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

Custom exhibit

Natural Products Expo West TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards

Walking the floor of the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, one is overwhelmed by the sheer number of tradeshow exhibitors and visitors. According to New Hope, the organization that puts on the show, there were over 80,000 visitors this year, and over 3,100 exhibitors.

That’s a lot of bone broth, honey, yogurt, Paleo diets and chocolate. Oh, the chocolate!

But there are literally tons of tradeshow exhibits, many of which stand out in unique ways. Let’s capture a few of these and call them out for service and recognition above and beyond.

Best Use of Bodily Function Statistics: GoodBelly

I watched as visitor after visitor stopped at the side of the GoodBelly exhibit and snapped a photo of The Poop Report, an infographic compiled from a survey of over 3000 people who visited the GoodBelly website.

The Poop Report: Good Belly
The Poop Report: Good Belly

Best Long Form Screenplay, er, uh, Exhibit: BabyGanics

BabyGanics have traditionally occupied an odd-shaped island space for years in the convention center, so I was a bit surprised to see that space occupied by another exhibit. It took a moment of spinning on my heels, but I did eventually find the 60′ (70′? 80′?) long exhibit. Just an inline exhibit, but they jammed a lot of longevity and functionality into the space.

BabyGanics Goes Looong!
BabyGanics Goes Looong!

Best Makeover: Nancy’s Yogurt

This booth is near and dear to my heart: it’s the second exhibit project I ever sold when I got into the business 15 years ago. So this is nearly 15 years old. For years, the booth has had the same look and feel. But a laminate makeover gave it an entirely new look and feel. In fact, I admit at first glance I thought it was an entirely new exhibit! But not the case – just a quick re-skin for a whole new look:

Nancy's Yogurt Before and After
Nancy’s Yogurt Before and After

Best Lettuce on a Wall: Indoor Farms of America

Inside Farms of America had a simple concept: show people what they do, and as a result it’s an eye-catching and ‘stop-in-your-tracks’ effect:

Best Lettuce Wall
Best Lettuce Wall

Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi

Kashi’s <1% display got people talking and snapping photos. It’s nothing but a large space with a hanging sign, the <1% display and, when you read the fine print, you discover their message about organic farmlands. Effectively done:

Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi
Best Minimalist Exhibit: Kashi

Best Use of Cactus Wisdom for Interactivity: Steaz Tea

There’s nothing like handing out cards with pre-printed fortunes to get people to line up. I know I did. Clever, interactive, and engaging in a fun way – a perfect fit for Expo West:

Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus
Steaz Teas Interactive Fortune-Telling Cactus

Seriously, I could go on forever with fun and silly awards for exhibits at Expo West: it’s a place with a lot of creativity. Yes, you’ll find uncreative low-budget exhibits that should (and probably did) embarrass the exhibitors, but what’s the fun in pointing those out? They know who they are, and they know when it’s time to upgrade. So let’s go with just one more that caught my eye:

Best Photo-Op Exhibit: StonyField Yogurt

A large painting on a wall and floor made it look like you’re standing in a bowl of yogurt, if photographed at the right angle. So I joined in. Lots of people waiting for their turn here throughout the show:

Best Interactive Photo-Op: Stonyfield Yogurt
Best Interactive Photo-Op: Stonyfield Yogurt

TradshowGuy Exhibits Shows Off Three New Client Booths at Expo West

it was a good Natural Products Expo West 2017 for all of us here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits! We welcomed three new clients at the show: Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley Bread, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant and Wedderspoon Manuka and Organic Gourmet Honey.

Expo West Tradeshow Exhibits

Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley Bread got it started with a 10×30 booth; 10′ is dedicated to the Alpine Valley brand, 20′ to the Dave’s Killer Bread brand. The booth featured three fabric graphics, two of which were backlit by LED lights, creating a bright and attractive light box. Both brands showed off their logos with stand-off direct print sintra with LED highlights. A small storage closet gave them plenty of room for product, along with two custom curved counters equipped with USB chargers and LED trim. One had a tablet kiosk affixed to the top.

 

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant is a relatively young company that has seen its products make a big impression in the marketplace. This year they introduced a new soap product to go with the deodorant, and showed it all of with a custom 20′ inline booth featuring two large fabric light boxes.

