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

October 2016

How Much Should a Tradeshow Exhibit Cost?

I get this question frequently in its many forms: how much should a tradeshow exhibit cost? How much can I expect to pay for a new tradeshow exhibit? What is the price range for a new tradeshow exhibit?

While there is no set answer, as the price range can be YUUUge for similar exhibits, there are industry averages. Those industry averages adjust slightly from year to year, but to me a good rule of thumb is to assign about $1,000 to $1,500 a linear foot for inline booths and in the case of custom islands, figure the average square foot cost to be in the neighborhood of $135 – $160. In most cases these will be true, but certainly those numbers can be affected by adding a lot of electronics or custom items.

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But you can also approach it from other directions. Such as: how much can you realistically spend? What are your expectations for your booth? How do you want your exhibit to compare to your fellow exhibitors, and especially, how do you want to be judged against your direct competitors? Knowing your budget and the limitations from that budget are important. However, I’ve seen creative marketing people manage to figure out how to squeeze every last drop out of a marketing dollar to make it go further than what you might do at your average tradeshow exhibit house. Backwalls made of old barn wood, pallets or bicycle frames, anyone? I’ve seen ‘em, and they can look good and function well.

Some of the tradeoffs involved with spending those marketing dollars on tradeshow exhibits mean that while you might come up with a very economical homestyle booth, it might take you a lot longer to set up and dismantle, and it might have to be trashed after a time or three at the show. And it might ship in odd shaped containers or on pallets. Creativity comes in all forms, but in the end it still has to conform to the realities of the world of shipping, and the ease of setting up and dismantling, and the size of your assigned booth space.

Often a company will be faced with competitors that are dominating the show in terms of size of booth and in-booth activity, which leads to more show floor sizzle and buzz. So the question becomes one of whether you have the financial ability to compete at that level.

Another way to look at the puzzle is to know that you don’t have the budget to scale the mountain like those other competitors, but you do have something else: a creative marketing group that knows how to stand out in a crowd.

It’s another way of saying that yes, industry averages are a good starting point to know what things cost that end up on the tradeshow floor, and yes, you can hack your way into a cheaper booth, but what is your net result? Regardless of what the booth costs or looks like or how much or little you spent, you still have to live in it for days at a time, and you still have to invite attendees in and pitch them on your products or services. And the more conducive your exhibit is to those parallel goals, the higher your chances of success.

While having a great exhibit is certainly important, it’s not everything.

Knowing how to attract a crowd is important, but it’s not the everything, either.

Knowing what to DO with the crowd once they arrive – now that’s your meal ticket!

 

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Tradeshow Exhibit Design Search – Updates

Our online tradeshow Exhibit Design Search is a live and active entity with changes afoot frequently. We thought it was worth taking some time to point out some recent updates to the service:

Not only are you able to browse literally thousands of exhibits, you can find rental exhibits, rental furniture, hanging signs, lights, shipping cases, tablet stands, counters, pedestals, banner stands and so much more. Beyond that, you can easily save any item to your gallery, which is a very useful tool that allows you to easily share the dynamic library with colleagues and partners.

Take a few moments and look at the tradeshow Exhibit Design Search updates here!


Need a quote on an exhibit project? Fill in this form.

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Tradeshow Lead Generation Ideas

Want some great tradeshow lead generation ideas? Well, sure, don’t we all? A quick online search found quite a few ways to skin the cat, as it were.

First, let’s start with Skyline’s Mike Thimmesch, who posted an article called 100 Tradeshow Lead Generation Ideas. It’s a great post, one where he splits the batch of ideas into several sections, including the shows you go to, the type of booth you have, pre-show promotions, at-show giveaways and activities, and better booth staffing. Great list, Mike! (BTW, if you Google the title of the article, you’ll see that a lot of folks have referenced his article over the years since it was published!)

