a branded t-shirt or a thumb drive or a flying-screaming aadvark as if their very lives depended on it.

I’m also willing to bet that many of these people get home, dump their suitcases on their beds and wonder,


Now, I don’t want to suggest that we do away with the swag.  But I think it IS worth considering the amount of trash we are creating in this industry.  AND the amount of work that is being outsourced to countries so that we can get that 8 gig flash drive in the shape of a nose for a unit price of fifty cents.

I don’t have an easy answer here, but I would like to open a dialogue on the subject.  Do we need this stuff?  Or are there alternative forms of messaging and branding that have a reasonable lifespan  (And not just a half life in a recycling center.)

Would love to hear your thoughts.

What Happens in Vegas … Surviving A Trade Show in Sin City

With CES upon us, it’s worth remembering that Las Vegas can be a very unforgiving place.  These Ten Tips can help you return happy, healthy, and with your 401K intact.

10) Dont be fooled. Youre in a desert.
With all the glitz, technology and marvels of architecture, it’s easy to forget where you really are … but your body won’t. It’s dry. Really dry, and your eyes and lips know it.  If you wear contact lenses, try to avoid wearing them all day and night, keep a Chap Stick with you at all times, and most importantly, hydrate! (I don’t mean the free drinks.) You need tons of water. Buy water when you land. Drink it before you even get to the hotel. You’ll never know how dehydrated you are until it hits you like a freight train. You’ll lose your voice, or maybe even consciousness! Hydrate.

9) Dont go overboard.
There’s no sense telling you to avoid the nightlife. That’s part of the Vegas experience. But for your own good, practice moderation.  Consider this:  There are no clocks in casinos.  There are no windows.  And sometimes it seems like there are no doors either.  Why do you suppose that is? It’s simple:  THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO LEAVE … EVER.   More than once, I’ve heard friends exiting the trade show floor with the words, “I’m just going to play a little craps.  See you in the morning…”

Seven free drinks later it’s 3 a.m. and they’re rolling in the next day looking like an extra on “The Walking Dead.”

So give yourself permission to have a good time, but make sure you can easily work and function in the morning. Ultimately, you’re a company representative—with or without a hangover.

8 ) Dont break the bank at dinner.
It’s oh-so-easy to spend $500-600 bucks at dinner at one of Las Vegas’ amazing celebrity restaurants. Just know: There are equally wonderful eateries just off the strip at a much more reasonable price. It may not be as “glamorous” as that rock star chef’s destination, but it’s great food at a fraction of the price. Yes, you’ll find world-class dining right outside your door, but if a $500 meal is beyond your per diem, take advantage of amazing affordable places just out of the way.

7) Dont stay in one place.
There’s much more to the area than just casinos. With just a short drive in your rental, you’ll find beautiful locations and activities away from the excess of the strip. A simple Google search will set you up with a daylong itinerary, if you like.

6) Dont leave your casual shoes at home.
Comfortable shoes are the key to a successful Vegas trip. At the bigger trade shows, it’s not uncommon to wait … and wait … and wait for shuttle buses or cabs. And if you have casual shoes, you also have the option to walk back to the hotel. It’s a great way to de-stress when you leave the exhibit hall.  This is a really crucial point:  At CES, or any Vegas show, you go from the din and electronics of the trade show floor to the din and electronics of the casino to the din and electronics of your hotel.  It’s never-ending.  Walking back to the hotel will create a modicum of space and time between chaotic destinations.  (Of course, you MAY have to take a detour around a pirate battle and an erupting volcano, but you get my point.)

5) Dont exhaust your funds on high-priced entertainment.
We all want to see Blue Man Group.  Many of us want to check out the latest Cirque du Soleil offering.  You might even want to see if the Criss Angel show is as lame as everyone says it is.  It’s understandable that you’d want to check out some of the very special acts that call Vegas home. Just keep in mind that some of the best entertainers you’ve never heard of are also just minutes away. Talk to the locals. Find out who’s worth seeing. There are magicians and comedians and entertainers of all kinds who put on amazing shows for a lot less than the big names.

