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

May 2018

6 Cool Custom Exhibit Designs up for Grabs

In the world of custom exhibit design, there are so many possibilities that any good exhibit designer will never run out of ways to put things together. Companies want a lot of the same things, such as product demo or display areas, meeting and storage areas and generous branding space.

We often have conference calls with prospects and clients with our designers, and from those discussions come mockup designs. Once a potential design is reviewed, changes are often made to accommodate functional needs and create more graphic branding opportunities. Or whatever. Designs, until they are built, are always a work in progress. Even after a custom exhibit design is built and used at a tradeshow, companies will often make changes between shows to flooring, graphics, and add storage, tables or chairs based on their experience with the exhibit at a show.

Given all of that, I have a ton of design mockups lurking on my hard drive. Many are from-scratch custom designs and others are modifications of kits that exist in Exhibit Design Search.

Let’s take a look at a handful of them and see what issues might have come up.

Starting with:

Tintri: Invited to submit a design for a 30×30 rental booth at a Las Vegas tradeshow this summer. Challenges: need 6 demo stations, a meeting area, and use an existing hanging sign.

Sweetleaf: invited to respond to an RFP for a 20×20 design that would use elements of the larger design for a 10×20 to appear at smaller shows. Needs: some sample areas, but not too many, and modest product display. Partly private meeting areas desired.

Fasoo: another RFP we were invited to respond to. Client was looking for a 20×30 design with a large A/V area, small staging area for in-booth presentations, and three double-sided demo stations, also a separate meeting area for clients and prospects. Hanging sign optional but desired if it fit the budget.

Hyland’s: a current client was interested in upgrading their current exhibit and was looking to streamline the older wood look with smaller product display area, a single meeting area, and a greeting counter with some storage.

Stahbush Farms: wanted an exhibit that could have elements that would set up as a 10×10, 10×20 or 10×30 depending on the show. Needed sampling areas, storage and large branding graphic. Wanted a wooden, ‘farm-like’ image, but should be able to break down to smaller pieces for shipping.

Unnamed company: we were invited to respond to an RFP for a company that made those little pull handles for beer taps. It was a larger island of 30×60 that would leave a lot of room for people to congregate and give ample space for showing off the pull handles. Also wanted a bar-like area, and if possible, a private storage closet or meeting area. This is an unbranded concept that the potential client chose to keep anonymous, but the unused design is certainly up for grabs if you want to stick your name on it!

These are all great designs and for one reason or another, remain unbuilt. But they’re up for grabs if they intrigue you and your marketing team and feel that they could be modified to fit your needs. What do you think?


Designs by Classic Exhibits and Greg Garrett Designs

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 28, 2018: Thom Singer

Emcee and Keynote Speaker Thom Singer joins TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson this week for a chat about what it is like to be am emcee and keynote speaker – and some tips on how to reach your full potential.

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Actual Conversations with Clients

Yes, these are actual conversations with clients. No, they are not from surreptitious recordings, but rather, from memory, which is probably not as accurate as I’d like. But nonetheless, these are the types of things our exhibiting clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits are asking about.

Client A:

“We need a 10×10 pop-up. Do you have a few options that you can show us with pricing?”

actual conversations with clients

This is an easy one. I popped over to our Exhibit Design Search and assembled a gallery of about 15 10×20 exhibits, with a price range of about $1,500 to about $6,000.

A week goes by.

“Here’s one we want. We need it in three weeks. Can you send art specs?”

Can do in both cases. Let her know. She placed the order and it was delivered a week ahead of schedule.

Client B:

“We’re going to expand our exhibit for the upcoming Natural Products Expo. Where do we start?”

“Best thing is to schedule a conference call with our designer, so we can get your input and ask questions.” We did. The call was fruitful and resulted in a handful of revised renderings of their booth, which was being expanded from a 10×20 to a 10×30.

