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

Booth Design

11 Ways to Attract Attention at a Tradeshow

Wear colorful branded clothing. Whether it’s a staff of two or three, or twenty, having colorful branded clothing will immediately let visitors know who’s working the booth and who’s a guest. Bright colors attract, so put your logo on the front and an enticing message on the back. And to change things up from day to day, create a different colored set with a different message for each day of the show, and make sure your crew coordinates. Bright colors, especially if they’re tied into your brand work well: yellow, red, orange, blue, fluorescent.

Setup a giant prop and invite people to take a photo. Could be anything: a mascot, a giant purse, a full-size model of one of your products (if it’s small, for instance); something that stops people in their tracks. I’ve seen mascot, angels, musicians, giant hanging props, exhibits made from bicycle frames and more. They all had one thing in common: they begged to have their picture taken.

Once that photo has been taken, invite the visitor to spread the word on social media and include the show hashtag to make sure the post gets seen. Offer prizes to people that photo and share online.

Give something away and offer an incentive to wear it. One way is to print up a few hundred t-shirts or hats with your logo along with a fun message and tell people that if they put it on right there, they can also take home another gift. And tell them if you catch them wearing it at an after-hours show (be specific as to which one), you’ll be giving away $50 bills to random shirt wearers. This type of promotion gets others involved and spreads the word about your booth and products throughout the show.

Have a unique exhibit that begs to be seen. Sounds straightforward, but to break out of the cookie-cutter mold, it takes a designer that’s willing to create something unique and wild and a company that’s willing to spend to make it a reality.

Give visitors something to DO. Interactivity goes a long way. At the NAB Show, there were several exhibitors that gave visitors a chance to learn new software by joining them for a free class. Not only are you drawing interested people in, you’re keeping them involved for up to an hour and showing them exactly how the product works.

Contests. Give people a chance to win something by guessing the number of beans in a jar, answering a quiz, spinning a wheel or something else increases the chance you’ll get visitors to stop at your booth. Make sure to engage them in a brief conversation to uncover their needs regarding your product.

Famous mugs. Lots of companies hire famous (or at least semi-well known) people to be a part of the show. Authors, speakers, sports stars, actors, and so on can all draw a crowd. Authors in particular, if they’re in your industry, can be a good draw if they have a new book out. I’ve seen dozens of people in line to pick up a free copy of a new book and get it signed by the author (and snap a selfie!), and I’ve waited in line to get a prop soft baseball signed by Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Comment wall. I see these more and more. Ask a bold question or make a bold statement and invite people to chime in with their thoughts on a wall. Invite people to snap a photo of what they wrote and share it on social media (make sure the wall is branded and has the show hashtag on it).

Bring media production to your booth. Know someone that is a podcaster in the industry? Invite them to record a few episodes of their show in your booth, and make sure to provide some good guests for them, whether it’s people from your company, or others. The simple act of recording a show in your booth will make a lot of people stop. That’s a good time for your staff to engage those visitors politely to find out if they’re prospects.

If someone in your company has written a book, offer free copies of the book along with free printed photos with visitors and the author. This has worked great for years for Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill, one of our long-time clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits. Every time they exhibit at the bigger expos, Bob spends time signing books and posing for photos while a photographer takes photos and has them printed up in a few moments for the visitor.

There are literally countless ways to draw crowds to your booth. It all boils down to creativity and execution. What can you do to improve the traffic at your next show?

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How to Get Ideas for Your Next Tradeshow Promotion (or Exhibit)

Are you faced with authors call “writer’s block” when it comes to coming up with ideas for your next tradeshow promotion? Or need to come up with a unique exhibit design or presentation that perfectly fits your company brand?

I wish I had an answer. You know, like the Staples “EASY” button. But it ain’t that easy. Not if you want an idea that can be fully executed and give you remarkable results.

So where do ideas come from? Ideas that actually work?

There are several places to look for and generate ideas, so let’s go over a few.

What have other people done?

At your next tradeshow, whether you are an exhibitor or an attendee, take some time to walk the floor and see what others have done. There are going to be so many ideas that you won’t be able to capture them all. And to take it one step further, if you see an idea you like, imagine how it would work if you folded that presentation idea into your brand and products. And you know that anything you see at a tradeshow had to go through a lot to make it to the floor. It had to be created as a concept, then discussed at length to see what would work and what wouldn’t. Then a 3D designer had to determine how to put that concept into the real world. Then, once all parties had signed off on the idea and concept, it had to go to fabrication, where the builders had to figure out how to build it. Not always easy, especially if there are some unusual or outlandish ideas that need to be brought to life.

