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

November 2017

5 Great Rental Exhibits that Look Custom

One of the ongoing debates I’ve heard since I joined the exhibit industry in early 2002 was this: which is better: a rental exhibit or an exhibit that you purchase to own?

There’s no right answer. Your situation may warrant one or the other. The other part of the debate I always heard is that once you rent two or three times, you have paid the full purchase price. That’s not always true, but it’s a good starting point.

One of our clients is based in Manhattan. They exhibit twice a year, often back to back. They don’t have room for storing the exhibit at their location. They don’t always have the same size exhibit, bouncing from a ten-foot exhibit to a twenty-foot inline. So renting makes perfect sense for them.

Other clients prefer the total customization that they couldn’t get from a rental exhibit. Buying makes sense to them. They can still change out graphics whenever they want, and they have the flexibility to use different versions of the booth in different situations without having to buy more parts.

And other clients use a combination of a purchased exhibit and rental pieces, such as renting a branded charging table and furniture to go with their purchased exhibit.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of the rentals that TradeshowGuy Exhibits offers that can be customized depending on your needs.

First things first. Recently we’ve added some options to our Exhibit Design Search that shows you which exhibits can be either purchased or rented. Just browse any segment and look for the small checkmark and RENT icon in the upper left corner.

For example, this 10’ inline exhibit, the VK-1971, offers back lit fabric graphics. It also comes in 20’ versions.

VK-1971 10' inline rent or purchase
VK-1971 10′ inline rent or purchase

Moving up to a 20’ inline you’ll find the ECO-2012-C | EcoFly which is also available as a rental or an outright purchase. Tension fabric graphics, frosted accent wings, standoff counters and more.

ECO-2012-C EcoFLy
ECO-2012-C EcoFLy

Heading up a little more to a 20×20 island exhibit, the ECO-4022 | Hybrid S Island works as either a rental or purchase option. Big tension fabric graphics, literature racks, monitor mounts, and yes, that big high graphic blaring out your brand.

ECO-4022 Hybrid S Island
ECO-4022 Hybrid S Island

At number 4, our Gravitee “no tools no kidding” exhibit gives you that RE-2051 | Gravitee Inline. Large format tension fabric or direct print graphics. Full size closet and a simple spare look. And easy to set up and take down.

RE-2051 Gravitee Inline
RE-2051 Gravitee Inline

And since 10×20 rentals are very popular, let’s look at one more: the RE-2059 Hybrid Inline. Loads of great things in this for small gatherings: closet with locking door, reception counter, iPad clamshell, metal brochure holders, large tension fabric graphics and more.

RE-2059 Hybrid Inline
RE-2059 Hybrid Inline

It used to be that rental exhibits were not the kind you’d want to show off much, but just get one to save some money and make an appearance. No more. Rentals have really come into their own.

Everybody is Better Than You

Wait a minute – everyone is better than you? How does that work? After all, you’ve been to school, you’ve gotten years of hard-knocks experience and street skillz, right? So how does that make everybody better than you? Certainly, there are some people and companies that you’ve surpassed.

But maybe they are better. Better at marketing. Better at sales. Better at creating good products. Better at making and sustaining good relationships. Better at just about everything.

It could be that I’m kidding, just a bit. Not everybody is better than you. There are a lot of companies and people tha

Everybody is better than you

t have fewer skills and less experience.

But you’re not competing with the ones you are already better than everything at. You’re competing with the ones who are better than you. You’re already selling better than those competitors. You’re putting out better products. You’re building better relationships than those people who are not as adept as you at communicating.

No, you’re really competing with those who really ARE better than you. It may be that not too many companies or people are better than you. Or it may be that almost all other companies that you compete against are bigger and better. But those are the only ones that really matter. The only ones that you still have left to pursue. And of those, everybody is better than you.

The only ones you have left to compete against are the ones who are better than you. Aren’t those the ones you want to compete against? Of course they are. Those are the ones that bring out the best.

It’s like the championship series or game in sports. As a fan, you secretly love it when the other team’s star goes out with an injury. It gives you a better chance of winning. But if you win, you are not beating them at their peak. You’re beating them with their best player on the bench. But if you beat them when the best player is competing at his or her best, you’re really proving something to everyone.

So, don’t worry about all of those other companies that you’ve already surpassed. If they become better at what they do, then they’ll become fierce competitors and you can worry about them then. Right now, focus on everybody that is better than you. Those are the ones you’re trying to beat. And right now, everybody ahead of you is better than you.