“One more thing. We don’t want to have to set up the booth this time, since we’re expanding. We’re kind of at our limit for doing that with the 10×20. Can you help?”

“Of course, let me get you some options and pricing for review.”

They settled on the redesign and makeover of the exhibit, signed on board to have an I&D company take care of the setup and dismantle, which we coordinated. The show went off without a hitch, the owners and investors were pleased; they came home with more leads than they had expected.

Client C:

“Our carpet didn’t show up,” I was told by the I&D leader from the show floor. Exactly. Why not. I was in another hall on the show floor, so I hustled over to see first hand what was happening. This started a long and twisting tale of a missing carpet that had actually been delivered to the advance warehouse but failed to make it to the booth space.

“I’ll speak with show services,” I said.

I let the client know. “We have an issue. The carpet didn’t show up and we’re working to find a solution.”

“Well, crap.” It was probably not the exact word. “What now?”

“We’re working on it. We’ll figure something out!”

With a little help from our I&D rep, we were able to make the show come off with very little problem, although the carpet in question still has not turned up months later, and a claim is pending. Things do go wrong sometimes, and it’s really nobody’s fault. Stuff happens. What’s important is how you deal with it. In my experience it is always a team effort to track down replacement items, make do with what you have or any number of other things to pull off a good experience at the show. You gotta have a good team, and you gotta work with pros.

One more. Client D.

“We would like pricing on changing out graphics for our booth for an upcoming show,” said the client. “I’ll send the specs,” he said, which arrived shortly in an email. The show was less than two months away, so while there was indeed time to make the changes, but with that timeline it meant that no time could be wasted.

Got the pricing, sent it over. “Looks good! I’ll get artwork soon!” Knowing that I’m working with a good client that has consistently worked to upgrade their exhibit, I start the process to create a new job number and add in the potential project to the job tally. A few days go by.

“Looks like this project is on hold for the time being,” he writes. “We’ll get to it for another show soon. Keep you posted.”

Ooops! Make the changes, remove the new job number, took a breath. Don’t count your chickens, etc. Hate to get ahead of yourself. Just want to make sure the client is happy.


This is all very typical, I’m sure, to anyone who works in the industry. Upgrades, expansions, challenges, decisions made and then changed. Part of the great game we call tradeshows.

What conversations have you had with your exhibit house lately?

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Tradeshow Exhibit Flooring: The Answer You Seek is at Your Feet

When it comes to standing out in a crowd, don’t look up, look at the flooring under your feet. Look down. Have you ever walked a tradeshow floor and did nothing for fifteen minutes but look at the flooring an exhibitor is using in their booth? In many cases, you can’t ignore the floor. It’s quite an education on the use of a variety of flooring options for today’s exhibitors. If you’re not taking advantage of any of them, it’s a sure bet that many of your competitors are.

One example of a client we work with, Schmidt’s Naturals, has used custom printed flooring in both of their recent Expo West presentations, and to say it helped their exhibit stand out is an understatement. With the ability to print custom graphics and messaging on the floor gives you a (no pun intended) leg up on the competition.

Another client, Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley, didn’t use custom printed flooring, but instead chose to separate the two brands in a 10×30 space by using one type of flooring (printed vinyl) for one brand and another type (black carpet) for the other brand. Great way to distinguish the two brands in a single space.

Printed carpet is also available, using the dye-sub technology to add branding to the soft carpet below your feet.

Another approach that draws attention to your booth space is to raise the floor by two or three inches. I hear this is very common in Europe. The edges in this case will often have a slanted walkway or entry to help visitors avoid tripping hazards. Raised flooring also lets you take care of all wire management underneath the flooring, and it’s easy to change out the surface from show to show.

Whatever you decide on flooring, there are multiple opportunities that should be considered to give yourself a visual edge in drawing attention of attendees.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 21, 2018: Camping/Travelogue

A ‘road-tripping’ version of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, where I gather at the campground with old friends, hoist a few, pick some tunes, stare at the night stars, and smell the juniper and sage of the Oregon high desert.  Totally off the grid for almost 72 hours with absolutely “NO SERVICE!” Good stuff.

