Tradeshow record keeping. Yikes! Who wants to keep track of everything.
Record keeping is one of those things that most of us wish we didn’t have to do, – we know it’s tedious – but know we really should do. So how much should we keep, what should we keep, where is the best place to keep it, and WHY?
Tim Patterson discusses tradeshow record keeping in this brief but informative webinar:
Sometimes I get tradeshow exhibiting questions. Well, frankly, I get a lot of questions. Some of them are even about tradeshow marketing! It’s worth seeing what people are asking, as well as what they’re thinking but not asking (I think!).
Q. Are tradeshows really worth attending?
A. The answer is: it depends! It depends on a variety of factors. Where to start? Let’s say that on average, companies spend about a third of their yearly marketing budgets on tradeshows, so there is definitely a lot of money ending up promoting products and services via tradeshow marketing. To get the most bang for your buck, do your due diligence by making sure you’re at the right show(s), with a good-looking and effective booth and well-trained and prepared staff.
Beyond that there are so many variables you could write a book about it. Well, actually, I did.
Q: How do I know what kind of booth to get or what size?
A. While this is generally dictated by budget constraints, other factors come in to play, such as the size of the show (exhibitors and attendance figures are important to have), what competitors will be at the show and how important a particular show is to your overall tradeshow schedule. Sometimes a small 10×10 booth does a great job representing your company with only a few staffers. Other shows may dictate that you consider stepping up your presence. Lots of exhibitors that show up year after year at shows that are beneficial and help them build their businesses will continually invest in larger booths to make a bigger impression at the show. And when it comes to tradeshows, more than any other kind of marketing, perception is critical!
Q: Graphics are a big challenge for us. What’s the best way to approach this subject?
A. Graphics are critical to the success of your booth, so it makes sense to get the most effective design and use the highest quality. Design is critical in that your design should be striking, compelling and simple. Putting too much into a design means that people will not stop to digest it. Large images, bold text, compelling questions or bold statements are all ways to get effective graphics on to your booth. And be sure to work with someone who’s used to creating the large-format, high-resolution graphics that are necessary for effective tradeshow graphics. And work with a production facility that does high-quality production.
Q. Even with a big booth in a good location and a great product, we’re still coming up short of the amount of leads we feel we should be generating. What else should I consider?
A. A few areas to look at: booth staff competency. Are they properly trained on how to handle visitors in a tradeshow? Also, do you have any interactivity in your booth? That might be something that a visitor can put their hands on, which takes them a few moments during which you can then uncover information to qualify or disqualify them. Finally, you might consider hiring a professional presenter. A good one is worth their weight in gold in the amount of leads they can generate.
Q. I’ve never exhibited before. We know it’s important to make our presence known at some very targeted shows. What’s the best way to start?
A. Talk with a professional who can walk you through your various options. These depend on budget, of course, but you’ll want to compare renting vs. buying; custom vs. modular or system booth and go over which shows are really a good fit for you. From there you can talk about how best to show off your product or service, how many people to take to the show and what kind of lead generation tools you might want to consider using.
Q. Tradeshows are expensive. What are some good ways to cut costs?
A. Yes, they can be expensive! But you can find ways to keep costs down. You can look at cutting exhibit costs by not using hanging signs (expensive to hang), using a modular booth vs. custom, using reusable packaging material, not having extra boxes shipped to the floor (drives up drayage cost) and much more. For a very thorough list, I’d recommend you take about 45 minutes and watch Mel White’s recent webinar with Handshake on 25 Ways to Cut Costs at Your Next Tradeshow. It’s well worth your time.
First things first: I’m not an expert on virtual reality at tradeshows, known as VR! But there’s a lot of information out there which I’ve absorbed along with some observations on using technology in a tradeshow, so I thought it would be fun to explore the topic from the perspective of using VR at tradeshows as an attractor.
In a recent conversation with Jennifer Liu with Hyland’s Homeopathic, a long time client and an attendee at Natural Products Expo East, she mentioned that there were a handful of exhibitors there using VR in their booth.