4) Dont leave your food situation to chance.
It’s easy to come back from a trade show trip feeling physically “off” because of how badly or irregularly you’ve eaten. Rather than settle for trade show floor fare, bring your own! When you pass a place selling really nice Paninis, grab one and throw it in your bag. Then, just as importantly, try to find a soothing place to eat.   If weather permits, you might be able to sneak out a side door into a really pleasant, sunny environment and breathe real air!   Think of it!

3) Dont allow your trip to be only about excess.
All around you are some of the finest health care and gym facilities anywhere. You don’t have to be a hardcore athlete; just bring some gym clothes, ride the bike and listen to your iPod. It’s a great way to create some balance before or after your time on the trade show floor.

2) Dont believe what you read.
Vegas obviously offers things other than alcohol. You’re bound to end up with, shall we say, some very “compelling” promotional materials when walking around. Resist. What they’re selling is not what it seems … and even what it seems, probably isn’t legal!

1) Dont forget to remove your badge when you leave the trade show floor. There’s nothing like having a long conversation with a very beautiful person only to realize that wonky nametag was there the whole time. No wonder they were smiling!

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What did I leave out?  I’m sure youve had some Vegas experiences in your day.  What did YOU do that you wish you hadn’t.  

I’ll post a follow-up with all of your ‘Things Not To Do.”  I’m sure we can all benefit from the mistakes and lessons-learned of our fellow trade show adventurers.

How To Scream “THANK YOU” (and why you should.)

If you’ve exhibited at enough trade shows, it’s safe to assume you’ve got your own, “Ahh, the show is over” ritual.

  • You add one more Exhibitor Badge to the ever-growing collection on your bathroom doorknob.
  • You peel off your incredibly flattering branded polo-shirt.  (And burn it.)
  • You mix a strong drink
  • You find a hot bath
  • You schedule a foot massage, pedicure, chiropractic adjustment, trip to an Ashram …

Whatever your post-show tradition may entail, I would like to humbly suggest that you add one thing to your list.

Scream, “THANK YOU.”

Let me explain:   At a recent high tech trade show, I asked my client what her goals were for the three and a half days looming ahead of us.  She handed me a long list of ‘deliverables.’  Among them was a rather ambitious lead count.   I looked at the number, looked at her, looked back at the number and said, “OK.  You got it.”  Several hours later, I was in the storage closet having a little confab with my team of four assistants.  These were my crowd-gatherers, booth hostesses, booth ambassadors, my front line …

… whatever you want to call them ….

… oh, and they were not my ‘booth babes.’  (I know, that’s a subject for another blog.)

I explained to my team that we had a pretty challenging goal and I wanted them to do their best to make the numbers.  They smiled at each other and looked at me in a way that said,

“Uh huh … you just WATCH.”

Three days later, they had blown away our goal by over a thousand leads, had kept the presentation area filled with attendees,  AND had moved a huge number of these people into the waiting arms of some very happy sales reps.

When I got back to my office (and before I engaged in any of my own rituals),  I posted a picture showing a rather impressive crowd at our booth on several of my Social Media sites.  There, I publicly thanked the four women who helped me score this big win for my client.  This ‘THANK YOU’ cost me nothing except a few minutes of my time, but I know it meant something to my team.  Why?  Because it was shouted.  It was a declaration to anyone within earshot, that they did an amazing job.  (And from the number of ‘likes’ and comments I saw, it definitely found some ears.)

Why don’t we do this all the time?  Why don’t we tell our staff people, our co-workers, our FRIENDS, the people who busted their butts for us; that we appreciate their efforts?   That we’re grateful.

Why don’t we scream, “THANK YOU” after the show is over?