6 Tradeshow Visitors You’ll Run into at the Next Tradeshow

As a confirmed people-watcher, I’m always curious about tradeshow visitors. Who are they? What are they doing there? What are their goals? What’s on their agenda? Where are they from? What’s their life story? What do they do after the show?

tradeshow visitors

Given the wide variety of people you’ll see at a tradeshow, I thought it might be fun to take a look at a handful of visitors you’ll no doubt run into at your next show, whether as an exhibitor or attendee.

The Salesperson: Okay, the old-school salesperson. Usually, a guy, because that’s the nature of the job. An old-school salesman will gladly introduce himself and within a few minutes, he’ll download a gigabyte or two of information into your ears whether you asked for it or not. He’s all about the features and benefits! And not so much about trying to be a good communicator. To him, being a good communicator is getting all of that information out before you flee.

The Trick-or-Treater: All about the freebies. Grab a bag, fill it up, repeat.

The Uncomfortable “Me” Individual: Since they aren’t comfortable being at a show talking about their products or services, they’ll often talk just about themselves. It’s their favorite subject and as such, it’s easy to go on and on. And on. And on.

The Sharer: These people live via their social media outlets. They’ll snap your photo and post it in an instant; they’ll follow your platforms, and they’ll add you on LinkedIn at the drop of a hat.

The Newbie: Nope, never been to a show. It’s all a blur to them. If they’re lucky, they’ll make it through the three or four days onsite without waking up with a hangover. Because, since they’re newbies, they think being at the show is an opportunity to partay!

The Spy: This person could be a combination of the Escape Artist and the Job Seeker. The main thing is, you won’t see them as much as sense their presence – on occasion. The Spy as Escape Artist takes the few days of the show or conference to grab some sight-seeing time; the Spy as Job Seeker is making the rounds at various exhibits keeping their ears open for job openings.

The Dealmaker: Whether they’re looking to make a good deal, a great deal, or a lousy deal, they seem determined to cut a deal with someone. Anyone. Just make sure they have something to take back to the office that shows they’re doing their job.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 13, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

One great thing about doing a weekly podcast with guests is that I meet a lot of people. This week it was a pleasure to meet and talk with Roger Courville, who helps learning leaders prepare to reach, teach and lead in the Connectorship Age.

It was a fun conversation about events and tradeshows, how to bring value to attendees and much more. Take a look:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING is the reggae-tinged band Noiseshaper. I’m not sure if the band still exists or is active, and the website looks to reflect that: the last update looks to be about 8 or 9 nears ago. But they left some great music behind.

3 Extraordinarily Useful Tradeshow Marketing Exhibitor Magazine Articles

Yes, it can be said without fear of being wrong that you will find useful tradeshow marketing articles in Exhibitor. That’s their thing. But in browsing their site this week, I found three which I believe go a little above and beyond because of what you can DO by reading them.

tradeshow marketing

Let’s take a look:

How to Measure the Value of Tradeshow Marketing. Complete with downloadable worksheets, this one takes you through the steps to figure out what’s really going on with your tradeshow marketing efforts and all of that money you commit to it each year.

Taking the Lead. Collecting leads that are worthy of a challenge in and of itself. When you have to convert those leads to sales, that’s when the rubber meets the road so to speak. This article walks you through the steps on grading leads, setting goals, figuring out what questions to ask visitors and more.

Four Factors that Affect Graphic Costs. It seems that graphic design and production is often the item that doesn’t get checked until it’s too late. And lateness (among other things) can affect your cost dramatically. Check out these factors to help keep your costs in line.

A lot of exhibitors wouldn’t do nearly as well as they do without Exhibitor Magazine – often called the bible of the industry. Always good stuff there.

When it Comes to Tradeshow Exhibit Design, Are You Stuck in a Checklist?

Recently I was speaking with tradeshow expert Marlys Arnold of Image Specialist, and she made a comment that struck me: Are you stuck in a checklist?

3D exhibit design is part art, part craft, and part skill. I don’t claim to be a design expert, but I’ve seen thousands of exhibit booths over the years, and only a very few have really stood out. Why did they stand out? Because – to me – if you are familiar with the company and the brand, and you’re standing in front of the booth for the first time, you say to yourself, “They freaking nailed it with that design!” The design of the exhibit adheres so close to the brand’s identity that you can’t help but notice.

Why doesn’t this happen more often? Let’s go back to the checklist. Brand managers and designers can get into a trap of making sure that all the items needed for proper booth function are included – and stop there:

Storage? Check. Product Display? Check. Big backlit graphic? Check. Nice-looking greeting counter? Check. You see how this goes.

