You may have done tradeshows for years, or maybe you’re just getting started. In any event, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of one of the key understandings of doing tradeshows: It’s a mountain of responsibilities.
If you’re the one who’s tasked with getting the booth from Point A to Point Z (and back), knowing what you’re getting into is almost as important as the series of tasks you’re facing.
Having stated that, it doesn’t mean that you should be overwhelmed by the mountain of responsibilities. In fact, if you take a closer look at all of those tasks and responsibilities, you can make it much more manageable, by putting it all in context.
Make a list. Before you can climb a mountain, know the steps.
Build a timeline. Now that you have a list of tasks, determine when they each need to be done. Some should be done right away, others are more appropriate right before the show.
Delegate. If you’re in charge, determine which of the tasks you can farm out to other people on the marketing team. Certainly, some items such as graphic design and scheduling travel may go to other people. You may choose to take care of some tasks and delegate others. When you delegate, be clear on the task and when you want it done. Build your schedule around your communication with those people and tasks.
Keep records. I emphasized this in my book Tradeshow Marketing because I think detailed records will serve you well in many more ways than you can imagine. Document everything.
Keep learning. Young dogs can learn new tricks. So can old dogs. No matter where you are in your career arc, keep an open mind and realize you can find new and more efficient ways to do something. Keep your eyes open for new technology, keep connecting with good people and stay optimistic. You’ll do fine.
You want a new tradeshow booth, but perhaps you don’t know exactly where to start.
You might consider issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a select group of exhibit houses. This gives you an organized process to judge which exhibit consultant might be the best fit for your company and your project.
Here’s a quick video that examines what it takes to issue an RFP:
Tradeshow Success is built on a lot of moving parts, and it’s often hard to know exactly how successful the show is unless you track the details. So let’s dive in a little and see what 8 essential tradeshow metrics mean the most to your overall success.
Booth visitors: knowing the overall number of booth visitors, or at least a valid estimate, can give you valuable information, especially in a year-to-year comparison at the same show, and from show-to-show. Even though when you measure show-to-show it’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, it does give you intel to help judge the show’s effectiveness.
Leads generated: one of the more straight-forward metrics you can track, but it’s important to break them down into at least thre
e levels: hot, warm and cool. This will give the sales team the information to correctly follow up on the hot ones right away and the warm and cool ones later.
Sales as a result of the leads: track how many new customers came out of the show in the first three months, six months and year (depending on the type of product or service you offer). Track the overall sales amount. It’s harder to track B2B sales from a tradeshow simply because you might not get a new customer until a year or more has passed.
New leads: a slight differentiation from all leads, this breaks out the brand new potential clients from those that you’ve had some sort of contact before. Valuable information, indeed.
New customers: same with customers – how many news ones did you get as a result of a show vs. how many are repeat customers that happened to be at the show and buy something because of the show.
Budget: actual vs. estimated. Keeping track of the investment is important; knowing how much over or under budget is critical.
Cost per lead: divide the overall cost of the show by the number of leads gathered to get a cost per lead.
Return on Investment: divide the overall net profit you’ve gained over three, six, twelve months by the net profit from the show (gross profit minus the cost of attending the show).
There are other numbers you can track, but if you do nothing but track these metrics you’ll have a lot more insight into the kind of success your tradeshow marketing program is giving you.
Choosing an exhibit contractor can be a daunting task. Even though your current exhibit house might be competent, are they doing all they can to make your new exhibit experience as good as it can be? Often it comes down to knowing which questions to ask.
In this short video with Mel White of Classic Exhibits, our main exhibit manufacturer, we examine those questions that you should be asking any potential exhibit house prior to forking over large sums of money to them:
If your tradeshow booth is so big you can’t set it up yourself, you’ll need to hire a crew for installation and dismantle, commonly known as I&D in the industry. If you have an island booth, you’re much better off leaving the set up to the professionals.
Because the booth won’t listen when you yell at it, “Go on, get into place, you booth you!” Sorry, maybe on Harry Potter, but not in real life.
If you are going to set up your own inline or modular booth, make sure you arrive early at the event. This becomes much easier if you choose a manufacturer that designs products to be lightweight and easy to set up.
Generally you have a couple of choices for hiring: using the show services or hiring an exhibitor approved contractor that is familiar with local rules.
