When it comes to being a tradeshow marketing manager, a lot of different skills come into play. Let’s take a look:
This is a guest article by Lee Becknell of Pinnacle Promotions.
Trade shows take a great deal of forethought and planning, but your business will reap substantial rewards from participating in these types of events. Maybe your business is relatively small and you’re looking to expand your demographic, or you’ve just undergone a company rebranding – trade shows can provide a platform to spread your brand’s message and inform people of your products or services.
Whatever your intentions may be for attending a trade show, you’ll need to put a lot of planning into the process, which includes creating a budget. Use this trade show checklist to ensure your budget is considering all essential components such as promotional products and trade show giveaways, travel and booth fees.
One of the most essential aspects of your trade show display, your booth should be secured as soon as you decide to attend an event. The larger the booth space, the more expensive the rental cost will be, so give some serious thought to how much space your company will actually need. Aside from booth size, the location of your display plays a role in price determination. If you’re interested in a spot closer to the trade show’s entrance, you’re going to end up paying more. Though a location closer to the entrance may gain more attention, opting for a booth further in the back of the space could cut costs.
Once you’ve selected a booth at the event, you’ll need to secure any other utilities your display may require, including electricity, WiFi, AV services and other accessories. This part of the budget often gets overlooked by those who are not as experienced with trade shows. As you’re planning for the event, consider what types of extras your booth may require. Are you planning to play an informational video about your company or show photos of products? You’ll need to make arrangements for electronic connections and TV displays. Write down any additional costs and then inquire with companies near the event space to get a price estimate and add this into your budget.
For a successful trade show experience, you’ll need a well-trained, professional group of employees who are willing to attend the event and share their expertise with guests. Because trade shows are typically considered occurrences outside of normal work hours, you should factor in additional wages to compensate qualifying staff members. Prior to the event, you’ll also need to train employees on what to say, how to behave and what to wear at these events. To present a sleek, united front between employees, you can purchase uniforms specifically designed for trade shows like comfortable Nike t-shirts branded with your company’s logo.
Travel and Accommodations
Aside from booth rentals, traveling to the event can be one of the most expensive parts of your trade show budget. The best way to keep this cost down is through early planning. Determine which trade shows your company will attend for the entire year and then begin scheduling travel plans right away to avoid rising prices as the event approaches. Work with other members of the marketing team to decide how many employees will be needed at the event. Then, factor in the cost of flights or renting vehicle transportation plus hotel accommodations. Keep in mind that booking a place to stay far from the event may save money in the short term, but don’t forget the additional travel costs to get from the hotel to the convention center.
Promotional Products and Trade Show Giveaways
An excellent method for spreading your company’s message and brand, promotional products and trade show giveaways, commonly called “swag,” should be a focus for your trade show preparation. Offering some useful or unique items to attendees is a great way to capture their attention and give them something to take home that will remind them of your company.
Select well-known brand-name items and have them personalized with your logo or choose a promotional product that’s beneficial to others in your industry. It’s best to order these items in bulk to get the lowest possible price. In order to plan how much you’ll spend on promotional products, estimate how many trade shows the company will attend in a year and then research how many people are expected at each event to get a sense for the number of promotional products you should have on hand.
Now that you have your booth space figured out, you need to consider how you’re going to make your company’s area look attractive and professional—feel free to get creative here. Most companies that attend trade shows will order custom signs with the name of their business and sometimes the company motto. Offering brochures or pamphlets can help inform attendees about your business and give them something to remember you by along with promotional products. People who frequent trade shows are interacting with dozens of different businesses in a matter of hours or days. It’s rare that attendees will remember every single company they encountered, so providing them with helpful reminders, like handouts and trade show giveaways, will encourage information retention and may generate prospective leads.
Plan How to Transport Booth Accessories
Another minor detail that many companies overlook when planning for trade shows, logistics are essential to transporting your supplies. If you’re traveling a long distance with a lot of equipment (think TV displays, furniture for your booth, etc.), then you’ll likely need to book a freight service to deliver the accessories. For companies that don’t require much equipment, you can also consider shipping essential items, including your promotional products, to the trade show location to lower your overall cost. Be sure to get an estimate on either logistics services or shipping costs when planning your budget.
Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.
You might think that designing graphics for a tradeshow exhibit is hardly any different from designing graphics for a brochure or a website. But you’d be wrong. There are a number of differences, and an experienced tradeshow graphic designer is an invaluable asset if you’re facing the prospect of doing it alone.
First things first. What’s different? The most obvious is that graphics are much bigger on a tradeshow exhibit than a website or brochure or sales sheet.
Second thing is that people will interact differently with tradeshow graphics than they will with a brochure or a website, which means your approach to crafting a design with an impactful message must be different.
And third, and perhaps the most important, the resolution of the tradeshow graphic file will by its very nature be much higher than a web design or print design.