My first question when it comes to using VR, or any video in a tradeshow is this: what is your content? After all, content is everything. Without the right content, you might as well forget it.
Apparently the content at one of the booths involved spacious outdoors and action video: glaciers, mountains, beaches, and so forth. The idea was for the viewer to experience the full spectrum of virtual reality, regardless of the relationship that content had to the exhibitor’s product or service.
If you’re going to invite people into an engaging and intimate experience using VR in your booth, it would seem to me that you’d want to make some sort of connection between the experience and your product or service. If you’re a company that provides outdoor climbing or hiking gear, for instance, having 360 VR video of hiking or climbing would make sense. But if you produce chocolate bars or headphones, you’d have to ask yourself how that VR experience of hiking or climbing would relate. And while you might be able to find at least a tenuous connection, the stronger the connection, the better.
Starting Up with VR
In Foundry 45’s blog, there’s a discussion of the first step of creating content for VR. Record a bunch of video with the right cameras! This post discusses how to approach using VR for a tradeshow. Without spending a lot of time quoting the article, their advice is sound: do a dry run before the show, be prepared to help newbies, create a safe VR zone, use good sanitation techniques for the headsets, and so on.
When it comes to how people experience VR, the headset is one item you’ll need to decide on. Wareable has a recent rundown of several sets, including Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, HTC Vive, Gear VR and others. These range in price from about $100 to nearly a thousand bucks. And of course there’s Google Cardboard for just $16.99. And where do you have visitors sit? You might want to give them comfy auto-race car type seats which hold them comfortably and safely while they zoom around a virtual world. You might check out the Roto Interactive Virtual Reality Chair. No doubt it would give you a line of people waiting to get into your booth!
Whether you choose to incorporate VR into your exhibit now or not – or just wait and see, it’s safe to say more and more exhibitors will step into the VR world as time goes by. If you do consider it, make sure it’s a good fit for your product or service, and make sure you have content that is a good match to keep visitors engaged and learn about what your company can do for them.
With a multitude of moving parts in tradeshow exhibits, where does furniture play a part in your booth? Do you purchase chairs and tables and ship them with your booth? Or do you simply rent furniture each time you exhibit?
There’s no single right ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. Life isn’t that way, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately)! Nope, in fact it might be that your exhibiting needs change drastically from show to show, and you have to rent sometimes and other times it makes sense to ship furniture.
So how often to exhibitors actually rent furniture? Surprisingly, it’s over half, according to several I&D companies that were queried at an April event. In fact, it was close to 75% to 90%! So if you’re currently NOT renting furniture, you’re likely one of the few that are either shipping it in your booth crates, or having your clients and staffers stand the entire show. Whew!
The cost of renting furniture can add up, we know. In fact, if you’re new to furniture rental, you might be shocked to see that it will often cost more to rent a nice chair or table than it is to buy. And if it doesn’t cost more, it will likely cost close to the purchase amount. But if you calculate the cost of shipping, drayage, return shipping and storage of the furniture, the cost continues to increase. And even if you own the furniture, you’ll have to replace it at some point due to damage and wear and tear. So how much does it really cost? Unfortunately, tradeshow exhibits – including furniture – take a beating and often have to replaced or repaired frequently. So your cost of owning keeps going up.
With furniture rental, you are paying not only for the cost of the furniture, which rental companies go to great lengths to make sure are in excellent shape (otherwise they’ll lose customers), your cost typically includes shipping and drayage. So that $300 for a chair is a one-time cost that means it’ll show up at your booth and will vanish once the show is over – all coordinated by show services or your tradeshow coordination company.
TradeshowGuy Exhibits Exhibit Design Search recently added a new strategic partner: Cort Furniture. Here is where you’ll find virtually any furniture item that you’d ever need in a tradeshow booth, from plants to stanchions, from small refrigerators to tablet stands, from bar tables and stools to luxury office chairs and ottomans and much more. And the prices are very competitive, so if you’re looking to rent a furniture item for your next show, just review the selection here and see what works for you.
How to determine if your tradeshow exhibit investment is worth it.
