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

Tradeshow Photos

Natural Products Expo West: Days Three and Four

Babies – lots of babies – along with young kids, the occasional dog, lots of mascots/costumes, and a few weirdly dressed people. Typical Expo West!

natural products expo west

Saturday night – Day Three of Expo West – was spent hanging out with Oregon Business folks at their annual soiree at McCormick and Schmicks, and later, producing Monday Morning’s vlog/podcast. Now let me see if I can manage a recap of the final two days of Expo West.

Dozens of people I spoke with agreed that the show was somewhere between amazing and fantastic, or perhaps crazy-busy and overwhelming. Just saw the press release this morning from New Hope which showed that there were over 85,000 attendees, and 3,521 exhibiting companies, including more than 600 first-time exhibitors.

I mentioned in my vlog/podcast that I was impressed by the great detail that exhibit designers go to to capture a brand’s essence. I also got into a conversation with one booth staffer about the wild colors that are everywhere in the show. “Can you imagine what this show would be like without all of those colors?” he asked. Agreed. Bright and bold colors everywhere.

There were also a lot of BIG hanging signs, from 40’x40’ aluminum structures/fabric graphics to wooden panels and what looked like carved wooden signs. Does anybody look up these days at shows?

natural products expo west

There were a lot of clever interactive things going on at booths, offering people an opportunity to walk into the booth space and do something. It’s always a great way to capture attention. I counted at least a dozen “selfie” stations, with some including a circular light where you can take a selfie where you’re fully and evenly lit, and some stations where they’ll take a photo and then email it to you. One of the most fascinating and eye-catching interactives was a Rube Goldberg contraption in the KIND Snacks booth, showing how KIND snacks are made from start to finish.

There were many opportunities to tweet a hashtag with a photo for a chance to win something, so it was good to see the social media tie-in as well. Although, frankly, it almost seems run-of-the-mill, when six or seven years ago social media was all so new!

Another thing I noticed in booth fabrication was the use of see-through printed fabric. Everywhere I turned there was another example. See-through fabric is very useful in creating a barrier, but the see-through aspect gives you a view of what’s beyond it, without intruding on people that might be in a meeting room for example.

This was my sixteenth consecutive time I’ve attended Expo West in support of clients, for years, the halls have been set up in a specific configuration: foods, manufacturing, supplements, new products and more all have had their own areas. That didn’t change this year, but the layout changed – drastically – and it was interesting to see how the whole layout was essentially flopped from one end to the other. Lots of comments from people who weren’t sure how it worked, but from my view it worked just fine. Took a little getting used to.

Sunday – Day Four – started off much slower, in terms of visitors roaming the aisles. I was there at opening of ten o’clock, and the back reaches of the halls were lightly travelled. it didn’t take long for that to pick up. By late morning, it seemed almost as busy as previous days. It did give me a chance to speak to more people without feeling rushed. By 2:30 to 3 o’clock, exhibitors were offering all of their samples to attendees so they wouldn’t have to transport them back to HQ. And of course, some folks were pulling down banner stands and packing up suitcases by 3 o’clock. Ya ain’t s’posed to do that, but it happens anyway. Planes to catch.

natural products expo west

And finally, I know of no other show where, frankly, you never need to eat a meal offsite for ate least three days. Virtually every company is sampling the goods, from sausage, bagels, bread, toast and eggs to energy bars, drinks, coffee, teas, juices and other goodies. It’s easy to consume a couple of thousand calories without even batting an eye. Even if you try to avoid eating much, you’ll end up taking bite-sized samples here and there.

And don’t get me started on the varieties of chocolates.

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Natural Products Expo West: Day Two

Random thoughts, observations and photos from walking the floor, test-tasting the products, and chatting with people on day two of the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim:

It’s a mental thing. But as much as I feel I should restrain myself from eating too many samples, you seriously can’t hold back. There are so damn many good foods on display for test-tasting that you just can’t not try them. I’m a sucker for great chocolates, sweets, and similar concoctions. Frankly, it’s overwhelming. Having said that, I’m getting tired of energy bars.  I stopped eating them on a regular basis a couple of years ago (too many calories for my diet!), and it’s hard to find ones that I really want. There are also a lot of prepared foods that I bypass. We don’t eat microwave foods at my house, and none of those types of foods really appeal to me after so much good home-cooking.

Non-food items – skin care, hair care, supplements and the like – all are very popular, and many caught my eye. One of our clients, Wedderspoon, added to their line of New Zealand Manuka Honey tasty treats by introducing cleansers, hand creams, body lotion and more – all very good stuff.