What other exhibit ideas are good enough to borrow or get inspired by?

But remember, just because it was brought to life and used at a tradeshow doesn’t mean it actually worked, that it actually achieved what the creators thought it would achieve. Which means it’s also worth asking “how well did that work?” Probably the only way to find out for sure is to ask the exhibiting company after the show how it all went for them. But by doing that you might be tipping your hand that you’d like to use their idea for inspiration!

What gets written about?

To see what is creative and actually works, pick up a copy of Exhibitor Magazine. To my way of thinking, all tradeshow marketing managers should get a subscription to this bible of the exhibit industry. Nearly every issue there is an in-depth look at tradeshow exhibits. Not only that, there is a breakdown of how the idea worked, how it fit with the company’s overall goals, what the results were, and often the cost. Even if the idea doesn’t exactly fit with your product or brand, use it to kickstart your own creative thinking.

Beyond Exhibitor Magazine, search online for creative tradeshow exhibit ideas. There are a lot of them floating around, and any one of them might be the inspiration you’re looking for.

Talk to others in the industry.

Networking can do a lot of things. One thing it does well is spread good ideas. By talking to other exhibitors, designers, managers and executives in the industry is that no doubt they’ve all seen some memorable tradeshow exhibits along the way. Ask them what they recall, what they liked, and how it worked. Make notes. And if you get a great idea that leads to something, be sure to thank ‘em!

Brainstorm.

Creative thinking can often be generated in-house with a handful of people. You may have even been in a brainstorming session or three in your career. If done properly, they can be brief and productive.

Combining ideas from other sources.

Pick up a book on creative thinking and see where it takes you. One of my favorites is Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. Worth the price no matter what you pay.

Any other books or ideas you like that help you creatively? Make a note and share!

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As Technology Evolves, so do Tradeshows

I’ve been attending tradeshows for nearly twenty years. In looking back on photos from that era – the early ‘Naughts as the first ten years of this century are sometimes referred to – things look different. It’s often subtle, but what the photos from that era show is what’s NOT there. You have to look closely and compare the images from around 2003 – 2005 with images from today’s shows.

Lots of these types of exhibits in 2004 (Natural Products Expo West)

The big changes?

Video: Depending on the show, some are stark and blatantly obvious. For example, I saw so many large video walls at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas I lost count. Big, small, portable banner-stand-like video walls, large walls used for training (Adobe and others), most of them extremely high quality.

Some smaller shows or different types of shows may not have the large video walls (or only a few), but my impression is that a majority of exhibits have large video monitors. These typically range from around 40” to as much as 70” and all show sharp images. It’s much easier to attach monitors on exhibit walls when the monitors are so slim compared to what was available a couple of decades ago.

Fabric Graphics: Printing on fabric has come so far, it’s hard to imagine what it was like at the turn of the century. Printers have gotten so much better and fabrics have also improved that in many cases what you’re seeing on the exhibit walls are fabric graphics printed with such depth and clarity it compares with top of the line paper printing.

LED lighting: Hand in hand with fabric graphics, the evolution of LED lighting has meant better lights for a fraction of the cost. Combine LED lights and an aluminum frame with fabric graphics and voila you have a fantastic-looking lightbox that shines!

Augmented Reality: I’ve only seen this a few times at tradeshows, but I think it’s going to spread. It’s showing up at museums and other permanent installations. Why not tradeshows?

3D Virtual tours: Again, not used so much these days, but check out the recent interview I did with Phil Gorski from Ova-Nee Productions and see what they’re doing in the tradeshow space. I can see this happening more and more to take the physical tradeshow to a larger audience in the digital world.

Virtual Reality: Not something that is taking over the tradeshow world, but it is definitely there and a smart exhibitor that chooses to use VR will plan to do it right. Here’s an interview I did with Foundry45‘s Dave Beck.

Interactive Touch Screens: Depending on the way you want your visitors to interact this can be a big benefit to help show off your company, products and people.

Charging Stations: At the turn of the century hardly anyone thought of the need to charge a portable device. Now it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have that need a time or two a day during a long tradeshow. Charging stations can be custom-designed and built to fit your brand and to fit seamlessly into your exhibit.