Tradeshow exhibits can be expensive. So how do you know if it’s a good investment? Here are seven ways that will help you determine if the money invested in the design and fabrication of a new tradeshow exhibit is well spent.
If it allows your booth staff to function better. A new tradeshow exhibit will look great, but if it helps your team function better at a tradeshow, it’s worth the money.
If it increases your brand awareness at the show. One of the most important reasons to be at a tradeshow is because it can help reach new markets. If your tradeshow booth (bigger, prettier, more eye-catching) is better at attracting attention than your previous booth, it’s worth it.
If you find it easier to generate more leads. A recent client that upgraded their tradeshow booth to a 20×20 island exhibit saw leads increase three-fold as a result. Definitely worth it.
If it gives you more space for presentations. Even if your hired professional presenter says she can do a great presentation in a 10×10 (and they probably can), if you can give them more space, it’ll allow more people to see those presentations and be engaged with your products or services.
If it shows your market that you’re the dominate company in the niche. One client of ours likes their big booth because they feel it gives them bragging rights as the ‘big dog’ in their market. Psychological warfare, indeed!
If it leads to increased profitability. Does it positively impact the bottom line? Then it’s a good investment.
If the new exhibit boosts your staff’s morale. Perhaps this isn’t a cut-and-dried way to determine if the investment is worth it, but I’ve seen first hand many times the impact a new tradeshow exhibit has on a staff’s attitude. It shows them that management believes in the company’s tradeshow efforts.
Can you come up with any other reasons why a brand new tradeshow exhibit is worth the investment? I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below.
You bought a new tradeshow exhibit. You took it to the show, set it up to great fanfare and response, then packed it up and took it back to the office. Now what? Will you wait until the next show, pull it out and think it’ll look exactly the same as the first time?
Hardly. Unfortunately, tradeshow exhibits are not like the common household items, such as a recliner, TV set or backyard patio table and umbrella. With those items, you can see any rip that needs repaired or gouge that should be covered or food spill that needs cleaning. Nope, a tradeshow exhibit is handled roughly for most of the time it sees daylight. It’s pulled from crates, assembled, used, abused, battered and more prior to being crammed back in the crate by employees who are in a hurry and are thinking ahead to what they can do later in the day. Sometimes a forklift and a tradeshow panel will have a close encounter. Other times an aluminum strut gets a big gouge from who-knows-where.
So how is the best way to handle it?
The first step is to realize that simply, the purchase of a tradeshow exhibit means that you are also responsible for its care and feeding. Much like a pet or child, you have much more responsibility than just making the purchase.
Tradeshow exhibits need care and feeding. To wit, start with each time the tradeshow exhibit is set up. Document the set up with photographs and notes if necessary. Point out areas that are damaged and need repair, or need cleaning. Most exhibits will need some sort of cleaning after each show, especially if you’re in the food industry and have been handing out samples. Take soap and water, scrub counters and shelves and let dry.
Once the tradeshow exhibit crates come back, schedule time to open the crates and go through each piece. Again, document the state of the items, and document the way the crates were packed, comparing to the way they were originally packed at the exhibit house, or prior to shipping from your warehouse. In any event, the more you are aware of what shape your exhibit is in, the better off you are.
Does the exhibit need repairs? If so, determine what type of repairs it needs and who will do it. Clients we’ve worked with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits have approached this issue in a couple of ways: some will ship the crates straight to the exhibit house to have it closely examined every three or four shows. Others will make sure they spend time a month or so prior to an upcoming show to pull the exhibit pieces out of the booth and set it up. If it needs repair, and they’re capable of making those repairs, they’ll do it. Sometimes they’ll need to order a specific part or two from their exhibit house that originally fabricated the booth, but often it means doing it themselves.
How is your exhibit stored? It should ideally be stored in a warehouse that has a consistent temperature, is dry and pest-free. This avoids damage from the changing temperatures, mildew and insects.
Professional I&D and Shipping
Another way to keep your exhibit in top form is to have it handled by professionals who know what they’re doing. This means having it set up and disassembled by professionals, and having it shipped by companies that are used to handling tradeshow freight.