Don’t get me wrong. Checklists are important, and they’re a good place to start. But when the challenge is to create an exhibit that screams your brand does using the checklist – and only the checklist – really get you there?

Let’s say the branding guidelines advise the designer to use branding standards and follow natural and sustainable practices. Perhaps it adds that it should be made from sustainable materials. And then there’s a call-out for innovative ways to showcase products to draw attention and traffic.

It isn’t long before you get lost in corporate gibberish and bland buzzwords that don’t really communicate well. It’s not really the brand manager’s fault: this is how they think and how they’ve been trained.

So, what’s the answer?

Frankly, I don’t think the answer is easy. And it’s not that hard, either.

tradeshow exhibit design

Some companies are better at communicating their needs than others. Some designers are better at sussing out what the company really wants than others. If you, as a tradeshow brand manager, can succinctly put into words what you’re looking for and avoid the corporate buzzwords and gibberish, you’re half the way there. If you pick a designer that has the skill to intuitively take those descriptions and create a 3D design that screams “your brand!” that’s the other half.

See: easy, right?

In projects I’ve been involved in that have fully succeeded in creating a 3D version of the brand, the power of description has been palpable. Usually, a sketch, even a napkin sketch, has been provided because the brand manager has taken time to visualize the exhibit. They don’t usually have the skill to bring it fully to life, but they can often effectively demonstrate what they’re looking for. Perhaps it’s taking the specific curves of a brand’s graphic look and incorporating that into the curves of a greeting counter. Or it might mean taking the iconic mill structure of a brand and making that the central piece of an exhibit.

Whatever your brand, I would tell you this – and this is coming from a non-designer: determine what visual elements of your brand are the most important, and work with your designer to recreate those elements in the design of the exhibit.

It’s not always easy, but if it’s done effectively, it’ll knock your audience’s socks off.

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: November 6, 2017 [video replay/podcast]

Matt Kazam joins me for today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee: Matt has done stand-up comedy in Las Vegas for years and is moving into the corporate and tradeshow world, so we sat down to discuss how he’s approaching that and some of the challenges that come up around that endeavor.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Sandler Sales Training from Flywheel.

Are You Getting the Best Results from Your Tradeshow Lead Generation Tactics?

Face it: you and your competitors are going head-to-head in tradeshow lead generation. But are you really getting the best results you can possibly get?

If your main goal for going to a tradeshow is to generate leads for future sales, you’ll need to focus on that aspect of your tradeshow marketing program to maximize results. Sure, you also have to have other pieces of the puzzle in place, such as branding, messaging, booth function and more, but if your ultimate goal at the tradeshow is to come away with a bag full of good leads, maybe it’s time for a deep dive into what that takes.

tradeshow lead generation

Establish what you want for a good lead. What does it mean to you and your team? After all, not just any old person that stops by and kicks a tire in your booth, so to speak, is a lead. Determine what will you accept as a lead by defining what that is – and get very specific.

The first thing you have to know is if the booth visitor uses your product.

Next, find out if they are shopping around for a company that provides what you provide. There’s a good chance since they’re at a tradeshow that was organized to specifically draw a crowd in your market.

Third, determine who is the decision maker. If you’re speaking to that person, great. If not, can the person you’re talking speak for them, or direct you to them?

Fourth, do they have a budget to purchase your product? If they don’t have a budget, they’re not really a prospect. They’re ‘pie-in-the-sky’ at this point. It doesn’t mean they won’t have a budget in the future, but for now, they’re not a hot lead.

Finally, you need to know when they’re going to make that decision. If it’s not some far-off future date, but is closer to today’s date, that gives you all the information you need for a HOT lead.

Once you’ve done all of this, you can safely grade your leads. Or if they don’t pass the “lead” test they may become someone that can make a referral. Or they’re off your list for good if you don’t think they’ll ever lead to any business via a direct lead or referral.

The leads can be graded HOT, WARM or COOL. But frankly, I usually only use HOT and WARM. HOT is obvious: it’s a lead that needs to be followed up on quickly because there is an explicit and stated desire for your product. WARM is probably a little more flexible depending on your product, sales cycle and so forth. COOL may only apply to those that you know the bare minimum: they will at least use your product occasionally but have no immediate interest or desire or budget or you don’t know the decision maker. So this puts them in the COOL pile but given their at least occasional use they are not a DISCARD.

In any event, the better your planning and the more thorough execution on your tradeshow lead generation tactics, the better your results.


© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

Call 800-654-6946 for Prompt Service Registered & Protected <br />