Big video is, well, BIG. It seems like ‘the bigger, the better.’ Admittedly, the quality of big video walls has improved noticeably the past few years. I can’t speak to the price – if the increased competition and quality has driven costs down, like it has for other products such as LED lighting. But it’s impressive. Let’s take a look:
Having never attended the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, I did not have a full grasp of the scope and size of the show. And once I was walking the floor earlier this week, it still took a few hours to fully comprehend how freaking big it is. There are nearly 2 million square feet of exhibiting space in 13 halls separable by movable walls.
Over 90,000 attendees showed up along with over 1600 exhibitors to see the latest in video and audio tech in all its glory: broadcast and cable TV, sports, podcasting, radio, lighting, cloud services and much more. It was all there. And it was overwhelming.
The biggest takeaways? As an old radio guy who started his career by playing single 45s on a turntable, I can safely say: we’ve come a long way (mentioning those 45s to the 20 and 30-something folks staffing the booths also was a good way to bring forth those puzzled looks along with a hesitant chuckle – yeah, I know I’m old).
Video is huge, as are the gigantic video walls, which seemed to adorn nearly one out of three booths. Quality is impressive. Cameras are going up in quality as the price creeps down. Seeing and playing with 8K cameras showed attendees what the working video world will be working with soon if they aren’t already.
Audio production, and in particular, the production of audio in conjunction with video, is a really big deal. Avid’s booth featured a large screen displaying how they mixed the music that was a part of the Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody. Also there were the Oscar winners, who sat on a panel discussing the process.
Visitors also could partake in training on a large scale: Adobe, Avid, DaVinci Resolve and many others were doing full-on all-show-hours in-depth training on their latest products.
From an exhibit standpoint, I also saw something I’d never seen before: many video camera and monitor manufacturers built set and had them populated with stand-in actors. The idea was to give visitors a chance to put their hands on the various cameras and zoom and pan and see how everything worked under conditions that replicated what they’d find on an actual set.
I also saw at least three stationary cars equipped with cameras to film actors as they drove. One exhibitor went even further: behind the car there was a large video image of a road as if the car was moving. On the right and left were more screens with similar images. And for the coup de grace, a large video panel suspended over the entire car which simulated the movement of the sky, reflections of streetlights and more. An actor need only sit in the car and everything else is captured in one take, with little post-shoot work needed.
Lots of international exhibitors, including Europe and China, Korea and Canada among the more prominent. It seems pretty common that exhibits from China and Korea will set up exhibits with walls that enclose much of the space. I don’t see that as much from US exhibitors, so my hunch is it’s a bit of a cultural thing. I also don’t think humor passes easily from culture to culture. One exhibitor from China had a McLaren automobile on display (wasn’t really sure of the purpose, but it certainly looked sharp). As I was talking to one of the reps, I joked that maybe they should raffle off the car at the end of the show. All I got in return was confused look. Hey, I thought it was funny!
Exhibits were impressive from the big companies, and many of the smaller companies also had a good look. Although as in any show, you always see the smaller companies in the 10x10s around the edges of the main floor struggling to be seen or to even have something worth seeing. The most impressive things seen in the smaller booths were the company’s product lit up with LED, or something moving that catches the eye.
Esports had its own section, showing off gamers and gaming. We know that gaming has become a multi-billion dollar industry and if you search for esports competition, you’ll find a lot. There were panels and competitions taking place in the section, but frankly, since I’m not a gamer, it didn’t hold my interest that long. However, my 18-year old son probably could have spent all of the show in this area and it wouldn’t have been enough!
The tech that supports radio, tv, cable and Internet was also displayed throughout the halls. Not being a tech guy, much of this was over my head, but impressive nonetheless: network, audio, video controllers; studio design and audio and video production boards, facility infrastructure, transmitters, processors, automation software, captioning AI, streaming, scheduling, logging, transcription…you name it, somebody was here promoting it.
I talked to well over a hundred people about the show, how it worked for them, how it helped create leads, sell their products. Most told me it was a great show for them. Several said this show in particular was the one show that gave them most of their good leads for the year for them to follow up on.