This is also the first year that I paid much attention to pet products. It’s because, for the first time in decades, I’m able to live with a pet (say Hi, Scruffy!). So yes, I grabbed a couple of samples for the four-legged member of our household. We’ll see how he likes them!

Speaking of our clients at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we love supporting them and showing them off. Bob’s Red Mill, Schmidt’s Naturals, Wedderspoon Manuka Honey, Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley, and Hyland’s are all off to a great show. So many of the companies we’ve worked with are at an interesting spot in their growth: new products, growing bottom line, expanding exhibits means an expanding and more mature presence at Expo West. It also means, in a sense, moving out of their comfort zone. It means hiring installation/dismantle crews now to set up the exhibit when a previous smaller exhibit was set up by company employees. More complexity also means a more powerful presence and impact. But the end result in all cases has been a client that’s pleased with how the exhibit looks to their customers – which is the most important things to us.

Also got a chance to meet and chat with Nicky Omoundro of Little Family Adventure who is one of the official Expo West bloggers – and who will be on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee vlog/podcast in the not too distant future to talk about her experiences here!

Ready for Day Three! Thanks, but I’ll bypass the yoga in the plaza this morning (I already did my ten minutes upon arising) and head straight for the coffee.

 

 

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TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, February 12, 2018: Vikram Rajan

Vikram Rajan of PhoneBlogger.net tells an interesting story of working with attorneys, speaking and attending conferences, tradeshows and similar events all in the pursuit of promoting his business. A very engaging and interesting conversation. Also on today’s podcast: Tradeshow Tip of the Week on how to take better exhibit and tradeshow photos with your smartphone.

Check it out on today’s vlog/podcast:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING:

Tesla Roadster in Space!

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Walking the Floor at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference

Here in Oregon, the cannabis industry is fast-growing, which means that tradeshows promoting the industry are popping up frequently. I walked the floor of the Cannabis Collaborative Conference last week, meeting people and posting photos of participants and exhibits on my social media outlets, especially Instagram and Twitter. I came up with a few takeaways:

Participants are very upbeat and positive about the future of the industry, despite the federal classification of marijuana as a dangers drug, and despite the recent announcement by the DOJ that they would more aggressively target people under federal laws, even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

One comment came from an exhibitor, who observed that attendees and exhibitors at this particular show were more likely those who were new to the industry, wanted to get into the industry or were smaller players. “The bigger players don’t need to be at this show,” she said.

CDB (cannabidoil) is exploding, positioned as a “non-high” pain treatment. A year ago it was barely mentioned. Today in Oregon it’s seen everywhere, it seems, and is heavily promoted as an alternative to other over-the-counter pain killers such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

I managed to see a portion of one of the presentations, which was a panel discussion on the challenges that the industry faces in the banking industry. As a cash business, stores are faced with getting that money into a banking system that resists the cash because, as institutions that are regulated by the federal government, they may be punished for doing just that. No easy answers!

I see that Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, that supports the industry, gave a keynote addressing the Department of Justice’s decision to repeal the Cole Memo. Would have liked to see that!

From the perspective of a tradeshow marketer, I saw a mix of good, clever and creative exhibits along with those that barely were able to cobble together a printed vinyl sign backdrop. Those that I talked to were excited about their position in the industry, though, and looked forward to being able to afford more expensive exhibits in the future.

Here are a few photos from the Cannabis Collaborative Conference.

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How to Stand Out at a Tradeshow

One of your biggest tradeshow marketing challenges is how to stand out at a tradeshow. Every other exhibitor is vying for the attention of visitors, so not only are you trying to grab the attention of the eyeballs and mind of a visitor, but every other exhibitor there is looking to do the same thing.

To stand out, you have to be unique. Or if not unique, you have to execute the various properties of your exhibit in such a way that you catch eyeballs.

What is unique? It’s something that no one has thought of before. An exhibit that I saw in the last year at Expo West in Anaheim was nothing more than a large “1%” that dominated the entirety of the booth. In the booth, by Kashi, there was a small sign that explained that the 1% referred to the amount of organic farmland in the US. That unique approach, along with well-informed booth staff, made for a presence that really stood out.

stand out at the tradeshow

Another way is to have an exhibit that represents your brand so well that frankly, no other exhibitor could have that exhibit. If you’re familiar with Bob’s Red Mill, you know that their brand is the iconic face of Bob Moore, and a red mill. Their exhibit shows that red mill down to the T. Bob Moore, in his late 80s, still represents the brand at the bigger shows, signs books, gives them away, and poses for pictures. Another way the company stands out at Expo West is when Bob and a small Dixieland band make an entrance every morning, marching throughout the show floor, finally ending at the booth.

stand out at the tradeshow

Other exhibitors stand out by having unique hands-on activities, mascots, celebrities (in the industry), unusual giveaways and more.