Apps: Of course, there were no apps 15 – 20 years ago. Today it is a rare tradeshow that doesn’t have its own app where you can find exhibitors, information and subscribe to updates about the show.

Big Video Walls in 2019 (NAB Show 2019)

Social Media: This also didn’t exist back then. Today it almost seems old school to be doing regular social media posting about your tradeshow appearance. I mean, even Grandma is on Instagram, right? But social media is still a good way to post photos, respond to comments and let your followers know what’s going on while your company is exhibiting.

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What’s Holding You Back from a New Tradeshow Exhibit?

Last time when you set up your tradeshow exhibit and lived in it for a few days, did it feel cramped? Were you wishing you had another table to sit down at with potential clients? Trying to cram too many products on too few shelves?

Maybe it’s time for a new exhibit. So what’s holding you back?

It might be finances. Certainly that’s one of the biggest things that holds any company back. But beyond money, are you moving out of your comfort zone? It happens frequently. Many clients we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have been using banner stands and pop-ups, which transport easily and take just a few moments to set up. Nothing wrong with that, but these companies have grown enough that they can afford a larger exhibit, one that not only looks good to give their brand a brand new look, but because it’s more complicated it needs to ship in a wooden crate using semi-trucks, it will likely need to be set up by an I&D (installation/dismantle) management crew.

What will your visitors think when you show off a new exhibit?

And yes, that moves many companies beyond their comfort zone. Having been down that road with a lot of companies, we often help navigate that path.

But if it’s money, there are ways to convince the purse holders that it’s time to invest in a new booth.

First, consider what would happen if you did nothing for the next 2-3 years. Your exhibit would be a few years older. Many of your competitors might already have upgraded to a new exhibit which will look a lot sharper than yours. How will your visitors then perceive your company compared to those competitors? Remember that perception counts a lot, and almost nowhere does it count as much as it does at tradeshows. Visitors there see you at your finest. And if your finest comes up short from what you want and what your visitors think you should be, that could be a problem.

Then again, maybe a new exhibit isn’t the answer. You might be better off investing in booth staff training. Or pre-show marketing. By doing this, you can still crank up the ROI on your tradeshow marketing investment and put off the exhibit investment for a couple more years.

But if you are seriously considering a new exhibit, think about who it will impact and how. Where will you store it? How much will it cost to ship or setup and dismantle?

Understand how much time you’ll need to design and fabricate the exhibit by talking to experience exhibit builders. Your new exhibit will last you several years, maybe 5 to 7 or more depending on the type of exhibit and how you use it.

Once you’ve decided that it’s a good move to pitch the powers-that-be, be prepared. Contact a few exhibit houses to understand their processes and timelines required, along with budget ranges for the size and type of exhibit you’re considering.

Make a written description of the exhibit requirements. When pitching the boss, offer a reasonable price range for the project, how long it’ll take to amortize the cost (3, 5, 7+ years), do your best to explain how the next exhibit will increase your lead generation (three clients in the past three years have told us that the increased size of the exhibit and the newness of it tripled their leads at the first show!).

Show the “soft” return on the exhibit, such as the impact the new look will have on your current customers who see the positive direction your company is taking. Or on the employees, who see the same thing. There are a lot of things that might be holding you back from investing in a new exhibit. But with careful planning and working with the right partners, you can create an environment and a situation where the new exhibit can become a reality.

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Preparing for Next Year’s Tradeshow. Already.

Less than three weeks after a just-completed tradeshow, I heard from an exhibitor I’d met at the show. He was interested in looking at doing something new for next year’s show, which was still more than eleven months away.

I commended him for being on top of it! His response was that they waited too long last time around and they didn’t want to let it happen again next year.

So what can you do now that this year’s big expo show is over to prepare for next year’s show, even though it’s almost a year away? Let’s count a few:

Plan ahead. Seems simple. But so many companies I talk to end up waiting until the last moment. There is no urgency to act until the dates in the calendar are nearer than you thought possible! Reach out to the various entities you may end up working with, whether it’s a current exhibit house, design house, graphic designer or whomever, and discuss your plans. You’ll get a sense of how much time things take which will give you much-needed information to put together a workable plan.

