In three weeks, Natural Products Expo West will be launching
in Anaheim California. It’s a show that TradeshowGuy Exhibits is most involved
with of all the shows our clients go to each year. For the past couple of
months, we’ve been working with new and current clients to finalize artwork,
shipping and logistic schedules and more. It’s a crazy wonderful show. I’ve met
hundreds of people there over the years and gained clients with almost every
appearance. And of course, I’ve met people from companies that seemed to think
they’d become clients, but it never happened. Maybe next year!
The preparation for a big show for many clients goes well
beyond making sure the tradeshow exhibit is up to snuff and sporting new
graphics or furniture or counters or new AV elements or lights. It’s about making
sure they’re positioned right with new products and services. It’s about making
connections with old colleagues and meeting new ones. It’s about seeing what
your competitors are launching.
It’s also about all of the details and all the moving parts:
scheduling labor, electrical, shipping, flooring, furniture, you name it. There
are endless details when it comes to tradeshow marketing. Handling it each year
and making adjustments at the next show to improve is not uncommon.
We’ll report more from the show during and after, but if you want to see how last year went for us, well, it went pretty well. I don’t think we’ll be quite as busy this year as a few of those clients are not making changes to last year’s presentations. But yeah, we’ll be busy.
I look forward to walking the floor for a few days, seeing
what people are doing, talking with exhibitors, learning their challenges. I
look forward to being in warmer climes than Oregon during early March! I look
forward to connecting with an old friend in LA and catching up on a spare night
(there aren’t many).
But most of all, I look forward to seeing the clients we’ve
worked with, whether for decades, years, or even a few months. I look forward
to seeing how all of the hard work is received. It’s great to make clients look
good, not only to their immediate supervisors who may not have been intimately
involved in the new exhibit or upgrades, but also the clients who come away
impressed with the exhibit.
Many clients I work with struggle with many of the bits and
pieces of their tradeshow exhibit, including furniture Some clients prefer to
own a handful of stackable chairs that stay in their exhibit shipping crates
when not in use. Others like the idea of having a fresh new look and budget for
furniture rentals every show.
There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just whatever works
best for you.
Certainly, there are pros and cons to renting an exhibit,
which is a bit part of any exhibit house’s overall business. Same with furniture.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Pros – Advantages of Renting:
Selection: Furniture rental companies are vying your business just like any other supplier. And to remain competitive, their selection has to be deep and wide. Which brings us to the next thing:
Shiny new: Renting furniture means you’ll get a piece that has only been used a few times, if at all. There’s a lot of turnover in the furniture rental industry and to stay on top, companies have to offer high quality. Which means that they are offering their best. If you get a piece of furniture that is scuffed or damaged, chances are you won’t use that company again.
Ease of use: This is one of the biggest drawing cards. Most furniture rental companies have warehouses near the major metro areas. When you rent chairs, tables, sofas, loveseats or whatever, it shows up at your booth space. At the end of the show, you just leave it there and the furniture company picks it up. And most bigger shows will have a local rep on site to deal with any issues that come up.
Damage: your furniture will get tossed, bounced, dropped and damaged eight ways from Sunday. It’s the nature of the tradeshow world. And after a while, it gets old and worn out.
Storage: when you rent furniture, you don’t have to pay to store it.
Shipping: when you rent furniture, you don’t pay to ship it. It just shows up. The price is all-inclusive.
Cons – Advantages of Owning:
Less Cost: not necessarily a negative, but weigh the cost of renting furniture a half dozen times over a year vs owning and storing a set of furniture, and undoubtedly the cost to rent that many times will be higher than purchasing something and using it six times.
Storage: If you have sufficient storage space and the chairs fit in your shipping crates, you don’t have to worry about them.
No Surprises: When you own furniture, you don’t worry about renting something turns out to be different than what you expected.
Less Hassle: Don’t have to deal with yet another vendor.
Is renting furniture the right thing for you? Talk to your exhibit house. No doubt they work with at least one good furniture rental vendor that can answer your questions.