Do we think, “Oh, my people were just doing their job.”?    Do we think, “Oh, they already know they’re appreciated.”?  Or do we just not think it’s worth it.

How about trying this?  After your next show, single out some of the people on your team who really went the extra mile, who really tore it up for you.  Do a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, on your company network, wherever you want.  But make sure a lot of people see it.

And then see how those people perform for you next time.  See what happens when you hand them an impossible goal  and they smile at you and say, “Uh huh.  You just WATCH.”

(By the way, here’s a shout out to my four miracle-workers: Manya Landers, Jennifer Speelman, Marie Jacobs, and Kecia Cooper King.  I couldn’t have done it without you.)

A Tip For Exhibitors: Don’t Go To Your Next Trade Show

That’s right.  Don’t Go.

  • Don’t go if you’d rather be anywhere else.
  • Don’t go if you don’t like people.
  • Don’t go if you don’t like a LOT of people.
  • Don’t go if you can’t handle the idea that these people won’t want to talk to you.
  • Don’t go if you’re not passionate about your product, your service or your solutions.
  • Don’t go if you’re thinking of it as a break from ‘real work.’
  • Don’t go if you can’t STAND for eight hours at a time.
  • Don’t go if smiling all day makes your face hurt.
  • Don’t go if your favorite sound is that of your own voice.
  • Don’t go if you LOVE garlic and HATE breath mints.
  • Don’t go if your phone is surgically attached to your ear.
  • Don’t go if you’re not good at listening.
  • Don’t go if personal hygiene is something you rarely consider.
  • Don’t go if you HATE waiting in long lines … for damn near everything.
  • Don’t go if “partying till dawn” is your primary skill set.

In short, DON’T GO unless you’re willing to be an ambassador for your company … at all times.  Everything you do on a trade show floor, and I mean EVERYTHING, is a reflection on your organization and your brand.

Sometimes you’re doing yourself and everyone else a favor by staying home.

* Feel like adding to our “Don’t Go” list?  Be my guest.  I’m sure it’s far from complete …

Did You Pack Your Trade Show Tool Kit?

Several years ago, at a trade show in Las Vegas, I was strolling the aisles during the setup/rehearsal day, and happened to pass a very large booth.  IN that large booth was an enormous theatre area with a small thrust stage,  about 80 seats, three pipes loaded with stage lighting, an impressive sound system, and a full complement of crew people wandering around looking … well, like crew people.

Although at this particular moment, this crew was in a panic.

Not being the type of person who can ignore drama, I asked one of the tech guys what was going on.

“Well,” he explained to me impatiently,

“The speaker up there is delivering a presentation and it’s being fed to her ear prompter by a disk player, and well, her receiver has a micro-stereo plug and we need a mini-stereo plug.  And there’s no place open to buy one, and well … we’re screwed.”

“Ah,” I said. “I think I can help.”

“Oh yeah, RIGHT.  I’ll bet!”   “What’d ya pack … a soldering iron??”

“No,” I said.  “I have a bag full of adapters.  And if you’re a little nicer to me, I might just let you have one.”

While he was sputtering away, I opened a small emergency kit I always carry and pulled out a ziplock bag full of adapters.  (I’m a bit of a geek that way.)  I found the one he needed and held it out to him.

“Oh my God.  That’s it.  That’s … that’s …  I can’t believe you HAVE one !”

“Yes I do,” I offered. “And for $500, it could be yours.”

I let him sweat for a second, then handed it to him with my business card and told him to get it back to me at the end of the show.  I also told him to enjoy being the hero of the day.

Which, FINALLY, brings me to my point.


It doesn’t need to be quite as esoteric as mine, but you can be a bit of a trade show hero yourself by having some basic supplies to get you through the inevitable surprises or disasters at your next show.

