50 episodes

Trade Show Insights is one of the longest-running trade show podcasts, featuring education and analysis of exhibit industry topics plus interviews with leading industry professionals. Hosted by Marlys Arnold, trade show marketing consultant and author of "Build a Better Trade Show Image" and "Exhibit Design That Works."

Trade Show Insights Marlys K. Arnold

    • Business

Trade Show Insights is one of the longest-running trade show podcasts, featuring education and analysis of exhibit industry topics plus interviews with leading industry professionals. Hosted by Marlys Arnold, trade show marketing consultant and author of "Build a Better Trade Show Image" and "Exhibit Design That Works."

    Crafting Experiences That Captivate

    Crafting Experiences That Captivate

    Designing an impressive exhibit display just isn’t enough anymore.

    Attention spans are shorter, and attendees want experiences that not only educate about your products, but also involve and entertain them.

    At the same time, sponsoring the opening reception or other official event at the show is likely outside the budget for many companies. So what’s a creative exhibitor to do?

    Wendy Porter has decades of experience producing memorable events, and she joins us to share insider tips on:

    * Why it’s more important than ever to create experiences off the show floor

    * How to curate an exclusive experience for your ideal audience (with fun examples!)

    * Why the way you transport them to your event sets the tone

    * How to use in-booth activities to increase attendee dwell time

    * What an “Alice story” is and why it matters

    Related links:

    * Wendy’s LinkedIn post about how offsite events can be an approved part of the show

    * The Sponsorship Sweet Spot (LinkedIn post with graphic)

    * Brand activation ideas (slide show)

    * Activities on the show floor (slide show)

    * Mardi Gras event for staff (with photos)

    * You’ll find more tips & examples from Wendy inside Build a Better Trade Show Image

    About Wendy Porter

    Wendy is a seasoned event strategist and industry thought leader, who worked for over two decades in marketing and events for major US corporations including UnitedHealthcare, before founding her own meetings and events company, Wendy Porter Events LLC, in 2015.

    Based in Minneapolis, WPE specializes in both live and virtual events, meetings, trade shows, conferences and VIP experiences. Producing over 1300 events and managing over $200 million in budgets, Wendy has won numerous national industry accolades and honors, most recently the 2024 Visionary Award with Smart Women in Meetings.

    Her recent work as Vice-Chair of the Government Affairs team at the Live Events Coalition yielded a Congressional Bill that passed the House in April 2022. Her work supporting relief for the forgotten Live Events Industry during the COVID19 pandemic has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on the Shepard Smith Show on CNBC, as well as in various media across the state of Minnesota.

    She serves on the National Board of Directors of the Live Events Coalition, is the Chair/Founder of the Minnesota Chapter of the LEC, and was the co-chair of 5050 Women On Boards, Minnesota Campaign, from 2019-2021.

    When she’s not traveling the world for business or pleasure, you’ll find her speaking (in German!) to the plants in her award-winning garden or loving on her Australian Shepherd puppy.


    (Transcript coming soon)


    • 31 min
    Creating Events That Care for People & Planet

    Creating Events That Care for People & Planet

    Lifestyles have changed since the “Great Pause,” and stamina is a big part of that. While event attendees used to be willing to be booked solid from sunup to sundown (and far beyond), that just doesn’t fly anymore.

    Savvy trade show organizers and exhibitors are learning to integrate wellness into all aspects of the event – from the overall schedule to meals to in-booth activities and more.

    In this episode, wellness consultant David Stevens goes beyond the buzzword of wellness and shares strategic ways to integrate well-being into events by:

    * Becoming mindful of the attendee experience

    * Incorporating wellness elements in your booth

    * Designing after-hours events that won’t burn people out

    * Understanding what “wellness washing” is & how to avoid it

    * Pacing yourself and your team to make it through the entire show

    Related links:

    * Connect with David Stevens on LinkedIn

    * Return on Wellness podcast (hosted by David)

    * MyConferencePro.com – rating & reviews site for trade shows

    About David Stevens

    David Stevens is a Silicon Valley native with more than 20 years’ experience in the corporate events industry. He’s worked in various capacities including agencies, non-profit associations, experiential marketing, incentives, concert and tour production. He co-founded Olympian Meeting, a wellness consulting firm for events, meetings & conferences, to help clients create impactful and meaningful experiences that drive engagement, awareness and revenue. In addition to being a fitness enthusiast and popular speaker on the topic of wellness, he also hosts the Return on Wellness podcast.