Tradeshows and events have been running since 1851, the 1st one being “The Great Exhibition” in London. It’s safe to say the exhibition world has drastically grown since the 1800’s, as have the price tags that are part and parcel of today’s exhibition experience.
Organising an event takes time, patience
and some form of budget to support the design of an exhibition stand or display
accessory. Within the industry you’ll be faced with many questions regarding
the costs and the necessities.
To create an understanding of what you
need, along with the tradeshow essentials, take a look at a list of costs to
consider before booking your event: –
Booking your stand space
The Exhibition Stand
Stand accessories, such as
banners and displays counters
Promotional items – Leaflet,
pens and lanyards
Transportation for you and your
full stand design
Additional extras such as
seating, lighting and interactive monitors
With all costs considered, it can appear
daunting. Yes, it is an investment, but when tackled correctly a successful
event can help towards business growth and place you on the right path to build
new relationships and gain potential customers.
If you’re still searching for the reason to
attend your first event, we’ve listed 4 benefits that you’ll be able to take
away from the experience.
Attending a tradeshow puts you in the best
place possible to build new relationships. Your brand and stand will attract
potential customers, therefore leading to conversations with other industry
It doesn’t have to stop there. Use your
time wisely and explore the exhibition floor. Take it upon yourself to visit
other business spaces. Doing so, presents another opportunity to strike up
Outside of social media and online
platforms, exhibitions offer amazing brand exposure. Your selected displays
will home in on what your brand has to offer and your unique selling points.
All of which will be visible through custom artwork and promotional items.
The blank canvas that a stand or display
product provides is priceless. Use the space to promote, intrigue and capture
Learn and Expand on Industry Knowledge
Whether you have been in the industry 1 year or 50, there’s always something new to discover. Use the time to find out about new competitors, up and coming trends, innovative design and alternate display options.
Networking with other businesses allows you
to ask new questions and educate yourself. As a brand, to learn and to grow is
to develop new ideas and progress with new trends.
From the relationship building, brand
exposure and the want to expand your knowledge, you’ll be able to begin further
growth within the business. Be sure to take business cards and contact details,
so when the shows over, you’ll have the correct point of contact.
Use the new found information and contacts
you have gained to your advantage. Connect on LinkedIn, send follow up emails
and keep your brand relevant and current so your details are at the forefront
of their mind.
Extra Tips on How to Make Exhibiting
Do your research and ensure you
are attending the right show for YOU
Check your stand position and
Use social media and email
marketing to promote your attendance
On the day, take contact
details from those who you speak with and make contact the following week
Make your brand memorable by
choosing the right stand design and delivering a presence
Create a list of goals to
achieve on the day
Position the co-workers with
the greatest knowledge and understanding of the business on the stand space
Vicky Peat is a Marketing Executive for Go Displays based in Peterborough, UK. As a content marketing writer within the Exhibition and Tradeshow industry, Vicky enjoys sharing industry knowledge to encourage and educate new and experienced exhibitors.
When it comes to tradeshow marketing, anything goes. Right?
Well, maybe not everything, but certainly it’s a time to try things. Do things
Or. Maybe not. Tradeshows are fraught with risk. You’re
putting a lot of money on the line. Generally speaking, the cost of tradeshow marketing
is about a third of a company’s overall marketing budget. Which means that it’s
a lot of money in play, making it hard for a company to risk much.
In a sense, tradeshows can be an interesting mix of the
precise and the experimental.
The precision is important, to be sure. Your tradeshow staff
is your front line. The most important piece of the puzzle. They need to know
what they’re doing and why. If mistakes are made, or if your staff isn’t as
well-trained as they could be, your company might miss out on a good amount of
Your exhibit is important. It’s the 3D representation of
your brand, and if it’s not spot-on, it’ll send mixed messages to your audience.
Your products, demos and sampling have to be well-thought
out and well-executed. Make some mistakes in these areas, and again, you’re
leaving potential money on the table.
Precision is important in these areas.
