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

Custom tradeshow booth

“Why Do Exhibits Cost So Much?”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard the comment, whether directly or implied.

“Why do exhibits cost so much?”

That question comes up with potential new clients who are in a growing company and want to make a big splash at their next show, so they’re looking at getting a new custom booth.

It also comes up with companies that have been hand-crafting their booths for years, but are ready to have a better look with their brand, along with well-planned and executed storage, meeting, product display and demo areas in the booth.

But when they’re told the price of those potential exhibits, that question lingers: Why do they cost so much? At least that’s their impression. But it is true? Do exhibits really cost a lot?

It’s not a hard conclusion to come to, especially if you’re not familiar with average costs in the exhibit industry. After all, when you learn that companies can spend a quarter of a million dollars on a custom 40 x 40 tradeshow booth, you think, “I could build a heckuva house for that money and it would last a hundred years!” That exhibit might last five years, or seven or ten, depending on the company’s needs and budget and other factors. And if it does, that company has certainly gotten their money out of their investment.

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And make no mistake; a new tradeshow booth is an investment. But with a custom booth (and even with more modular ‘off-the-shelf’ booths) a lot of different people have their hands in the creation. Just like that 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with a double garage that requires a general contractor, architect, electrician, plumber, roofer, etc., an exhibit needs a booth designer, graphic designer, production/fabrication team, marketing team and a project manager to guide the project from start to finish.

Costs add up, and typically the biggest cost is labor. Things don’t just happen by themselves. Graphics don’t magically appear; designs don’t hop out of bunny holes. Everyone on the project gets paid. It’s a good bet that when you hire that team, you get access to expertise that adds up to dozens if not hundreds of years of combined experience in design, fabrication, project management and production.

But still, you say: a 10-foot inline exhibit that can cost anywhere from five or ten to twenty thousand dollars brand new? How is that possible?

As you go through the process, you’ll be looking at custom materials, printing, design and the labor to put it all together. And chances are in the US you are hiring domestic talent, which will be higher priced than importing a pre-built exhibit from overseas that you found on the internet. Of course, you could buy a lower-cost version of the same exhibit and save ten, twenty, thirty percent or more. But what happens when something breaks down on that imported booth and you need to replace a part? It’s probably much easier to call up your exhibit house or rep and ask than it is to track down a manufacturer in China or South Korea. So now where does that savings apply? You spent less on the exhibit, but you have a short warranty (or none) and a difficult process to take care of the repair or replacement.

What if you simply can’t spend that kind of money on an exhibit? Then what? You do have several options, such as putting up a low-cost, high-impact graphic back wall, or renting an exhibit at one-third to one-half the cost of purchasing a new custom booth. Or you get creative with a minimalist approach in the space and make something else happen there that attracts visitors and generates leads.

New exhibitors looking to buy should take a look at industry averages, which will help prepare you when you go shopping. For instance, according to the Exhibit Designers & Producers Association 2012 survey, custom exhibit costs average $138 – $154.50 per square foot. So that brand new custom 30×30 booth (900 square feet) will run in the neighborhood of $124,200 – $139,050. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a 30×30 for under a hundred grand. Or course you can. It means communicating your needs and budget clearly to your exhibit house, and letting them use their experience and expertise to bring you a cool booth for your budget.

Finally, your exhibit needs to be designed and fabrication so that it can be dismantled and packed into custom-jigged crates for shipping and protection. Your house usually doesn’t need that!

All of those items – design, fabrication, graphic design and production, crating and the rest of the ball of wax – means that yes, your exhibit can end up costing “a lot.” But if you are prepared you can budget for that great exhibit and get it when you can afford it. If you need something sooner, work with an exhibit house and a limited budget to get what you need and make it fit your budget. Or invest in pieces over time so that those upgrades happen more gradually.

In any case, the more prepared you are with valid and realistic pricing information and a decent budget, the better your exhibit and the better your tradeshow marketing experience.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

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What’s in Your Exhibiting Toolkit?

When it comes to your Exhibiting Toolkit, I don’t mean the screwdrivers, masking and duct tape and scissors (although those and other items will come in handy), but what about the various bits and pieces that will help draw visitors to your booth and capture more leads?

