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

What is a GREEN Exhibit?

Lots of things are green today, but what does it really take to make a green exhibit?

First, let’s agree on what ‘green’ means.

Most agree that it means moving away from standard business-as-usual fabrication methods by replacing traditional materials and/or ensuring that the chain of incoming products and outgoing materials is as eco-friendly as possible. Ultimately it means as many methods as possible are used to design and fabrication environmentally sustainable exhibits.

How to be Green

In a recent chat with Matt Wish, the Marketing Director of Eco-Sustainable Exhibits (HQ in Grand Rapids, MI; Manufacturing in Portland, OR), we went over what it takes to design and produce a green exhibit.

“Compare it to what people are used to in the construction world: LEED Certification. It’s a great buzzword. What we’ve done is take what we think the LEED Certification would be for a tradeshow exhibit and applied it,” said Matt.

ECO-2054-V1.1 green exhibit

Everything from materials that are being used to the substrates that graphics are printed on, down to the inks used are all combined to assemble what could be called a green exhibit. This includes recycled aluminum extrusions, LED lighting, Paradise Fabric Graphics made from 100% recycled soda bottles, eco-glass, bamboo plywood, FSC certified wood, eco-board and even stains and finishes using water-based low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and VOC Free.

“We do all we can to hold our company accountable to keep things eco-friendly and green,” said Matt.

Eco-Sustainable Exhibits works closely with Classic Exhibits, their manufacturer, and that has been fruitful for both, as Classic Exhibits adheres to a very sustainable model, using recycled materials and recycling as many leftovers as possible. Another partner, Optima Graphics, also works diligently to recycle materials and use sustainable materials, which means that exhibits nowadays from these companies are about as green as can be.

Classic Exhibits is also in a unique position of being right next to a set of railroad tracks where recycled aluminum can be loaded easily and transported just a few miles to an aluminum recycler that has the capability of extruding many of the Classic Modul aluminum shapes. Being able to transport materials only a short distance instead of hundreds or thousands of miles is yet another way to keep the carbon footprint down on a green exhibit.

What about cost?

“Virtually identical,” says Matt. Which means that a few years ago what used to be more expensive than materials from the mainstream now costs virtually the same.

What about the quality?

“Most people can’t tell the difference,” says Matt. Some of the materials are better than typical building materials, some others may not be quite as good, but in any case, it’s a tossup. When it comes to the recycled plastic that goes into shipping cases, you’re actually getting a case that is more durable than those made from traditional cases in the industry.

Rentals are Eco-Friendly

A company can buy an exhibit and use it 5, 6, 7 years or more and get a lot of mileage out of that new purchase. This contributes to the greening of the exhibit because you’re not buying very often. And when you finally outgrow the exhibit, as you transition to something new, those old materials can likely be recycled or repurposed.

But what about renting? By renting you’re continuing to use the same materials over and over, which also contributes to the greening and the sustainability of the industry.

Final words?

As Matt put it, “so many people have a negative approach, saying that you shouldn’t drive so much, or waste so much, and so on, but we like to take the positive approach and say that even a little bit of green is a great step in the right direction.” Whether renting or buying, asking your exhibit house what kinds of sustainable materials they have, or what kind of sustainability practices they incorporate, lets them know that you, as an exhibit purchaser, are interested in the greening of tradeshow exhibits.

By making small changes where they make sense, that small change can add to the overall effect that we, as planet inhabitants, need to consider when we get out our checkbook to put a new exhibit into place.

Want to browse green exhibits? Many of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits are found here on the Exhibit Design Search.

Tradeshow Exhibit Design and Fabrication Timeline

You want a successful tradeshow exhibit design and fabrication process, naturally. A number of factors come into play in the process, including (but not limited to) the timeline. When do you start the process?

IMG_7454

It depends upon your current status: do you already have a booth and simply want to upgrade, or are you starting from scratch? Do you want to move up from a small 10×10 or 10×20 inline booth to a larger island? While you intuitively know where you are, the first step of the process is to take a few moments and write it all down. Share it with all team members. You may want to do a full Request for Proposal from potential new exhibit houses, or you may be comfortable with your current vendor and simply want to communicate the desire to upgrade to them.

In any event, make and share the assessment with those that will be involved.