Here’s a starter list, in no particular order:

  • Packing Tape
  • Scissors
  • Band Aids (First Aid Kit)
  • Aspirin / Pain Relievers
  • Pens  (lots of them … they walk away)
  • Note Pads
  • Post-Its
  • Highlighters
  • Stapler
  • Staple Remover
  • Extra Lead Sheets (more than you think you’ll need)
  • Digital Camera
  • Business Cards (You’d be surprised how often these are forgotten)
  • Paper Clips
  • Rubber Bands
  • Nail Clippers
  • Breath Mints
  • Chap Stick
  • Sewing Kit
  • Velcro (Get a roll of the hook and a roll of the pile.  This stuff can SAVE you.)
  • Screwdrivers
  • Instructions for Return Shipments
  • Shipping Labels for Return Shipment
  • Extension Cords
  • Facial Tissues
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Cloth / Paper Towels
  • Duct Tape (easily 101 uses just at a trade show alone)
  • The right cables to connect laptops to displays (this from a recent disaster that I might write about someday.)
  • A small vacuum cleaner, carpet sweep (you can’t always depend on the exhibit hall crew to get to your booth in time)

I’m sure I’m forgetting something.  So feel free to add to the list as you see fit.

Author’s Note:

(At the end of the show, my new friend returned my adapter in a little bag attached to a VERY nice bottle of champagne.  Now THAT’S a class act …)

Got Swag?

“Hey Newman.  What the heck do people do with all that swag that’s left over after the trade show is done?  T-shirts?  Stress Balls?  Flying Monkeys?  Is there a final resting place for all this stuff??”  – JB from LA

That’s a darn good question, JB.  Instead of trying to answer it myself, I got in touch with some of my fellow trade show professionals.  Andy Saks of Spark Presentations, turned me on to a great piece that just appeared in the Boston Globe:

Convention Center Repurposes Leftover Swag

I was really happy to see that some Convention Centers are doing the responsible thing and not just letting all this stuff go straight to the dump!

I also wanted to find out what people were doing (and could be doing) on a smaller scale to deal with this Swag Surplus.  So I got in touch with trade show veteran (and fellow blogger), Jennifer Canale.  She not only has hundreds of trade shows under her belt, but she is very active in helping out her local community.  Here’s what Jennifer had to say:

“I can’t understand why people would EVER just dump all this trade show swag.  It makes me NUTS !!  Let’s face it, somewhere out there, closer than you think, are people who could use a few new t-shirts.  So go GET them!   On the last day, walk the floor, grab an extra shirt or two from each booth.  Women’s shelters are perfect places to drop off clothing!  So are Child Care Centers.  And, if you mention to the booth that you are giving their merchandise to a shelter, they usually will load you up on a variety of sizes after the show.  It’s been my experience that companies are thrilled to have people not only WEARING their branded merchandise, but NEEDING it.

And while you’re on swag patrol, here are some more ideas:

  • Schools always need pens, pencils, notepads, and thumb drives.
  • Soup kitchens love 20 pounds of mixed candy collected from the booths.
  • Stress balls and stuffed animals become toys at a low-income day care or preschool.

After the Fancy Foods West show, my client, Maria & Ricardo’s Tortilla Factory, had about 50 pounds of tortillas left over, all of them still in sealed packages.  I couldn’t bear to see them thrown away, so I loaded them up in my little “Trade Show Granny Cart” and hauled them to Glide and the Tenderloin Outpatient Clinic.

At the NADA show, my client, Elead, had about 6000 cookies leftover—again, all in packages.  I suggested that she let me take them to Glide, and she was thrilled!  Everyone at Glide got a wonderful dessert, courtesy of Elead.

And the company even got a nice tax write-off.”

Want to hear more from Jennifer Canale?  Check out her blog at BRANDED FOR LIFE.  Great stuff there.  And we would love to hear what some of YOU are doing with all those shirts, hats, bears, monkeys, thumb drives, and other branded baubles that are part of our trade show life.  Just put it in the comments section.  Thanks.