Let’s create a short but incomplete list of some of the necessary tools you should consider having in your toolkit.

  • A Damn Good Plan
  • A Well-Trained Booth Staff
  • A Booth That Represents Your Company Brand at a Glance
  • Lead Capture Mechanism
  • Follow-up Plan

Let’s break these down a little more:

A Damn Good Plan should include what you’re going to do 6 months before the show, 3 months ahead, 2 months, a month, etc. It includes your pre-show marketing schedule, the booth details (making sure to review the booth ahead of the show with plenty of time to do any minor repairs), electrical grid if needed, shipping dates, booth staff schedules.

A Well-Trained Booth Staff is a crew that is pleasant, friendly, knowledgeable, friendly (did I say friendly?), willing to work long hours, flexible and trained. Trained in what? Booth etiquette, how to interact with visitors for maximum efficiency, lead capture knowledge and more. Your staff is your front line in a chaotic environment. If there are any weak links in this chain it will eventually show.

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Photo by Tradeshowguy Tim Patterson

A Booth That Represents Your Company Brand at a Glance: this often means a custom booth, but it certainly doesn’t have to. There are a lot of tradeshow booths that can be customized to fit your brand sensibilities. They also have to function well, meaning there has to be proper storage, product display and meeting areas to accommodate your company exhibiting goals.

Lead Capture Mechanism: Whether you’re writin’ those leads down on paper, or capturing them in electronic form, all of the leads should have maximum information required to confirm the next step, and nothing more. Name and address, phone number and email are often the top of the list, but ask if all of those items are absolutely necessary. What’s as important is agreeing on the next step, whether it’s a follow up call, meeting or simply sending more information. Agree on what the next step is, and when it will take place.

Follow Up Plan: How are the leads getting to the sales team back in the office for follow up? Are they being transmitted electronically back to the team each night? Are they being transported in your briefcase? Whatever the method, make sure not to leave them for someone else. Too many leads wind up in Neverland. Sticking them in an envelope and then tucking that envelope into the booth crates often mean that the next time you see them is 11 months later when you open up the crates to prepare for next year’s show! Beyond that, your sales team should be prepared to receive and follow up on the leads in a timely manner.

No doubt you can add to this list, but these are the basics. Leave any item here aside at your own risk!

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7 Ways to Make Sure Your Tradeshow Exhibit Experience Sucks

Naah, I don’t want your tradeshow exhibiting experience to suck. But if it does, perhaps its because you did one of the following:

  1. Don’t have a plan. Next time you walk a tradeshow floor as an attendee, try to determine which exhibitors actually know what they’re doing there and why. If they have a fishbowl and are giving away an iPad to some random visitor that tosses a business card into the bowl, you can be assured they really don’t have a plan. If they say something simple and innocuous to passersby, such as “hi, how are you?” it becomes apparent they haven’t put any thought into what they actually want out of the show. Instead, make specific show goals (number of leads, counting visitors, number of demos, etc.) and come up with a strategy and plan to accomplish those goals.
  2. Natural Products Expo West 2009
    Natural Products Expo West 2009

    Don’t train your booth staff. If those staffers at the show that you’re still walking through are sitting at the back of the booth, talking amongst themselves, or chatting on a cell phone or texting somebody or eating, you know for a fact they have not been properly trained. Eating in a tradeshow booth is still the number one turn off to visitors and will pretty much ensure that anyone wanting to stop in at the moment will keep going. And probably not come back.