Standing out is critical to getting attention. What can you do to stand out?

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Schmidt’s Naturals Up for Exhibitor Portable/Modular Award

A year ago, our new client Schmidt’s Naturals debuted a new custom 10×20 at the Natural Products Expo West. It was a custom exhibit designed by Classic Exhibits‘ designer Kim DiStefano. The design was submitted to Exhibitor Magazine’s annual Portable/Modular Awards, which honor design excellence in portable, modular and system exhibits. Here’s what it looked like on the floor of Expo West:

Exhibitor Portable Modular Award Entrant

A couple of years ago, one of our clients, SoYoung, was a winner in the competition. We’re glad that Schmidt’s Naturals got the nomination and we wish them the best when the winners are announced in late winter at ExhibitorLIVE!

We’d like to invite you to see all of the entrants in the Exhibitor Portable/Modular Awards take a look here and vote your favorite. And remember, you can vote once per day until the competition closes.

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7 Ways to Take Good Tradeshow Photos with a Smartphone

It’s not hard to take great tradeshow photos with a smartphone. But it’s also really easy to take some pretty bad and frankly usely photos with your smartphone. I know – I’ve taken many! So how do you take good photos at a tradeshow? Let’s go over a few tips:

  1. Hold still! The photo looks great on your screen, but when you blow it up, you’ll often see a photo that is slightly blurred. So, it’s not usable. Right before you take a photo, take a second to steady yourself, hold your breath for a moment and then press the button. Tradeshow lighting usually sucks, so holding your camera still will give you a better chance to get a steady shot.
  2. take good tradeshow smartphone photos

    Know what you want in the photo. Is it a photo of your exhibit? Do you want people in or out of it? If it’s a photo of the exhibit, you’ll often have to wait until people clear out of the way. If you want a great photo of the exhibit, the best time to take it is before the show floor doors open. That’s the time few people are around and the carpets are clean and everything looks great.

  3. For people pictures, get up close. People pictures are great. You can post them online, share with colleagues or even use them in emails or on your blog. Faces should be recognizable, and if you’re planning on posting it, please get permission from the subject first. Cropping is easy, but if you get up close in the first place, you’ll have less to crop.
  4. Take a lot of photos to get the one you want. With a chaotic moving environment that is a tradeshow floor, to get a great shot, you’ll often have to take several. Depending on the situation, that may mean taking a burst of photos by holding down the button if your phone does that or taking several using different angles, as well as using both the landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) approach.
  5. Take shots of things you wouldn’t normally consider. Given that the only issue with taking photos is storage space and not the cost of film like when I was a kid, you can take as many as you want and delete those that didn’t turn out. That may mean a shot of the carpeting, or a storage area, or the back of your booth, or close-ups of how things connect. Whatever – it doesn’t matter. The more photos you have of your exhibit the better you’ll be able to track down evidence of some issue that may come up later, such as what parts are missing or how a seamed image looks.
  6. Don’t use flash. I’ve never been happy with how smartphone photos taken with the phone’s flash look. And with a lot of ambient lighting like that you encounter at tradeshows, the flash will generally put poor looking highlights in the closer part of the image and darken the rest of it. It most cases, using flash won’t improve the shot.
  7. Look for different angles. If you’re trying to take photos of a crowd, hold your phone up (or get a tall person to help), or stand on something if possible. Or try taking photos from knee level and see what you get. Be willing to experiment to see what kinds of photos you’ll get.

With a bajillion photos being taken every year, no doubt you’ll take your share. If you’re trying to capture some good photos at the tradeshow, use these tips and see what you get!

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10 Best Pinterest Boards about Tradeshow Marketing

Yes, I have a Pinterest account. No, I don’t spend a lot of time there. Something about not having enough bandwidth and so on. However, when I do get over there, I find a lot of things to like. Such as these boards on tradeshow marketing which are standouts!

Kimb T. Williams‘ board on Tradeshow Marketing Items features a variety of eye-catching items which make it a worthwhile stop.

best pinterest boards on tradeshow marketing

Nyche Marketing’s Tradeshow Marketing board has a bunch of infographics, exhibits and more.

Yes, it’s a corporate account, but Staples Promo board on Tradeshow Items has a lot of ideas.

From Danielle McDonald comes Tradeshows and Markets – tons of ideas-starters here.

Carl Phelps’ Exhibit Installation Ideas doesn’t have a lot of content, but what is there is inspiring.