Both of these booths had custom flooring, which we’re seeing a lot more of these days.

Last, but not least, we worked with Wedderspoon from Philadelphia to create a wood-shelf oriented booth to show off their line of New Zealand honeys. This was a simple, elegant wooden booth that gave them a large hanging graphic in the middle, several display shelves and ample storage space.

All of the companies reported glowing comments from visitors on their new exhibits. But more importantly, the great folks from Dave’s Killer Bread, Schmidt’s Naturals and Wedderspoon loved the exhibits and were a joy to work with. It’s another good reminder of why we’re in this industry: to make you look good!

Repeal and Replace: The Tradeshow World’s Version

All this talk and angst about ‘repeal and replace!’ Yet it happens all the time in the tradeshow world. Yesterday I walked the floor of the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim as exhibitors assembled exhibits for business later in the week. Many of the exhibitors there have performed a version of ‘repeal and replace’ on their exhibits. Others have done a partial makeover, hoping to satisfy the budget-minded constituents in the company. And yet others have stuck to their guns, not making any changes from last year.

repeal and replace

That’s the way of the tradeshow world. Every year there are new competitors in the marketplace. Every year there are new potential customers that are going to view your exhibit with new eyes. Every year there will be the same visitors who have seen your exhibit before.

So what prompts a company to throw out the old – repeal – and bring in a new exhibit – replace? It could be any number of things, but a recent client described it perfectly: their old exhibit was a ‘train wreck’ and the new one fixed all those issues with something that was well-planned and well-executed.

Certainly budget comes into it. So does function. So does the competition, company growth (or contraction), change of direction or any number of things.

When you’ve come to the decision to repeal and replace your exhibit, take the time to get it right. You’re going to want to live with it for several years.

The Importance of Knowing Your Tradeshow Marketing Goals

What are your tradeshow marketing goals? It may seem an obvious question. But it bears some attention before schlepping off to the show, setting up and accosting attendees.

Each show is different with a unique audience and a unique set of competitors. How you determine your goals depends on those combinations. Some shows may be better at connecting you with retailers, some better at interacting with buyers, others better at connecting with bigwigs who can make big things happen.

In general, the tradeshow marketing goals can fall under three main areas:

the importance of knowing your tradeshow marketing goals

Brand Awareness and Perception

In this area, you can build on your company’s marketplace awareness with an effectively branded booth that shows off your credentials or capabilities. You can promote specific products, launch new products, position your company effectively against competitors, or even reach new markets.

Floor Activity Goals

This is where you can work to increase traffic, have one of your managers speak at a conference or panel, speak with industry media outlets, compile information about your competitors, interact with attendees, promote your message, give demos or hand out samples, work to build traffic through promotions and social media engagement and more.

Things to Measure

I’ve always advocated that exhibitors count visitors. It’s not always easy on the crazy chaos of a tradeshow floor, but if you can keep count you’ll know the number of visitors you had. Use that as a baseline and count the visitors at each show and compare year-to-year. You’ll also count leads and sales that result from those leads. Do a little market research by taking a survey or visitors and compile the results. Keep count of any new distributors, suppliers, retail buyers and more.

Knowing your tradeshow marketing goals gives you focus, especially since those goals change from show to show, from audience to audience.


Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee February 13, 2017 [video replay]

Check out the Monday, February 13, 2017 edition of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, where I go over organization, accountability and structure. And a short list from Richard Larsen of Brandwatch: Ten Top Tips for a Successful Tradeshow Booth.

 

The One Good Thing I referenced in the vlog was night skiing, in particular at Hoodoo Ski Bowl in the Central Oregon Cascades. Lovely!

7 Kinds of Exhibits to Look for at the Tradeshow

There are hundreds of styles and types of exhibits at tradeshows, but in my estimation you can reduce them to just a handful of ‘kinds’ of exhibits. Do you recognize these?

  1. Super-Duper Over-the-Top Big Tent Exhibit. You know these kind. This exhibit has a hanging sign, a dozen or more people working the booth who are wearing matching tees or tops, are handing out samples and generally trying to be the ‘big dog’ in their niche. And with this kind or exhibit, they usually succeed.
  2. 7 Kinds of Exhibits to Look for at the Tradeshow

    Large Format Well-Branded Exhibit. Most likely an island, but you can tell in an instant who the exhibitor is. Highly professional. The staff is smiling, greeting everyone appropriately. Kicking ass and taking names.