Find out what things will cost. In the case of a new exhibit, not just updating graphics on a current exhibit, you’ll need to determine how much the investment might be. There are industry averages, there’s your budget, and there’s your wish list. At some point these will all have to meet in the middle. If you’re unsure of how much your budget is, and how much things might cost, the sooner you gather that information the better prepared you’ll be as you move forward. Learning the cost of a potential new booth helps craft and shape the budget. Knowing your budget helps craft the final design.

Determine to the best of your ability what products and services you’ll be promoting. In most cases, clients we work with put this off until much closer to the show mainly because they want to have a handle on what will be available for sampling, when products or services launch and so on. At this point in your design discussions, you will likely leave placeholder graphics in place. But knowing if you have eight new products, or three, or fifteen, will help the direction of the design.

If you are not sure if you’ll continue to work with your current exhibit house, talk to several vendors. Each one will offer strengths and advantages; some will have obvious weaknesses for your specific goals. Learn as much as possible about them, speak to their current clients, learn about how the process went. Some companies will be a good fit and others won’t – there’s no real right and wrong. Often, it’s just a feeling, but feelings are important. All things being equal, people like doing business with people they like and get along with.

Take your time. If you’re more than half a year out, you have lots of time to ponder things. Run ideas by other people. Brainstorm some in-booth activities. Research what’s worked for others. The more time you are able to take, the more comfortable you’ll be with the decisions you finally reach. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll take a lot of time making decisions. Some people make snap decisions that are absolutely right. Maybe that’s you.

Finalize the plan. Get the various entities (vendors, designers, booth staff) lined up and make sure they’re all on board with the plan. Confirm the timeline, and add in a little buffer time for unexpected circumstances.

Once the show is underway next year with few to no glitches, congratulate yourself for getting so far ahead of the project!

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A Company’s Sustainability Initiative as it Relates to a New Tradeshow Exhibit

When you ring up your custom exhibit house and order a new custom tradeshow exhibit, do you ever consider your company’s sustainability initiative?

Of course, there are a lot of things that can go into a company-wide sustainability initiative, such as having it as part of your company mission, doing your best to reduce waste through recycling, using less power, automate workflow or whatever else that may fit, making sure your employees are engaged in the process, and having ways to measure the effectiveness of the program so you can show it off to both employees and the public.

But do you consider how a new exhibit can possibly help in your efforts? There are a number of ways to use the opportunity of a new exhibit project as a part of your sustainability efforts.

The ECO-2118 from EcoSustainable Exhibits

First, you have to ask the question. When you are chatting with your exhibit house representative, ask them: “What ways do you implement sustainability efforts in your exhibit-design and building projects?”

That gives them a chance to show their stuff. In my experience, it’s rarely asked. But it is occasionally brought up, particularly in regard to responding to an RFP. The more formalized the process, it seems, the better the chance to have the question pop up. That’s where a company can fully respond to those concerns.

There have been some occasions when the question is asked as part of the conversation leading up to the sale, or as part of the project, but it is rarer in my experience.

Which is a shame. I think the buying / selling dance is a great chance (often a missed chance) to explore ways in which an exhibit company uses sustainability efforts to great effect.

For example, we often work with Classic Exhibits, one of the premier exhibit builders in the nation. They’re well-known in the industry for the depth and breadth of their sustainable practices. Just one example: aluminum is smelted and extruded locally in Portland, not shipped in, and recycled a short distance away to keep transportation costs minimal. Their approach to sustainability includes the ability to recycle everything except Sintra. That includes wood, aluminum and other metal, paper, foam, clear film and clear film plastic. All except wood is recycled at no cost.

Another Portland example, Boothster, uses building materials that are very easy to recycle: carboard tubes, cardboard-printed pieces, bamboo banner stands and so on. They position their company as builders that fully adhere to the practices for sustainability.

Greenspace, also in Portland, positions their approach as “environmentally sustainable design and fabrication.”

Another builder we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits, approachas the design and fabrication of exhibits using materials such as recycled aluminum extrusions, LED lighting, ECO-glass made from 100% post-industrial recycled content, bamboo plywood, FSC certified wood, plastic shipping cases made from recycled plastics and are 100% recyclable. Graphics are printed on ECO-board, Paradise fabric (made from 100% recycled soda bottles), and finishes are water-based low VOC (volatile organic compound) or VOD-free, and Greenguard certified.