Since graphics are much bigger, and since people interact with tradeshow graphics differently than with websites and printed material, the design and messaging have to reflect that difference. Thousands of people walk by a typical tradeshow on any given day. They glance but often don’t see the graphic messaging. If their brain stops for anything, it’s for either a familiar logo or a bold question or statement. A supporting image such as a photograph can also be a factor in keeping someone attention for another few seconds if you’re lucky. Great care and decision making must go into the design: what image resonates with your brand and attracts attention? What message is important and can be communicated in a few short words?
Finally, the crafting of the digital graphic files is critical to ensure high resolution in the output. I’m not a designer or a graphic printing technician, but I can pass along some of the general guidelines on how to prepare the files.
Each printing facility and tradeshow exhibit house will vary slightly, but the main things to keep in mind are to make sure the graphics are submitted in an acceptable format. Typically, most printers accept Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign or high-resolution PDFs. Other programs such as Quark, FreeHand, CorelDraw and Publisher are typically not acceptable. Neither are files such as Microsoft Word, or low-resolution JPEG, GIF, PICT or BMPs.
Fonts are typically converted to outlines. If not, you’ll need to provide Macintosh of TruType fonts with the files.
This differs from shop to shop, but I generally see requirements of setting up files at 100-120 pixels per inch at 100%. Anything smaller and the final print will show pixelization.
Again, varies from shop to shop, but most ask for vector files in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black), and raster artwork in RGB (Red, Green, Blue). If this is over your head, speak to your graphic designer. An experienced designer can address these issues.
Uploading and Sharing Files
Given than tradeshow graphics are high resolution and cover a lot of square feet, the graphic production files are going to be big. We just did a set of banner stands this week where the graphic files for five stands amounted to about a gigabyte. Too big to email, so it’s got to be transferred. We typically create a sharable file on DropBox, but there are other tools to share big files, such as HighTail, Google Drive, SendSpace and others. Again, pretty easy to do. In fact, many companies have dedicated FTP sites where you can upload directly to them.
The topic of tradeshow graphic design, file creation and production can take up several books, and no doubt it has. This short blog post barely scratches the surface. Need to know more? Speak with experienced designers and production people that do it every day. They’re happy to share their knowledge and make sure you get the highest quality graphic you can.
I love infographics, especially tradeshow infographics. So when Anna Carling at US Event Management reached out with an offer to share something new they’d been working on, I said, “Bring it on! Let’s take a look!” Turns out it’s a very comprehensive infographic that walks you through 16 tips and tricks. Well, let’s share what she sent along:
Are you wondering how to be successful at a trade show? Well, look no further, because this infographic will take you through 16 tips and tricks that will guarantee your success! From dressing to impress and creating a welcoming booth space to staffing and giveaways, this incredible infographic has everything you’ll need to know about how to successfully market your product, service, or even just yourself at a trade show. Thinking of doing something a little different with the design of your booth? This infographic will help you decide if that’s the right choice for you! Being successful at a trade show can do a whole lot more than just sell one product of yours, it can create connections that last a lifetime and create a boom for your business. It can also get your name out there to potential customers and raise awareness of your ever-growing brand, and in a world absolutely full to the brim of businesses offering goods and services, it’s good to be able to stick out. If you want to learn all about how you can become successful at a trade show, you need to check out this infographic right now so that you can be the shining star of the next show. All in all, these 16 tips, tricks, and tools will guide you to the success you’ve been dreaming of, promoting your business and building your brand all in a positive direction at the same time. You should already be checking out this incredible infographic so that you can learn all about the keys to trade show success, brought to you by US Event Management. Don’t waste any more time reading about what’s in the infographic, and instead, see for yourself what this incredible post can do for you and your booming business today.
Click here to download a full-size PDF of the tradeshow infographic.
If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you may recall the time awhile back that I posted a collection of tradeshow infographics from Pinterest.
Time to do it again! Let’s see what the search turns up.
Let’s start with Software Tech Tradeshows & Events, posted here. Not a ton of info in this one, but it does look helpful if you’re in that space. It is a bit of a promo item from KWGeek.
Next up: our good friends over at Bartizan offers Countdown to ROI, a Timeline to Plan for a Tradeshow.
Heritage Expo posted 6 Mistakes That Will Sink Your Tradeshow – good takes on a number of things to be wary of when doing your tradeshow planning.
Exhibitor Magazine posted an infographic on Exhibit Design.
Pro Imprint details the ways that tradeshow giveaways can make a big impression.
A collection of informative infographics from Supportive Guru here, including Building an Exhibit for Your Business: There’s also one called how to be a Superhero at your next tradeshow!
Exponents offers Tips for Tradeshow Graphics. Not a lot here, but what’s here is good information.
Monster Displays offers a quick overall look at tradeshows.
One from Nitro Displays is very useful: Marketing Automation at Tradeshows.
And let’s wrap it up with Tradeshows by the Numbers.
