Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

November 2014

How to Issue an RFP for a Custom Tradeshow Exhibit

When it comes to sourcing a tradeshow exhibit builder for a new custom booth, you can do a number of things, such as ask colleagues who they have used, ask exhibitors at shows who built that booth, search online or perhaps pull out your tarot cards. No doubt there are hundreds if not thousands of exhibit companies eager to take your money and build you a fabulous booth.

Custom tradeshow booth from Bob's Red Mill
Custom tradeshow booth from Bob’s Red Mill

But how do you determine which builder is right for you?

If you’re starting from scratch and want to review the capabilities of several tradeshow exhibit builders, you can contact a half dozen of them and ask for a statement of capabilities, or you can go whole hog and issue a Request for Proposal.

The RFP is meant as an introduction to your company and your specific requirements and asks companies to respond with detailed information as to their capabilities and experience.

So how in-depth should it be? Let’s take a look at what you might want to include.

Start with a profile of your firm, including your target market and major competitors. Describe your products or services, your brand(s), and any industry trends that might be important.

Next, describe your objectives for your tradeshow marketing, making sure to identify specific goals for major shows. If the RFP is for a specific show, detail the size of the show, dates, size of your booth space and other pertinent information.

Describe any functional needs of your booth. It may be helpful to include photos of previous booths and include any comments you may have that describe the pros and cons of those booths.

Detail any brand basics along with guidelines and history if pertinent.

Include any show service needs you’d like to be a part of the RFP, such as I&D (installation and dismantle), carpeting, electrical, and on-site management.

Want any in-booth activities to show off your products and services? Be sure to include these if you want the tradeshow builder to consider providing these show marketing services. If so, describe the best outcome you’d like to achieve.

Finally, include your budget for the booth; let the respondents know if it’s all-inclusive or if some costs, such as space rental, are handled separately. Finally, include the dates of the show(s) that you need the booth and services.

In a nutshell, you’re describing your company’s background, show services requirements, booth design and functional requirements, budgeting and timeline.

Finally, be clear if this is a design competition. Some companies have the ability to easily spend a week or two on a spec design and others are not as well equipped, even though they may be able to build a stunning booth. While a design competition is a great way to see what the companies are capable of producing on short notice with no conversation, realize that the best design does not always equal the best end result. However, it is great to see the various ways a half dozen companies approach your booth needs.

Finally, don’t skimp on information. If you can’t decide whether to include something, you might err on the side of leaving it in. Seriously, it’s hard to include too much info in an RFP.

Using Technology to Optimize Your Exhibit (Infographic)

Infographics do a great job on illustrating a concept or breaking down a complicated concept to an easily understandable set of images and text.

Like this one. I heard from a fellow tradeshow exhibit from the UK who offered to share this particular infographic.

By using technology, you can uncover many benefits, as indicated in the original article on the Nomadic Display site:

• Social media and other forms of digital communication can enable you to connect with potential leads before a trade show even commences. In this way you’ll have list of warm prospects who are keen to speak to you on the day of the show.

• Gathering leads is a key aspect of many trade show exhibitions and technology can make this easier too. Touch-technology, instant messaging and social networking all make it easier than ever before to gather contact details from exhibition attendees.

• Technology can help you to demonstrate even complex products, to show testimonials and case studies and otherwise engage an audience who otherwise might pass straight on by your booth.

• Staying “front of mind” helps you to ensure that your company is the first that your leads think of when they need a solution that you offer. Increasingly sophisticated tools make it easier to maintain contact with your prospects after a show without making them feel “claustrophobic” and ensures that your messages arrive at optimal times.

Optimizing Your Exhibition Stand with Technology

An infographic by the team at Nomadic Display

Thanks again to our colleagues across the Atlantic for sharing!


Tradeshow Marketing Podcast: Lew Hoff – Bartizan

Lew Hoff of Bartizan Connects
Lew Hoff of Bartizan Connects

I had a chance to catch up with Lew Hoff, President of Bartizan Connects recently. We spoke a few years ago when the iLeads tradeshow lead tracking tool was fairly new. Its had a chance to grow up a bit since then, so Lew and I discussed what iLead really does in this day and age and how it’s quickly becoming a smartphone and tablet tool that you can use anywhere at the tradeshow – not just on the show floor.

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Learn more about Bartizan here.

Here’s more information on the iLeads app.

7 Ways to Make Sure Your Tradeshow Exhibit Experience Sucks

Naah, I don’t want your tradeshow exhibiting experience to suck. But if it does, perhaps its because you did one of the following:

  1. Don’t have a plan. Next time you walk a tradeshow floor as an attendee, try to determine which exhibitors actually know what they’re doing there and why. If they have a fishbowl and are giving away an iPad to some random visitor that tosses a business card into the bowl, you can be assured they really don’t have a plan. If they say something simple and innocuous to passersby, such as “hi, how are you?” it becomes apparent they haven’t put any thought into what they actually want out of the show. Instead, make specific show goals (number of leads, counting visitors, number of demos, etc.) and come up with a strategy and plan to accomplish those goals.
  2. Natural Products Expo West 2009
    Natural Products Expo West 2009

    Don’t train your booth staff. If those staffers at the show that you’re still walking through are sitting at the back of the booth, talking amongst themselves, or chatting on a cell phone or texting somebody or eating, you know for a fact they have not been properly trained. Eating in a tradeshow booth is still the number one turn off to visitors and will pretty much ensure that anyone wanting to stop in at the moment will keep going. And probably not come back.

  3. Don’t do any pre-show marketing. If you don’t let people know you’re at the show, you’re leaving much more to chance. By working the phones, sending out emails, postcards, contacting media, doing PR, and more, you’re increasing the chances that people will make their way to your booth, no matter where it is.
  4. Don’t let your staffers know what’s going on other than the bare minimum. This is somewhat different than booth staff training, but falls under the same umbrella. If you don’t make sure your staff knows everything you can tell them about the products, service and specific show goals, they won’t fully grasp the reason(s) you’re at the show. On the other hand, if your staff has full knowledge of show goals, products, services, company hierarchy and other pertinent information, you’ll come a lot closer to being able to let visitors know as much about the products and services you offer as possible.
  5. Don’t have a booth that accurately and fully represents your brand. Too many exhibitors think that any ol’ booth will do. No. A booth is a statement. It’s a physical representation of your brand, from the materials, the graphic messaging, to the layout and the look and feel of the booth. If you’re a rootsy, eco-friendly, vegan pancake company, what are you doing with a high-tech booth that looks like it should be selling software? Visitors should be able to see your booth and instantly get a feel for your company that accurately reflects your products, attitude and mission.
  6. Don’t have a specific lead generation system in place. Think of it: you have a limited time at the show to capture information from potential clients or customers. If the show is a three day show and the floor is open just 7 hours a day, that’s 21 hours. If there are 30,000 visitors, that’s a potential of 1,428 visitors per hour IF they all walked by each booth once. We know that won’t happen, but if you get 100 visitors an hour and 20% of those visitors are ‘hot’ leads, what’s your method of capturing a lead’s specific contact information, along with follow up details? If you haven’t figured this out before the show – and your show goal is to capture as many good warm leads as possible – this will pretty much guarantee that your tradeshow exhibiting experience will suck.
  7. Don’t have a good follow up system in place. If you’ve gotten this far – planned a show, trained your staffers, have a good brand-representative booth and captured a plethora of leads – it will all be for naught if you don’t follow up properly. Still – in 2014! – surveys and statistics show that nearly 4 out of 5 tradeshow leads don’t get a follow up call or email. Eighty percent! Really! Do your job and make sure that all leads are tracked from the point of collection to the various touches over the next few weeks and month that lead to a sale. Because once you’ve made a sale, that’s when the fun begins and you’ve got a new client. And it all came from your tradeshow appearance.

But not if you suck at any of these seven items.

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