  3. Something New. Often an inline exhibit from a company that changes it up frequently. Some companies take the same exhibit year after year after year. There are some exhibitors, however, that bring a brand new look almost every year. These are companies that are challenging their competitors and the status quo.
  4. Same Old Exhibit. Just referenced in last paragraph. The company that doesn’t even bother to change their sign from year to year even though a casual observer can tell they should probably do some updating.
  5. The Kluge Exhibit. Creativity run amok, where a (usually) small company has a couple of creative folks who take bicycle parts, discarded barn wood or whatever and somehow manage to come up with an exhibit that knocks your socks off. What are they selling again?
  6. Basic. Lots of companies start here. There’s not a lot of creativity, but simplicity is important and the message is clear.
  7. The WTF exhibit. Poorly executed graphics with unclear messaging, bored-looking staffers. It makes you wonder WTF are they doing at the show?!

Next time you walk the show floor, see how many of each kind of exhibits you can identify! And if you can add to our list, feel free to drop a comment!

7 Tradeshow Exhibit “Must-Haves”

Time for another list – this one is called 7 tradeshow exhibit “must-haves” and it’s pretty simple. What 7 things (items, people, plans) are essential to making your next tradeshow appearance a whopping success? Let’s count them:

  1. Branding that is clear as an angel’s giggle. A visitor should know at a glance what you sell and what kind of a company you are. She should be able to intuit so much with that glance: how you approach the marketplace, how the company culture works, how you view the environment, wha

    t kind of company you are. A good 3D exhibit designer working with a knowledgeable and responsive marketing team can work magic with the right design.

  2. Professionalism that is as obvious as, well, Captain Obvious. Your fully-trained staff will know how to approach visitors in a friendly and engaging way, and how to either answer their questions or get them to the right person. Staff training goes a long way and is worth more than you’ll ever spend on it.
  3. Lead capture system as effective and smooth as a glass of fifty-dollar bourbon. Once you have a prospect in your sights, make the transition from visitor to prospect so easy when gathering contact and follow-up information that they’ll barely know it’s happening.
  4. Interactivity that engages and draws a crowd. Okay, not every activity can draw a crowd at all times. But what if you had something in your booth that was interesting and engaging enough that once a few people got going, it attracted other people? And if that activity was directly related to your product or service, wouldn’t that be about the best you could do? Well, you could top that by making sure you were gathering contact and follow-up information from as many of those people as you could, once you qualified them.
  5. A comprehensive tradeshow marketing plan that covers months leading up to the show, through the show, and through the follow-up period. This would mean pre-show marketing, show execution and immediate follow-up with the hottest prospects.
  6. Enough STUFF: business cards, lead sheets, sell sheets, samples, demos – all of the stuff you need to hand out to visitors, show they what you do and so on. Take more than you think you’ll need. Unless its dated, you can always repack it and use it next time.
  7. Comfortable shoes. Ha! You saw this one coming, didn’t you?

Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Preparing for your 2017 Tradeshow Schedule

Yes, it’s upon us – 2017 – have you planned your new year tradeshow schedule? Chances are you’re at least planning a few months into the new year, but have you detailed out the entire year?

Tradeshow planning, as any tradeshow coordinator will tell you, is the key to success. And since there’s a lot to planning, it makes sense to spend a lot of your time making plans, checking plans and then double-checking.

Start with your tradeshow schedule. What shows are you going to? Make a master list of the dates of the shows.

Size of exhibit. Note the size of booth space your company has committed to rent at the various shows.

Break it down. Now start breaking out the various products and services that you’re promoting at each show. Chances are those items will change depending on the audience that’s expected at each show.

From there, you can start breaking out the graphics messaging, sampling needs if any, demos desired at each show and so forth. Break out the details as far as you can at this point; you’ll need to break them down further at some point anyway.

tradeshow schedule

Now you can start determining how many people will be required at each show based on booth size and expected visitors. From this you can figure out what staff members will likely be tasked with working the show.

