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

exhibit design

Tradeshow Booth Function

Function (fungk’sh?n): the action for which a person or thing is particularly fitted or employed.

a. Assigned duty or activity.

b. A specific occupation or role: in your function as race car driver.

Just because your tradeshow booth LOOKS good, ATTRACTS people and WOWS the judges at the show, doesn’t mean you had a successful show.

There are other elements, such as: did you bring home more leads than you anticipated? Are you following up on those leads? Did your staff learn something good and useful for next show?

And perhaps most importantly: did your booth FUNCTION as it should have?

To determine if your booth is designed with more than just pretty graphics and a ‘wow’ factor to draw in the rubes (er, uh, show attendees), your designer should ask a lot of pertinent questions about the function of your booth.

Some typical functions you might need:

* Product display
* Internet access
* To serve samples, such as food or drink
* Storage, refrigeration, extra electricity
* semi -private area to discuss business
* Show off your product via a plasma screen or laptop
* Interact with your product (such as software) so visitors can get the feel for it

Function is getting down to the bottom line. If you need to sit down with clients or prospects and go over a product line or discuss aspects of business, you’ll need a place to do that. That’ll likely mean a small table that 3 or 4 people can sit down and chat at least a few feet away from the main traffic of the show.

If your business needs to let prospective customers get their hands on a computer mouse and play with the software to see how it applies to their business, you’ll need to make sure there’s room (and power) for the computer.

Or perhaps your booth needs room for a demo that can accommodate a dozen or more people. That space and accommodations need to be worked into the design.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still an important consideration. Many folks purchase a small booth display and go to great lengths and expense to make it look good. But if there’s a vital element missing that impairs your overall function, the time to discover that is not on the show floor!

Go over your show objectives as you sit down with your designer. If they’re sharp (as we hope all designers are, right?), they’ll make sure that your booth’s design incorporates all the essential functions that your booth will need to serve. And with such a collaborative effort between your tradeshow team and your booth design team you will ensure that all of the booth’s function needs have been met.

Tim Patterson is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Interpretive Exhibits in Salem, Oregon. Contact us at Interpretive Exhibits, Inc. if you would like to find out more details: info(at) or 503-371-9411.

Building a Custom Booth

Are you considering a custom tradeshow exhibit?

There are a number of reasons to strongly consider a custom tradeshow exhibit vs. a modular or manufactured exhibit.

First, a custom tradeshow exhibit means that your company will have a unique, one-of-a-kind presentation. No one else will look like you. You’ll stand out in a crowd!

Second, a custom booth can be designed and fabricated from the outset to accomodate a variety of needs and intended usages. For instance, if you have an exhibition schedule that demands you exhibit in a 10′ x 20′ space in one show, and a 20′ x 20′ space in another show, and a 10′ x 10′ space in yet another show, the components of the custom tradeshow exhibit can be easily designed to accomodate those needs.

Next, your design team is really starting with a blank slate. A good tradeshow designer will start by asking questions – a lot of questions! So many in fact, that you’ll probably wish they would stop! Actually, it’s all good – it means they care about creating the booth that you really want. One that works for your company from many angles: the ‘look and feel,’ the functionality and the branding.

Finally, a custom tradeshow exhibit will give you those intangibles: pride of ownership, unique corporate identity and a feeling that really can’t be beat!

What about pricing? Since your budget is perhaps the most critical issue with your new booth, let’s address it: in almost all cases, you can purchase an ‘off-the-shelf’ tradeshow booth that will cost less than a custom booth. But that doesn’t mean your custom tradeshow exhibit has to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, at Interpretive Exhibits, we pride ourselves on offering custom prices for tradeshow design and fabrication that is typically under the industry averages. We’re able to do that because the cost of living in Salem, Oregon is not as high as a major metropolitan metro area, which means our overhead is noticeably lower.

Are you ready for the next step? If you are seriously considering a custom tradeshow exhibit, give us a call at 503-371-9411 and talk to one of our designers or account representatives to find out how we may help you.

Briefly, the process would generally unfold like this:

  • Discussion of needs and priorities and your specific tradeshow objectives
  • Budgeting
  • Design and feedback
  • Design approval
  • Fabrication

Of course there are other considerations, such as graphic design and production, time schedule, shipping logistics, and more. But in a nutshell that’s the process.

Tim Patterson is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Interpretive Exhibits in Salem, Oregon. Contact us at Interpretive Exhibits, Inc. if you would like to find out more details: info(at) or 503-371-9411.

10 Ways to Get More Attention at Your Next Tradeshow

There’s nothing quite like being the one booth in your aisle that’s grabbing all the attention – whether it’s from the food you’re giving away, the demo you’re giving, or the pseudo-celebrity signing autographs.

Try a few of these ways to get more attention for your next show!