Graphics and more
Other parts of care and feeding of your tradeshow exhibit include making sure all graphics are up to date and fit properly, making sure all the pieces of the booth are returned and in good shape, and making sure the crates are still sturdy and stable enough to endure another shipment.
By taking complete ownership of your tradeshow exhibit, you’ll not only get more life out of your exhibit in terms of years that you are able to use it for tradeshow promotions, you’ll save money by avoiding large repairs due to neglect.
The recreational cannabis business is exploding. At least in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Washington, DC. Which means that the marijuana growing and selling is also booming. I attended the Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair recently to find out exactly how big it really is.
It’s big. And getting bigger. The two-day event was held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem (just a hop, skip and jump from our office!). There were roughly six dozen exhibitors, hawking things from cannabis growing containers, to business support software, makers of pot edibles, promotional items aimed at the ‘high’ market and much more. I should emphasize that no one was allowed to sell or consume any cannabis products on site. However, you could collect business cards and discount coupons for your next visit to the local marijuana dispensary.
One representative of an industry group, the National Cannabis Industry Association, told me that the industry has seen an explosion in tradeshows. “Some are great, others not so great,” she said. When I picked up a free copy of DOPE magazine, I saw at least a dozen other shows being promoted between now and early next year, so the growth is evident.
As far as exhibits go, there were not too many that one would call sophisticated. However, that leaves room for growth, no doubt. Certainly a handful of exhibitors came prepared to show off their business in a good light. Some booths were professional, some were home-made. Most appeared to be slapped together by companies that either don’t have much of a budget or weren’t aware of what it really took to put a good booth together. Some exhibitors I spoke with were very new to exhibiting, so that makes it understandable. But with more states voting to legalize recreational use of cannabis this fall, with California squarely in that target as being not only the most populated state in the nation but with polls showing that 60% of voters in the state currently favoring legalization, the industry is poised at a tipping point to continue to boom.
You never know exactly how new clients will find you. It could be from an introduction at a tradeshow. It might be from someone hearing a webinar that impressed them enough to make a call. It might be from an internet search or a referral. The Meduri Farms exhibit project came about thanks to an online search.
One of our most recent clients, Meduri Farms of Dallas, Oregon, found TradeshowGuy Exhibits through a Google search. Through a few months of back and forth to answer questions, the issuing of a Request for Proposals including a design from scratch, we ended up getting the project. It was awarded in March after a competition of four or five exhibit firms, and kicked off in April, finally making it’s debut in July at the Institute of Food Technologists show in Chicago at McCormick Place.
Design was by Greg Garrett Designs. Fabrication by Classic Exhibits. The 20×20 structure was a combination of original design (the tower/alcove unit and product display unit) and rental (counters). The top section of the tower features SEG fabric images up to about a 15′ height which grabs eyeballs from a distance.
The 15′ tower is 9′ x 9′ with a meeting space in the bottom. Two sides are taken up by alcoves that display products and offer plenty of storage room. The roughly 10′ counters give more product display area and more storage for the oodles of samples handed out during the show.
According to Sara Lotten, Sales & Customer Service for Meduri Farms, management loved the booth and the results it brought (“that’s beautiful!” was the comment passed along as the president first laid eyes on the booth at the show). Meduri Farms got a great number of positive comments about the booth. Comments are great, but results are more impressive.
“We got as many leads the first day with the new booth as we did all of last year’s show. We ended up with three times as many leads for the show as last year,” said Lotten.
Meduri Farms, Inc., founded in 1984 is a premier supplier of specialty dried fruits to food manufacturers around the world.
Last week I sat in with the good folks at Handshake.com and offered a look at Tradeshow Logistics: Getting Your Ducks in a Row. It’s a part of tradeshow marketing that is critical, but tends to be set aside in favor of things such as pre-show marketing, staff training, lead generation and so on.
In this webinar, we covered a lot of pertinent things, such as shipping, booth upgrades and graphic changes, the logistics of lead generation and getting them back to your sales team and more. Thanks to Handshake.com for offering to have me host another webinar with them!