Some of the items that come up as you’re planning your I&D include making sure that the contractor is familiar with local rules where you’ll be exhibiting, making sure they have an accurate rendering (or booth set-up instructions) so they can give you an accurate estimate for installation, and any special equipment you might need for installation, such as a Genie lift, long ladders, electrical equipment and so on.
Knowing some of the terms of I&D is helpful as you navigate your coordination with an I&D group:
Advance rates: you can save money by booking the exhibit space ahead of time.
Advance receiving: with hundreds or thousands of exhibitors all shipping several crates to a show, there is usually a advanced receiving warehouse that gives exhibitors a window to ship booths and have them stored until it’s show time.
CIF: if your shipping contract lists a CIF, this simply means that the price is inclusive of cost, insurance and freight.
Craftsperson: a skilled worker or laborer
Dead time: time when your hired workers are sitting, usually getting paid a lot, while there is nothing to do because of factors beyond their control
EAC: Exhibitor Approved Contractor – any company other than the official designated contractor. These may be companies that not only do the booth I&D, they may be involved in AV set-up, photography, plant rental and so on.
Four hour call: minimum time that a union laborer must be paid for work performed on the show floor for an exhibitor.
Straight Time (ST): work performed on the show floor during normal business hours
Overtime (OT): work performed on the show floor outside normal business house which usually included holidays and weekends
Many clients we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits are in the process of moving from the comfort zone of setting up an inline booth to outside the comfort zone of working with an I&D company for the setup of an island booth. Believe me, it can be a challenge if you’ve never done it before. But having seen many of them go through it, it’s also a great growing experience for the company as their booth presence on the tradeshow floor increases and they make a bigger impact on their market.
Bigger is often better – but it takes more effort and coordination to make it happen.
When it is time for you to choose a custom tradeshow exhibit house with a designer and fabricator, you are facing a daunting choice. Especially if you’re new to the game.
So we put this brief video together to more closely examine the various ways to choose an exhibit house.
In this video we look at how you might communicate with your exhibit house, what goes into design, the consultant’s depth of experience and strategic partner resources if needed. It all boils down to a couple of things: what you need (and can they handle it) and how well you get along with the company’s reps.
The tradeshow is over. You’ve made sure the booth is packed in the crates and will be picked up by the shipping company. You’ve gathered the leads and have them in a safe place for transport back to the sales team. You’re ready to relax on the airplane and order up a well-deserved adult beverage.
Whoa! Not so fast! You’re not really done, are you?
While it’s great tying up loose ends at the show and getting off the floor in one piece, it’s just the beginning to your follow up.
First off, thank the folks that helped out. This ranges from the booth staff to the lead person on the set-up crew to the pre-show marketing team that helped out prior to the show. Send out a thank you card or an email (cards make more of an impression!) or thank them in person – just be sure you do it.
Next, go over the leads with the crew that gathered them. This may take place within a few days of the booth staff returning to the office. This confirms the follow up method, the value of the lead (cool, warm, hot), and when the follow up needs to commence. Then deliver that information to the sales team.
Now, go over any feedback or survey results you may have as a result of the show. Even if you don’t have actual in-booth survey results, check any feedback you may have gotten through social media posts during the show. Take screenshots and file them in your show folder. Make notes on what people liked and what they didn’t.
Depending on who’s in charge, it’s also time to document all of the costs associated with the event: travel, salaries, booth rental/purchase/upgrade/I&D, booth space rental and associated costs. Add in the cost of samples and giveaways. Now that you have this figure, when another six months have passed you can get sales figures that came as the result of the show appearance and determine the return on investment. Then do it a year later to see what’s changed.
Record-keeping is one of the best ways to track trends in your tradeshow marketing, so keep detailed accounts of as much as you’re able.
Did you and your team take photos, create videos and upload them to social media sites? Document all of the photos uploaded, keep copies of booth photos (especially any misfit graphics or booth pieces so you can get it repaired before the next show) and videos, client testimonials and associated documents.
Finally, look ahead. Do whatever planning is necessary for the next show, whether it’s a small regional or local show or if it’s the next big national expo. Make note of graphic updates that might be important, booth fixes, and prepare for whatever promotions might be coming down the pike.
Last fall I put out the book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’ve done several promotions around it, given away a bunch of copies, and use it as my main calling card.
But I’ve never done a webinar on the book. Until now. Check it out: