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

August 2016

Care and Feeding of Tradeshow Exhibits

You bought a new tradeshow exhibit. You took it to the show, set it up to great fanfare and response, then packed it up and took it back to the office. Now what? Will you wait until the next show, pull it out and think it’ll look exactly the same as the first time?

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Hardly. Unfortunately, tradeshow exhibits are not like the common household items, such as a recliner, TV set or backyard patio table and umbrella. With those items, you can see any rip that needs repaired or gouge that should be covered or food spill that needs cleaning. Nope, a tradeshow exhibit is handled roughly for most of the time it sees daylight. It’s pulled from crates, assembled, used, abused, battered and more prior to being crammed back in the crate by employees who are in a hurry and are thinking ahead to what they can do later in the day. Sometimes a forklift and a tradeshow panel will have a close encounter. Other times an aluminum strut gets a big gouge from who-knows-where.

So how is the best way to handle it?

Cleaning

The first step is to realize that simply, the purchase of a tradeshow exhibit means that you are also responsible for its care and feeding. Much like a pet or child, you have much more responsibility than just making the purchase.

Tradeshow exhibits need care and feeding. To wit, start with each time the tradeshow exhibit is set up. Document the set up with photographs and notes if necessary. Point out areas that are damaged and need repair, or need cleaning. Most exhibits will need some sort of cleaning after each show, especially if you’re in the food industry and have been handing out samples. Take soap and water, scrub counters and shelves and let dry.

Damage Assessment

Once the tradeshow exhibit crates come back, schedule time to open the crates and go through each piece. Again, document the state of the items, and document the way the crates were packed, comparing to the way they were originally packed at the exhibit house, or prior to shipping from your warehouse. In any event, the more you are aware of what shape your exhibit is in, the better off you are.

Does the exhibit need repairs? If so, determine what type of repairs it needs and who will do it. Clients we’ve worked with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have approached this issue in a couple of ways: some will ship the crates straight to the exhibit house to have it closely examined every three or four shows. Others will make sure they spend time a month or so prior to an upcoming show to pull the exhibit pieces out of the booth and set it up. If it needs repair, and they’re capable of making those repairs, they’ll do it. Sometimes they’ll need to order a specific part or two from their exhibit house that originally fabricated the booth, but often it means doing it themselves.

Storage

How is your exhibit stored? It should ideally be stored in a warehouse that has a consistent temperature, is dry and pest-free. This avoids damage from the changing temperatures, mildew and insects.

Professional I&D and Shipping

Another way to keep your exhibit in top form is to have it handled by professionals who know what they’re doing. This means having it set up and disassembled by professionals, and having it shipped by companies that are used to handling tradeshow freight.

Graphics and more

Other parts of care and feeding of your tradeshow exhibit include making sure all graphics are up to date and fit properly, making sure all the pieces of the booth are returned and in good shape, and making sure the crates are still sturdy and stable enough to endure another shipment.

By taking complete ownership of your tradeshow exhibit, you’ll not only get more life out of your exhibit in terms of years that you are able to use it for tradeshow promotions, you’ll save money by avoiding large repairs due to neglect.

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Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair: A Visit

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The recreational cannabis business is exploding. At least in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Washington, DC. Which means that the marijuana growing and selling is also booming. I attended the Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair recently to find out exactly how big it really is.

It’s big. And getting bigger. The two-day event was held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem (just a hop, skip and jump from our office!). There were roughly six dozen exhibitors, hawking things from cannabis growing containers, to business support software, makers of pot edibles, promotional items aimed at the ‘high’ market and much more. I should emphasize that no one was allowed to sell or consume any cannabis products on site. However, you could collect business cards and discount coupons for your next visit to the local marijuana dispensary.

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One representative of an industry group, the National Cannabis Industry Association, told me that the industry has seen an explosion in tradeshows. “Some are great, others not so great,” she said. When I picked up a free copy of DOPE magazine, I saw at least a dozen other shows being promoted between now and early next year, so the growth is evident.

As far as exhibits go, there were not too many that one would call sophisticated. However, that leaves room for growth, no doubt. Certainly a handful of exhibitors came prepared to show off their business in a good light. Some booths were professional, some were home-made. Most appeared to be slapped together by companies that either don’t have much of a budget or weren’t aware of what it really took to put a good booth together. Some exhibitors I spoke with were very new to exhibiting, so that makes it understandable. But with more states voting to legalize recreational use of cannabis this fall, with California squarely in that target as being not only the most populated state in the nation but with polls showing that 60% of voters in the state currently favoring legalization, the industry is poised at a tipping point to continue to boom.

Author Ed Rosenthal poses for a photo with a cannabis fair visitor.
Author Ed Rosenthal poses for a photo with a cannabis fair visitor.

