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

August 2019

Small Biz 101: Budgeting for Trade Shows

This is a guest article by Lee Becknell of Pinnacle Promotions.

Trade shows take a great deal of forethought and planning, but your business will reap substantial rewards from participating in these types of events. Maybe your business is relatively small and you’re looking to expand your demographic, or you’ve just undergone a company rebranding – trade shows can provide a platform to spread your brand’s message and inform people of your products or services.

Whatever your intentions may be for attending a trade show, you’ll need to put a lot of planning into the process, which includes creating a budget. Use this trade show checklist to ensure your budget is considering all essential components such as promotional products and trade show giveaways, travel and booth fees.

Booth Space

One of the most essential aspects of your trade show display, your booth should be secured as soon as you decide to attend an event. The larger the booth space, the more expensive the rental cost will be, so give some serious thought to how much space your company will actually need. Aside from booth size, the location of your display plays a role in price determination. If you’re interested in a spot closer to the trade show’s entrance, you’re going to end up paying more. Though a location closer to the entrance may gain more attention, opting for a booth further in the back of the space could cut costs.

Utility Expenses

Once you’ve selected a booth at the event, you’ll need to secure any other utilities your display may require, including electricity, WiFi, AV services and other accessories. This part of the budget often gets overlooked by those who are not as experienced with trade shows. As you’re planning for the event, consider what types of extras your booth may require. Are you planning to play an informational video about your company or show photos of products? You’ll need to make arrangements for electronic connections and TV displays. Write down any additional costs and then inquire with companies near the event space to get a price estimate and add this into your budget.

Staff Costs

For a successful trade show experience, you’ll need a well-trained, professional group of employees who are willing to attend the event and share their expertise with guests. Because trade shows are typically considered occurrences outside of normal work hours, you should factor in additional wages to compensate qualifying staff members. Prior to the event, you’ll also need to train employees on what to say, how to behave and what to wear at these events. To present a sleek, united front between employees, you can purchase uniforms specifically designed for trade shows like comfortable Nike t-shirts branded with your company’s logo.

Travel and Accommodations

Aside from booth rentals, traveling to the event can be one of the most expensive parts of your trade show budget. The best way to keep this cost down is through early planning. Determine which trade shows your company will attend for the entire year and then begin scheduling travel plans right away to avoid rising prices as the event approaches. Work with other members of the marketing team to decide how many employees will be needed at the event. Then, factor in the cost of flights or renting vehicle transportation plus hotel accommodations. Keep in mind that booking a place to stay far from the event may save money in the short term, but don’t forget the additional travel costs to get from the hotel to the convention center.

Promotional Products and Trade Show Giveaways

An excellent method for spreading your company’s message and brand, promotional products and trade show giveaways, commonly called “swag,” should be a focus for your trade show preparation. Offering some useful or unique items to attendees is a great way to capture their attention and give them something to take home that will remind them of your company.

Select well-known brand-name items and have them personalized with your logo or choose a promotional product that’s beneficial to others in your industry. It’s best to order these items in bulk to get the lowest possible price. In order to plan how much you’ll spend on promotional products, estimate how many trade shows the company will attend in a year and then research how many people are expected at each event to get a sense for the number of promotional products you should have on hand.

Booth Graphics

Now that you have your booth space figured out, you need to consider how you’re going to make your company’s area look attractive and professional—feel free to get creative here. Most companies that attend trade shows will order custom signs with the name of their business and sometimes the company motto. Offering brochures or pamphlets can help inform attendees about your business and give them something to remember you by along with promotional products. People who frequent trade shows are interacting with dozens of different businesses in a matter of hours or days. It’s rare that attendees will remember every single company they encountered, so providing them with helpful reminders, like handouts and trade show giveaways, will encourage information retention and may generate prospective leads.

Plan How to Transport Booth Accessories

Another minor detail that many companies overlook when planning for trade shows, logistics are essential to transporting your supplies. If you’re traveling a long distance with a lot of equipment (think TV displays, furniture for your booth, etc.), then you’ll likely need to book a freight service to deliver the accessories. For companies that don’t require much equipment, you can also consider shipping essential items, including your promotional products, to the trade show location to lower your overall cost. Be sure to get an estimate on either logistics services or shipping costs when planning your budget.


Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.

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3 Cool Things You’ll Find on Exhibit Design Search (Video)

There are a few not-so-obvious things when you browse Exhibit Design Search from TradeshowGuy Exhibits. Let’s show off a few:


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Designing and Preparing Graphics for Tradeshow Exhibits

You might think that designing graphics for a tradeshow exhibit is hardly any different from designing graphics for a brochure or a website. But you’d be wrong. There are a number of differences, and an experienced tradeshow graphic designer is an invaluable asset if you’re facing the prospect of doing it alone.

First things first. What’s different? The most obvious is that graphics are much bigger on a tradeshow exhibit than a website or brochure or sales sheet.

Second thing is that people will interact differently with tradeshow graphics than they will with a brochure or a website, which means your approach to crafting a design with an impactful message must be different.

Your message must be clear

And third, and perhaps the most important, the resolution of the tradeshow graphic file will by its very nature be much higher than a web design or print design.

High resolution is a must for tradeshow graphics

Since graphics are much bigger, and since people interact with tradeshow graphics differently than with websites and printed material, the design and messaging have to reflect that difference. Thousands of people walk by a typical tradeshow on any given day. They glance but often don’t see the graphic messaging. If their brain stops for anything, it’s for either a familiar logo or a bold question or statement. A supporting image such as a photograph can also be a factor in keeping someone attention for another few seconds if you’re lucky. Great care and decision making must go into the design: what image resonates with your brand and attracts attention? What message is important and can be communicated in a few short words?

File preparation is critical to keeping things on schedule

Finally, the crafting of the digital graphic files is critical to ensure high resolution in the output. I’m not a designer or a graphic printing technician, but I can pass along some of the general guidelines on how to prepare the files.

File Formats

Each printing facility and tradeshow exhibit house will vary slightly, but the main things to keep in mind are to make sure the graphics are submitted in an acceptable format. Typically, most printers accept Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign or high-resolution PDFs. Other programs such as Quark, FreeHand, CorelDraw and Publisher are typically not acceptable. Neither are files such as Microsoft Word, or low-resolution JPEG, GIF, PICT or BMPs.

Font Specifications

Fonts are typically converted to outlines. If not, you’ll need to provide Macintosh of TruType fonts with the files.

Resolution

This differs from shop to shop, but I generally see requirements of setting up files at 100-120 pixels per inch at 100%. Anything smaller and the final print will show pixelization.

Color Specifications

Again, varies from shop to shop, but most ask for vector files in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black), and raster artwork in RGB (Red, Green, Blue). If this is over your head, speak to your graphic designer. An experienced designer can address these issues.

Uploading and Sharing Files

Given than tradeshow graphics are high resolution and cover a lot of square feet, the graphic production files are going to be big. We just did a set of banner stands this week where the graphic files for five stands amounted to about a gigabyte. Too big to email, so it’s got to be transferred. We typically create a sharable file on DropBox, but there are other tools to share big files, such as HighTail, Google Drive, SendSpace and others. Again, pretty easy to do. In fact, many companies have dedicated FTP sites where you can upload directly to them.

Final Thoughts

The topic of tradeshow graphic design, file creation and production can take up several books, and no doubt it has. This short blog post barely scratches the surface. Need to know more? Speak with experienced designers and production people that do it every day. They’re happy to share their knowledge and make sure you get the highest quality graphic you can.

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 12, 2019: The F-Bomb

When’s the last time you heard a speaker drop the F-Bomb on stage in the middle of a presentation? How did you feel about that? No biggie? Offended?

In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I take a gander at the use of the F-Bomb in business settings and when it might be appropriate. Or not.

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The Abbey Road Crossing Live Web Cam.

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Creating and Sharing a Gallery with Exhibit Design Search

One of the easiest ways to identify possible exhibits is to browse our Exhibit Design Search (go to TradeshowBuy.com) and add them to ‘My Gallery’ and then share that unique link with your colleagues.