  3. Don’t do any pre-show marketing. If you don’t let people know you’re at the show, you’re leaving much more to chance. By working the phones, sending out emails, postcards, contacting media, doing PR, and more, you’re increasing the chances that people will make their way to your booth, no matter where it is.
  4. Don’t let your staffers know what’s going on other than the bare minimum. This is somewhat different than booth staff training, but falls under the same umbrella. If you don’t make sure your staff knows everything you can tell them about the products, service and specific show goals, they won’t fully grasp the reason(s) you’re at the show. On the other hand, if your staff has full knowledge of show goals, products, services, company hierarchy and other pertinent information, you’ll come a lot closer to being able to let visitors know as much about the products and services you offer as possible.
  5. Don’t have a booth that accurately and fully represents your brand. Too many exhibitors think that any ol’ booth will do. No. A booth is a statement. It’s a physical representation of your brand, from the materials, the graphic messaging, to the layout and the look and feel of the booth. If you’re a rootsy, eco-friendly, vegan pancake company, what are you doing with a high-tech booth that looks like it should be selling software? Visitors should be able to see your booth and instantly get a feel for your company that accurately reflects your products, attitude and mission.
  6. Don’t have a specific lead generation system in place. Think of it: you have a limited time at the show to capture information from potential clients or customers. If the show is a three day show and the floor is open just 7 hours a day, that’s 21 hours. If there are 30,000 visitors, that’s a potential of 1,428 visitors per hour IF they all walked by each booth once. We know that won’t happen, but if you get 100 visitors an hour and 20% of those visitors are ‘hot’ leads, what’s your method of capturing a lead’s specific contact information, along with follow up details? If you haven’t figured this out before the show – and your show goal is to capture as many good warm leads as possible – this will pretty much guarantee that your tradeshow exhibiting experience will suck.
  7. Don’t have a good follow up system in place. If you’ve gotten this far – planned a show, trained your staffers, have a good brand-representative booth and captured a plethora of leads – it will all be for naught if you don’t follow up properly. Still – in 2014! – surveys and statistics show that nearly 4 out of 5 tradeshow leads don’t get a follow up call or email. Eighty percent! Really! Do your job and make sure that all leads are tracked from the point of collection to the various touches over the next few weeks and month that lead to a sale. Because once you’ve made a sale, that’s when the fun begins and you’ve got a new client. And it all came from your tradeshow appearance.

But not if you suck at any of these seven items.

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Tradeshow Marketing Analysis, Part 5: The Booth

This is number 5 in a series. Check the previous articles here:

  1. Where to Start
  2. Budgeting
  3. Pre-Show Preparation
  4. Which Shows to Attend

Let’s tackle the BIGGEST part of your tradeshow strategy – at least in terms of potential cost.

The BOOTH.

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We can agree that booths come in all shapes and sizes. We can also agree that they usually cost a LOT MORE than you anticipated, right?

Let’s leave the cost and size up to your particular company’s available budget, goals and marketing presence. For some companies, a 20×30 booth would be a huge investment, more than they could possibly justify. For others, a 70×100 might be smaller than they’re used to. So for now we’ll dispense with the actual size and cost and focus on other important elements.

Let’s start with the BRAND. Your booth should convey, at a glance, the look and feel of your brand. For some, that’s a natural wood look. For others, it means a high-tech look straight out of Star Trek. That doesn’t mean that a rootsy, earth-mama brand couldn’t get away with an aluminum structure with fabric graphics. Those decisions are typically made through long and detailed conversations with a 3D booth designer, the company’s marketing team and a booth fabricator. But still, the goal should be that when a visitor sees the booth and the company’s name, it evokes a FEELING that is in congruence with what the company wants the visitor to feel. If not, somebody messed up.

Secondly, your GRAPHICS MESSAGING should be planned so that a visitor’s eyeballs will follow it to its proper conclusion. Usually this means the hierarchy works like this:

  1. Company Name or Logo
  2. Positioning Statement or Bold Challenge
  3. Supporting Statement

However, if your company is not well know, this typical hierarchy might change a bit:

  1. Bold Statement or Challenging Question
  2. Company Name or Logo
  3. Supporting Statement

And on somewhat rare occasions, the company name might drop all the way to third place, if it’s an unknown company or if the company name is really insignificant:

  1. Bold Statement of Challenging Question
  2. Supporting Statement
  3. Company Name or Logo

If your company name is unimportant in the sense that a product or brand is important or more recognizable than the company name, that might go first:

  1. Brand
  2. Tagline or Positioning Statement
  3. Supporting Statement

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for graphics on tradeshow booths that covers all companies or situations. Instead, your goals, products and objectives should help determine how the graphic hierarchy is displayed. The main thing to keep in mind is that visitors pass by booths quickly and they all become a blur. Imagine your booth is a freeway billboard and you have 2 – 3 seconds to catch someone’s attention.

Next up: BOOTH FUNCTION.