But tradeshows are also ripe for experimentation. You have opportunities to do surveys, market research, unusual activities, oddball booth items and much more that will grab eyeballs and attention without impacting the precision needed in other areas. VR, smoothie bikes, live music, projection mapping, unusual use of video….the list is endless as to how creative you can get at tradeshows and still do all of the precise things that you need to do to engage with attendees, capture leads, have an exhibit that captures your brand precisely.
Tradeshows are a balancing act no matter what you’re trying to balance. Adding some experimentation along with the precision gives you flexibility, a little tension (which makes people stop and look), and keeps you, your visitors and your competitors on your toes.
It’s 2020. Seems like everyone wants something new. After all, this century is no longer a teenager! Hey, if the century were a human, it could almost drink!
So…what’s new in the tradeshow industry?
At TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we work with a handful of vendors: designers, manufacturers and other suppliers in the tradeshow industry.
Our main partner since we started this business has been Classic Exhibits. If not for them, we wouldn’t be in business. Classic Exhibits is a ‘white label’ manufacturer that designs and sells products through a network of distributors. They’ve gone from kind of a kit designer and manufacturer to doing a lot of custom work. It’s where the industry is going, and Classic Exhibits is among the companies leading the way.
And when they introduce something new, it’s good. More than good. It’s groundbreaking. In the last couple of years, they introduced Gravitee, a tool-less exhibit system that sets up easily, breaks down quickly and ships flat. It’s made a difference to clients of ours at Classic Exhibits. In fact, the first time we set up a Gravitee wall with an installation and dismantle crew, they were impressed with how easy and quickly it went up.
Our new Tool-less SuperNova Lightboxes achieves all of those goals. While there may be more “complicated” solutions, there are none stronger or easier. We estimate the new tool-less connectors reduce assembly by 70-80%. Plus, the splines and the corner connectors can stay on the extrusion reducing the possibility of lost parts. Even the translucent knobs are innovative since they eliminate shadows and reflections.
Can’t wait to see these in action.
We also work with Orbus, which provides numerous – maybe countless – options for popups, banner stands, table throws and more. They have high quality combined with budget pricing – a good combination.
And they’re kicking off 2020 by introducing a variety of new products, including digital banners, outdoor tents, shaped signs, smaller (and larger) HopUp fabric stands, and more. Many of these are lightweight, easy to set up by just a person or two, and priced right. See the selection of new designs and products here.
We’ve enjoyed working with other manufacturers and vendors through the years, but when it comes to something new, both Classic Exhibits and Orbus have taken the initiative to keep bringing the “NEW” to the New Year.
Back from Thanksgiving week, a nice few days away from work.
Sit down at the computer Monday morning.
Hundreds of emails piled up in my in-box. 785 to be precise. Lots of them with pitches on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I mean, a ton of pitches.
Delete them all: delete, delete, delete. Don’t bother to
read them. They do nothing for me.
On a few, I decide to unsubscribe. But that takes longer.
And with most of the newsletters I unsubscribe from, I feel like they keep
sending me stuff. So what’s a guy to do?
It’s obvious that none of those emails stood out. They did nothing for me (I think I said that already). I’m not looking for any Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, I have work to do. I’m not looking for Christmas presents for anyone, or to save money on things that I probably would not buy at any point. I’m busy and want to get these off of my to-do list as soon as possible, which means I’m scanning quickly and deleting almost everything once I determine it’s not a client, or a potential client.
I’m not their target market.
Email is one thing. Let’s move from email to other venues, such as retail, or online ads, or, hey, tradeshows!
When people walk by your retail store in a shopping mall, are you doing anything to stand out?
When you advertise online, what makes your ad stand out?
When people walk by your tradeshow booth, are you doing
anything to stand out in a crowd?
It’s easy to ignore and delete an email. It’s easy to walk by a retail store without stopping. It’s a piece of cake to ignore ads on your screen.
It’s pretty easy to walk by a tradeshow booth, too, unless something really outstanding is going on at the booth. Maybe it’s a unique booth. Maybe it’s a presentation that draws you in, entertains you and informs you of the company’s products and services. Maybe it’s a unique food sample. Could be anything.