1. Pre-show promotion. Target your market, send them a clever promo piece with enough value so that they feel compelled to stop by your booth. One of the most famous in recent years is the company that sent one very nice glove and said the other one was waiting for them at the booth when they stopped by. Another approach would be to offer a high perceived-value premium gift to the prospect when they stop by – something that the normal tradeshow attendee won’t get.

2. Offer good food. Now of course this depends on the show and the rules at the show. At a Natural Foods Products show, of course, everybody’s offering food, so at those shows this may not be the best way to stand out. But at a tech show? Fios, Inc. of Portland, offered smoothies at a tech show – and had people lined up for much of the show. The Catch? Attendees couldn’t get a smoothie until they had their badge scanned.

3. Unusual or Extreme Demos. Self-defense weapons maker Taser offered to shock attendees. Hundreds took up the offer and ended up on the floor – some taking up to ten minutes to recover. One company selling a fire and trauma survival blanket had a company executive walk through a fire wearing the blanket. Microsoft once handed out nearly a thousand pocket PC’s and randomly sent out a messages on MSN Messenger. The first 100 people to find the mystery woman’s location received a token and a chance to win a pocket PC.

4. Re-think your Strategy. Why are you at the show? What is the purpose of your exhibit? Are you looking to sell products or focus on the company’s brand? By asking these kinds of questions – starting from scratch in the whole planning process and questioning all previous assumptions – you may find that your tradeshow booth needs a complete makeover. Or not. Maybe you’re doing everything the way it should be done – you just need to focus on execution better.

5. Fix the Mistakes in Your Graphics. If your booth graphics take more than a few seconds to read, you’re losing much of your prospective audience. Graphics paraphrase…the conversation you engage in will explain. Fix the text: show benefits to your prospect, don’t brag about awards your product has won. No one cares except the guy who created the product! Don’t use clever, artsy fonts; don’t use too small of type; make sure your background and foreground text have enough contrast so that it’s actually readable! Get your text up off the floor by at least 4 or 5 feet – people don’t want to read anything below eye level. Also keep graphic clutter down to a minimum. Use these rules: Simplicity Sells; Clean Design Attracts.

6. Ask the Right Questions. Once the visitor has been attracted to your booth with the right graphics and ‘look and feel’ of your booth, engage them in a short conversation. Asking the right questions means quickly qualifying the person, finding out what their needs might be in regard to your product, answering any questions they have and getting all the information necessary for prompt follow up. Then move on to the next person.

7. Hold a Media Event. IF –and it’s a big if – you have something new to offer or unveil, holding a media event will draw interested parties and experts out of the woodwork. Don’t just bring in your company officers. Ask some well-known industry folks and observers to attend and chime in with statements on your behalf. If they offer observations as to why the new thing is important and the industry should sit up and take notice, they usually will. Also make sure your hot prospects are a part of the event as well. But one caveat: unless you really DO have something new, don’t do this, it’ll annoy the press and you’ll waste your money.

8. Offer To Introduce Them To Someone Special. If people know they are going to meet someone they really want to know, they’ll have a big incentive to show up. It could be an industry bigwig, a local politician, a sports celebrity. Most celebrities can be hired for a day for a fee, if they’re available. If you found out your biggest prospect was a huge fan of some retired baseball player, and you hired that player for a few hours – don’t you think your prospect would walk on fire to get to your booth? Depending on your budget, you may be looking at someone local of note. Some celebrities are quite reasonable, others are outrageously expensive. Don’t forget to figure in travel and lodging expenses.

9. Offer an Ethical Bribe. Autographed merchandise has a high perceived value: baseballs, basketballs, books, etc. Or get an autographed artwork or a football signed by a major star from your hot prospects home town. With a little sleuthing you should be able to determine what will hit the prospect’s hot button. Then it’s a matter of footwork – and sometimes cost – to get the autograph on an item. Sometimes its just a matter of contacting an entertainment agent in your town and letting him know what you want. Rule of thumb – whatever you offer, it shouldn’t appear to be a bribe. Lots of companies have rules prohibiting their executives from accepting articles worth more then $50. The PERCEIVED VALUE is what’s important.

10. Shoot A Commercial At The Show. If you create a product that folks can sample and purchase on the spot, set up a video camera and record testimonials. Set up some studio lights and photo backdrop with your TV camera. Have signs up announcing that you’re shooting testimonials for future commercials. You’ll attract a lot of attention from people who want their 15 minutes of fame. This works on a lot of levels: not only will you attract attention from attendees, but you’ll have the public selling the public on your product; you’ll gather excellent testimonial footage for future use and the people on camera will come up with their own sales pitches. A few caveats: make sure you ask EVERY PERSON ON CAMERA this question: “Will you allow us to use your voice and image to sell our product without payment for as long as we want to?” When they answer yes, you’ve got their talent release – on tape. When they’re done with the testimonial, hand them off to your sales guy, who will hand them an order form for the product. If they hesitate, you can say, “But from what you said on camera, you love this stuff. You really meant it, didn’t you?”

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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