From a 10×10 booth to the larger island booths, the function of a booth must be carefully thought out and discussed, and it will be determined largely by your show goals and objectives, the number of booth staff and how you want to interact with visitors. If you’re doing product demonstrations, for example, you’ll need to make sure the booth is big enough to accommodate the presenter or demonstrator and a small audience. If you’re sampling edibles, perhaps all you need is an easy-to-reach sampling table.

Every booth is different, every show is different and every company’s goals and objectives are different. Other questions to settle: Do you have enough storage? How many meeting areas do you need? Should the meeting areas be completely private or only semi-private? What products and/or services are you promoting at this show? Do you need video monitors, or an iPad kiosk to help visitors interact?

Take the time to address all of the functions that your booth needs. Those needs can be determined by the experience you’ve had at past shows as well as conversations with company staff that are involved.

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And no matter what functions you detail and prepare for in your booth, chances are good that once you’ve lived in the booth for a few days, you’ll notice things that need to be changed for the next time. For example, one of our clients wanted a meeting space for their clients in a 20×30 booth, so one end of the booth – about a 10×20 space – was covered and mostly inaccessible to the casual visitor. However, after 2 – 3 times exhibiting in the booth, it became apparent that client meetings didn’t happen as often as they thought, and booth staffers found it to be a quick and easy place to hide out. So the covered meeting space was removed and the space was better utilized as product display and visitor interaction.

Of course BOOTH FUNCTION also includes things such as storage, meeting areas and traffic flow. While planning a booth you’ll want to take into account these three critical things. Not to say that they’re often – or ever – overlooked, but it’s not out of the ordinary for them to be miscalculated. For instance, traffic flow: do visitors have easy access to the booth? Or do you even want them to have easy access? Some companies design booths so that only desired visitors are allowed inside, limiting access to casual passers-by. Others want any and all visitors to step inside the line.

Storage needs to be considered: personal items (coats, purses, laptops, briefcases, etc.), products so samples can be replenished and more. Do you have enough space? Make sure you have enough, but try not to overdo it: space is at a premium at tradeshows and every cubic inch needs to be considered.

Finally: meeting areas. How many staffers will be meeting with clients or media types at the booth? How often? How many meetings are already scheduled ahead of time? How many do you anticipate to happen randomly?

Truthfully, it’s quite possible that the needs of each show will shift slightly from previous shows. The best approach seems to be to pay attention to how the booth is used at each show and make adjustments as budget and goals shift.

Finally, let’s touch on LOGISTICS, SET-UP AND DISMANTLE. In recent talks with a new client, they first mentioned the most important aspect of their new booth: it HAS to ship in a case small enough to go by UPS of FedEx. The large 4x4x8 wooden crates were a big NO-NO. So every possibility that came up from then on had to ultimately meet that objective.

To them, set up meant having a couple of booth staffers arrive a day or two early at the show, set it up with a minimum of fuss and tools, and avoid the double-whammy costs of pre-show staging and arrival at the advance warehouse, and having to hire show help to set up the booth.

Other companies don’t mind the extra cost – they try to minimize it, of course – but it’s more important to show their audience a great booth. Even if it means the booth is a 40×40 that requires a day to set up with hired help, and takes a dozen crates to ship.

Any good company will be aware of your desires in these areas, and determine what’s most important.

Best Case Scenario: having a booth that a) immediately conveys your company’s BRAND, 2) your GRAPHIC MESSAGING is clear and relates to this show’s goals and objectives, 3) is built to FUNCTION properly with room for meetings, storage, product/service display and 4) meets your company’s objectives when it comes to SET-UP and DISMANTLE.

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Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Recap (and Awards)

Outdoor Retailer is so big sometimes I wonder why it’s not in Vegas. But no, Salt Lake City is the perfect setting for this fun, extravagant and energetic national tradeshow. With mountains only a short drive away, SLC is positioned perfectly to host this confab of outdoor enthusiasts from all over the country (and around the world). There’s so much going on in the outdoor industry that they hold the show twice a year: once in winter and once in summer.

The recent OR Summer Market took place the week of August 4th at the Salt Palace Convention Center. On Tuesday, attendees were invited to an Open Air Demo at Huntsville, Utah’s Pineview Reservoir, tucked neatly in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest just down the road from Snowbasin Ski Resort. The OAD was packed with 100-plus small exhibitors crouched under branded canopies, many of them offering free tryouts on kayaks, paddleboards and more. After a brief downpour mid-morning, the rest of the day turned into a fun, engaging and playful event.