Tradeshows have a distinct advantage over emails, and here’s
why: emails go out to people who have (supposedly) opted-in to a company’s
pitches. But over time, it’s not uncommon for that company – which is often
owned by another entity – to share that email address with another company, and
soon you’re getting pitches from (somewhat) related companies or products or
services. Has that happened to you? Happens all the time to me.
The difference that tradeshows have is that you have spent
handsomely to be at the show. But the show is targeted, the audience is
specialized. The people walking the show floor have also paid to be there, and
they are usually there for specific reasons, the main one being that they are
SHOPPING for something, and since you’re exhibiting there, chances are they’re
SHOPPING FOR SOMETHING YOU ARE SELLING.
Still, you have to stand out in a crowd. Tradeshows have a
lot of competition. Your biggest and best competitors are doing all they can to
make their best pitch to the same people you’re pitching. That’s the name of
Which means that whatever you do, it had better be good. It
had better be worth your time and money.
It had better be something that stands out in a crowd.
It’s a common refrain: tradeshows don’t work for me. They’re too expensive. I don’t get enough leads.
And unfortunately, it’s true for too many exhibitors. It’s easy to look at the exhibitor list of a show year after year and point to companies that give it a try once or twice never to return.
Look at the flip side, though: there are thousands of exhibitors that go back to the same few shows year after year, take home a stack of leads, create more business and firmly believe that tradeshows are the most powerful marketing tool they have at hand.
I know that’s true because I work with those kinds of exhibitors.
Now, not every single exhibitor I’ve worked with is successful. Some have
fallen off the wagon along the way. Others have shifted their marketing
efforts. Some have taken a step back from tradeshows and reassessed their
program, but eventually make it back bigger and better.
What’s the difference?
We could point to any number of things: their booth space is
lousy and doesn’t have enough traffic; their booth is small and nondescript;
their staff is bored (and boring) and so on. But it all boils down to just two
Having a good plan and being committed to that plan.
Plans are great. Everyone should have one. But what about
having a bad plan? Bad plans do certainly exist. And having a bad plan is not a
Back to that “good plan” and “being committed” to the plan. A
good plan can come from knowing your goals, your budget, your people; knowing
the show and your competitors, and knowing what you really want out of the
show. That good plan can be enhanced by having a well-trained booth staff,
having a standout exhibit and having the most popular products in the show. But
those last three things, the staff, exhibit and best products, are not
completely necessary to have a good result. They’re important, sure, but they’re
more like frosting on the cake. You gotta build a good cake first.
Answer these questions:
What do you want out of the show? In other words, why are you there?
How are you going to know if you got what you wanted? How are you going to measure your results?
What are the steps you need to take to get what you want? What will it take to get exactly what you want?
Sometimes it takes a little brainstorming and communication
with the various members of the team. Sometimes it means knowing what worked at
your last show and knowing what didn’t work. Be honest. Sometimes you have to
be brutally honest to say that having that crazy mascot uniform didn’t really
work, or that having the general manager do the in-booth presentations didn’t
draw that many people. There are lots of reasons why things don’t work and
assessing and understanding those ideas will help you move forward.
Another way to look at it is to ask yourself: When I get
back in the office the morning after the show and say, Man that was a great
show! What does that mean to you?
It’s not the same for every company.
Once you’ve defined the main goal of your tradeshow appearance,
break it up into pieces. If you want 300 leads over a three-day show, you’ll
need 100 a day. If the show is open from 10 am to 5 pm, that’s 8 hours. You’ll
need to average 12.5 leads per hour, or one about every five minutes. If you’re
doing demos, for example, and you know that for every demo you do there are 15
people on average standing there, and three of them are good leads, that means
you’ll need to do a demo about four times an hour. If, on the other hand, you
get six leads for every demo, that means you only need two demos an hour. Or,
you could try to double your projected leads by doing demos four times and
Run the numbers. If you want to give away 1,000 product samples
or sign up 200 people for lengthier demos in the next three months, you know
what that will break down to by just doing the math.