Beyond this, you can compile website URLs and contact information for all of the shows. Pull up previous year’s paperwork to compare to pricing and floor plan and booth location to what is happening this year.

From this you can compare costs and leads generated, perhaps going so far as to compile the number of new clients or sales generated from 2016 show appearances.

Once you’ve put down most of the broad strokes and details of your shows and booth rental spaces and so on, you can start the task of determining what, if anything, might be changed or added to your current booth properties. Is your exhibit in good shape, or does it need an upgrade of some sort? Or is this the year you’ve decided to invest in a brand new exhibit? That’s another task entirely, but it would be part of your yearly tradeshow schedule planning.

While this is really just a 30,000 foot view of the process, once you put this all together, the real fun begins of breaking out each element of each show and making them work successfully.


Free Report: “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House”

Consider the Full Cost of a Tradeshow Exhibit

A new tradeshow exhibit is great! It shows off a new look for your company. Visitors will see you’ve upgrade which is a clear signal that your company is doing well and wants to show off its stuff. Employees will see that the company believes in its products or services enough to invest in a new exhibit that properly communicates a clear message to clients and prospects.

Full Cost of a Tradeshow Exhibit

But in a way, having a new exhibit designed and built is like having a kid. Once the new booth has arrived, you have to take care of it! So that means the initial tradeshow purchase is just the beginning.

Most exhibitors will set aside a certain budget for a tradeshow exhibit. They will budget for the design, fabrication and shipping crates. But there’s more to it than that. Don’t forget the cost of shipping to the booth to and from the show. Beyond that, there’s flooring cost (sometimes included in the exhibit cost, sometimes not), setup cost and of course any show services costs, such as cleaning, internet, sign hanging and so on. Having a new booth may mean that some of the costs that you’ve incurred before will change – some will increase, some will decrease. For example, if you’ve had a heavy wood booth and your new booth is aluminum frame with fabric graphic, the overall weight of the booth will be less, hence a smaller shipping bill.

After that, you have the expense of travel and lodging for employees, rental cars, product samples and shipping. Yeah, the list goes on and on.

The cost of a tradeshow exhibit is pretty straightforward. But once the booth is ready to go, it’s like having a kid: now you have to support it, care for it and make sure it stays in good shape and doesn’t get into trouble!

Who Wants to Take Better Tradeshow Exhibit Photos?

Do you want to take better tradeshow exhibit photos? Or are you satisfied with quick smartphone photos of your booth?

Learn to take better tradehow exhibit photos!

It all depends on what you want them for.

If your goal is to simply document how a booth looks at any given show, your smartphone should suffice. Point and shoot. Wait as best as you can until people are out of the way and snap your photos.

If you want something more professional, simply hire a pro. I’ve done it more than once, even though I’ve had decades of experience behind a camera. Sometimes you just need a photo at a show you’re not able to attend, or you want a very high quality photo that you can submit to a magazine. That’s probably reason enough to hire a photographer. If you do hire a local photographer, you can always ask for recommendations from colleagues. If that doesn’t work, do a search for local photographers, reach out to a few and ask questions such as how much they charge, what’s their experience shooting tradeshow exhibits, and can you schedule the session at a time of day when the show floor is not crawling with people? Preferably that would be prior to a show opening in the morning, during the time when only exhibitors are allowed. A short session should only cost two or three hundred dollars, and if you hire a local you won’t have travel costs to worry about.

If you rely on your smartphone, you’re still able to grab some good shots. Keep these tips in mind:

Know your goals: are you gathering exhibit photos for possible online sharing? To document the state of the booth? To show visitors and/or staffers in the booth so you can share online? All of the above?

If you’re taking photos during a busy show, wait until people walk past your viewfinder. Try to get as much of the booth in your screen as possible. This may take a little moving around to look for the best angle.

If you’re able, go early and take photos of the exhibit prior to the show opening. Take them from all sides, and take close-ups as well.

Hold the camera steady! Even though it looks great on your phone screen, if you’re moving even a little bit, the photo may end up somewhat blurry (one of my hard-earned lessons!).

Finally, if you have editing tools on your smartphone, you can crop, filter, brighten and so on to make the photo mo’ better to share!

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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