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Our old pals over at Handshake have a post called 22 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Trade Shows. In it, Mandy Movahhed breaks it down into sections, including pre-show, at the show, outside conference / onsite promo. Lots of fun ones here, including having a street musician at the show singing your praises as attendees enter the show each day.

Julius Solaris is the editor at the Event Manager Blog, and he put together an article with a lot of great ideas on how to drive traffic to your booth using (mostly) social media. Some good do’s and don’t’s here, along with terrific in-booth ideas such as mini-live streaming, charity giving, and engaging attendees with offline tweets. Check out 20 Tactics to Drive More Attendees to Exhibition Booths.

Finally, I want to share an e-book/slide deck from Bartizan called “The Ultimate Guide to Tradeshow Lead Generation.” In 30+ pages, Bartizan paints a full picture of how you can position your tradeshow booth, staff and products or services to most effectively compete for leads at your next tradeshow.


Want a free digital copy of my “Tradeshow Success” book? Click here.

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Tradeshow Record Keeping [Webinar Replay]

Tradeshow record keeping. Yikes! Who wants to keep track of everything.

Record keeping is one of those things that most of us wish we didn’t have to do, – we know it’s tedious – but know we really should do. So how much should we keep, what should we keep, where is the best place to keep it, and WHY?

Tim Patterson discusses tradeshow record keeping in this brief but informative webinar:

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35+ Items to Have in Your Tradeshow Tool Kit

What’s in your tradeshow tool kit?

As tradeshow veterans, you probably have your go-to list of ‘don’t forget’ items. So I thought it would be fun to check around and compile a thorough list of things you might at least consider taking in your kit. Whether they are in a travel bag, or (in some cases) in the exhibit crates, the list can get long. The key is to have an item when you need it. And being on the tradeshow floor trying to get a light to hang, or unscrew a tight screw or fix a banner stand, each situation requires a different fix.

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So let’s jump in and see what people would put on their list.

  1. Pens – ball point, Sharpies, large markers
  2. Tape – scotch tape, duct tape, packing tape, masking tape
  3. Stapler and staple gun
  4. Business cards – more than you think you’ll need
  5. Business card holders
  6. Note pads or post-it notes
  7. Refreshments such as water or soda
  8. Small containers for giveaways
  9. Clipboards
  10. Table cloths or table throws printed with your logo
  11. Backup phone battery or charger
  12. Extra phone cables
  13. Small tool kit with screwdrivers and box cutter
  14. Rubber bands and paper clips
  15. Extension cords and plug-in strips
  16. Small first aid kit
  17. Hand sanitizer and lotion
  18. Breath mints
  19. Snacks
  20. String or heavy duty twine
  21. Cord keepers or plastic zip ties
  22. Zip lock bags
  23. Cleaning supplies
  24. Hand vacuum or portable carpet sweeper
  25. Safety pins
  26. Flash drives, including digital copies of any giveaways
  27. Comfortable shoes!
  28. Promo items
  29. Signage
  30. Name tags
  31. Photos of the assembled booth
  32. Email signup sheet or software on iPad
  33. Samples or giveaways
  34. Staff contact information and detailed travel plans
  35. Copies of all show paperwork (booth #, contract, set-up instructions, etc.)

 

Got it? Good!

 

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Tradeshow Exhibiting Questions (and Answers!)

Sometimes I get tradeshow exhibiting questions. Well, frankly, I get a lot of questions. Some of them are even about tradeshow marketing! It’s worth seeing what people are asking, as well as what they’re thinking but not asking (I think!).

Q. Are tradeshows really worth attending?
A. The answer is: it depends! It depends on a variety of factors. Where to start? Let’s say that on average, companies spend about a third of their yearly marketing budgets on tradeshows, so there is definitely a lot of money ending up promoting products and services via tradeshow marketing. To get the most bang for your buck, do your due diligence by making sure you’re at the right show(s), with a good-looking and effective booth and well-trained and prepared staff.

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Beyond that there are so many variables you could write a book about it. Well, actually, I did.