All of these go a long way to making your tradeshow investment dollars be a part of your commitment to a company-side sustainability initiative.

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What to Watch for Walking the Tradeshow Floor

Naturally, your eyes will be on several different things when you are walking the tradeshow floor. And your agenda will be different as an attendee vs. an exhibitor. But if you keep your eyes open, you can spot a lot of cool and interesting things on the tradeshow floor.

The first day of a tradeshow, when the doors open for the first time, the first things you’ll see as you walk through the floors is how bright and clean everything is. Hundreds of people, maybe thousands, have been working for days to put on their best for you and all of the other attendees.

walking the tradeshow floor
What do you see when walking the tradeshow floor?

When you walk by a booth, look for the brand and image. Is it well-represented? Are people smiling and greeting you, but not pushing themselves on you? Are they asking good, engaging questions that make you stop and respond? Are they trying to catch your eye?

Is their booth made from sustainable materials? Can you tell? Is that part of their message – that they are a company dedicated to being as ecofriendly as possible?

Also look to see if they have new products. If they have samples, are they easy to reach? If they have demos, do they look easy to engage with? If they have a professional presenter, is it obvious that’s the case and is there a schedule for the day’s presentations easily available?

Is the booth crisp and clean and sharp? Or do you see ragged edges? Is the carpet spotless and brand-new looking? All of these things suggest something to you and help determine what your impressions of the company will be.

If the company is giving away promotional items, is it obvious? If they have some sample-like things on display but are not for giveaway, is that spelled out? Are they looking to collect business cards in a fishbowl? Why?

What is their lead capture strategy? Are they talking with people, or just engaging enough to scan a badge, thinking that is going to be enough?

Later in the day, or on the second or third day, look for places where the booth might be fraying, where garbage might be piling up, where personal belongings are spilling out of a storage area.

Look for stories. People engage with stories and the companies that best tell their stories will be the most memorable. What stories are the exhibits and their products and people telling?

Look for teamwork. Is the booth staff operating as a team, or do they just seem to be….there? Are they dressed in identifiable same-color tees, for example, or are they just in typical work clothes? Can you tell who’s a staffer and who’s not?

If you can walk the floor and make mental notes on day one, digest what you see, try again on the last day of the show when people are almost in their “bug-out” mode. Things will be mighty different!

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A Single Big Tradeshow is Still a Year-Round Event

I’m guilty of sometimes thinking that once a tradeshow is over for the year, it’s over. For a long time. Until next year! But that’s not really the case, no matter how much I’d like to be done!

As a tradeshow manager, or someone who attends or exhibits at tradeshows on a regular basis, it’s easy to compartmentalize each show:

“Got another show in two months, but it’s a small regional one. I can wait another couple of weeks to make sure I get it all together in time.”

“Well, that big expo is done! Don’t have to worry about that for another year! Or maybe ten months if I’m lucky.”

But now that the show is over, it’s a good time to start planning – or at least thinking about – the next time you’ll exhibit at the show. Look at your preparation time from how much of a splash you want to make, how much “new” stuff you’ll implement in your exhibit, and of course, budget. Budget drives everything. Almost.

If the biggest show of the year just ended, and you’re back in the office, you have another 11.5 months before you pack up and head to the airport again (and that doesn’t take into account another half-dozen smaller shows that may keep you on the road).

What now?

Relax for a Few Moments

Give yourself time to breath. There’s still follow-up and record-keeping to be done from the last show. File and share data such as photos, visitor comments, leads, etc. with the proper people. Go over the metrics you collected, identify important information that will help you make decisions for next year’s show. Whatever you chose to document, make sure it’s archived and available for your team to review, digest and understand. As they say, if you didn’t write it down or document it, it didn’t happen.

What’s New Next Year?

But before too much time passes, look at the show from a new angle: if you’re going to do something new, exciting and impactful (and why wouldn’t you?), you need time to brainstorm, plan, research, talk with partners such as exhibit houses, tech and AV vendors and more.

Most of your time will go into planning and design. Once the plan is set, the implementation starts. Depending on your plan, that could mean working with a designer or exhibit house to create a new exhibit from scratch, or it could mean adding some unique element to your current booth (like we did with our client Bob’s Red Mill when they wanted a 42” touchscreen with several videos that visitors can pull up with a touch of a finger).