But not everyone agreed. One woman I spoke with said she’d been coming to the show for thirty years, and it’s not the show it used to be. One comment she made totally threw me. She said the “little Sony” booth wasn’t impressive at all. My jaw dropped because I’d been at the Sony booth (probably around 10,000 square feet) earlier in the show and determined it to be one of the top exhibits there, going so far as to walk through the booth for a minute or two shooting video to capture it all. But no, she said, “Sony used to take up a third of the hall!” She said that the networks (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS) don’t send the people they used to, and the few they do send spend all their time behind closed doors in meetings, and don’t get out and mingle on the show floor like they used to. So her market wasn’t there to the extent they used to be. I found her perspective fascinating: no matter how much evidence you see to support one view, there’s always another view that’s just as valid.
I caught a couple of events on the main stage: opening day, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith (and former Oregon senator) gave a keynote and ended by awarding MASH actor Alan Alda the NAB Distinguished Service Award. Alan sat for about 15 minutes after the award to chat about his career. I also caught the next morning’s panel, Tales from the White House Beat, featuring Smith chatting with ABC’s Cecilia Vega, NBC’s Hallie Jackson, CBS’s Steven Portnoy and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor as they shared stories and insight into covering the Trump administration.
I was invited as a blogger which made me a member of the media, so I felt a bit of kinship with these professional journalists. I’ve been in radio news teams, hosted talk shows and been behind the microphone for decades, and it was great to hear the stories they told.
Lastly, a shout out to these folks: Josh at Time Lapse Cameras, Kent at Sharp Electronics and Suzy at FeiyuTech for their time and information. They reached out and invited me to check out their latest. Time Lapse Cameras has, as you might imagine, some great little affordable time lapse cameras which can be used to record any number of things from construction to exhibit setup and dismantle. Sharp showed off their new 8K cameras which are out later this year, and FeiyuTech demonstrated a new action camera, the Ricco, along with a handful of three-axis gimbals and other assorted goods for the video camera market. All good stuff and thanks for having me!
Is that a weird question: what does your exhibit remind visitors of?
But think about it. We all have triggers. There are things that we see in the present that reminds us of the past. Maybe it’s a song that takes you back to your childhood. Maybe it’s a smell that reminds of your first love. Could be anything.
Images, colors, stories: they all are shorthand and they can remind us of something. Things that make us happy, sad, safe, tense.
Back to your company’s tradeshow exhibit: what does it remind visitors of?
One good example comes from a client of ours, Bob’s Red Mill. Its iconic red mill structure is a stylized representation of what a lot of people see as harkening back to a different era. Mills represent the hand-crafted way of milling grains – the loving labor that goes into producing a high-quality product. We don’t actually see the millstone or how the grains are ground under the weight of the stone, but the mill reminds us of that.
On the tradeshow floor, stories are told in shorthand by using various materials, colors, shapes, fonts and more.
Green tells you: earth-friendly, plant-based, life, renewal, energy, harmony with nature.
Red is the color of fire, blood, energy, way, strength, power, passion, determination.
Orange combines the energy of red and yellow and communicates energy and happiness, enthusiasm, fascination, creativity, determination.
When it comes to shapes, meaning can be communicated in a lot of ways. Geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles, triangles, crosses.
Organic shapes are more free-flowing: circles, leaves, rocks, clouds, ink blots.
Fonts tell a story, probably one of the most important. Every font has a unique personality and purpose. Bold block fonts tell one story, while flowing script fonts tell another. Thin fonts tell a story that’s different than fat ones. There’s a psychology behind using various fonts that are more than I want to delve into here, but the topic is worth taking a deeper look.
Some brands have clearly designated, iconic images (the red mill of Bob’s, the iconic “T” of Tesla, the siren of Starbucks, the apple of both Apple Computers and Apple Records to name a few). These can easily be put on a tradeshow exhibit design.
Other brands are less-known or not as well-defined, and in those cases it often means working with a 3D exhibit designer with the skill to use the shapes, colors and fonts needed to clearly communicate the brand’s story in a glance with an exhibit.
If you don’t have an iconic, easily recognizable brand (yet), we go back to the question: what does your tradeshow exhibit remind visitors of?