As for the tradeshow itself, several acres of floor space at the convention center are occupied by the biggest show of the year in Salt Lake City, resplendent with top-notch exhibits, some as large as 100’ x 70’ that dominate the area. Keen, Merrell, Thule, Timberland, The North Face, Cascade Designs, Mountain Hardwear, Columbia and more came to Outdoor Retailer ready to show off their new goods – and no doubt spent a pretty penny with HUGE exhibits.

So what caught attendee’s eyes? For me, it was solar power. Lots of solar chargers: foldable, portable and powerful. Solar power is coming into it’s own and in the next half a decade or so it should explode as the cost of creating a kilowatt of power via solar will continue to plunge below that of the cost of typical energy. It seems that every time I turned a corner there was another solar-powered gizmo.

And the booths? Well, let’s have a little fun with some awards, shall we?

Best brand representation: Keen Shoes. Yes, this is a category with a lot of tough competition, but Keen is so over-the-top with recycled pallets for walls, recycled windows, hand-made booth elements and funky swagger that how can you NOT give this award to Keen?

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Walking Dead Re-birth: Kelty. Yes, the Walking Dead were used as inspiration for having to carry around a crappy backpack, so you’d better get fit with a really good Kelty Pack!

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Best Use of Stuffed Dogs to Show Off Your Products: Ruffwear. You might be surprised, but there were a LOT of stuffed dogs used to show off gear. Ruffwear managed to do it with style with gear made exclusively for dogs. Talk about focus!

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Best Tent Campground. Lots of tents at OR, but The North Face took over nearly a quarter of an acre with tents. Lots of tents. It felt vaguely like a Grateful Dead concert, missing just the tie-dye and herb.

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Best use of Brick: Carhartt. The faux brick surface made it look like the two-story booth that represented a storefront had been built one brick at a time. Beautiful.

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Best ‘Stop Dead in Your Tracks’ Booth: Brunton. Use of bright colors, back lit panels and shapes that grab your attention did indeed stop people in their tracks. Hard to capture in a photo, but I gave it a try.

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Best Product Demo Video: Coast Portland. It took a little patience, but after viewing the video shot near Oregon’s Coos Bay showing off the company’s flashlights, you came away convinced that they were the best you could buy.

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And finally, Most Iconic Use of an Icon: Leave No Trace’s Bigfoot, who posed for photos and invited attendees to tweet selfies for a chance to win footwear!

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I spent two days of the show jotting notes on my clipboard, doing booth assessments: subjecting almost two dozen booths to a closer exam that I call the Tradeshow Booth Performance Test. I’ll be sharing that information with those companies in the few weeks – always a great learning experience for both (I hope!).

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Expo West 2014 Tradeshow Guy Booth Performance Awards

Just returned from Expo West in Anaheim where I had a number of tradeshow booth clients, including Bob’s Red Mill, gDiapers, Aisle7 and Hyland’s. One of my goals at this particular show was to do informal assessments of a couple of dozen booths, including booths that I picked at random, and those of companies that responded to my 2-minute video I posted about ten days before the show.

Since I have a handful of client booths at the show, I am disqualifying them from winning any awards (although I think they all were top-noth projects)!

Before getting to the awards, a few comments: first, these are for fun only. Nobody actually wins anything substantial except a mention in this blog. Second, while I spotted a number of booths that would qualify for awards such as ‘Most Cluttered,’ ‘Most Confusing’ and ‘Shouldn’t Even Be Here Because Mom Didn’t Approve it’ the point is not to speak ill of booths that should be improved. Hey, I can’t help everybody, right?

So, without furthre adieu, let’s begin:

Cleanest Look & Most Pristine Representation of a Brand: R .W. Garcia. Not a custom booth, but an aluminum frame-and-fabric construction, nonetheless this captured my attention with its attention to detail. The graphical heirarchy was clean: company name at the top with secondary bullet points describing the company’s products. The back wall graphic was dominated by images of chip bags, so there was no doubt about the company’s products.