Bob’s Red Mill’s exhibit alcove featuring 42″ touch screen with directional speakers

During the planning phase, you might be addressing the launch of new products, new branding, redefining your objectives and goals, and identifying how you’ll communicate your messaging, capture new leads and so on. It’s a long process, and you should give it the time it deserves.

Many companies approach a new exhibit project as just that: a new exhibit and nothing more. Which means they don’t give all of the other items enough time and space. The exhibit is not a standalone item; it’s integral to everything else that your company is doing for the show. New products require proper display space, adequate space for graphics, and perhaps space to sample or demo them.

Social Media

If you have a social media marketing director, make sure you bring her into the mix during the process. They can pass along photos and videos from the recent show and use them to build interest in next year’s show. During the lead-up to next year’s show, focus on building interest in the event, building interest in your appearance at the event, and finally on building interest in the products or services you’ll debut or feature. Yes, this deserves a much longer discussion, but don’t let this element slip away. Make sure, as a tradeshow manager, that you’re involved in the discussions on how this will unfold.

Booth Staff Training

This subject could be the topic of a complete book (maybe I’ll make this my next book!), but suffice it to say at this point that, all other things being equal, a well-trained dynamite booth staff will perform head and shoulders above a staff that isn’t properly trained. Your staff should be outgoing without being pushy, engaging without being trite. Know what questions work and what don’t. Always have a smile. Don’t take rejection personally. If you haven’t trained your booth for a while, consider how good of an investment it can be.

Get Everyone On Board

Before undertaking a new large project, make sure you are communicating properly with all of the various entities: management, marketing team, sales team, production team, outside vendors and partners. They should all be aware of the project from the beginning and what their potential part in the dance might be. Communicate often and do it well. It’s hard to over-state the importance of your ability to communicate!

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Tradeshow Tricks: How to Make Eye-Catching Signs and Brochures

This is a guest post by Tania Longeau of InkJet Superstores.

Setting up a booth at a trade show is a great way to build awareness of your brand and gain new leads. On the busy floor of a trade show, however, you only have 6 to 10 seconds to catch the attention of a passerby and draw them into your booth. You are lined up alongside several other businesses and, depending on the size of the show, you could have several thousand people walking past over the course of just a few days. If you want them to stop by your booth, you need eye-catching signage to draw them in.

Once you’ve gotten their attention, you need well-designed marketing materials like brochures, flyers, catalogs, and cards that they will take and look at again after the event. It sounds difficult, but learning how to make eye-catching signs, brochures, and other branding and marketing materials isn’t as hard as you might think. Keep reading to discover a few of our favorite trade show tricks.

Plan Ahead

Businessman Alan Lakein once said that “failing to plan is planning to fail,” and he was absolutely right. If you fail to do extensive planning prior to attending a trade show, you are very unlikely to have a particularly successful event. Goals and desired outcomes need to be established months before the date of the event to ensure that you have time to create everything you need.

Set SMART goals and come up with a solid plan of attack for meeting them. Think about what advertising and marketing materials you will need. Figure out whether you will make those materials in-house or have them printed elsewhere. If you plan on making them yourself, make sure you are stocked up on printer ink, paper, and other essential supplies. Trust us. Few things are worse than running out of ink at 11 p.m. the night before a trade show because you failed to plan and waited until the last minute!

Say it with an Image

When you only have a few brief seconds to grab someone’s attention, a sign or banner with lots of words just won’t do. A picture says a thousand words and, when you use images that are eye-catching, your signs will say a lot about your business, products, or services without needing to say a word. Keep the wording on your booth graphics short and to the point. Your signage should mostly consist of attention-grabbing images. Text should be kept to a minimum. On a busy trade show floor, very few people are going to stop and read an entire paragraph or a long list on a sign. Keep your message short and sweet.

Don’t Go Crazy with Fonts

You may love the look of the fancy font you use on your website or logo, but it may not be the best choice for creating trade show signage and displays. When you are designing signs, banners, and anything else that will be viewed from afar, choose fonts that are simple and easy to read. Remember that, on the trade show floor, your booth is competing for event attendees’ attention. If your advertisements aren’t easy to read, those attendees are just going to look elsewhere.

Be careful when choosing fonts for printed brochures, too. If most of your marketing materials currently exist online, adjustments may need to be made to ensure that they print well. Fonts and colors that look great on a computer screen or a smartphone might not look so good on paper, so be sure to do some experimentation to make sure everything is flawless.