If your goals are not so straightforward, you can still look at it from an angle that will help. Maybe you want to make solid connections with only three distributors that, if you can get them to carry your products, would double your company revenue in the next two years, figure out what organizations are the best and most likely candidates. Make whatever effort you need to set and confirm appointments at the show. Yes, tradeshow success is all in the numbers, and it’s all in the ability to show off your products and make sales. So do the math, do the outreach. But don’t forget that we’re all humans – you and your prospects – and there’s often not a straight line to success. Make allowances for that, learn from your missteps and do better the next time. That’s what it’s all about.
A good piece of fiction is surprisingly like a good
tradeshow marketing effort. You don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. What
happens when you read a good piece of fiction?
1. Create a unique world.
Fiction allows an author to create a world that exists only in one place: the reader’s mind. A good tradeshow exhibit and marketing plan creates a world that exists only in your booth. Whether it’s a unique display, a professional presentation or a one-of-a-kind activity, creating a unique world for your visitor is a good way to make sure they remember you. Having a great product that no one else offers is also a good way.
2. Create tension.
A good story has tension that pulls the reader further into the story. A good tradeshow exhibit can create a good kind of tension. Maybe it’s a compelling and challenging statement on their graphic, or maybe it’s a challenging question that makes you stop and want to know more. That tension creates a kind of desire to learn more.
3. Know who your story is for.
I like to read detective page-turners and mysteries. I don’t like to read romance novels or fantasy. A good tradeshow marketing plan knows exactly what audience is attracted to their type or product or service and they don’t try to bring in anyone that isn’t interested.
4. The main character in a story has a “super objective.” What’s yours?
I recently heard this concept about a character’s super objective. You may not actually see this super objective detailed in the story, but it drives the main character. Jack Reacher, for example, is compelled to do what he can to right the wrongs that he sees. Harry Bosch believes that ‘if anybody counts, everybody counts,’ when it comes to solving a murder. No one gets more or less attention simply because of their place in society.
5. There’s always an objection (or a hurdle).
Know your prospect’s objections. Any novel where the protagonist has no hardships or obstacles is a boring novel. Expect your potential clients to have tough questions. If they do, it shows they’re interested and want to know more. Identify the most common objectives and make sure your booth staffers know how to answer those questions.
6. Keep the page turning.
Have you ever gotten part way through a book and just decided that you couldn’t finish it? Maybe it was boring. Maybe it wasn’t your type of book. Maybe you bogged down in too many unrelated bunny trails and lost the main story. In a tradeshow booth, show your attendees enough compelling evidence – the storyline, as it were – to stay until they learn enough to know if they’re going to buy from you or not. Depending on your product, this might mean that you’re giving in-booth demonstrations or training sessions, or your professional presenter is sharing enough information in a lively and engaging manner that compels the visitor to want to find out more.
7. Deliver the goods: make it a great ending.
Every novel has a wrap up where you find out what happened to the character, the storyline. It’s the payoff. Does your product or service make that same delivery? Are they the great payoff, the great ending that your prospect is looking for?
Yes, I think fiction can be a good inspiration for tradeshow marketing. By using the various elements contained in a good novel, you can create a template for showing your visitors all of the best of your products or services in a compelling and intriguing manner.
I’m no expert on exhibit design or figuring out the
potential customers for a specific product – let’s leave that to the people who
have a lot of experience in that area and it’s not me – but I’ve picked up a
few things along the way by talking to a lot of experts.
One thing that seems clear is that if you know who your
audience is, what kind of products they buy, what kinds of stores they like to
shop at, and why they buy your products, all of that information can be assimilated
in a synergistic way to help determine the look and feel of your tradeshow
exhibit so that your potential customers feel a familiarity; they feel at home
when they see your exhibit.