One Year Prior to the Show

If you’re essential starting from scratch, you should probably look at the entire project from the 30,000 foot level about 9 months to a year out from the show date when you’ll want the new exhibit. This gives you a chance to determine a comprehensive and detailed budget. Having this budget document that includes all related costs such as storage, potential shipping, set-up costs and so forth will reduce the element of surprise for you and management once the project is officially under way.

This early discussion should also look at the main shows that you’ll be using the new booth at. Some companies have large booths that are used only once or twice a year, while they use smaller inline or popup booths at smaller shows. Look at things such as show goals and objectives, audience, traffic flow, etc.

Provide your exhibit house with a design brief detailing all of the elements of your new exhibit: size of booth, show goals, meeting spaces, storage, demo areas, branding elements, etc.

Six Months Out

Bu now you should be starting regular conversations with your exhibit house in earnest and their designer should be working from your design brief.

Your booth builder will want to have as much information as you can provide about the show such as dates, location, and other details. You may even want to provide them with your show marketing strategy and details so that they are aware of how you will promote your show appearance.

Four Months Out

You should have reviewed at least one or two designs and walked through any revisions with your 3D booth designer. You’re in the stage of finalizing all of the details prior to fabrication.

Graphic designers will have received graphic placement details and graphic dimensions from the booth designer and should be developing graphics in conjunction with the marketing team.

Reach out to I&D companies for early estimates and availabilities for set-up of the new booth, if it’s a larger booth that requires a set-up team.

Sometime in the next few weeks, depending on your exhibit house’s capabilities, the booth will go through fabrication.

One Month Prior to the Show

IMG_0952=1600x1200

A walk-through with a booth set-up will be arranged and all graphics will be completed and placed. Any final items that need to be changed will result in a punch list that will need to complete by the exhibit house prior to crating and shipping.

This is when you’ll make final arrangements for shipping, I&D and storage if they haven’t been made yet.

Small Booths

Smaller booths, such as modular, kit or pop-ups don’t follow the longer timeline that custom island booths demand. Many can be chosen from a catalog and ordered quickly once graphic files are completed and are often capable of being shipped in less than a month, and depending on the complexity of the booth, in just a week or two.

At the Show

You have a great booth! Set-up was flawless because your exhibit house furnished thorough and easy-to-follow instructions for the I&D team. Your job is to work the show, talk with visitors and generate new business!

 

 

GetFreeExhibitQuotes1

“Tradeshow Success” Book Released

This week is the launch of my new book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’m doing a lot of the normal launch things an author would do: sending copies to industry media and bloggers, along with industry colleagues. Creating a list of clients and potential clients that I’d like to get the book into. And much more!

Beyond that, I’ve created a series of 14 videos, with each one relating to one of the chapters in the book. Those videos are appearing, about one a day, at my YouTube Tradeshow Marketing channel. Check ’em out!

So what can you do? If you want to purchase the paperback, here’s the Amazon.com page. You can also buy the Kindle version for about half the list price of the paperback.

You can also read the book for free here at TradeshowSuccessBook.com. You’ll be asked to opt-in to a mailing list (which, if you gotta, you can always unsubscribe from).

Book cover 3DV3 325 pix

What do you get in the book? As mentioned in the subtitle, I’ve detailed 14 steps that are critical to tradeshow success. Not every successful tradeshow marketer uses all of these steps with utmost efficiency, but most of them make very good use of many of the steps.
So what are the steps?

Let’s take a look at the 14 Steps:

  • Step One: Going with or without a Map? Are you doing enough planning and organizing around your tradeshows?
  • Step Two: Dollars, Pounds, Euros: How Much Do You Really Need to Make This Work? A breakdown of the budgeting process for tradeshows and what it takes to budget for a new exhibit.
  • Step Three: Getting Ready for the Big Dance: Pre-show planning and marketing.
  • Step Four: Did You Come to the Right Dance? Just make sure that your target market is at the show you’re going to dump all of that money into.
  • Step Five: Home is Where the Booth Is: Booth design essentials, including function, traffic flow, graphics and more.
  • Step Six: Is Your Frontline Team Up to Snuff? Booth staff training!
  • Step Seven: What Do I Do With All of These People in the Booth? Now that you’ve drawn a crowd, what do you do with them?
  • Step Eight: Tweeting, Posting and Instagramming Like a King or Queen: Putting social media to work for you in a creative way.
  • Step Nine: Who’s Keeping Track of Those Damn Tweets? Someone needs to create videos, blog posts, tweets, etc. Here’s a great look at some online content ideas.
  • Step Ten: Got a Stack of Leads: Now What? Lead generation and follow up.
  • Step Eleven: Becoming the Zen Master of Stats and Records: Record-keeping is the secret sauce to tracking your success.
  • Step Twelve: Stirring the Public Relations and Media Pot: Working with industry media.
  • Step Thirteen: Do QR Codes Still Kill Kittens? And Other Tech Questions: A quick examination of technology in tradeshows.
  • Step Fourteen: Out Of Your Nest: Time to Fly! Your call to action!