Here’s how it works:


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Remember Your First Tradeshow?

The first time you step into a booth space as an exhibitor can be a bit daunting. You may be part of a big team. You may be side-kicking it with just one other person. Or, I suppose, you could be doing it all on your own as a solopreneur.

Whatever the case, the trepidation is palpable. What if people think the exhibit is ugly? What if they ask a question I can’t answer? What if I don’t make any connections or sell anything and it’s a complete bust?

The first time I stood in a booth as an exhibitor after getting into the industry was in November 2003. I’d been in the industry for less than two years and was tasked with driving the rental truck with the 10×20 custom booth we’d made at Interpretive Exhibits to Reno and setting up the exhibit at the National Association for Interpretation annual conference.

It was scary and fun at the same time. I’d never navigated the unloading of a truck like that with all of the exhibit pieces, but with some advice from the shop guys who built it, I managed to get it unloaded and into the hall and get it set up.

The exhibit was a Tiki lounge-inspired exhibit, complete with a big Tiki god with glowing eyeballs, flaming mouth and vapors out of the top, like a volcano. It was designed to show potential clients the creativity our designers and builders could conjure up, and it went over well.

remembering your first tradeshow
The Tiki Lounge-inspired exhibit from Interpretive Exhibits

One of our designers flew down and joined me for the two days of the show.

When it came to actually be interacting with visitors, not much sticks out. I was still quite a way from figuring out what to do in the booth, so I tried to smile, answer questions and be a help as much as possible. Beyond that, not much comes to mind!

But it was my initiation into the world of tradeshow marketing. After I joined the company I’d sold a custom exhibits to local businesses, including Kettle Foods and Nancy’s Yogurt, but still had almost no clue as to what to say to people when I was actually in the booth.

Even with my lack of knowledge of what to do, I did know a few things. I knew why we were there, and I knew what we wanted to get out of it. We were exhibiting to connect with government organizations and non-profits that might eventually be looking for someone to design and build interpretive exhibits.

Our investment was minimal, and over time we might have actually gotten some business out of it. Frankly, I don’t remember because it wasn’t on my radar to track anything like that.

As the years went by and I participated in more shows, and helped clients do the same, it became clear that even if it’s your first show, there are a handful of things to keep in mind.

Know why you’re there. What is the goal? Is it to sell products or services? Is it to generate leads so a sales crew can follow up? Are you launching a new product?

Why are you there?

Know how to capture data and what data you need. When generating leads, know exactly what information you need. Obviously, you need an individual’s name, company and contact info. Beyond that, what’s important about the follow up: is it a phone meeting, or in person? Do they need you to send information prior to the meeting? When is the meeting and is it scheduled on their calendar?

What’s your role? Every person at a tradeshow is there for a reason. Why are you there? Know your role, whether it’s to assist with other people, hand out samples, or coordinate logistics. A first-timer may not be tasked with a ton of things, but obviously that can change from business to business.

How does the tradeshow fit into the company’s overall marketing strategy? While this may not be critical in the big picture, if the front-line staffers on the show floor have a good understanding of the overall company marketing scheme, knowing how the tradeshow fits in that scheme will help.

You’ll only have one first tradeshow as an exhibitor, no matter your role. After that, you’re no longer a newbie. But if your first one has yet to come, go into it knowing that you’ll survive. Heck, you might even learn a few things and have fun. Once it’s over, take a quick little assessment. Speak to your manager and ask what they thought. Debrief a little. Take the feedback and apply it to your next show and voila’, you’re on your way!

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, August 5, 2019: Perfection

What is perfection? Is it even possible? The pursuit of perfection is a great way to never get anything done. TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson breaks it down on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The Family Acid on Instagram. And as noted in the podcast, here’s a link to the Daily Mail UK story on Roger Steffens’ new book.

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Tradeshow Makeover Invites me as Podcast Guest

Alice Heiman and Dianna Geairn of Tradeshow Makeover recently invited me to join them on their podcast to talk about, what a surprise, tradeshow marketing! Great fun, engaging conversation. Take a look and check out Tradeshow Makeover, too!

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