Do the colors evoke good memories and associations? Do the shapes clearly communicate a message that brings up a positive connection?
It’s all worth considering as you market your business by using tradeshows. After all, a tradeshow is the perfect place to present a clearly-defined image to your visitors.
When you ring up your custom exhibit house and order a new custom tradeshow exhibit, do you ever consider your company’s sustainability initiative?
Of course, there are a lot of things that can go into a company-wide sustainability initiative, such as having it as part of your company mission, doing your best to reduce waste through recycling, using less power, automate workflow or whatever else that may fit, making sure your employees are engaged in the process, and having ways to measure the effectiveness of the program so you can show it off to both employees and the public.
But do you consider how a new exhibit can possibly help in your efforts? There are a number of ways to use the opportunity of a new exhibit project as a part of your sustainability efforts.
First, you have to ask the question. When you are chatting with your exhibit house representative, ask them: “What ways do you implement sustainability efforts in your exhibit-design and building projects?”
That gives them a chance to show their stuff. In my experience, it’s rarely asked. But it is occasionally brought up, particularly in regard to responding to an RFP. The more formalized the process, it seems, the better the chance to have the question pop up. That’s where a company can fully respond to those concerns.
There have been some occasions when the question is asked as part of the conversation leading up to the sale, or as part of the project, but it is rarer in my experience.
Which is a shame. I think the buying / selling dance is a great chance (often a missed chance) to explore ways in which an exhibit company uses sustainability efforts to great effect.
For example, we often work with Classic Exhibits, one of the premier exhibit builders in the nation. They’re well-known in the industry for the depth and breadth of their sustainable practices. Just one example: aluminum is smelted and extruded locally in Portland, not shipped in, and recycled a short distance away to keep transportation costs minimal. Their approach to sustainability includes the ability to recycle everything except Sintra. That includes wood, aluminum and other metal, paper, foam, clear film and clear film plastic. All except wood is recycled at no cost.
Another Portland example, Boothster, uses building materials that are very easy to recycle: carboard tubes, cardboard-printed pieces, bamboo banner stands and so on. They position their company as builders that fully adhere to the practices for sustainability.
Greenspace, also in Portland, positions their approach as “environmentally sustainable design and fabrication.”
Another builder we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits, approachas the design and fabrication of exhibits using materials such as recycled aluminum extrusions, LED lighting, ECO-glass made from 100% post-industrial recycled content, bamboo plywood, FSC certified wood, plastic shipping cases made from recycled plastics and are 100% recyclable. Graphics are printed on ECO-board, Paradise fabric (made from 100% recycled soda bottles), and finishes are water-based low VOC (volatile organic compound) or VOD-free, and Greenguard certified.
All of these go a long way to making your tradeshow investment dollars be a part of your commitment to a company-side sustainability initiative.
This is a guest post by Tania Longeau of InkJet Superstores.
Setting up a booth at a trade show is a great way to build awareness of your brand and gain new leads. On the busy floor of a trade show, however, you only have 6 to 10 seconds to catch the attention of a passerby and draw them into your booth. You are lined up alongside several other businesses and, depending on the size of the show, you could have several thousand people walking past over the course of just a few days. If you want them to stop by your booth, you need eye-catching signage to draw them in.
Once you’ve gotten their attention, you need well-designed marketing materials like brochures, flyers, catalogs, and cards that they will take and look at again after the event. It sounds difficult, but learning how to make eye-catching signs, brochures, and other branding and marketing materials isn’t as hard as you might think. Keep reading to discover a few of our favorite trade show tricks.
Businessman Alan Lakein once said that “failing to plan is planning to fail,” and he was absolutely right. If you fail to do extensive planning prior to attending a trade show, you are very unlikely to have a particularly successful event. Goals and desired outcomes need to be established months before the date of the event to ensure that you have time to create everything you need.
Set SMART goals and come up with a solid plan of attack for meeting them. Think about what advertising and marketing materials you will need. Figure out whether you will make those materials in-house or have them printed elsewhere. If you plan on making them yourself, make sure you are stocked up on printer ink, paper, and other essential supplies. Trust us. Few things are worse than running out of ink at 11 p.m. the night before a trade show because you failed to plan and waited until the last minute!