Want to grab your own copy? Use the links above to own your own. Or if you want the digital version (PDF download), try this:

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

SoYoung Custom Booth Makes Debut at Expo East

One of our newest clients, SoYoung from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, unveiled their new custom 10×10 booth to the public earlier this month at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, MD to great reviews.

“The show has been hopping and the booth is fantastic!” was the text I got from company owner Catherine Choi on day two of the show. She had a photographer come by to document the booth and products. Check out the gallery. And thanks to SoYoung – glad to have you as a new client!

GetFreeExhibitQuotes1

Are You Ready For A New Exhibit?

How do you know when it’s time for your company to invest in a new exhibit? While the answer will vary from company to company, there are a number of common factors that can help answer that question.

Is your current exhibit old? In the exhibit world, a tradeshow booth is old somewhere between 5-7 years. Now, that doesn’t mean you should automatically replace your booth as soon as it hits that age, or if it’s older. But an older exhibit is a sign that it might be time to consider upgrading. Of course, some companies use the same exhibit for decades. Yup, seen it happen.

IMG_9550

What do your main competitors’ booths look like? If your company has stayed put while most of your main competitors have invested in new booth properties, it can make you look a little old and out of touch. In some industries, that’s the touch of death. In others, not so much.

Has your company’s exhibit needs changed significantly? One client I worked with found that their target market had matured to the point they were no longer needing to display so many products, but instead needed to assist those distributors with other things. That meant downsizing the booth to accommodate those needs. If you have new products or services that are not getting the notice they deserve, that may mean an upgrade is needed.

Has your company grown significantly? Some companies need a booth to match their market presence, which means a larger booth. It also means keeping up with the Joneses.

Is your current exhibit stretching your shipping budget because it’s very heavy to ship? Shipping and drayage for wooden crates and booths can eat up a significant portion of your tradeshow marketing budget. Unless heavier materials such as wood and metal define your company’s looks, it’s worth considering a lighter approach. Fabric graphics, aluminum frames and structures and the like can significantly cut your shipping costs for years to come. With fabric graphics that are easily changed for different exhibiting needs, a new lightweight booth may be just what the doctor ordered.

Beyond these items, you may have another reason to put a new company tradeshow booth into place in the near future. I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment!

GetFreeExhibitQuotes2a

Why Get a Charging Station for Your Booth?

Mel and Kevin of Classic Exhibits take some time to answer questions about the very popular charging stations. There are a lot of reasons to consider adding a charging station – and maybe you’ve thought of a few. But what about customization, set-up, packing and shipping and more? Check out this interview and then take a look at our online catalog selection of charging stations here.

TSEBK download intivation2-rounded corners

Essentials of Tradeshow Booth Design: Slide Deck

If you got a chance to see the webinar I did recently with Handshake, thanks! I hope you got something useful out of it. I’ve had a handful of requests for the slide deck so people can review it closer. Here’s the deck:

If you’d like to see the replay, click here.

Top 8 Ways to Justify The Cost of a New Exhibit

What are the indicators that tell you when it’s time to invest in a new tradeshow exhibit? What does it take to justify the expense, which can often be very large?

Naturally, there’s no single answer that applies across the board. However, if you, as a tradeshow marketing manager, feel it’s time to make a major upgrade, you’re put in a position of having to sell the investment to management. Here are a few things that you might consider in the process.

1. Can you point to tradeshow marketing as a consistent method of bringing in leads? And are you turning those leads into clients? If that’s true, the question may be: why do you need to fix it? Isn’t it already working?

It may indeed be working. But if you’re consistently running into issues such as growth, lack of space, too many visitors in such a small space, it may be that you are in need of a bigger space and hence, a bigger booth. One way to determine this is to track visitors by counting, or by anecdotal evidence from your booth staff.