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Most Iconic Use of an Icon: Guayaki Brand Yerba Mate. Okay, I only caught one photo of this, but the use of a life-size cutout of the Pope drinking tea stopped me in my tracks and made me want to have Yerba Mate with His Holiness.

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Best Story on a Booth: Amy’s Kitchen debuted their new booth in 2013, and this 30×30 island clearly captures the company’s natural image, including a back wall section with photos and captions detailing the company’s history.

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Best Interactive Booth: While there were several booths that invited attendees to write notes on a board, YesTo asked people to write what they would say YES to.

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Best Use of Shipping Crates: Several booths use shipping crates as part of their booth to save on time and shipping expense. Ridgecrest Herbals showed how its done with branded shipping crates that doubled as counters, benches and product display.

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Best Dancing Mascot: SweetLeaf, with their Sweet Drops Sweetener doing his/her shaking to a live guitarist.

Best Use of an Olympic Stud: Drink Chia! How can you top an impromptu aisle race featuring Olympic athlete Justin Gatlin? (check out his race here)

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Most Elaborate Use of Booth: Clif Bar. The 40×40 island that Clif Bar used to represent their brand included not one, but two enclosed client meeting rooms, two sample stations, messaging that showed their love of fun and helping Mother Earth and the creative use of repurposing old wood for something new. And more. Hanging plants in wooden boxes. Bicycle gears. Old window frames. The steep usage of the word ‘organic.’ With all of this disparate yet congruent elements, this booth came close to a Terry Gilliam dream (go ahead, look him up. I’ll wait.).

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And finally, Best MashUp of a Beatles Album Cover: Love Birch. With their wacky replacement of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s heads with leaves, Love Birch took the iconic Abbey Road album cover and turned it on its head, and in the process stopped people in their tracks.

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This is the 13th consecutive year that I’ve attended Expo West, and it still seems fresh and fun, bigger and bolder and more overwhelming every year.

A few final observations: while there was a lot of use of social media this year, it didn’t seem to be anything out of the norm for most companies. Several companies invited attendees to ‘like’ them on Facebook, or tweet out a photo for a prize, but not as many as you might think would.

I was also on the lookout for QR Codes, and was a bit surprised to find only one on display. I had tasked myself with testing each and every QR Code I ran across to see if it worked. This one didn’t. The invitation next to the code was to ‘like’ us on Facebook, yet when I scanned the code, I was taken to a home page of a website – not optimized for a smartphone – and there was no indication of how to get to Facebook from there.

With QR Codes seemingly fading from popularity at least at this year’s show, perhaps that’s a good thing since it seems that so many QR Codes fail at least one part of the test: tell people what they get when they scan, make sure its optimized for a smartphone, and then test it all to make sure it works.

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How GoPro Dominates Using Social Media and Tradeshow Marketing

I first encountered GoPro at the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show in Salt Lake City. Nick Woodman was making a spectacle of himself. About once an hour, he would get on top of a platform and start yelling at the top of his lungs. He would exhort visitors to check out the brand-new product – a small HD camera that captured crazy video with a wideangle lens. It was small enough to strap to a helmet, chest, end of a ski pole, wherever.

Trying to get your hands on a GoPro camera at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013
Trying to get your hands on a GoPro camera at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2013

During these hourly exhortation’s Nick would regale his audience with examples of how great his product, the GoPro camera – and how it captures extreme sports videos – is. It also engaged eager visitors with the chance of winning one.

The story of GoPro is one that happened very quickly. It didn’t take long for the combination of trade shows, social media, and virtually giving away the store every single day to create a rabid following.

If you follow GoPro on Facebook, you’ll notice that they give away everything they make to one person every single day. I’ve signed up hundreds of times and never won. But it doesn’t keep me from signing up again and again and again. That’s how much I’d like to get my hands on their latest and great HD sports-action toy.

Early in 2013, Nick Woodman, the CEO and main figurehead of GoPro was featured on the cover of Inc. magazine. The story was about how he had grown the company to a multi-million dollar enterprise and created a new camera niche virtually out of nothing. The company had done it with a great product that is groundbreaking, and the combination of tradeshow marketing, social media and pure moxie.