Here’s Tradeshow Booth Design from April Holle. Banners, infographics, creations and more.

A lot of the images in Libby Hale’s Tradeshow Design board don’t strictly fall under the tradeshow design umbrella, but lots of great images to view here.

Teri Springer’s Tradeshow Design board is short on images, but long on inspiration. Wavy ceilings, tilted walls and hanging letters area ll eye-catching.

10×20 inline tradeshow exhibits are very popular, and Display Jay has gathered a collection of over a hundred images in 10×20′ Tradeshow Displays.

Let’s finish off our list of ten best Pinterest boards about tradeshow marketing with Anna Kammarman’s lively (and long-winded) Business – Tradeshow Tips and Tricks; For Exhibitors: Tips for Creating a Profitable #eventprofs #tradeshow.

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2017 Tradeshow Exhibiting Trends

I’m the last guy to claim to be a trend-setter, but I do try to keep at least one half-open eye on tradeshow exhibiting trends. So I took a look at some of the things that are showing up on various 2017 tradeshow exhibit trends lists and added in a couple of things I’ve seen at shows this year. Yes, we’re into the second half of the year – so how did these trend article from earlier in the year predict what’s happening on the ground?

Virtual Reality: I’m still unconvinced this will really take off in the tradeshow world. The challenges are many: crowded floors, busy visitors, cost of creating custom content that not only engages but impresses and leaves people glad they spent the time. But it looks like the technology is there and will do nothing but improve. The few times I’ve seen it at shows, people did not seem all that interested, and several VR headsets sat unused for long periods of time. When they were used, visitors commented that it was nice, but no one I spoke with raved about the experience. Again, it comes down to getting the best and most engaging content possible.

tradeshow exhibit trends

According to this great article from Exhibitor Magazine, some other trends for the year include Artificial Intelligence (think Siri and Alexa), new ways of visitor engagement (digital games, for example), and Tradeshow Campaign Themes.

From Freeman comes an article that brings up sustainable materials as still trending (look for LED backlit smart fabric walls), immersive hubs from show organizers (activities, video content and more), and education that is customized to the level of expertise in the audience groups. There’s also a mention of one way that might be a good workaround on the prohibitive cost of shipping large engines and equipment around the world: 3D-printing that can replicate the machinery or equipment to a T.

Absolute Exhibits from Tustin, CA, offers a handful of tech trends for tradeshow exhibits this year, including digital lounges for recharging (figuratively and literally), brighter and more attractive signage, push notifications through the show’s mobile app, games and contests, and interactive video walls and touch screens.

Exhibit Concepts offers up trends including finding new ways to engage face-to-face, the wide incorporation of technology into every corner of a tradeshow exhibit (Bluetooth beacons that integrate with a client’s products), and the increasing use of custom exhibit rentals to keep costs down.

From my perspective, I see the growing use of backlit fabric graphics taking over much of the tradeshow floor. The cost is coming down (still), and the quality of the fabric printing is nearly indistinguishable from high-quality paper printing, as long as you’re using the latest generation of printers (be sure to ask!)

Another item I see frequently is large-format, simple graphics that do a terrific job of grabbing eyeballs, either through the bold simple easy-to-read text, or bold images combined with sparse text.

When it comes to charging stations, I recently saw something a little different: lockable stations where you can plug in and leave your device. When you return just enter your code (that you came up with earlier), and retrieve the device. This charging unit was NOT in an exhibitor booth, but was instead provided by the show.

The last couple of shows I attended (Expo West in March and IFT in June) both had great, easy-to-use show apps. Quick to download, easy to navigate, and when you set up push notifications you really don’t miss a thing. Kudos to the various app designers that make them so friendly and good-looking.

These topics are echoed in many other posts throughout the tradeshow world, and now that we’re on the downward slide into 2018, it’ll be interesting to see what comes to the fore next year that everyone wants to be a part of.