    (Transcript coming soon)


    • 36 min
    Trade Show Blind Spots: What Are You Overlooking?

    Trade Show Blind Spots: What Are You Overlooking?

    Certain topics are getting lots of buzz these days: staffing challenges, budgets, sustainability, AI. But too often that’s all they are – buzzwords.

    So for this episode of Trade Show Insights, I invited one of my trade show BFFs to join me for a conversation that goes beyond the surface of these topics to what should be on everyone’s radar.

    You see for several years, Rich Vallaster and I have scheduled frequent touch-base calls to analyze what’s happening in the trade show industry, what’s working, and what needs to change. Now you have the opportunity to listen in as we discuss:

    * How staffing shortages at all levels can affect exhibitors

    * What show managers can do to make things easier for new exhibitors

    * Why shows need to reward loyalty for both exhibitors and attendees

    * How there’s a big disconnect around the topic of sustainability

    * When and how to put AI tools to use

    Related links:

    * 5 Key Takeaways from NRF Big Show by the Trade Show Wonk (video recap)

    * Mastering AI Prompt Engineering for EventProfs (video)

    * Shaping the Events Industry: Event Professionals Share Their Predictions

    About Rich Vallaster

    Rich Vallaster, CEM, DES, is the Director of Marketing, Live Events & the Trade Show Wonk at A2Z Events–Personify. He has spent the bulk of his career in the events business, from large-scale outdoor experiences to some of the largest trade shows and conferences in the U.S. He is an appointed member of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Council and an active member of the International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) and the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).

    Rich has been quoted and published in numerous outlets regarding events industry topics. He also serves on several advisory committees and regularly speaks to association organizers, exhibitors, and attendees at events such as IAEE’s Expo! Expo! In 2024, he was appointed to the IAEE CEM Commission and teaches regularly in the IAEE Certified in Exhibition Management program.

    He also wrote the foreword for the updated edition of Build a Better Trade Show Image.

    • 34 min
    Reimagining Trade Show Sponsorships

    Reimagining Trade Show Sponsorships

    When you hear the word “sponsorship,” what do you think of first? The welcome reception … or tote bags … or a gazillion banners hanging all around the convention center?

    Sure, that’s what most shows do. But you don’t want to be like most shows, right?

    Time to makeover the sponsorship menu with options that stand out and benefit everyone involved – attendees and exhibitors, as well as the show’s bottom line.

    In this episode, brand activation and sponsorship strategist MK Granados from Gen City Labs explains how to:

    * Tap into unique opportunities hiding in plain sight

    * Use sponsorships to solve problems for attendees

    * Show exhibitors you care about their needs too

    * Make the arrival experience memorable

    Related links:

    * The Sponsorship Playbook (MK’s newsletter on LinkedIn)

    * Creating Win-Win Sponsorships (previous TSI episode)

    * Maximizing Sponsorships (previous TSI episode)

    * Taking a Closer Look at Sponsorship (TSI interview with Nancy Drapeau from CEIR)

    About MK Granados

    MK Granados is head of marketing for Gen City Labs, a creative technology studio that works with brands to craft interactive experiences at events, pop-ups, briefing centers, and more. Previously, MK led brand activation strategies at Gartner, as well as sponsorship and media opportunities at ReedPOP, the producers of New York Comic Con, PAX, and Star Wars Celebration.

    MK develops creative strategies for clients by drawing on her background in theatre, exploring storytelling throughout every step of the customer journey. She recently graduated with her MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler, and has developed fan engagement and gamification strategies for global brands, including Chevrolet, Amazon, SYFY, DIRECTV, and Monster Energy.

    • 30 min
    Let Your Goals Be Your Guide

    Let Your Goals Be Your Guide

    When I ask exhibitors about their goals for a particular show, the most common answer is either brand awareness/visibility or generating leads.

    While these are valid reasons for exhibiting, they’re what I call “squishy goals.” That’s because there’s nothing definitive or measurable about them. So how can you prove you were successful if you don’t have a way to measure your results – especially if someone in your company (sales manager, VP of Marketing, or whoever) must be convinced that trade shows are worth the investment?