Know When to Hire a Professional

There is a lot that you can do with the inkjet printer or laser printer in your office. Many of today’s higher-end models are capable of creating prints that rival professional quality, and you may be able to get away with printing many of your own signs, flyers, brochures, and pamphlets. It’s also important, though, to know when to hire a professional. Unless you have a high-quality inkjet printer that’s capable of printing large-format banners and other big displays, you should definitely work with a professional printing company. You only get one shot at making a good first impression, so the signage and displays you put up at your booth are extremely important.

Unless you have professional graphic design skill, working with an expert designer is a smart idea, too. A design may look awesome to you, but it may not actually be all that great. There is a lot more that goes into a successful design than just making it look pretty. A good designer can help you create brochures and signs that are eye-catching, tell your brand’s story, and evoke emotion. It takes a lot more than a copy of Photoshop to do all that!

In Conclusion

When you are attending a trade show, setting your booth apart from all of the other ones around you is extremely important. There will be hundreds or thousands of people passing by your booth over the course of a few short days, and you will only have a few seconds to grab each person’s attention. With eye-catching signs, banners, and displays, you can let event attendees know what your business is all about and encourage them to stop by. With eye-catching brochures and pamphlets, you can encourage them to pick up your marketing materials and check them out after the event. Keep the above listed tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to meeting your goals for the event!


Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. Images are provided by the author via Shutterstock.

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Expo West ’19 Diary: Last Full Day of Exhibiting and Re-Cap

The exhibit halls at the Natural Products Expo West closed Saturday at 4 pm. By then, exhibitors were handing our their remaining samples, packing up things they could and getting ready to grab flights home. The last day of a big show like this one is always a bit different. Not as many attendees as the first couple of days (although still very busy), which left staffers with a little more time to chat in a relaxed mode.

Which is a great opportunity to meet people. Which I did. Even though I was pretty much dead on my feet by mid-day, I kept pushing through, knowing the end was in sight. I spent some of the day checking in with all of our clients that we had scheduled for dismantle the next day to make sure paperwork was all in place. Things don’t move in a tradeshow without the right paperwork!

Saturday started early by assisting in the dismantling of a new exhibit for a new client, Hop Tea, from Boulder, Colorado. They were set up in the hot new products section of the Hilton Ballroom, which meant that their exhibiting schedule ended a day earlier than the main halls in the convention center. I’m told they won a Nexty Award for new products, and their business – less than a year old – is off to a quick start. Glad to be able to be a part!

By the end of the day, I was done. Beat. Exhausted. So it was back to the Airbnb for a relaxing night, the only one of my 6-day trip. Friday night it was fun to spend nearly two hours at the Oregon Business gathering at McCormick and Schmick’s near the convention center. It’s a gathering that has happened for several years, and is designed to show off Oregon products from companies that may not necessarily be exhibiting at the show. Food and libations and good conversations flowed.

Hop Tea custom reclaimed barn wood exhibit, built by TimbrandMoss

Sunday morning it was the dismantling. I was overseeing the takedowns of five booths by Eagle Management, which has proven to be a good partner: resourceful, efficient and generally quick to get things done. My job was mainly to make sure things were happening in a timely manner, and taking care of the paperwork: shipping BOL’s, printing shipping labels, etc. I admit I find it fascinating to see the before and after (and the during) of big shows. Once the show is over, hundreds of union workers come in and dismantle things quickly. It’s a helluva sight, really. Even though our truck was in line to pick up crates by the check-in time of 8 am, they weren’t able to load freight and leave until after midnight. Crazy, I know. Yes, it’s a busy show and hundreds if not thousands of trucks are all in a queue awaiting their call.

Overall impressions this year? It seemed busier than last year, if that is possible. New Hope usually posts their press release with exhibitor and attendee numbers within a few days of show close, so it’ll be interesting to review this this week.

From the list of exhibitors I visited last year, 25-30% of them were not at this year’s show. Big shows like this are expensive, and not all companies are ready to hit the big time and try to connect with thousands of buyers, brokers and retailers. That doesn’t keep younger, smaller companies from trying, though. Often the difference between success and failure at this level is having and executing a good plan, no matter what type of exhibit you have.

Later in the week, I’ll post photos of our clients at this show. Meantime, here are a few more clicks from the last day or so of Expo West:

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