Q: How do I know what kind of booth to get or what size?
A. While this is generally dictated by budget constraints, other factors come in to play, such as the size of the show (exhibitors and attendance figures are important to have), what competitors will be at the show and how important a particular show is to your overall tradeshow schedule. Sometimes a small 10×10 booth does a great job representing your company with only a few staffers. Other shows may dictate that you consider stepping up your presence. Lots of exhibitors that show up year after year at shows that are beneficial and help them build their businesses will continually invest in larger booths to make a bigger impression at the show. And when it comes to tradeshows, more than any other kind of marketing, perception is critical!

Q: Graphics are a big challenge for us. What’s the best way to approach this subject?
A. Graphics are critical to the success of your booth, so it makes sense to get the most effective design and use the highest quality. Design is critical in that your design should be striking, compelling and simple. Putting too much into a design means that people will not stop to digest it. Large images, bold text, compelling questions or bold statements are all ways to get effective graphics on to your booth. And be sure to work with someone who’s used to creating the large-format, high-resolution graphics that are necessary for effective tradeshow graphics. And work with a production facility that does high-quality production.

Q. Even with a big booth in a good location and a great product, we’re still coming up short of the amount of leads we feel we should be generating. What else should I consider?
A. A few areas to look at: booth staff competency. Are they properly trained on how to handle visitors in a tradeshow? Also, do you have any interactivity in your booth? That might be something that a visitor can put their hands on, which takes them a few moments during which you can then uncover information to qualify or disqualify them. Finally, you might consider hiring a professional presenter. A good one is worth their weight in gold in the amount of leads they can generate.

Q. I’ve never exhibited before. We know it’s important to make our presence known at some very targeted shows. What’s the best way to start?
A. Talk with a professional who can walk you through your various options. These depend on budget, of course, but you’ll want to compare renting vs. buying; custom vs. modular or system booth and go over which shows are really a good fit for you. From there you can talk about how best to show off your product or service, how many people to take to the show and what kind of lead generation tools you might want to consider using.

Q. Tradeshows are expensive. What are some good ways to cut costs?
A. Yes, they can be expensive! But you can find ways to keep costs down. You can look at cutting exhibit costs by not using hanging signs (expensive to hang), using a modular booth vs. custom, using reusable packaging material, not having extra boxes shipped to the floor (drives up drayage cost) and much more. For a very thorough list, I’d recommend you take about 45 minutes and watch Mel White’s recent webinar with Handshake on 25 Ways to Cut Costs at Your Next Tradeshow. It’s well worth your time.

Got more questions? Let me know!

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Tradeshow Marketing: To What End?

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When it comes to tradeshow marketing, sometimes you have to ask the question: why?

It used to be that I liked to buy the new things without a whole lot of thought. If I could afford it, I’d get it. New camera, bicycle, car, album, phone, appliance, whatever. But these days I tend to think a lot more about it, and end up asking myself why should I buy that thing? To what end? Why should I get it? What is the reason for acquiring something new? In most cases, I don’t have an answer. It’s why my great little Macbook Pro is 5 and a half years old now, and runs great. It does all I need. It’s why it took me a few years to finally get that new bicycle that I’ve been thinking about. Now that I have it, I ride every day for at least 20 or 30 minutes, rain or shine. I ask “to what end?” and if I don’t have a good enough answer, I just wait.

You can also ask the same question about tradeshow marketing: to what end? What do you get out of it? Even though I’m in the business of selling tradeshow exhibits and helping people with their tradeshow marketing, I will ask what their goals are. They should be well-defined. They should have a reason for spending money on something new, or going to shows over and over.

It may be that going to a show opens new markets, or helps you connect with old clients on a personal level, leading to more sales, or to show off new products and new services. It could be anything that makes sense and will help grow your business. But since tradeshow marketing is an expensive proposition when you add it all up, make sure you answer the question:

To what end?

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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