    But that’s a topic for another episode or blog post.

    Today I want to help you use your goal as a North Star to guide all your trade show decisions: what your exhibit should look like (what it should or shouldn’t include), how to promote it, what to give away, and even how to craft your follow-up strategy.

    For example … if your goal is to build brand awareness, you’ll want to make as big of a splash at the show as possible. That could include big and bold graphics (maybe even an LED wall or hanging banner), and perhaps a high-visibility sponsorship in addition to your booth. Incorporate a clever theme and layer in a bit of gamification to draw people to your booth. Give away fun prizes that reinforce your brand and that attendees will want to keep and use. (Which provides added visibility after the show!)

    But if your goal is to have quality one-on-one conversations with a few key high-level prospects, you’ll want to create a space for those within your exhibit. Instead of promoting to the masses, zero in on your specific target audience with personalized VIP invitations. Craft an upscale booth experience that inspires feelings of exclusivity and trust, then present them with a thoughtful executive-level gift (instead of some run-of-the-mill tchotchke).

    And when it comes to a follow-up strategy, that also needs to align with both your goals and the experience in your booth.

    If you featured a fun, high-energy vibe and collected lots of leads, be sure to have some kind of ranking system so you know which ones need more in-depth follow-up within a short time frame. Import everyone into your CRM and begin a drip campaign to nurture those leads.

    But if your goal was to only generate leads from an elite group of highly-targeted prospects, make sure your follow-up reflects that level of exclusivity. Don’t waste any time before taking that conversation to the next level.

    No matter how you choose to follow up, make sure it reminds attendees of their positive experience in your booth and reinforces why they want to work with you!

    When you place your goal at the center of your exhibit marketing strategy and know what you want to accomplish, it helps everything else come into focus.

    Want to reprint this article in your blog or enewsletter?

    You may do so as long as it is reprinted exactly as written, and it includes the copyright notice plus the author bio (below).

    © 2023 Marlys K. Arnold

    • 5 min
    Discover Tools to Navigate Exhibiting Challenges

    Discover Tools to Navigate Exhibiting Challenges

    Ever faced an exhibiting challenge – like unreasonable costs – and didn’t know where to turn?

    That’s where The Exhibitor Advocate comes in!

    In this episode, Jessica Sibila shares what The Exhibitor Advocate is and how to access the resources provided to help exhibitors:

    * Address rising costs and potential solutions

    * Work with show management to set up an Exhibitor Advisory Council

    * Know where to watch for unexpected or hidden fees

    * Calculate return on their exhibiting investment (ROI) with established metrics

    Related links:

    * Learn more about or join The Exhibitor Advocate

    * Access the Maxbi tool to measure exhibit success

    * Download the template for setting up an Exhibit Advisory Council

    * Listen to our previous Trade Show Insights episode with Jessica Sibila

    About Jessica Sibila

    Jessica Sibila

    Jessica is a seasoned marketer and social impact professional with a unique collection of experiences ranging from event marketing, community engagement, philanthropy and corporate branding. Jessica has over 15 years’ experience leading the development of strategic social impact programs and corporate event strategy for leading brands in the natural and organic industry. Jessica is a CTSM (Certified Trade Show Marketer), CMP (Certified Meeting Planner), and holds certifications in corporate social responsibility from Boston College and the University of Colorado. She most recently led the corporate event and community engagement strategy for WhiteWave Foods and Danone North America, the largest certified B Corp in the world. She started her consulting business, Jessica Sibila Consulting to extend that expertise to support companies in developing strategic events that elevate their impact.

    In addition to her consulting work, Jessica leads The Exhibitor Advocate as the Executive Director. The group is an offshoot of the Advocacy Committee from TSEA (the Trade Show Exhibitor’s Association), a group that has been advocating for exhibitors for over ten years. Jessica has held positions on both the show management, attendee, and exhibitor side of the trade show industry. She understands the unique challenges of each stakeholder and believes that collaboration between all stakeholders in the industry will uphold exhibitions and events as a valuable and irreplaceable marketing channel. Jessica is passionate about exhibitor advocacy and excited to be leading The Exhibitor Advocate, amplifying the exhibitor voice to ensure a sustainable future for face–to–face marketing.


    (transcript coming soon)


    • 28 min

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