 

As for the ONE GOOD THING? Hitting the road, doing a little camping – it’s a VACATION, no matter how long.

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8 Ways to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed in Your Tradeshow Marketing

Given that we know how many different balls you have to keep in the air, is it even possible to stop feeling overwhelmed when it comes to managing your tradeshow program?

That depends on how you personally deal with things that can come at you like a full-on firehose – we all deal with things a little differently – but let’s explore a few ways that might assist with your state of feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Plan your day. I don’t do that as often as I should, but when I create a list of todos prior to the start of the day – even the night before – I move through that list with ease and confidence. By taking some quiet time before the day really kicks into high crazy gear, you’ll have a much better handle on the tasks at hand.
  2. Prioritize. Yes, we get pulled every which way by calls, emails, bosses, meetings, customers and clients and more. This can definitely add stress to your day. Priorities should be made weeks or months ahead of time so that you know your overall, important goals, and use them as a template to figure out your daily priorities.
  3. Use technology to your advantage. Today’s technology gives us more flexibility than any of our forebears, but only if you use it correctly. Embrace the use of technology and use it where it makes sense (working from home or remotely, anyone?), and avoid getting sucked into another 30 minutes of social media bait-and-response.

  4. stop feeling overwhelmed

    Work it out in chunks. Often tradeshow projects come at us in big chunks. Lots of shows, little time between some of them, major and minor changes that need to be addressed. And so on. Carve out the easiest chunk, do that, carve out another chunk, tackle that, and keep going with that idea of parceling out the various bits and pieces instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture and looming deadlines.

  5. Know the real deadlines. Tradeshows are closer than they appear in the calendar. The best way to not get overwhelmed by approaching deadlines is to complete a lot of tasks before you ever really need to. For example, one client I work with wants to upgrade their booth in a pretty major way for next year’s show. We could wait another six months to get started, and still have plenty of time. But we ended up scheduling the first planning meeting a mere two months after the show – ten months ahead of the upgrade’s debut – and will likely have it done months ahead of time. No sweat and everyone’s happy.
  6. Delegate. How much do you really need to do yourself vs. how much to you pass on to someone else? Certain tasks can easily be passed on to someone else. Just make sure you’re not adding to their state of being overwhelmed!
  7. Write it down. Some people work better with to-do lists in front of them. If that means you, writing things down will give you a visual reminder of what you’ve accomplished and what you have left to do today.
  8. Clear and concise communication. Whether you’re meeting in person, speaking on the phone, or communicating via email, be as clear and concise as you’re able. Before clicking “send,” read and re-read the email. Take out unnecessary words, edit like a high school English teacher, and then click. Before speaking, know what you’re going to say. Most of us spend time NOT listening but preparing to respond. If you paid more attention to what someone is really saying – and what they really mean – your response will be more thoughtful. And probably less knee-jerk.

What can you do to keep from being overwhelmed in your day to day tradeshow adventures?

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 14, 2018

On today’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I sit for an interview with Mel White, VP of Business Development at Classic Exhibits. We dig into my new book, Tradeshow Superheroes and Exhibiting Zombies: 66 Lists Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Markering.

 

ONE GOOD THING: Archive.org

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Time Management Skills

I think we all approach time management skills a little differently. For instance, I don’t think much about it beyond blocking time out for prospecting calls on a near-daily basis. I set goals on a weekly basis, and have deadlines for those goals, such as at least two blog posts per week, and getting the weekly podcast/vlog produced in a timely manner.

Mixed into that are tasks that come and go depending on current projects. If I have a handful of clients all preparing for the same show, I have a tracking sheet showing the status of each project and remaining tasks, and a timeline for those tasks.

There are a number of things I’ve learned over the years that seem to work for me. What works for you? There are hundreds of thousands of pages online that can show you various approaches to time management, but for me it boils down to the following items.