Say it with an Image
When you only have a few brief seconds to grab someone’s attention, a sign or banner with lots of words just won’t do. A picture says a thousand words and, when you use images that are eye-catching, your signs will say a lot about your business, products, or services without needing to say a word. Keep the wording on your booth graphics short and to the point. Your signage should mostly consist of attention-grabbing images. Text should be kept to a minimum. On a busy trade show floor, very few people are going to stop and read an entire paragraph or a long list on a sign. Keep your message short and sweet.
Don’t Go Crazy with Fonts
You may love the look of the fancy font you use on your website or logo, but it may not be the best choice for creating trade show signage and displays. When you are designing signs, banners, and anything else that will be viewed from afar, choose fonts that are simple and easy to read. Remember that, on the trade show floor, your booth is competing for event attendees’ attention. If your advertisements aren’t easy to read, those attendees are just going to look elsewhere.
Be careful when choosing fonts for printed brochures, too. If most of your marketing materials currently exist online, adjustments may need to be made to ensure that they print well. Fonts and colors that look great on a computer screen or a smartphone might not look so good on paper, so be sure to do some experimentation to make sure everything is flawless.
Know When to Hire a Professional
There is a lot that you can do with the inkjet printer or laser printer in your office. Many of today’s higher-end models are capable of creating prints that rival professional quality, and you may be able to get away with printing many of your own signs, flyers, brochures, and pamphlets. It’s also important, though, to know when to hire a professional. Unless you have a high-quality inkjet printer that’s capable of printing large-format banners and other big displays, you should definitely work with a professional printing company. You only get one shot at making a good first impression, so the signage and displays you put up at your booth are extremely important.
Unless you have professional graphic design skill, working with an expert designer is a smart idea, too. A design may look awesome to you, but it may not actually be all that great. There is a lot more that goes into a successful design than just making it look pretty. A good designer can help you create brochures and signs that are eye-catching, tell your brand’s story, and evoke emotion. It takes a lot more than a copy of Photoshop to do all that!
When you are attending a trade show, setting your booth apart from all of the other ones around you is extremely important. There will be hundreds or thousands of people passing by your booth over the course of a few short days, and you will only have a few seconds to grab each person’s attention. With eye-catching signs, banners, and displays, you can let event attendees know what your business is all about and encourage them to stop by. With eye-catching brochures and pamphlets, you can encourage them to pick up your marketing materials and check them out after the event. Keep the above listed tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to meeting your goals for the event!
Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. Images are provided by the author via Shutterstock.
The exhibit halls at the Natural Products Expo West closed Saturday at 4 pm. By then, exhibitors were handing our their remaining samples, packing up things they could and getting ready to grab flights home. The last day of a big show like this one is always a bit different. Not as many attendees as the first couple of days (although still very busy), which left staffers with a little more time to chat in a relaxed mode.
Which is a great opportunity to meet people. Which I did. Even though I was pretty much dead on my feet by mid-day, I kept pushing through, knowing the end was in sight. I spent some of the day checking in with all of our clients that we had scheduled for dismantle the next day to make sure paperwork was all in place. Things don’t move in a tradeshow without the right paperwork!
Saturday started early by assisting in the dismantling of a new exhibit for a new client, Hop Tea, from Boulder, Colorado. They were set up in the hot new products section of the Hilton Ballroom, which meant that their exhibiting schedule ended a day earlier than the main halls in the convention center. I’m told they won a Nexty Award for new products, and their business – less than a year old – is off to a quick start. Glad to be able to be a part!
By the end of the day, I was done. Beat. Exhausted. So it was back to the Airbnb for a relaxing night, the only one of my 6-day trip. Friday night it was fun to spend nearly two hours at the Oregon Business gathering at McCormick and Schmick’s near the convention center. It’s a gathering that has happened for several years, and is designed to show off Oregon products from companies that may not necessarily be exhibiting at the show. Food and libations and good conversations flowed.