Since I saw them at the 2009 outdoor retailer when a market in salt Lake city, I’ve been a big fan of GoPro. They offered $100 off of a camera if you purchased at that time and a coupon for discount on a future purchase when their new HD camera came out. I bought one of their early cameras and have had fun with it ever since.

In January 2013 I attended Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and it didn’t take me long to find the GoPro trade show booth. It wasn’t large compared to many other booths at the show, about 30 x 30, but it was plastered with a dozen or so large screen video monitors. As you enter the booth you were given a chance to sign up and possibly win a new HD camera. They also indicated that with the sign up, you would be emailed a coupon for a $100 discount on their new HD camera. So in effect, they’re giving you a chance to win something and they’re capturing your information so they can stay in contact with you.

I talked to one of the girls working the booth and discovered that Nick was not there, but it didn’t matter by this point because the company was too big for Nick to go to every tradeshow. GoPro has quickly proven itself to be a serious player in the camera industry, and has been called ‘the fastest growing company in the world.’

Several times a day a GoPro booth staffer stands up to give away T-shirts, swag and of course that coveted GoPro HD model camera. Hundreds of people yelled, screamed, waved arms and otherwise made fools of themselves hoping their name would get called.

Go Pro’s custom tradeshow booth matched their brand’s look, feel and style. It looked a bit brash and with the multiple video screens your eyes were drawn to action, action, action as the sports action videos played in an endless loop.

Suffice it to say that with the combination of savvy social media, aggressive trade show marketing and a groundbreaking product, GoPro dominates their niche. They certainly have new competitors – with any new product that carves out a big share of the market, someone will come in and try to catch to the leader. And someone may yet catch up with GoPro. But GoPro’s excellent marketing – including tradeshow marketing – is proving to be all they need right now to be the leader of the pack.

Check out the Inc article.

Then check out the selection of videos.


Click here to grab my Tradeshow Follow-up Checklist

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Expo West 2013 Re-Cap

(Warning: self-promotional blog post. Not recommended more than once or twice a year…)

It was my 11th year at Expo West as a representative of a company that provides exhibit booths for exhibitors.

First: 11 years? Kidding, right?

Bob's Red Mill - Expo West 2013

No. The first booth client I had way back in 2003 was Kettle Foods of Salem, Oregon, which lead to doing a booth for Nancy’s Yogurt / Springfield Dairy, Natracare, Hyland’s Homeopathic, gDiapers and many others.

Besides having to basically eat your way through the day with the glut of food samples, I spent time meeting exhibitors and making connections.

And making sure that my new projects were working.

The two new booths my company, Communication One Exhibits had this year were from Bob’s Red Mill and gDiapers. The Bob’s Red Mill was a custom 30’ x 30’ booth, designed by Greg Garrett Designs of Vancouver and fabricated by Classic Exhibits. It was a stunner and was definitely well-received by the company – including Bob Moore, who called it ‘impressive’ – and show visitors. The exhibit had three structures – a main company info-display area, a product display area and – in a new move for Bob’s Red Mill – a food sampling station. The main structure was capped with a 4’ cupola high atop a structure that echoed their mill store in Milwaukie, Oregon. Either end of the main structure had 52” video screens that continuously showed informative videos.

Bob has a great way of making an entrance. Bring along a Dixieland band! Check out the video from Day One:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8aFhxjan0w

gDiapers1

The other booth was at the other end of the scale. gDiapers, of Portland, Oregon, is a company that offers reusable diaper covers with disposable inserts. Years ago, when I was VP of Sales and Marketing for Interpretive Exhibits, we designed and constructed a 20’ in-line booth for gDiapers that had plenty of display space, slat wall and a fabric banner across the top. As their clientele needs evolved, so did the company’s desire for a simpler display that was easier to set up. So with the help of Portland’s Boothster, we designed and built a 10’ inline booth that had a small display area and a large 10’ fabric back wall, along with cardboard chairs and cardboard tube-constructed counter with wrap-around graphic. The booth looked great and gDiapers loved it!

Yes, I blog about social media and tradeshow and event marketing, but my company Communication One Exhibits has a ton of great capabilities to design and fabricate tradeshow booths to suit any need.

Let me now step off of my soapbox…thank you verry much for your time!