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#IFT17 TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards

I had the pleasure to attend the International Food Technologists 2017 show in Las Vegas this week, thanks to our client Meduri Farms, who set up their 20×20 custom island booth for the second time. In walking the floor, I ran across a lot of fun exhibits that should be highlighted for one reason or another. So, let’s jump into another edition of TradeshowGuy Exhibit Awards – the #IFT17 Version! Let’s start with a look at the Meduri Farms booth, just because, well, to show off the exhibit:

Best Client Representation: Meduri Farms

It’s a custom 20×20 island designed by Greg Garrett Designs and fabricated by Classic Exhibits. Private meeting area, generous sampling and product display areas, and a nearly 16′ tall center tower that draws eyeballs from halfway across the floor:

exhibit awards
Meduri Farms 20×20 custom island exhibit

Best “Booth-In-A-Box:” Ardent Farms

There’s no easy way to view this exhibit in a single photo, so I’ll include a couple. Ardent Mills, of Denver, Colorado, simply drove in a trailer from an 18-wheeler, complete with kitchen and fold-down serving areas. Throw in some seating areas and signage and voila – you have a classy exhibit:

exhibit awards
Ardent Mills ‘drive-up’ booth
IFT exhibit awards

 

Best Exhibit Using Stuff We Build: International Paper

Nothing quite like showing off your stuff by having a booth built out of the stuff that you sell. In this case, International Paper bills themselves as one of the leading producers of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper. So of course many of their booth elements were created using corrugated cardboard and related materials. Especially eye-catching: the custom charging table built from corrugated material:

#IFT17 exhibit awards
#IFT17 exhibit awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up…

Simplest and Most Effective Backdrop: Bulk Supplements.com

Simple like being able to read and understand a billboard a 65 MPH. I spoke with Keven, the owner, and he said his purpose was to communicate what the company does loudly and simply. And that exactly what this 20′ wide back drop does, very effectively.

#IFT exhibit awards

Best Use of Grape Balloons: Welch’s

Well, it may be the only use of grape balloons, but in this case, they caught my eye from a good three aisle over. A great way to stand out from the crowd, indeed:

Welch’s and the High Grapes

The “Let’s Get Their Attention NOW!” Exhibit: S&D Coffee and Tea

This large hanging sign close to one of the main entrances was designed to capture your eyeballs within a second or two – and it worked. The juxtaposition of the woman in a stocking cap with gloves, the “COLD BRRRRRRREW” statement and the experience of visitors walking in from the 105-degree Las Vegas heat drew a crowd.

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
S&D Coffee and Tea gets your attention quickly and boldly.

Best Branding from Top to Bottom: Morton Salt

You could quibble on this award as there were a lot of exhibits at IFT that were exceptionally executed from communicating a brand. But Morton’s booth was well-thought out from side-to-side and top-to-bottom, down to the display of the different types of salts that you could actually put your hands on and feel and touch. Even the conference room had great information to communicate.

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
#IFT17 Exhibit Awards
#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

Best BluePrint for Ingredients and Innovation: Watson

From Connecticut, Watson Inc diagrams and displays more information than most people will bother to stop and read. But maybe that’s the point: the graphic design, displayed as if it were a blueprint, showcases information from infant formula to pet foods and leaves us impressed with the depth and breadth of their reach – all in a two-story exhibit that had plenty of room for meetings, storage and product display:

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

Best Use of Really Large Test-Tube Like Displays: Alquimia USA

More than eye-catching, this row of some 16 grains, beans, seeds and more also created a unique wall-off side of the booth.

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

And finally, a double/shared award to…

Best Use of the Periodoc Table: Asenzya and Land O’ Lakes

There may have been other uses of the periodic table of elements, but these two companies used the table to great effect, so show off the flavor elements and the seasons ingredients respectively. It’s a lot to digest (no pun intended), but great fun to take a look and see how they plotted out the display. Well done!

#IFT17 Exhibit Awards

 


A couple of other observations from walking the floor…

There were a LOT of big monitors at the show, on the order of 60″ to 72″. Some exhibits had several of them. In speaking with on exhibitor, I suggested that in his next version of the video, that he added closed-captioning, since the ambient noise on the show floor made it nearly impossible to understand what was being said. “Good idea!”

#IFT Exhibit Awards

I ran across a few exhibitors touting Virtual Reality: sit down, put a headset on and enjoy some virtual reality – mainly a quick interactive look at a company’s production process. Frankly, I’m still waiting to be impressed with VR at a tradsehow. Having said that, I’ve only tried it a few times, so no doubt someone is ready with a really good VR experience somewhere. I watched some people sit down, try the headset on while wearing glasses (didn’t work for them, didn’t work for me, either), and then go through the experience. If you wear glasses, taking them off to slip the headset on means that things are not clear and sharp, although it didn’t keep me from comprehending what was going on. The best ones are those that show off the company’s production process, or give a tour through a field or something related to the company. But with more and more VR coming to tradeshows, they’re going to have to step up with a great experience, or it’ll be hard to justify the use of VR headsets and the accompanying cost of creating the program.

I really liked the larger 20′ wide center aisles that were spread in a few places on the floor, complete with park benches. A nice place to grab a quick respite from walking and talking without having to leave the hall:

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