Sunday morning it was the dismantling. I was overseeing the takedowns of five booths by Eagle Management, which has proven to be a good partner: resourceful, efficient and generally quick to get things done. My job was mainly to make sure things were happening in a timely manner, and taking care of the paperwork: shipping BOL’s, printing shipping labels, etc. I admit I find it fascinating to see the before and after (and the during) of big shows. Once the show is over, hundreds of union workers come in and dismantle things quickly. It’s a helluva sight, really. Even though our truck was in line to pick up crates by the check-in time of 8 am, they weren’t able to load freight and leave until after midnight. Crazy, I know. Yes, it’s a busy show and hundreds if not thousands of trucks are all in a queue awaiting their call.
Overall impressions this year? It seemed busier than last year, if that is possible. New Hope usually posts their press release with exhibitor and attendee numbers within a few days of show close, so it’ll be interesting to review this this week.
From the list of exhibitors I visited last year, 25-30% of them were not at this year’s show. Big shows like this are expensive, and not all companies are ready to hit the big time and try to connect with thousands of buyers, brokers and retailers. That doesn’t keep younger, smaller companies from trying, though. Often the difference between success and failure at this level is having and executing a good plan, no matter what type of exhibit you have.
Later in the week, I’ll post photos of our clients at this show. Meantime, here are a few more clicks from the last day or so of Expo West:
Seeing “backstage” at any tradeshow lets you peek at the chaos of what it takes to put on the show. Backstage at a huge show such as Natural Products Expo West, with over 3500 exhibitors, multiplies that by several factors.
But when you’re personally involved in coordinating and executing the setup of a handful of exhibits for new and veteran clients, it can be exhilarating, exhausting and patience-testing.
But we pulled it off!
We are glad to introduce a handful of new clients this year, including Wildbrine, Organixx, and Hop Tea. We also did a new 10×40 project and coordinated the setup for a veteran client, Schmidt’s, and coordinated the setup of others, including Wedderspoon Manuka Honey and Dave’s Killer Bread. A long-time client that goes back over a dozen years, Hyland’s Homeopathic, finally shed their fabulous but aging Koa wood exhibit for a striking single plant photo blown up to 20′ x 8′. Crazy. Watch this space and our Twitter and Instagram accounts for photos of these and other exhibitors at Expo West.
We knew going into the show that there were opportunities for things to go sideways. That’s not abnormal in the tradeshow world, but this year it seemed to be multiplied. Due to the design and fabrication timeline of many of our new clients, and the coordination of incoming flooring freight from one of our vendors, we ended up shipping most of the new builds straight to show site. Not something we usually do. But it meant that many of the trucks carrying our freight spent hours in line getting crates unloaded. And of course, our last project of the two-day setup day, Schmidt’s Naturals, we weren’t scheduled to start setting up the exhibit until 3 pm on the day before the show opens. Which lead to a crazy chaotic dance with the freight logistics manager getting crates delivered in a timely manner (they weren’t, even though we could see them out the back door of the convention center for a few hours prior to them being delivered).
But as they say, all’s well that ends well. Once the crates were delivered, our crew jumped on the installation and cranked it out in about three hours, pretty impressive given that it was a new 10×40 exhibit with a lot of lightboxes.
Kudos to all of our partners: Classic Exhibits, who designed built most of our new projects (Schmidt’s, Wildbrine, Organixx); TimbrandMoss, who designed and built the Hop Tea exhibit; Eagle Management (and Stacy, our account executive who was relentless in working to make things happen in a timely manner); Brumark, who printed the custom flooring for two exhibits and provided flooring for another; Orbus, who printed the high-quality backdrop for Hyland’s. I also want to give out a shoutout to all of the GES folks I encountered along the way, who were exceedingly patient and proficient and made things happen very quickly.
While this seems like a lot, at least to me, I can only assume that other exhibit houses with many more clients are experiencing the same things on a much larger scale. Having said that, it was pretty substantial for us and helps start what we hope will be a great 2019.