Pocket

Why Your Tradeshow Marketing Strategy Deserves Loving Care

The tradeshow exhibit is at least 6 – 8 months away – have you considered your tradeshow marketing strategy? You’d better get started – that’s not that much time!

“Huh? Over half a year and I have to rush things?” you say…

No, I didn’t say RUSH things…I mean you have better get your stuff together because those six months are going to go by pretty quickly. And the last 2 months will go by like an Indy Racer if you haven’t spent the first four months working on it.

Face it: when people visit your tradeshow booth, they expect to see the BEST that your company has to offer. If you’re a manufacturer, your prep time may mean several meetings and coordination with your manufacturing division to make sure you’re showing off the BEST of your BEST.

Why would you want to go to a tradeshow and put anything but the BEST of the BEST you have to offer on display? This is the one time a year that those visitors get a chance to see your goods and services. They’re comparing YOUR BEST with the BEST of several other companies – perhaps dozens of other companies.

So plan to put on your best.

This means your best graphics. Your best exhibit. Your best product. Your best people. Your best lead-capturing system.

When you put your best out there, you’re competing on the same level as the rest of the exhibitors – your competitors. Face it, most of them (but not all) are putting on THEIR best face at the exhibit. So you’d better be putting on YOUR best, too.

The challenge, though, is that we’re all just humans. We all have crazy schedules and incessant demands. And given those demands, when push comes to shove putting on your BEST is often extremely difficult to do. That’s why it takes more effort than you really think it will.

So that gets you back to idea of starting NOW and not waiting another few months on your tradeshow marketing strategy. If you start now and determine WHAT you’ll need to do to put on your best, HOW you’re going to do it, and WHO is going to help you to make sure it’s going to get done, the odds increase that you’ll actually make it happen by the time the show rolls around.

And that gets back to the idea of loving care: if you approach the planning of your next tradeshow with loving care, you’ll cover all the bases you need to cover to ensure that you are putting on your best.

Start now. Give your tradeshow marketing strategy some good old-fashioned love.


Grab our free report “7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House” – click here!

Pocket

Introducing Interpretive Exhibits Design Search

As a long-time distributor of the Classic Exhibits line-up of tradeshow products, it’s great to see that there is now a ‘deep-well’ way to search out one of their exhibits for your specific exhibiting needs.

Exhibit Design Search (link here and also on the navigation bar above) takes you to the database of hundreds (if not thousands) of varieties of exhibits. These range from small accessories such as round graphic stands (definitely cool!) to large island exhibits – and everything in between.

To use Design Search, just click on the link and head to the site. Here’s where you’ll find the opening page which is designed to let you intuitively and quickly find what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for it’s a great browsing tool.

Along the way you can view the Top 12 exhibits, catch a Photo Gallery, see what exhibits can be quickly shipped if you’re in a hurry, check out the Specials and even browse the dozens of Tradeshow Tip articles.

Beneath each exhibit rendering you’ll see a link labeled “Add to My Gallery” – when you click that you start to create your own line-up of favorites or exhibits you want to save and review closer later. It’s a great way to share with other team members to get their feedback.

The drop-down menus allow you to filter your search using price points, booth size and lead times – as well as give you the opportunity to do a text search.

Now all of that by itself would be pretty damn cool. Almost awesome.

But here’s what takes the Design Search tool to the next level: the burgeoning P_5_D photo gallery. P_5_D stands for ‘Past 5 Days’ and it is an on-going stream of photos of exhibits that go out the door.

Not only does this let you see what other clients are interested in (and have put $$ down on), it allows you to see how each one of them has possibly made adjustments and alterations to a standard exhibit. A great way to help generate ideas, eh? Plus: each photo is of something REAL that was actually created – not just a computer rendering of what something is SUPPOSED to look like. Getting a chance to see the real stuff shows you how it would look in your booth.

And if you check the drop-down navigation under the ‘View By Week’ tab you’ll see that the photo albums go all the way back to late 2006 – almost four years of product that has gone out the door to happy customers.

All in all, Exhibit Design Search is a fun way to waste a bunch of time AND look like you’re working at the same time. So if your boss comes in you can tell her that you’re researching the company’s new exhibit possibilities.

And hey, chances are pretty darn good you’ll find something that will exactly fit what you had in mind!

Pocket

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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