If tradeshow marketing is a solid and consistent business driver, it’s likely that the people with the purse strings may be sympathetic to the request.

2. Consider the prospect of NOT doing anything. What would happen if you did NOT invest in a new booth? Are you satisfied with holding firm with the current booth property? The questions that come up around this question include how old the current assets are, and how is being perceived by your staff and clients at the show.

Another part of this conundrum is this: what are your most direct competitors doing? If the top three competitors in your market have upgraded and upsized their booth properties in the last two or three years, the perception will be that you’re losing ground to them. And in a competitive market, perception is critical.

VK-3006a

3. Do your research. What are your competitors doing? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats from within and without? A simple SWOT analysis can tell you a lot about where you are and where you might go from here.

4. Ask yourself if a new booth is really the answer. What about investing in your booth staff instead or in pre-show marketing and post-show follow up? Support your staff with training and education that allows them to more properly interact on the show floor with attendees by asking the right questions. Maybe a booth isn’t really right yet, but a smaller investment in the staff may yield good results without the larger booth investment, which can then be put off a year or two or three.

5. If a new booth is the answer, spend some time assessing how to understand the investment of capital, what’s involved and when it will be delivered and how it will happen. This will likely mean talking with booth designers and fabricators to get an idea of how much time and money it would cost to develop a design and construct the booth.

6. Once these items are assembled, they should be presented in the context of the life of the booth. Do you plan to use the booth for three, five, or seven years before considering major upgrades? In the case of one client who had committed to a 30×30 island booth in 2012, they had an opportunity to upgrade the space and the booth in 2015 to a 30×40, and decided the investment was worth it.

7. Determine how the new booth will change those who are tasked with the logistics of setting up and dismantling the booth, staffing it for the shows and inviting more clients for one-on-one meetings. In my experience, upgrading to a larger booth will modestly impact the marketing staff, giving them more opportunities to meet more clients and spread the word about the booth. Costs for set-up and dismantle will rise. Shipping costs will rise. Stepping up to a new booth is a major commitment, but it can often be well worth it in the return on that investment.

8. Now it’s time to present the final proposed cost. You’ve assembled a design and fabrication team that is capable. You have a reasonable price range for the project. While the bean-counters will want to justify the case in a hard dollars won vs. dollars spent, in addition to showing how the cost will be justified by the return with new business, detail the ‘soft’ return. These soft reasons to spend the money may include increased business opportunities due to a larger booth, more visibility at the shows, easier and quicker set-up times, perception of being bigger and better than your competitors, better branding opportunities in your booth, and so on. Be as specific as possible. For instance: “our new booth will give us a 300% increase in visible graphic display area to show off our brand and products compared with our current display.”

Use whatever combination of these methods you deem appropriate for your situation. Need help? Give me a call or drop a note and I’ll be glad to chat!

TSEBK download intivation2-rounded corners

Lifecycle of a Tradeshow Booth

Where are you in the life cycle of your tradeshow booth? What impact would it be to your company to upgrade at this point vs. waiting another year or two?

The life of a tradeshow booth generally goes something like this:

  1. Realizing your company has outgrown the old booth and making plans for a new one.
  2. Designing a new booth based on current company needs.
  3. Brand new booth and loving it!
  4. Year 1 – 2: It doesn’t exactly fit your needs but you’re still doing fine.
  5. Years 2 – 4: Making small adjustments and liberal use of on-site repairs. You feel like MacGuyver.
  6. Making bigger adjustments and repairs as time goes by. The thing is starting to rival Frankenstein’s monster.
  7. Realizing that you’re about to outgrow the booth in so many ways, like that old bathing suit from when you were a teenager.
  8. Finally putting a budget together for a new booth.
  9. Repeat every 5 – 7 years.

Admittedly, every company and booth experiences the booth lifecycle in its individual way. Some companies want a new booth every couple of years, and others are proud that they’ve used the same booth for nearly twenty years! True! I’ve talked to them!

IMG_9336_2

Once the booth crates or cases make it to a floor, they run into hundreds or thousands of other companies trying to setup their booths as well. Forklifts run wild. Ladders fall. Screwdrivers are dropped. Graphics and other pieces don’t fit as advertised and are hammered into place.

You can see why, given the somewhat destructive nature of how a booth ‘lives,’ it’s no surprise anyone that they need constant attention, repair and TLC.