Check out a few backstage photos:
Renting furnishings at a tradeshow may or may not be a good fit for you. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
- Rental Furniture is new, and in top-notch condition
- Lots of choices – you’re not stuck with the same furniture show after show
- Cost is less than purchasing it new
- You don’t have to pay to ship it – cost is all-inclusive
- It’s delivered right to your booth space – when the show is over, just leave it there
- You don’t have to store the furniture
- Furniture you own will degrade, become damaged or dinged over time, and go out of fashion
- By owning furniture, you have to pay to ship and pay to store
- Renting furniture might seem expensive to you; owning cuts costs in the long run
- If you rent furniture 2, 3, or 4 times, you will likely have paid the full cost and don’t have anything to show for it except old bills
- You own it, you only pay for it once and can use it as many times as you like
- Less hassle – you own it, you have one less subcontractor and bill to deal with
Depending on what appeals to you, or to your financial or storage situation, renting furniture may be the right thing. Or not!
Take a look at some of the possibilities of rental furniture here.
Some people digest statistics like they’re eating chocolate cake. Others would rather eat a bug. But you have to admit, knowing the numbers can help you in your preparation and execution of your tradeshow marketing program. So let’s look at a few statistics and see which way they’ll lead you.
First, Spingo.com offers a collection of 20 Powerful Stats, including these:
- 88% of companies participating in tradeshows to raise awareness of their brand .
- The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow is, on average, $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospect’s office is $259.
- 92% of tradeshow attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services.
Display Wizard from the UK has a list of 20 Tradeshow Stats that will Blow Your Mind! Some of these are:
- Just 22% of tradeshow exhibitors start planning their tradeshow marketing 1-2 months ahead of the show. 22% start planning 2-4 months prior to the show, and 18% are getting ready 4-6 months ahead.
- It takes an average of 4.5 sales calls to close a sale without an exhibition lead, but just 3.5 calls to close a lead from an exhibition.
- 81% of exhibitors use email to follow up on their tradeshow leads.
If you really love numbers, you’ll love digging into the data on one of the country’s largest shows, the Consumer Electronics Show. While 2019 numbers are coming soon, the 2018 numbers are impressive enough:
- Total attendance: 182,198. That includes exhibit personnel, media and industry attendees, domestic and international.
- Social media mentions of the show reaches 1 million.
- Views of the CES Snapchat Live Story reached 49 million.
- CES received a total of 107,120 media mentions and more than 71 billion potential media impressions in January 2018 alone.
Watch that page for the 2019 numbers this spring.
Finally, the Event Manager Blog offers 100 Event Statistics (2019 Edition), which includes these:
- B2B events revenue worldwide amounted to $30.3 billion in 2016, up from $29.3 billion a year earlier.
- The average ROI for events is in the 25-34% range. But almost one in five companies don’t know their ROI.
- 93% use social media in their B2B marketing strategy, and 58% of marketers use social media before, during and after their events.
Dig into the numbers at your leisure – there’s a lot there to unpack and digest. And don’t forget the chocolate cake!
Less than a week from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference in Portland at the Expo Center. It’s next Wednesday and Thursday the 23rd and 24th of January. I’ve attended the show three times, and this is the first time as an exhibitor. I’m looking forward to it, but I don’t have a good sense of how well we’ll do at the show. I would bet a lot of exhibitors feel the same going into shows. There’s a significant amount of money on the line, and hopefully the ROI is positive, right?
I wanted to do some modest pre-show marketing, aimed at exhibitors, specifically at the show’s exhibitors. I made up a postcard, had a bunch printed up and sent about five dozen to exhibitors, those that I could track down mailing addresses. As an aside, do you notice that it’s hard to find some businesses online? Many don’t have websites, and many that have websites are coy about their locations. The only way to get in touch with many small businesses is to fill out an online form, click “submit” and hope someone actually reads it. Some time. And don’t get me started about making calls.
However, the five dozen postcards went out and only two came back as non-deliverable, so I took that as a good sign. The card invited exhibitors to drop by our booth to pick up a free copy of one of my books while supplies last. The goal? To find out if any exhibitors are planning to make changes in the next year, and to capture contact information and follow up in a timely manner. Sounds like a straightforward plan, right? I’ll let you know.
If you’re heading to the show, come see us in booth #420 at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference in Portland at the Expo Center!