 

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Meduri Farms Exhibit Project

Meduri Farms 20x20 custom exhibit, seen at IFT, Chicago, July 2016
Meduri Farms 20×20 custom exhibit, seen at IFT, Chicago, July 2016

You never know exactly how new clients will find you. It could be from an introduction at a tradeshow. It might be from someone hearing a webinar that impressed them enough to make a call. It might be from an internet search or a referral. The Meduri Farms exhibit project came about thanks to an online search.

One of our most recent clients, Meduri Farms of Dallas, Oregon, found TradeshowGuy Exhibits through a Google search. Through a few months of back and forth to answer questions, the issuing of a Request for Proposals including a design from scratch, we ended up getting the project. It was awarded in March after a competition of four or five exhibit firms, and kicked off in April, finally making it’s debut in July at the Institute of Food Technologists show in Chicago at McCormick Place.

Design was by Greg Garrett Designs. Fabrication by Classic Exhibits. The 20×20 structure was a combination of original design (the tower/alcove unit and product display unit) and rental (counters). The top section of the tower features SEG fabric images up to about a 15′ height which grabs eyeballs from a distance.

The 15′ tower is 9′ x 9′ with a meeting space in the bottom. Two sides are taken up by alcoves that display products and offer plenty of storage room. The roughly 10′ counters give more product display area and more storage for the oodles of samples handed out during the show.

According to Sara Lotten, Sales & Customer Service for Meduri Farms, management loved the booth and the results it brought (“that’s beautiful!” was the comment passed along as the president first laid eyes on the booth at the show). Meduri Farms got a great number of positive comments about the booth. Comments are great, but results are more impressive.

“We got as many leads the first day with the new booth as we did all of last year’s show. We ended up with three times as many leads for the show as last year,” said Lotten.

Meduri Farms, Inc., founded in 1984 is a premier supplier of specialty dried fruits to food manufacturers around the world.

Check out our Meduri Farms photo gallery here.

Find out more about how you can get a new tradeshow booth here.

 

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Tradeshows’ Long History

It is always fascinating to peer down history’s deep hole sometimes and uncover the past. Trade fairs have been around for a long time, although the modern form of B2B tradeshows for marketing didn’t appear until the late 19th century, per Wikipedia’s roundup of trade fairs. But from the beginning, tradeshows have been utilized by individuals (small Saturday markets) and companies to expand their businesses and reach markets they would not otherwise easily tap into.

Exhibitor Magazine detailed 10 ideas that changed the tradeshow industry, including moving spectacles inside, counting things (metrics), increasing regulations, portable exhibits and tension fabric. Oh, and don’t forget the donkey doo-doo.

1982 Consumer Electronics Show, Photo by Alan Light
1982 Consumer Electronics Show, Photo by Alan Light

In the olden days, trade fairs were popular as ancient bazaars in old Egypt, and were also used extensively throughout Europe and America starting in the 1700s.

World’s Fairs started over a century and a half ago with what is considered the first large-scale world’s fair, known as the Great Exhibition in the Works of Industry of All Nations. Since that time, the world’s fair expositions have gone through a number of phases, including industrialization, cultural exchange and nation building.

Here in the northwest, we remember two very large world expos, including the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition held in Portland (okay – before my time, but I heard about it when I was growing up!), and the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 which was the unveiling of the Space Needle. The Lewis and Clark Expo saw 1.6 million visitors in just over four months. Ten million people visited the 1962 World’s Fair, which included my older brother (I was too young, I guess).

Thought it might be fun to shed a little light on where this industry started. Now what’s your next step to bring more people to your booth?

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Using Webinars to Promote Your Tradeshow Appearance [Webinar Replay]

There are many ways to let people know about your upcoming tradeshow appearance. You can email them, call them, advertise, get some press, and so on. Have you ever considered using a webinar to promote your upcoming tradeshow appearance?

Using a webinar to promote your tradeshow appearance does a couple of things: it sets you apart from your competitors who are not doing such a thing, and it allows you as much time as you’d like to point out the specific features and benefits of your products and services. If you tell them enough – but not too much – you’ll have people who coming to your booth who are already interested in seeing more about what you talked about during the webinar. In fact, you can let people in on some inside information in your webinar that you may not want to tell everyone at the show.

Definitely lots of possibilities with this marketing tactic. Take a look:


Sign up for our next tradeshow webinar here.

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Tradeshow Logistics [Webinar Replay]

Last week I sat in with the good folks at Handshake.com and offered a look at Tradeshow Logistics: Getting Your Ducks in a Row. It’s a part of tradeshow marketing that is critical, but tends to be set aside in favor of things such as pre-show marketing, staff training, lead generation and so on.

In this webinar, we covered a lot of pertinent things, such as shipping, booth upgrades and graphic changes, the logistics of lead generation and getting them back to your sales team and more. Thanks to Handshake.com for offering to have me host another webinar with them!

Take a look:

Tradeshow Logistics Webinar with handshake.com
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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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