Goal setting: what do you want to accomplish and when do you want to get it done?

Prioritizing: get the top two or three most important things done early in the day and the rest of the day opens up to a lot more. Prioritizing also means removing things from your task list that shouldn’t be there; things that can either be left undone or delegated.

Self-motivation: this gets to the heart of why you’re doing anything. Why do you work? Why do you exercise? Why do you eat what you eat? What motivates you? We all have different reasons for getting out of bed, for working, for taking time off. If you happen to be self-employed, your motivation is going to be different than that of the person going to work who may depend on a different kind of motivation to keep on task.

Focus: Twitter? Facebook? Chatting with a friend online? Making a phone call in the middle of trying to write an article? Responding immediately to an email that pops up? All of these and more can distract you from the focus you have on any given task. I’ve read that if you have a couple of hours of work that needs to be done with great focus, plan on working through it in chunks of time. Set a timer for twenty minutes. When it dings, take a short break to stretch, go outside, grab some water – whatever works best for you – and then get back at the task. And keep that up until that specific piece of work is done.

time management skills

Decision-making: in a busy work environment, we are all often pulled in several directions. Should you help someone else? What meetings should you attend? Which task is first today? Decision making is part of prioritizing, but it can quickly move into an area of having to decide what fires to put out.

Planning: plainly put, planning is the ability to see all that needs to be done during the foreseeable future and creating a plan that fits. The foreseeable future can mean looking five or ten years ahead, or it can mean looking a few days ahead.

Delegating: I mentioned this a little earlier, but if you have the ability to delegate or outsource some tasks that you really don’t need to do, this can free up your time.

Keeping good records: sounds simple, and it is. If you know how to find things quickly, you waste little time looking around. They say a cluttered desk is the sign of a genius. If everything is within arm’s reach, that might work best for you. But others find that keeping an uncluttered desk or workspace works best. What works best for you?

Patience. Or maybe the ability to see the bigger picture. Yes, I’ve certainly been caught up in trying to get a large amount of work done under deadline (don’t we all at times?), but if you have patience enough to see how that piece of crazy work fits into the overall picture – the 30,000 foot view, as it were – you will realize that not only is the craziness temporary, but next time something similar arrives, you’ll have the perspective and the patience to get through it with a lower amount of stress.

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How to Find Your First Tradeshow as an Exhibitor

how to find a tradeshow as an exhibitor

If you’re new to the world of tradeshow marketing, one of the most difficult challenges is this: how do you find a tradeshow that is a good fit? And by a good fit, does it have your target market, does it have buyers and decision makers, and will there be a lot of traffic there, even as a new exhibitor that is relegated to a lower-traffic area of the show floor?

The first thing to do is find out if your competitors are there. If your direct competitors have been going to a show for years, they must have a reason. It doesn’t hurt to call them up and pick their brains. Even competitors will tell you pros and cons of the shows they exhibit at. And if you’re a new company, they probably won’t think of you as a threatening competitor. Yet.

Ask partners, vendors and other industry-related companies about what shows they are aware of and how those shows are perceived in the industry.

Once you narrow down a few shows that have a lot of competitors, it’s always good advice to attend and walk the floor prior to committing as an exhibitor. Yes, most shows are annual, which means you’re putting off the decision for several more months, but by walking the floor, you can speak to exhibitors, chat with show organizers, pick the brains of attendees and get an overall feel for the veracity of the show. Once you decide to go, you have several months to determine how the next steps will unfold.

If you’re still trying to learn about all of the potential shows, take your mouse for a spin. There are many tradeshow databases online – just search for the term tradeshow database.

Here are a few of our favorites:


Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, May 7, 2018

Today’s Coffee has no guest, so I take some time to take a closer look at what is getting my attention these days:

 

And here are links to all of those things:

Newsletters

Music I’m Listening to:

What I’m reading:

Podcasts:

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