What do I mean by that? Let’s say you’ve determined that the
people who buy your products the most are a specific type of person: maybe they
shop at Target a lot, but also like Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or they like Applebee’s
but not Pizza Hut. They like Urban outfitters and J. Crew but not The Gap. And
so on. The more information you can distill about your products’ appeal – and who
is buying those products from you, the more you have to help design your tradeshow
Let’s say, for example, that your products attract people who
shop at Whole Foods for groceries. If you are selling a food product, it
probably makes sense to incorporate some design elements that are popular at
Whole Foods into your exhibit design. Not to copy the design, but to echo the
design elements. Do they use recycled wood? Do they use a pastel color on
counters or product shelves? Then consider incorporating those elements in the exhibit
Exhibit designers have the experience and the skill to not
only create a three-dimensional model complete with floor plans, traffic flows,
height restrictions and sensibilities, but they know how to take those colors
and patterns and textures and incorporate them into product displays, greeting
counters, light boxes and flooring patterns.
If done right, your potential customer will take one look at
your exhibit and even if they’re not familiar with your brand (yet), they will
feel at home because you’ve done your homework and created an exhibit that
understands them and what they like.
You just need to know who your ideal customer is and what
brands or stores they’re already comfortable shopping at.
With well over 10,000 different tradeshows happening in the United States annually, it is no secret that it can be a daunting task to choose the right type of trade show for your company to sponsor. After all, no two tradeshows are alike when it comes to their audience, objectives, and theme. All the research, preparation, and organization that go into designing and creating an exhibit can be especially daunting for small-business owners or first-time exhibitors. If that’s you, go with a full-service tradeshow company. They’ll take care of every aspect of your exhibit, from start to finish. And if they’re really good, they’ll show you the ropes along the way! Below are 5 tips for finding the right tradeshow exhibitor company.
You can begin your
search for a display builder by asking for referrals from your industry
associations, colleagues or searching an online query for trade show display
Most reputable exhibit companies have their own websites where you can view their portfolios and learn more about the range of services they offer. You may also want to consider attending a tradeshow in an unrelated industry and see if the particular layout and styles are what you are looking for. Then ask the staff running the trade show for the name of the exhibiting company. Some tradeshow display companies only provide design and production of the booth, while others also assist with shipping, staffing, set up, take down, and the creation of promotional literature, among other services. All of these aspects are something to consider in your search.
2. Have A Goal in Mind
What is your reason for exhibiting? Are you attempting to grow brand awareness, generate leads or make face-to-face connections? This is important because it will play a role in determining the design requirements of your exhibit. When you find a company that you want to work with, it’s important to make them aware of your goals so they can use that information to help layout the exhibit floor to help you reach them. If you can have a conversation with an exhibitor company and they immediately start generating ideas based around your goals, then they may be a good fit!
3. Excellent Customer Service
Find a company that offers first-rate project management services to give you a relaxed trade show planning experience. A good customer service team that will go above and beyond to assist clients. At every phase of the design and fabrication process, this company will collaborate with you in order to ensure that your exhibit reflects your ideal brand image. A bonus would be if the company will stage all of our tradeshow booths in their facility before the event so you can experience your booth in person or via video.
4. A Portfolio of Past Tradeshow Booths
When clients are seeking design services, they should pay careful attention to the portfolio provided by the exhibit design company. A portfolio gives potential customers insight into the company’s past work and tells the customer whether they can get the results needed from the designer. Find companies that have a vast portfolio. Again, not one tradeshow is the same. Yours shouldn’t be either. You want to gear it toward your goals and your potential audience. A great experience will keep visitors coming back in future years.
5. Proven Track Record
If you’re searching for
companies online, you’ll usually find this information on the “about us” and
“testimonials” page of their websites. Look for information on how long they’ve
been in business, as well as the earliest events for which they helped their
clients and customers.
Generally, it’s best to
look for established companies that have been in business or doing business for
at least a decade, as they’re the most likely to understand your unique needs
as a business and have a proven process for preparing for trade shows.
There you have it, these are five really important aspects to keep in mind when you are in the process of setting up a tradeshow and trying to find the right exhibitor company to partner with. Remember not to get too stressed out. Find a company that can be an extension of your team and that gives you the trade show you have been envisioning throughout your planning process.
Mark Yuska in the President of Alliance Exposition. Alliance Exposition is a General Service Contractor that focuses on setting up trade show exhibits for small to medium size events.