So how can you extend the life of a tradeshow booth and when can you tell it’s time to move to something completely new?

One simple recommendation is to update graphics regularly. Refreshing the look of a booth with re-skinning it with new graphics is an economical and quick way to makeover the booth. The skeleton, or the main structure, of the booth, usually is good for five to seven years. By dressing the skeleton in new clothes regularly, the life cycle of the booth can be extended.

If you purchase a booth that’s designed to be expanded by using modular components, it doesn’t take much to expand that 10’ inline booth to a 20’ or 30’ or even a 20’ x 20’ island. That way you aren’t really buying a new booth, you’re just adding to your existing property. A good exhibit house will discuss these options with you when you first consider a new booth. That way the initial investment is a part of the booth as its given new life.

Maintaining longevity means being flexible. It means being willing and able to adapt to changing needs in your company. If you purchase a 10’ x 30’ booth that can also be setup as a 10’ or 20’ inline, you have the flexibility to attend several different shows with different layouts. If your designer is aware of your long term needs (any good designer will be by asking good questions before starting a design concept), flexibility will be built-in from the very beginning.

Add to that flexibility by adding and subtracting items such as counters, iPad kiosks, workstations and more depending on the needs of a specific show. Change out fabric graphic panels, add wings to the walls or a swoopy thing here and there to draw attention.

Getting the most out of your investment is key to increasing the usability and life cycle of your booth, not to mention increasing the overall ROI of your investment.

Tradeshow marketing takes place in a challenging environment. The more you can plan and prepare for the longevity of your booth, the further you’ll extend the dollars you are investing.

TSEBK download intivation2-rounded corners

Tradeshow Exhibit: Rent or Buy?

It’s an oft-asked question: Should we rent or buy a new display?

Purchasing that brand new booth might bust your budget quickly, especially if you are new to tradeshow marketing and still exploring how best to get involved. Yet renting can save money.

If you’re at the decision stage for a new booth, here are some thoughts that should help you compare buying versus renting.

  • How many times a year do you plan to exhibit?
  • How important is the function of the booth?
  • How important is the ‘look and feel’?
  • Will a rental booth provide you with the custom look you want?
  • What is your realistic budget for the project?
IMG_9477

Cost: Most experts agree that if you plan to exhibit multiple times you should lean towards purchasing your display. The rule of thumb is that for each three rentals you’ll have paid for the cost of a new booth. And depending on the booth and the graphics and other elements that need to be customized, it may be that for each two times you rent you’ll have spent the same as purchasing a new booth. So if you plan to exhibit the same booth at least four or more times in a year, purchasing will likely be a better financial choice.

However, money isn’t everything, right? Renting a booth can give you some advantages that purchasing a custom booth won’t. A rental booth is usually less worry. Maybe not completely worry-free, but close, and you usually don’t have to worry about damage done during transit.

Flexibility: Renting a booth can also mean more flexibility, such as waiting longer and closer to the show before major decisions are made. Since you’re choosing a rental from a catalog, even with some customizations, the exhibit house you work with is equipped to handle them within the parameters of the rental structure. A custom booth that you’re purchasing requires more time to design and more thought and input from more people to make it work.

Renting may also work if you want a turnkey approach. If all of the handling, set-up, shipping and assorted details are too much, you can have the exhibit house organize all the details. You just show up and sell.

Renting a booth gives you the opportunity to try out a style before making the purchase. You can test the look and feel, as well as function (storage, meeting space, etc.). And when the show is over, you just ship it back and don’t have to worry about having a place to store it.

Purchasing means a longer-term commitment. Not only are you investing more money, you’re committing to a longer run with the booth, so the design has to fit your brand as well as possible. But the good thing about that is once you’ve made the decision on the look and feel for your booth, the cost-per show drops dramatically vs. the cost of renting at each show when the purchase cost is amortized over the length of ownership. You may also have some tax advantages when using funds to purchase a depreciable capitol asset. To find out for sure if this applies to you, talk to your tax expert as I don’t even play one on the internet!

Want more information? Pick up the phone and call us at 503-507-4110 or drop an email. You can also check out our rental exhibits here.

TSEBK download intivation2-rounded corners

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

Call 800-654-6946 for Prompt Service
Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected <br />
QA4E-AZFW-VWIR-5NYJ