Seen any good tradeshow infographics? Let me know! Browse through the gallery:
When I first got into the tradeshow world around the turn of the century (!), an issue that kept coming up time and time again was the color of tradeshow graphics.
There are a number of problems that come up with printing graphics with accurate color.
First, since we printed everything in-house at that point, we needed to make sure that the printer’s output was consistent with what was called for. A graphic designer will usually spec a PMS color (Pantone Matching System), which is a proprietary color space that identifies exact shades. That meant regular testing of the system to make sure that the color matched.
The inks in the printer must be of high quality so that when the computer that is used to process the print calls on the right combination of the various ink tanks.
Next, you have the computer monitor. Many clients would look at something on their monitor and think it looked exactly how they wanted it. Trouble it, monitors differ in their output as well. So, what you see on your monitor in your office may not be what I see on my monitor.
Don’t forget about the substrate you’re printing on. Whether it’s fabric or paper, simply by changing the source of paper from one package to another may bring a subtle difference. It’s the same with carpet dye. One dye lot may be slightly different from another, and if you try to match a new printed piece with an older printed piece, chances are good it won’t exactly match.
Then there’s the human factor. We all see colors differently, and usually the person operating the printers have a good eye for colors.
So how to address this? If you are trying to match a PMS Pantone color exactly, the best thing is to provide a paper-printed color sample that you like. For example, if you have a brochure or other printed piece that is exactly what you want, color-wise, make sure your printing vendor has that. If they have that piece in hand, chances are very high they can make adjustments in their process to create a printed tradeshow graphic that matches your desired color.
But understand that there a lot of variable! The technology has generally made it easier to color-match, but it’s not always guaranteed. Just work with your exhibit house or print shop if color-matching is important.
Speaking of colors, did you hear about the chemist that accidentally discovered a new blue a couple of years ago?
Tradeshow graphics should be easy. But they’re not always as easy as you think. So let’s take a look at 7 simple steps that will totally rock your tradeshow graphics.
- Bigger is better. Yeah, even with a 10’ inline booth, the bigger the better. Face it, you’re competing for eyeballs. Make them jump out at visitors.
Bright colors are eye-catching. It doesn’t mean that all of your graphics have to have reds and bright blues or greens. If it fits, use it. If bright colors don’t match your brand, not to worry. There’s more to look at.
- Simple is best: bold images and limited text. Think of a tradeshow graphic as a billboard that people can spend about three seconds on. If you can’t communicate a message in three seconds, you probably put too much on it.
- Back lit graphics are the rage these days, for a reason. LED-powered light boxes grab attention. Have you noticed? Even if most others are doing it is no reason to try and be different. These items do grab eyeballs.
- People notice quality. Or rather, they notice when its lacking. You may not think so, but if you notice that the printing is second-rate, others will. Graphics aren’t cheap any way you look at it, so spending an extra few bucks to use the printer that has the latest and greatest isn’t going to cost that much more. And people will notice.
- Professionally designed graphics are worth it. Yeah, Jimmy in accounting may be a good guy and is looking for a job as a graphic designer, and may have some chops. But designing graphics for large-size printing is more than just a good layout. It’s the highest resolution possible, and understanding how people perceive message at that scale and trying to absorb the message in just a few seconds.
- Change the graphics when necessary. A lot of the same people go to the same shows and see the same exhibitors. And they’ll notice when you haven’t refreshed your graphics in the past half-decade. So keep ‘em fresh.
Follow these seven steps and your tradeshow graphics will be rockin’!
Infographics do a great job of quickly communicating information in a fun and effective way, especially if you’re like me (and 65% of the rest of the population) and are a visual learner. So let’s sift through some of the great tradeshow infographics floating around on Pinterest these days.Click through to the Pinterest posts, or browse the infographics below.
- Pipeliner Sales: 7 Keys to Getting Leads from Tradeshows
- Xibit Solutions: Anatomy of a Tradeshow Booth
- Inpex: Tradeshow Etiquette 101
- Media Mosaic: How to Boost Traffic at Your Tradeshow Booth
- Infographicality: Six Things to do Before Your Next Tradeshow
- Solutions Rendered: Creating a Successful Tradeshow Booth
- Skyline: Bad Booth Staffers
- Proj-X Design: How to Get the Most out of Tradeshows
- NWCI Displays: Tradeshow Booth Regulations
- Pardot: Marketing Automation for Tradeshows
- Bartizan Connects: Countdown to ROI: A Timeline to Plan for a Tradeshow
- Exponents: How to Get in to the Mindset of Attendees
- Skyline: 25 of the Most Common Tradeshow Mistakes
- Nimlok: Tradeshow Elements
Thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the cool exhibits, enthusiastic people and tasty products from Natural Products Expo West:
In this TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, we take a look at how graphics do a lot of work in your tradeshow exhibit. You can get on our notification list at TradeshowGuyWebinars.com.
Today’s GOOD THING: The New Yorker Radio Hour.